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Dear fellow musicians, this is my 1st response to the free coffee shop discussion going on inside Craigslist.
About us: we are a 4 piece all acoustic band that has been together for two years. We are seasoned musicians, all being in previous bands. We have no "Akron connection". We all have daytime jobs. All of us work hard at securing gigs (we have no manager) and each one of us does secure gigs. We have put together a pro looking press kit and have video and audio available for clients to listen to and view. We also have MANY references. (some from free shows) Having references is important, because clients will call your references to see if your band is a fit for their venue.
Last June/July/August we played about 16 to 18 paying gigs. We have 3 standing gigs each month, (off season) so we probably did 40 paying gigs last year.
We will play for free at 2 coffee shops that we like playing at. Usually when we have some new songs we want to try out, or if things are slow during colder months and we want to stay sharp. The owners know that it will be a glorified "practice" for us and we make no promises. They know we will put out a tip jar, sell CD's, advertise our next paying gig and we always get free drinks and food. We usually don't advertise on our Facebook, Reverbnation or Website our free coffee shop gigs. Some of our close friends, fans, family know about these gigs and come and spend money. That's just fine with us, I hope the owners do well. We always do well in tips.
Someone in a past post mentioned "the troubadour thing". I assumed they meant Busking. We love to busk. Especially Summer and when we have new songs to try out. (always with a tip jar and CD's) No faster way to find out if the public likes or dislikes your material than to busk. If they stay after the song and clap, they like it, if they walk away, oh well, you better nix that song. If folks walking away from your performance bothers you, you better find another hobby. By the way, it is a hobby until you live off your earnings.
I feel it is important for bands, especially new bands, to get in front of an audience and perform. There is no substitution for live performance. If this means using a coffee shop (or any venue) so that you can get up in front of folks, so be it. This is experience that money can't buy. The butterflies you feel right before those early performances will live in your memory forever.
To those of you who may be having trouble securing gigs, dig deep and find out why. Don't blame it on the "system" or anyone else. Just because you practice hour and hours and hours, does not entitle you to a paying gig. It probably is not for lack of talent, but matching your music to the venue you want to secure. There are gigs out there, you just have to fit in.
do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers