Saturday, 10 November 2012

Why Its Harder To Get Gigs in 2012

Times, They Are A Changin'

All of Pretty Vegas are 34-35, so we are not that old (well, in our minds certainly!), but even we remember when we started, how there seemed to be live music of some sort always available near us. This could have been 2 guys with acoustics, guitarist / vocalist with backings or a full band, but pubs made a point of having it on regularly and as you knew when this would be, you could make a point of going down to the various acts playing the local circuits. Yeah, mostly, they were covers, but you didn't mind as the standard was usually pretty high, the pubs were packed, and the beer flowed.

Back then, the money was OKAY, but was topped up with free drinks from landlords happy with their establishments being packed  to the gills, even on a Sunday night.

So what, exactly, has changed in such a relatively short space of time?

The Recession

There is no doubt that people have less disposable income to go out for a night on the town. Prices have gone up, taxes have gone up, and supermartkets sell 24 cans for £12. Not really hard to see why there has been a general downturn in pub attendance just on these basic facts is it? I mean a lot of places will still have their "regulars" propping up the bar, but rarely are they being replaced by new customers who devote a night or two (or whole weekend) to one venue, and as such the landlords have to look at how to still shift pints without the additional costs involved. Food is okay to bring additional money in, but the landlords really need to go for that change in a big way, new kitchen, refurbishment, more staff, and this is expensive. So why pay for entertainment, when its not going to attract new customer, and reduce the profits for the ones they have.

People Want More For Their Money & Death of "The Local"

I don't really think its a stretch to appreciate that when times are tough, people want to get bang for their buck, so if they are buying food, do they want to eat in a nice, relaxed environment, where everything is clean and tidy, with a wide selection of dishes, or a place that "does food" as long as the darts team aren't at home.

The transition from pub to pub / restaurant is not generally a small step, and there is usually the alienation of the former clientele in favour of a new one, one with cash to spend on products with greater mark-ups, and the cost in doing to is usually VERY high. This means that in order to recoup the expense of this transformation, the only option is to maximise seating for the new aspect of the business. Don't get me wrong, some pubs HAVE successfully merged the two, but they are very much in the minority, and this has generally meant that what was the typical "Local" is either now looking very shabbier compared to the new swanky eateries, or have been closed and turned into gastro-pubs or brasseries. And the last two aren't typically looking for live music (unless you are a Mickey Bubbles tribute act at Christmas!)

PV At The Saracens Head in Warrington, Great Venue, Too Close To Wine Bars

The Infamous Wine Bars

FACT:- Men want young women => young women don't go to dives =>  men don't go to dives.
As more and more people want the celebrity lifestyle, nice cars, nice houses, nice nights out, ridiculously overpriced wine bars  and bar/clubs have become the places to be and it is DJ music that is wanted in these types of establishments. This not only drags in more punters, it drives down the desire to spend a night listening to live music as the men will generally go where the women are. The problem is that maybe typical old-fashioned pubs haven't really adapted to this change by refurbishment of existing premises, but retaining the essential elements of what drew people there in the good times.

 "Live Music Saturday Night - Karaoke With Jim!"

 For me, this is one of the fundamental problems with getting live music back into pubs and that is the easy entertainment that comes from karaoke; cheaper, occupy less space and the familiarity of the same songs every week by the same people.
Pubs are essentially about community and if you see any karaoke host "off-duty" they are in many cases revered as Gods by the public, and with the same faces singing the same songs every week, it endears them to their fellow punter for getting up and "having a go"!
Whilst I would much prefer to have this than a DJ playing hard-house, it is still getting away from what live music is about, and yes, we do use backing tracks for our shows, but we would play with a full band if it was logistically possible, but it isn't for us, and this is a topic we fought with for a long time before starting Pretty Vegas as we thought it was selling out, but in this day and age, its the only way we could do what we could do to keep ourselves playing live music.

But Wait, There IS Hope!


The flip side of all this, is the increase we as a band have seen in live music at Weddings and Functions. Rather than years ago where the organiser wanted to have just a DJ, the amount of people looking for bands to play in this environment can only be seen as encouraging for all musicians, so I think that this only really backs up my point.
As a Wedding Band the market is competitive, but this is good for all concerned as market forces keep costs within a reasonable limit so people can have the entertainment in the evening that they are wanting, and musicians can keep working.
As a Function Band there is still room for growth as clients are still reluctant to pay more than what they would for a disco, but that is changing as the cost of hiring a DJ has steadily increased, not a massive amount, but certainly more than they were, and this does mean that for a working band, functions represent the middle-ground between pubs and weddings.
This must mean that there is still a desire for live music to be played, and as i put in my first blog I will keep striving to get Pretty Vegas out there to the masses, and if this means this is achieved by changing some of the perceptions of how live music is to be performed, the composition of the structure of what is a "live band", and what sort of places will play live music, then that is definitely something I, and we at Pretty Vegas are prepared to do.

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