I am feeling anxious now.
I am feeling anxious because I have to get something off of my chest.
I am the last person to ever ask anybody for help. Often this will come at my own detriment. This comes from my willingness to help others when I am able to and not having a “Quid pro quo” mentality towards it. I couldn’t even begin to compile a list of monetary debts I have given to people over the years, let alone the unreturned favours and things I have flat-out just given away.
I am not saying this because I have an attitude that anybody actually owes me anything, but I feel I need to preface this all before diving into what has been really bothering me. I have never been a particularly nice person, and like everyone have a huge share of faults and negative traits. I have used people, I have lied, I have done many things that I am not proud of. That said, if there is one thing I know I have been, it’s giving; whether it’s time, patience, or money.
It has been a few months since I joined this new band and it has been really great, for the most part. The thing that has been toughest is getting shows, which is easily the hardest thing a band can do when trying to prove themselves. Since leaving this aspect of music four or five years ago, things have definitely changed.
From what I am able to recall, finding promoters for shows used to be as easy as searching the internet for local shows in the area, collecting the names of production companies and emailing them. Letting them know a truthful representation of what your band had to offer by playing a show with them, and trying to find something that fit best for both parties. Seems logical.
This doesn’t seem to work anymore.
We have, as a band, collectively spent probably a full weeks worth of hours scouring the internet looking for names of anyone willing to toss us on a show bill. It has even turned into actively contemplating taking shows with a Southern Ontario production company which has a business model based around paying out-of-pocket to play.
This past weekend we took a 19+ bar show with a verbal promise of a 4-way door split at the end of the night. Two songs into our set the promoter jumped ship and told the door man not to pay any of the bands anything. Between our songs the staff could be heard from the back heckling and making fun of us. The staff? Whatever happened to being a damn professional? We ended up getting $20 for gas out of the door man, only after standing our ground; from what I have heard we were the only band compensated, and there was more than 8 paid in the bar ($10 cover x 8 / 4 = $20).
I do get that this stuff is a standard practice, but no band should put up with it. However, I have digressed from what is bothering me.
After starting to feel fed up and stressed about all of this, I decided to suck up my pride and ask for help. I know a few people who are in the place to help us out, and of that group I chose a couple that might be sympathetic to the issue and lend a hand. I wrote emails asking them if they would be able to give us anything that could point us in a direction to get an opening spot on any show’s for gas money. I never expected anyone to send me a PDF with every contact they have ever made, or to get on the phone and beg on our behalf to get a show. Even a name or email for one or two people would have been enough.
These are people I have done helped out in the past, people who I’m sure still remember that, and I can’t say enough to the fact that I didn’t expect anything in return, but I was hopeful that they would be able to recognize how hard it was for me to ask to begin with.
It’s not like we play music that no one would like, people do. It’s not like I think that because I was already in an established band that I don’t have to pay the dues necessary to set up this new one.
So far, I have yet to receive anything back. Not help, not “I wish I could help you but I have nothing”, not a “fuck you.” Any reply would be better than just being ignored.
I don’t know how it is everywhere else any more, but independent music around here is always referred to as a community. Everything that I have seen lately just shows me that isn’t true. Maybe I reached out to the wrong people; I’d like to be proven wrong, because this community is starting to make me feel like I never should have come back. Even worse, it’s starting to make me wonder if I should ever offer to help any one else ever again.
You can’t help people who can’t help themselves, but what is there to say when you’re trying to help yourself and get ignored by people unwilling to help?
– I need to append this post and add that there are some people and promoters we have found willing to give us a shot, and their efforts shouldn’t be diminished. It means a lot to us, but in this post I’m referring to people I thought I had a semi-personal/professional relationship with that I’ve personally contacted.