Entering 10 years of booking and promoting, managing and supporting Las Vegas live music, I am at a crossroads of sort. One of the first venues to ever give me my first opportunities to book a show, I am now in charge of the entire calendar. It never was taken lightly, the ability to book a business to bring entertainment, customers and grow its awareness. It was always a privilege.
Even my first entire show booked, the venue didn’t even schedule a sound person. Then the band I managed, the bass player forgot his bass across town. That douche isn’t even in a band now, and if he is, he sure as shit isn’t promoting it, letting me, the common person, know they even exist. That is the harsh truth many if not most local musicians will not face. A shocking majority all assume, especially in an entertainment driven town like Las Vegas, that because there is live music there is, and will be a crowd, and there is no mention of an evil promoter, unless there isn’t anyone there, then, obviously it must be the promoter or venues fault. Obviously. Right? Fuck no. It takes every entity and then-some for every show, on every level, to be successful. All national acts, and support should represent its shows, releases and going ons to their unique network, and 90% of successful bands do. It’s OBVIOUS, now, that most local and musicians in general assume that because a band they respect and love over years of distributed and radio-played music, that its magically all done for them, just because they wrote some fucking songs on their off work days. And most bands at the level that you find them at, actually do have everything done for them. From booking the show to the travel accommodations, to the very booking of studio time and the money to record the album with a credible producer. I guess that is all inclusive right? You make a song and everyone is demanding your band and throwing money at you… RIGHT?? Well FUCK, that is sure how most of you local musicians seem to feel and project that fantasy world onto your loyal girlfriends and family, the only people you are able to bring out on most occasions. Fact is, most of you band NEED a name attached to the show to get anyone to even bother with your status update or texts about your band. And that constant rejection, that constant reminder that you are NOT the bands you emulate, is very hard to overcome and bring that bright, shiny, positive promo machine to the faces that genuinely wont give two shits about what you are doing. I understand that. I Get it. Now, maybe instead of blaming a venue or promoter for your obvious faults, maybe you try and get passed the no’s. Get passed the people that don’t give a shit and find those that do. Is that too hard?? Then why the FUCK are you expecting people like me and the venues around the globe to cater to your fantasies that you wont even sacrifice for??? Look at any of my pages on social media. My websites. Pick up a local rag mag. I PROMOTE MY FUCKING SHOWS. The problem that no one wants to understand at the local level is that YOU are the reason people care for local music. NOT a promoter or venue, we are just the facilitators.
I know it is hard work to create music from scratch, get all your band members on the same pages, get things in order to do something with it. Again, I get these things. But those efforts behind closed doors do not translate into listeners or fans. The sacrifices you make to practice and make time to perform has to be accompanied by promotion and some kind of marketing structure. Its not a concert promoters job to find your fan base, they help you add onto it by exposing your band to other bands networks and the venues. All a local band needs to do is reach out to friends, family and co-workers. Period. That’s your foundation. Then keep social media and general band advertising consistent to gather new actual fans based on your music. BUT don’t forget to just focus on what you can control, which is a crowd, and the uber-majorty of live local music going people are there because they are friends, family or a co-worker of one of the bands playing.
Location, location, location. Downtown and the Strip are neat with hundreds of random and regular people there, just to be there, enjoying the many bars and entertainment options in close proximity. And if your band is hip enough you can play there regularly and be successful, and that’s a good thing. But remember that the Vegas valley is huge. Try not to assume that all your ‘fans’ only want to see you at a centrally located venue by forgetting that most of us live far from there. Many locals do not want to pay for parking or walk a mile just to get to the venue with generic, trendy decor. What it boils down to is where do you want to take your music? Do you want to take it on the road? Do you want to hit new markets? Well Vegas is a perfect primer for that. Look at California, one city ends, another begins and you don’t even realize it being so bunched together. But each one of those areas are different markets with potential fans. If you want to build you band, start by reaching all corners of the valley and doing some general marketing in new areas of town. There is over two million people in Vegas that actually live here, and there is no reason why you cannot find a few hundred people to be interested in your music and what you are trying to accomplish. And how is the best way of doing that? Reaching out to your friends, family and co-workers for that foundation, and not getting discouraged with the constant no’s. It is a bitch of a business but if you work hard and take some chances, you get where you want to go, just its usually a completely different route than you originally plotted for.
So enough bitch-fits, lets talk about Cheyenne Saloon. I know what I was getting into when I took the job, hell it took me two weeks to even start seriously thinking about doing it. I started making plans and structures and started to get excited about turning the venue around to at least a profitable level. The calendar was chaos, the social promo was weak and the advertising was limited to fliers on the streets. Many of you know that around Thanksgiving when I officially took over, we had to start the social media pages from scratch, create a new contact email and rebuild a lot of local, regional and national relations. It was a hoot! Even shit that I did wrong in the past with agents and locals came up, back when Area 702 shut down and I relocated shows instead of canceling them and bands thinking I am expecting the same amount of tickets as I do an HOB show (HA!). So my mistakes and the venues mistakes and mistakes mistakes mistakes were the first month. Clearing the nonsense of the calendar: bands listed but never contacted, bands booked but not listed, and only 1-2 national acts were on the books was the next issue. Now keep in mind we have 5 nights a week of booking entertainment there. That’s 20-30 bands a week. So we aim for 8-10 national/known acts, and the rest a combination of local original and cover band events. I tried a few reoccurring nights, but with both unable to take off due to poor attendance, there is many holes. In that position, you do what you can with what you have. Again there wasn’t much to work with. With so many new opportunities around town it truly has been an uphill battle, only to be compacted by the fact that locals aren’t drawing. National acts get fans in the door, but without the complementary crowd from the local support, the shows will continue to barely cover or fail totally. I’m not looking for any one local band to carry any show. But what I am EXPECTING is every band and person associated with the show to try harder than a status update twice a week. On local and regional shows I am just looking for 10-20 people to come out for each band, along with 10-20 regulars from the bar, all of a sudden we are at 75-100 people for a local show and all the bands have to do was reach out effectively to their network of people that only they can reach, you know, those friends, family and co-workers. I work hard from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed and rarely get a day off. I will continue to do that until I achieve my goals. Where’s the ambition for bands to get their music heard? I created the Cheyenne Saloon’s most recent Facebook page after the Thanksgiving holiday and now we are over 1000 likes in that short time, already more than the page we weren’t able to use anymore and more than a vast majority of local bands who have been around for years. Weird how pushing and posting everyday works out by getting new people interested and your network constantly grows.
Moral of the story, if you are in a local band, all you figgin’ have to do is consistently push your show, your music and your band directly to your friends, family and co-workers and from that your foundation of actual fans will build, if you allow it to. If someone else if pushing your passions more than you, you cannot expect it to go farther than a monkey throws its shit in the zoo.