The other night I popped into a local late night food emporium. You know the kind of place; the “Yes my friend, chili sauce?” mantra ringing in your tinnitus ears, whilst you run the risk of falling over thanks to the dizzying effects of staring a the elephants leg kebab rotisserie.
I took the above photo. On it’s own, it may not look that remarkable, but if I compared it to a shot of the same wall from 10 years ago, you’d spot the difference. 10 years ago, this wall was ram packed with posters from scores of different nights. I remember from ‘back in the day’ when I was running a party called FIRE, this wall was constantly covered with posters. It was a struggle at times to find a space big enough to accommodate your lovingly crafted poster – and this was the same story at every other late night food emporium, taxi rank, etc.
It may well be the case that this particular kebab house has recently had a clear out, but I’ve noted that gig posters etc, have been in decline across the board.
There are a few notable differences between now and 10 years ago.
- Facebook. Now-a-days, the go-to promotional vehicle for events is facebook. A platform almost purpose build for this kind of thing. The other social networks assist with information dissemination but for local gigs, Facebook is undoubtedly the dominant force.
- The Smoking Ban and supermarkets undercutting pub wet-sales. People aren’t going out as much. People are turning to other environments for their entertainment; a social paradigm shift is underway – I know that my own sons (even though still pre pub age) do the vast majority of their socialising, on-line. This wasn’t happening as much 10 years ago, but due to the mainstream advancement of ‘hanging out on the internet’, pubs arn’t the social hangout#1 any more and erstwhile ‘music venues’ are going out of business up and down the country.
- Simon Cowell. Not my words – this was the response I got when asking the above question on instagram when I uploaded that pic.
- Rock n Roll isn’t as Rock n Roll anymore. A couple of generations above me, one of the pipe dream careers was that of a train driver. My generation, didn’t want to be a train driver, but being a ‘Rock God’ or ‘Superstar DJ’ was up there. The set in stone career path for either, was gigging. Given the days of Keith Moon driving a pink Rolls Royce into a swimming pool and other such anecdotes are over, and the ultra profitable side of the recording industry no longer exists, being a highly paid rock n roll superstar, isn’t as achievable anymore.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Thankfully, there is still a large number of people out there, making music. What they do with it, is the difference. Things like BandCamp and SoundCloud are propelling the big names of the future into stardom, without them even having to leave the comforts of their own homes.
The big gigs and festivals are going from strength to strength. Last weekends Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas for instance, which last year had 300k+ attendees, and our home grown Glastonbury this coming weekend are a testament to a mass appreciation of gigs, but I think my point is, it seems that the bottom rungs of the ladder have changed.
Every one of the biggest names on the planet started out somewhere. Perhaps though, the ‘starting out’ doesn’t involve what it did a few years ago. It used to be ‘do a load of gigs, then make records‘. Now, it’s ‘Make a load of recordings, then do some gigs‘. Perhaps the inherent vetting process is defining the sounds of tomorrow by naturally weeding out all but the most die hard of second rate musicians. Perhaps, it’s a good thing.
One things almost for certain though, my days of wandering round with a tube of posters and a ball of blue tack are a thing of the past.