February 3, 2011

Week 20: Entertain or Perish


From the Trashy and the Kid CD Release in 2010

By Sean Claes

Entertainment dollars in are spent on a variety of things. Any given day someone will have the option of going to the movies, a dance club, the theater, a sporting event, a restaurant, or going to a entertainment center that hosts a variety of video games and the like. 

Or... they can choose to go to your show. Think about that for a minute. People who walk through the door to see you play live have chosen you over everything else that is competing for their entertainment dollar. 

If you somehow win that person’s entertainment dollar, you’ve got to work to keep it.

Full Service circa 2008
Here’s a non-music example. About 7 years ago my wife and I ordered a pepperoni jalapeño pizza from Pizza Hut to be delivered to our new house. When it arrived, it had anchovies on it.. which we didn’t notice until we were both a slice in… just thought the jalapeños were too spicy. Now.. anyone who's worked in the pizza business knows... that’s no accident. If it were mushrooms or green peppers or onions... I could understand an accident. Anchovies are a topping you have to go out of your way to retrieve in order to put them on a pizza. Anyhow.. when I called, they were rude, pissy, and it got so bad that I was afraid to eat the replacement pizza that was finally sent out (yeah.. I worked in fast-food, I know what happens when someone complains enough to begin a shouting match)… so I demanded my money back. I didn’t order from ANY Pizza Hut again.. until this past Sunday. 

Why am I telling you this? Because you need to hear it. You are a musician. When you play a gig, it’s your job to entertain. That’s what you’re there for. You share your craft and affect the mood in the room. The bar is counting on you to entertain the crowd… and bring people in to watch you. If you go up there and half-ass a show or cancel it because of something trivial (like allergies) are going to lose the opportunity to earn a fan, and you may just lose the venue a customer as well.

As an entertainment writer, I see a lot of shows. In the last 15 years I’ve probably seen over 2,000 bands perform. I try to catch at least one or two shows a month (which would equal seeing 4-6 bands perform). It’s usually on my radar to catch at least 2-3 bands I’ve never seen live before as I’m always trying to find new music to cover, help promote, and brag about. I also try and make local shows my priority.

There are hundreds of bands I’ll never see live again. I won’t drop any names, because I focus on the positives… but if you mail-it-in when you go up to perform.. chances are I’m not going out of my way to see you.. when I have a loving wife, popcorn and Netflix at home. But, as an entertainment writer, my passion is finding good bands and helping them become better known… and I take that role very seriously.
Matt The Electrician in 2007

There are a few bands out there that do amazing things on stage. Now, I’m not talking about the big-budget Hannah Montana / KISS / U2 type shows…which I’ve seen all of those and they were amazing. I’m talking about One-Eyed Doll’s theatrics, Darrell Scott, Walt Wilkins and Matt The Electrician’s stories, Terri Hendrix and Caroline Wonderland’s joy, Lamb of God and Trashy and the Kid’s energy, Todd Snider and Zlam Dunk’s humor, Cory Morrow and Full Service’s ability to own the emotions of a crowd. These bands “get it.” If you want to know what “it” is, go see them. It’s natural. It’s a part of them. It’s performance. It’s being an entertainer.
Terri Hendrix 2010

So, never take a fan for granted. Never expect people to show up to your gig. Never “just play.” Always play with passion. Always thank people for coming. Always do a little something extra during the show to make sure the folks in the audience will have a performance they’ll never want to forget. Make them glad they dropped $5-$10 at the door to see you. Make them want to do it again. 

There’s a reason it’s called the entertainment business. You are an entertainer.

Entertain or Perish.

1 comment:

aaron mace said...

entertainment business is very important, and has its place. the formula for success regarding music in the entertainment world won't be the only criteria with to evaluate music in general, I hope, nor entertainment value the sole value.