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Getting paid gigs - a mindset issue?

An interview with Simon Scardanelli of Dr Scardo by Eliza Michaels, author of The Fan Formula.

Chatting to Simon Scardanelli about his new band, Dr Scardo, he mentioned most of their gigs are paid. I was intrigued so I asked Simon how he does it.

Scardanelli is able to look back on a long and varied career with an ironic appreciation of its highs and lows. As a child of the 60’s, Simon has been singing, writing and recording since the age of 16. He’s worked extensively in Europe and the US. Having been signed to both major and independent labels, Simon has an uncompromising attitude to his work and now releases independently through Resonator Records.

Scardanelli enjoyed chart success in the late eighties with Anglo-Canadian duo Big Bam Boo (MCA). When the band scored a top 20 radio hit in the US in 1989, they re-located to New York. When Big Bam Boo had run its course, Simon stayed on in New York composing installation works for Art Events and experimental films, became a regular at the infamous Lach’s AntiFolk nights at the Sidewalk Café in New York’s East Village and gigged up and down the East Coast. In ‘95 Simon returned to the UK and studied 20th Century Music at Sussex University. Over the next few years he put his energies into experimenting with sonic-composition and was awarded a PhD in musical composition (University of Birmingham).

Returning to the live scene in 2005 as a solo artist, Simon found the plethora of “acoustic” nights at pubs and clubs rarely paid, even expenses. So earlier this year when he formed his new band, Dr Scardo, he made a firm decision – “we don’t play for free”, even though the band play original songs, no covers. There are a few exceptions of course, however the large majority of Simon’s gigs are paid. And we’re talking in the £hundreds.

“How does my band get paid gigs?

That’s the decision I made after travelling all over the country as a solo artist for little or no money. You can’t get the commitment from a band if no-one’s getting paid.

We have an up to date EPK on Reverb Nation and we use their venue booking tool. We focus on the quality of the songwriting and the performance. A lot of our songs are up-tempo and we make sure our fans having a good time at our gigs. If you’re playing originals you have to convince the venue that you’re going to be as a good as or better than a cover or tribute band.

Rather than taking any gig that comes our way, we have concentrated on building a good reputation and being good enough that venues are more than happy to pay us to play. Of course it helps that I’ve got a large back-catalogue – that means we can do two 45 minute sets of good originals.

Fans will fill a venue to see a good band.”


Dr Scardo’s debut single is ‘Wall Street Hustle’ in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

Eliza Michaels is author of The Fan Formula - how to attract and keep a large loyal fan base so you can get your music out there in a big way. Eliza works with solo artists and bands who struggle with finding their own unique niche in the music world and want to achieve success in their own terms, without pushing too hard.

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