Why I'm Not Doing Live Shows

With all of the buzz and excitement circulating around the XRP Community Choice awards on November 16th- which I am so excited to be performing at- I thought I'd talk about why I typically don't play shows.

The roaring fans, the lights, the vibration of amps buzzing- it's all very exciting.

But that is NOT how you start off- **or could you**?

Most musicians start off playing small dive bars and coffee shops where nobody really cares who you are or what you sound like. They may even ask for you to be turned down so they can maintain their conversations. 😂 Although this can be humiliating, we all have to start somewhere- but not because you're not capable of growing fans quickly, but because you have to practice.

Practicing stage presence is a vital piece of the puzzle. Getting comfortable just being on stage, pouring your heart out to be people who really don't care- is just a part of the gig.

Shows can be a musicians dream come true and nightmare all in one. Once they actually make it out on stage, as long all goes as planned, it can be great, but the motions set in place to get there are an uphill climb to say the least.

Now I must note that everything I share in this article must be prefaced with the fact that I am an independent artist and I am not passing these responsibilities onto a booking agent or a manager at the moment.

Living in Nashville, as an artist, there is a natural expectation for you to grab your guitar and hit the stage as soon as you step foot in town. Although I have seen a lot of artists do that, I don't necessarily think that is the best use of your time, money, energy and efforts. You see, especially in Nashville, the music scene is over-saturated with a lot of “meh” musicians, mixed in with incredible musicians. But you don't see the incredible musicians playing all of the same, easy-to-get-in, generic spots that the others are playing. In fact, you see the incredible musicians, quickly making their way to the top, not because the right people were at the “meh” venues, but because they were intentionally putting their time, efforts and money into avenues that connected them to the right people.

Let me explain.

The purpose behind playing shows has changed significantly in the past 20 years. Rather than playing anywhere and everywhere, you should be playing shows at very specific places. You see, playing shows isn't really about gaining fans, your ROI is going to be practically microscopic unless you are opening for a huge musician at a festival or event. Playing shows is actually about making the fans that you already have, happy. And how do you gain fans in the 21st century? The internet.

You see the musicians in Nashville who are absolutely killing it, are killing it because they have a devoted online fan base who want to see them succeed. They put out music online constantly, through streaming and YouTube and then when they do put that they're playing a show, their fans come out and see them and sing along because they already KNOW them. They can guarantee a large turnout, so venues are more apt to pay them more money and they are able to scale their value/guarantee very quickly.

The smaller venues that don't have as much to spend usually focus their efforts on just getting artists in and out. This leaves artists who aren't actually that good, playing at those venues on a regular basis. This works perfectly as a tourist trap in Nashville. They are always able to advertise “live music” because they only have to pay a small amount of money to the artists that aren't very good and they keep them coming back because those artists don't know their worth or they don't care. This allows the venue to make a large profit and keeps the toxic cycle going. So especially for those of you who live in Nashville, just because you see an artist out playing a ton of shows, doesn't mean that they have a fan base, a lot of money or a lot of connections. In fact, that leads me to my next point.

The artists that are out playing a ton of shows, all the time, don't typically have a solid, scaleable business plan. They are just trying to get a bit of money wherever they can. They aren't thinking about the longterm. They aren't thinking about where their probable fans are located. They aren't thinking about how they can use social media to garner a greater impact. Although they might be “doing” a lot, it's not actually “doing” a lot FOR them.

For those musicians that LOVE playing shows, that's great- but are they making a sustainable profit? A scaleable, long term, I-could-retire-off-this profit? Most likely not.

I get a lot of flack from local Nashville artists. They think I'm stuck up, not paying my “dues” to the industry, and they think I'm going to be a terrible musician because I don't perform (which I have, I just don't anymore).

Let me flip the table around...

I see that I am at home and at the studio, spending my money and time on making new music and getting paid to release that music through scaleable means such as streaming and using platforms like Coil & Cinnamon.

I see myself gaining a significantly higher ROI with real, engaged fans on my social media platforms than I EVER would playing random shows.

I see myself only competing against myself for people's attention and devotion, because I'm not trying to book all the shows that other musicians are all fighting over.

I see myself reaching a higher number of people because I'm focusing on ad targeting in the places that I know already have people who WANT to be my fans.

Does that not seem amazing? To be able to gain a TANGIBLE fan base from home, rather than spending time and money trying to book shows, pay a band, find & pay for a rehearsal space, spend time rehearsing, advertise, lug all of the gear to a space that can only hold a hundred people (IF that) and then try to get them to remember me, look me up on social media, download my music & share it- oh and get paid a VERY small amount of money while doing it? Not worth it.

Instead, I show up online everyday, where my potential fans are already hanging out and I share stories and life with them. I share my music that will speak to them, the way it spoke to me. They are already then sharing and listening to my music (naturally expanding my audience without the begging) and then when I have enough of my fans in a certain place I will be able to book shows in those cities and towns where I KNOW I will have a great turn out.

So what do you need to have to make this scaleable method work for you?

1. Consistency

You MUST be consistent. This means releasing music on a regular basis, showing up on all of your social platforms daily, engaging with your fans and followers to create a family that they love being a part of and being consistently authentic. Your fans and followers will see a fake personality from a mile away.

2. Persistence

You also must be persistent. You must persevere and realize that success, especially in the music industry, is a long term journey and it will NOT be handed to you. You must work for everything you want to achieve and keep your eye on the goal and the purpose behind it. Having to show up everyday can feel exhausting, but if you are focused on the long term reward of getting paid a lot of money to play shows to people who already love you and getting paid to make stories come alive in music, it's all going to be worth it.

I am SO excited to play for the XRP Community Choice Awards on the 16th. It's going to be a great time and is a perfect example of playing a show to the fans you already have- it's just a bonus that I get to do it from home on a camera! 😉

If you haven't purchased your tickets, do so now by sending 5 XRP to @here4XRP on Twitter. They've already raised over 20k XRP for the XRP Community Fund, you definitely don't want to miss out! Plus don't forget to vote for your favorite Community Members!


Two reasons why this method might not work for you!

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