The music scene here is crap. The reason I say that is because the venues here have total control over the value of a night's work. That's not how it should be. Every other place I've lived the venues give you a chance, even though it's an unpaid or underpaid gig on a Wednesday or Thursday, it always leads to fruitful gigs on weekends, as long as you kill it. Here...not so much.
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Here they expect you to have a huge online following and guarantee 50+ paying/drinking/eating customers and then still only pay enough to cover gas and food for the trip. It's ridiculous. You have to play at crap venues for free a million times before you can build a following large enough to be considered a decent enough draw in their eyes. They control the market. From Portland all the way to Eugene. And they are ruthless. I've played in tons of shows where my band's been the biggest draw and helped sell thou$ands in drinks and food and then got laughed out the door when I asked for a little something extra, like a pitcher of beer or a pizza.
If you play niche music, like reggae, jamband, outlaw country, minimalist indie, classic rock covers, etc then you have a good chance of scoring decent dough, but only at certain venues, and they're few and far between. If you play something truly creative and original...well...you're screwed on the cash front. Not many people here have the patience or interest in original music that they can't sing along to or learn the words in the first 30 seconds. And if your music is abrasive in any way they'll never call you back. McMenamins owns this valley and they don't give a crap about any local band they haven't heard of. I wouldn't play at a McMenamins venue, nor would I pay to see a band there, even if it was a band I truly loved. I have literally gone to Seattle and other cities to see bands I love just to avoid giving McMenamins my money. They don't deserve it. Their venues are garbage anyway. Sound quality is crap and they all seem to have a foul moldy odor and malfunctioning toilets.
But I digress...
There just isn't enough support for local music here. This is not a good town for it. It's not the fault of people who don't care if they get paid to play. It's the fault of the people here who just don't care about originality and creativity. It seems all these people want is sing-a-long happy hour and validation of their drunk desires.
Portland is no different, except that there are plenty of venues that don't care who plays there as long as they don't care about getting paid. The good venues are exactly the same. If you can't draw then they don't bring you in, no matter how good you are. If you don't have thousands of social media followers and thousands of hits on YouTube then you're nothing to them. Even for opening gigs. In every place I've ever loved before the venues will happily pay a nominal price for a band that has a decent demo and is in the same genre as the main act. McM
I've played all the great venues in LA...The Troubador, Whisky A Go-Go, The Derby Lounge, House of Blues (in 3 different states), and many world renown venues all across the country, but that doesn't matter to any of the venue operators here. I can walk into any venue I want in LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, New Orleans, Chicago, Nashville, etc and get a paying gig. Here, I get laughed at and told "that ain't the way it works around here" or something to that effect. Sometimes they patronize with things like "well, we saw your online presence and we feel you're just not a good fit for this venue" or something like that, even though somebody very similar to what I'm doing is playing there, hence me requesting to be put on the bill. I hate social media, so on principle I do not use any of it. I am fervently anti-FB, anti-Twitter, etc. They've destroyed the society we had and supplanted themselves in place of what took humans thousands of years to build, and all in less than a couole decades. That should scare the hell outta you. What's it gonna be like in 20 more years?
But I digress...again...
I could call people and cut deals, but that's not who I am. I have no delusions of grandeur. I don't care if I get paid a lot or a little. I just wanna play. If you have dreams of becoming a millionaire making music and you're not absolutely beautiful, extremely talented and well connected then just stop.
Make music because it's what you love. Play shows because you enjoy impressing people who don't know you. Live your life like there's no tomorrow and stop whining about trivial crap. And DESTROY SOCIAL MEDIA'S INFLUENCE OVER YOU AND YOUR REALITY!