When my CD Road Construction came out I tried to friend several writers and DJs, to no avail. It did get a nice writeup in the APP, and Danny Coleman (of the great Rock On!Radio show) was incredible supportive, but other than that, not important enough, despite the fact I sold hundreds of copies and packed Sprengels Garden Sports Bar in Neptune for release.
Then the Where Music Lives event where pretty everyone else but me from back then was asked to participate. Not important enough. Both the AMAs and JAMAs, again not important enough. And on and On.
I’ve played Asbury Park more times than about 99 % of any other acts, even the Pony, where I was in the only band to ever play on Top of it. But again, not important enough.
When I handed in my resignation at Clearwater a few years back, no one even acknowledged it, despite the fact that I served longer (over 20 years) and was more active than almost everyone there.
And here’s the thing- so many musicians go thru this same thing, the struggle to get noticed. Its much more difficult today than it ever was, with so much talent gravitating to this area from other areas.
With so much music in the area, how do you become important? I get asked this question a lot by up and coming artists, and my answer is not a pleasant one. I just flat out tell them its a struggle to get noticed these days, and even more to keep being noticed. Fortunately, the music biz is still highly democratic, and the fact that you have many fans gives you lots of power. So, for example, I used to tell bands that the best way to get booked into Clearwater for the first time is to have a buzz going about your act- push, push, push the marketing of it. Then we would have no choice but to book you because once you have a buzz going of course we would want to share in that buzz (as long as we could afford you, back then the festival actually paid a lot of the acts).
A while back there was a benefit for a local musician who played with many many acts and who had taken sick. I had at least a dozen or so people who stayed hours because they wanted to catch MY set. My set never happened, because as soon as I brought my amp to the stage I was told “Sorry Al, we don’t have time for this act.” “Not even a song or two?” I asked.
So I got my stuff and left, and mostly felt bad for the people who had stayed.
I knew that is was largely my fault tho. As good as Chik-A-Boom was, it pretty much put a stranglehold on my music career ambitions, and my career was pretty much ignored right up until the past year or so. So I decided to write and document my career, and I put the CD out and began showcasing for the first time in many years.
Of course, it cuts both ways, and last week when I simply showed up at Bar A for the Harpin’ Help thing after my appearance at another local benefit was cut at the last minute (as far as I know, the only one cut) it was extremely kind of Sandy and Brenda to fit me in. They didn’t have to do that but I want to add it here because as they say “one person’s meat is another’s poison”.
I probably don’t have another 40 years to become “important enough”, I might not even have 40 months or even 40 hours if my other kidney decides its 2 AM closing time.
But I’ll keep on writing and performing and blogging about my experiences in this great local scene here, as if I am important enough. That is the advice I give the up and comers- don’t ever act like you are anything but the greatest. Not necessarily to the point of conceit (tho obviously that works for some people), but at least to the point at which your fans at least can be proud of you because you are proud of yourself. Whether there are 5 or 15 or 15 million of them- act like you are important enough so that they at least know that they didn’t spend 15 or 20.00 to wonder why yours was the one act that never got to peform.