THIS ARTICLE has started to create a bit of a buzz on Facebook.
For the most part I thought it was well thought out and as far the grand scope of the article I agree totally with the writer. I also recognize that the article was most likely targeted at venues that don’t have jazz music on a regular basis or live music for that matter on a regular basis, not at clubs such as The Cellar that are dedicated full time jazz clubs. The article was written 100% from a musicians point of view.
Before I go on about a few of the points that I have issues with let me say that I don’t believe for one second that I am perfect or have never made mistakes, misjudgements or bad calls. I have and will continue to do so. There are many challenges that I face everyday that require a lot of thought etc. and mistakes is how I have learned. I think my 11 year track record speaks for itself but it doesn’t make me perfect. I, unlike most musicians absolutely see things from BOTH sides. A lot of times I wish I could see things from only one side as it would make my life much much easier but it would more than likely make me bitter and angry at the world.
So here are a few points:
a) first off the whole ‘respect’ issue. To me it’s old. Lack of respect for musicians didn’t start yesterday. It has been in existence ever since live music existed. Read any book on jazz music and we’ve all been fighting for respect for many many many years. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for it, get behind one another and support each other but it’s just old. If you want instant respect then become a lawyer or a doctor. I have way more fun things to do like playing music, getting gigs, writing this blog, recording CDS etc. to worry about respect. It’s an old argument and one that will exist forever. Don’t let some dumb ass club owner determine what respect is and isn’t. Respect yourself and what you do. That’s it.
b) To quote the article “you hire a great band and should expect great music.That should be the end of your expectations for the musicians.” I couldn’t disagree with this statement more. It’s a new age and I’m not for it necessarily or against it but its the reality we’re in. There is more responsibility on the musician than ever before and if you want to have a successful career in music it’s imperative that the musicians and the club owner work together to promote, cross promote in every fashion. Now, there are some musicians who are good at it and that embrace it and there are some that don’t. I don’t judge either one but I do know that its generally a better outcome financially for all parties involved when I work with musicians who have emails lists, do the twitter and Facebook things etc. Sometimes I depend SOLELY on an artists ability to get people out to their shows because for one reason or another I know that I can’t depend on my regulars or passers by to come in. Does that make me a bad club owner? I think it makes me a smart club owner personally.
There are a ton of bands that would say NO if I said I’ll pay you $125 or even $150 per person on a Wednesday night. They know that they can get 70 people at $15 and do much better than my garentee. I love it because I know they’re gonna promote the hell out of it which is good for everyone involved. Unfortunately for most of us just being a wonderful player isn’t enough these days to garner a crowd and attention. I didn’t make the reality, I just embrace the reality and if I want to continue to create music and eeek out a living doing what I’m doing then I HAVE to embrace it. As I said earlier I don’t judge people that don’t have that same view.
I haven’t done the exact math but I think I would actually make a profit if I garenteed every band $100 per man, everyday of the week and did no more door deals.
c) There some references made to if a club owner hires a bad band that fills the room with people then it cheapens or lessens the reputation of that club. First of all, thats bullshit straight up. I have sat in some of the worlds most famous jazz clubs and heard sub par music. I’ve heard sub par music performed by people that have no business being on a stage and I have heard sub par music performed by musicians that grace the covers of magazines. I certainly had opinions about that music but it did NOT affect my feeling about the venue.
There has been plenty of sub par talent that has graced The Cellar stage and when that talent is there and I look around and see 60 people eating, drinking and enjoying themselves I really don’t care. I’m secure enough in what I do and what The Cellar books that its not going to lessen my venues reputation. If I see 10 people then we have a real problem. Does it make me a sell out that I do this? Not sure but all I know is that we’ve been around 11 years. I have a business to run and from time to time if I have somebody that can fill my room and provide good entertainment to a bunch of his or her friends on a weeknight than great. At times thats what allows me to do what I do on all the other days.
I make all the information available on our website for our customers to hear and sometimes see before they make their decision to come down and take a chance.
I have received emails from time to time from people who took a chance on something and were clearly disappointed with the music and were surprised that music at that level would appear at a now World Renowned jazz club. It happens and I apologize and tell them honestly that we do our best to keep the quality of music extremely high but don’t always succeed.
Anyways, I don’t usually respond to these types of thing mainly because it’s the same old crap all the time. I don’t mean to sound passive but no matter what is said and what we do it’s not really going to change so I choose to focus my efforts on my own career and what’s good about it and what I can do to make sure it continues.