Thoughts of a Thirsty Troubadour Part 9: The Fans
What would we do without them? The Fans
They’re what we all strive for. Musicians, artists, dancers, creators of all kinds. We work so hard to earn people’s trust. We work to turn strangers into fans. Without fans, we cannot support our art and we cannot support ourselves. That’s just the way it is. Some people sell vacuums…we sell ourselves. I am a solo musician, so in this blog, I’m writing solely from my point of view. I can’t speak for painters, bakers, writers etc., although I can’t imagine my thoughts are a whole lot different than theirs.
My main source of revenue is from bars. I love it. I feel so at home when I am in a bar with a great atmosphere. What’s a great atmosphere to me? Dark, dingy, high top tables, music and drinks and conversation flowing. Hell, I even miss the old smoky bar days. Remember the smoky haze combined with the lights? It was as beautiful as a sunset to me. My point is, bars are my element. I don’t really have a huge ambition to play anything beyond them. I know my place, and I am 100% ok with that!
So here’s the “tea” as the young kids say. Playing in a bar feels a little different than it did twenty or thirty years ago. These days there is pressure on the performer or band to PROVIDE the audience. And I don’t mean just a couple of tables. If we don’t produce, we’ll often get a very polite dismissal from the venue. So, fans are EVERYTHING to us. Especially those of us whose occupation is performing. This isn’t the case in all venues but I have so often felt that I am one “slow” gig away from losing a job. I mean, I can’t control my fan’s social schedules (weddings, bbq’s, bar mitzvahs, fishing trips). It’s not really fair, but you know what they say.
When I started my journey, I wasn’t even thinking about fans. I was just happy and felt so validated to get a job in a bar. It was “the big time” for me…it still is! But slowly, person by person I started gaining fans. This was before social media and the like, so I had to rely on my posters in bars and calling people to tell them where/when I was playing next. To my recollection, bars just seemed busier in those days. Back then you could smoke, drinks were cheap in some places and I hate to say it but the drinking and driving laws were a little more lax.
There is WAY more competition. Prices are rising. Expenses are rising. There’s a bar on every corner wanting and needing to outdo the bar across the street. In the “old” days we were hired to entertain a bar’s guests, now we are hired (in a lot of cases) to provide the bar’s guests. Pressure. To me, it should be a 50/50 proposition. Shouldn’t the bar provide me somewhat of an audience that will hopefully enjoy my show and come back when I am there? And then maybe they’ll have so much fun that next time they’ll bring a few more friends and so on? That’s how an audience is built and fans are made. It takes time. It takes trust and faith between the venue and the musician. Everyone needs to work hard to satisfy the fans.
Where do I even start? First of all, it feels weird calling them “fans”. They are friends. And I truly love them all and appreciate them all. Sometimes I wonder how we all found each other. I say this with complete honesty and humility, I don’t feel like I deserve it. But I will say this. I work hard at every gig, and I truly believe that I play some of the best songs EVER written, and that helps. A lot (ok most) of the credit goes to the incredible songwriters and artists that I get to cover every night. Back to the fans though…I’m doing my best to find a way to convey my gratefulness to the beautiful people that have supported me in this crazy and emotional job. “I love you”, “I thank you”, “I cherish you”. Those are a few. I do not take my fans for granted. I am so taken with emotion when I see them walk through the door. I don’t know how else to write it down. Just know, that even as I am writing this, I am smiling.
My Fans II
My fans (friends) have changed my life. I’m not scared to say, it is them that have allowed me to make a living doing what I love. They are irreplaceable and I hold them in the highest regard. I will always work hard for them, I will always play their requests, and just as they are here for me…I will always be here for them.
Much love and thanks to you all,