Sunday, May 22, 2016

Musical Thoughts - The Devil Went Down To Utah

My Music, My Concerts, My Life exists because we love music.  We do not get paid.  In fact, the blog costs all of us money. We pay for the web domain and e-mail.  We pay to have our interviews transcribed.  We buy t-shirts and business cards to promote ourselves.  In certain instances, we buy our own tickets just to cover a show we really want to see.  We work countless hours and late nights to create original content in a timely manner.  All this in 2 1/2 years without earning a single cent.  Why?  For the love of it.  We are here to serve the music.

Although we feel this way that's not how everyone feels.  It is a business. Bands stake their lives on it.  Record companies gamble on artists.  Magazines and websites thrive on the industry. There are millions to be made or lost.  Whenever that is the case, there are two ways business will go down.  Ethically or snakelike.  That's just the way it is. When it is good it's good. When it's bad it's really fucking bad.  We recently found this out first hand.

Our correspondent, Shane Crawford, wanted to cover a three day festival happening in southern Utah that was a mix of 80's metal legends and new metal up and comers.   Festivals are a little bit harder to cover as a blog because instead of hitting up the bands publicists it is all funneled though the festival promoter.  Shane wanted to go badly enough that he ponied up $160 bucks for two tickets and asked if I could at least secure him a photo pass. I found an e-mail on the festival webpage and shot off a quick request.

To my surprise, we received a phone call from the promoter granting us all access and was willing to help set up interviews with the bands.  Shane spoke with the promoter and they would let him in early so that he could set up and get ready.  In return, we would help promote the festival on our website and social media posts.  Simple enough.

The first sign that something was wrong was the festival did not have a Twitter page or an Instagram page.  I was able to tag the festival on Facebook but that was it.  I am not a marketing genius but if you want to have a social media presence you have to have more than Facebook.  The bands were promoting hard!  Collectively we were retweeting each other to get a buzz going. Two bands, including one of the headliners, reached out to us directly on Twitter to set up interviews.  Not one share, retweet, or like from the festival itself.

When Shane arrived he noticed the turnout was low.  He met with the bands back stage who were extremely gracious with their time.  They performed their asses of in front of a handful of people.  They served their fans and gave it their maximum effort.  We posted photos all day long, on all of our social media, promoting the bands and the event as promised.

As the night moved on the headliners confided in Shane that the promoter was trying to short them a considerable amount of money.  This is a band that promoted their show.  Traveled to Utah with their equipment and were ready to play.  They promoter now wanted to band to be done by 10:00 pm so they could close down early for the night.  The band just couldn't perform for the amount that was now being offered to them.  They had no choice but to not play.  It was a little hard to swallow knowing the festival promoter had received over $200k in sponsorship money from local businesses.

The headliners held true to their promise and told Shane which hotel they were staying at and to give them 30 minutes and then stop by and they would be happy to give him the interview they promised.  They stayed up until 3:30 talking with Shane.  That is a band that goes the extra mile for their fans.

When you can't pay the headliner for day 1 what does that mean for day 2?  Bands from this era know each other.  I am sure the headliner from day 2 had a pretty good idea that the headliner from day 1 didn't get paid.   Some of the bands from Day 1 were supposed to perform Day 2 as well.  When Shane arrived at the festival for day 2 the promoters had already packed up and left.  There would be no day 2...or 3 for that matter.  The promoters were not handing out refunds, only sorry's.  Shane was out $160.00 plus gas and hotel.

As a blog, this puts us in a very difficult position. We rely on promoters and publicists to get us photo passes and tickets for shows so we can cover their events.  Without their help we could never afford to cover all of the shows that we write about.  In turn we offer great marketing for their band or event.  It is a symbiotic relationship.

When we started this blog we made a very conscious decision to never write a negative piece.  We would focus all of our energy on music that we love and if we couldn't find anything nice to say we wouldn't say anything at all.  Every band has a fan base.  We try to see every live event through their eyes.  There have been instances were we have declined to write about something.  We feel its a greater disservice to trash something than it is to just let it be. This is how we have always conducted business. How do we handle a situation like this?

We were at the festival somewhat as a guest of the promoter.  If we trash them we have no shot at covering any more of their events or possibly other promoters events.  The band's position is even worse.  They earn their living from this but if they start trashing promoters who's to think they won't get labeled as difficult and shut out of other summer concert events.  The problem is this type of shit isn't something that just used to happen in the glory days of rock and roll.  It still happens today.  With the decline in record sales and internet piracy there is less money than there ever was for bands.  I'm not saying that bands didn't have to hustle in the old days but they definitely have to hustle to make a living today.  They spend countless hours on the road away from their families just to get swindled at the gig.

For every guy like Randy Now of City Gardens who always paid his performers, even if he took a loss, you have another promoter that pulls out of a three day festival after only day one.  A good friend of mine, who started out as a tour manage, once told me a story about jumping a fence to chase a promoter down an alley for the money he owed her band.  He complained she was robbing him while he paid her for the concert they performed. This has got to stop. So do we take the high road and look the other way or do we take a stand for what is right and serve the music?

The promoter is Strong Media Group and the festival was Retro Rockfest in Hurricane, Utah.  K.J. Strong is part of the problem.  Know that before your band agrees to play for one of their festivals or you spend your money to purchase a ticket.

Thank you to Dellacoma, Raven Cain, and The Bullet Boys for being gracious to your fans and honoring our blog with your time and words. We are forever fans and appreciate all that you do.

See you when the needle drops.


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