This is how it goes (or how it went for me) you start a band and you get in a car and you drive around the country many many many times until after a while people start coming to shows. And then more people come. And after a few years of this the empty rooms have become full rooms and you can afford things like food and rent.
Then your band breaks up.
Then you start over as a rocking solo artist and you drive around a little bit but nobody is coming to your shows and you know that you don’t have it in you to drive around the country again for three years. So in Portland Oregon you drink a lot of whiskey and re-invent the concept of touring.
You realize, from your years of experience (and by use of your vast intellect,) that touring is backwards.
Booking a gig and then promoting and hoping people will show up is crazy. CRAZY.
We don’t think of it as crazy because we take it for granted that crazy people (called musicians) all over the world will risk their livelihoods and happiness on the off chance that empty rooms will stop being empty and people will come to shows.
And then you realize that you are one of the crazy people. Have some more whiskey.
At this juncture, out of money and out of whiskey, you realize there are two options:
OPTION A) Quit touring, be a recording artist who never plays live. Or get a day job, nobody likes you anyway.
OPTION 2) Do something you don’t think anybody has ever done before at your level: pre-sell the concerts, the tour, the everything. You’ve got the fans, you know they support you, you raised $20,000 to record your album. SOMEBODY likes you!
You know you’re crazy anyway. Might as well do something crazy about this crazy situation.
Yeah. We know for all your mild mannered cuteness that what you really want to do is change the world.
So do it. One show at a time.
They’ve got your back.
I want to do this in other cities! Contact me to bring the show to your city: kim (at) kimboekbinder.com
This idea has been skittering around my skull for a while now. I think I’ve been flirting with it for years.
The idea is still a little nebulous, but it is taking shape as I’m facing the giant blank wall of booking tours. The surface of this wall is absolutely smooth, with nothing to hold onto to help the climb. It leaves me feeling stupid and ineffectual. I should know how to do this, but it’s a struggle every time. How do I book the good venues, how do I get people to the shows?
And I think, “If only I had help.” And people keep offering help, but not ‘real’ bookers, with networks and contacts for venues all over the country or world. But maybe I don’t need one booker. Maybe I can have a different booker in every city. And maybe that booker can be you. Or your mom. Or your friend, Sassafras. Or all of you.
I’ve been doing house concerts for years and what I’m thinking of is a little bit like a house concert, in the way that the hosts are the promoters are the audience. But these could happen in all kinds of venues.
What if the concerts were crowd sourced? Maybe one person has a venue contact, someone else does great sound, your cousin likes to hang posters, your dog can interview me for the local paper.
I put on a great show, the problem here is not lack of talent or appeal, the problem is that I am only one person. And hard as it might be to admit: I can’t do everything. At least, I can’t do everything all at once all the time.
So what if I came up with a number? I can break it down. I can say how many people need to attend a show for me to break even.
And what if I pre-sold those tickets before I even booked the show?
It might be crazy, it might not work, but it might also be the only way I can tour. Because I am an artist, busy making the art, and managing about a million things in my career. I do it all myself: the websites, the posters, hanging the posters, the booking, the social media, the blogs. I don’t know any other artists who do as much as I do alone. I know some amazing and successful artists that work very very hard. Not a single one of them works alone. And this is why: because it’s impossible. It is impossible to have a successful career without help. It cannot be done. I know, because I’m here, working with every ounce of everything and not getting anywhere until someone helps. I get intermittent help here and there. Someone books a show, someone else puts up posters. Even something as simple as a retweet, or a mention in a personal blog. And then my career moves forward.
It’s so simple. Help = movement. And I’m too self sufficient for my own good, too good at working by myself. Which doesn’t work. Not really. I need the crowd, and not just as passive audience, I need the crowd management team, the crowd bookers, and the crowd promoters.
I’ve always done things differently, found a new angle, tried a new way. I pride myself on discovering new paradigms. But the truth is that while I have done things my own way I have also spent years waiting for the right person to “discover” me, to think I was worth something, to believe in me.
And what I’ve realized is that the right person has discovered me. The right person is you.
This post, as you have discovered, is not a finalized thought, it is just the beginning of a thought. I hope you’ll join the discussion.