A few days ago I noticed a comment posted on social media from Andy Kershaw about two of his gigs being cancelled.
The reason for the cancellation was a lack of presales and the promoter had pulled them.
No one likes that do they?
Andy Kershaw will have had an itinerary sorted and there will be financial forecasts done that are based on the events planned.
Now any notes on that will be lying like confetti at his feet.
It’s really not just a case of turning up and then leaving a little later in the night.
There really is far more to touring than that.
Travel plans and accommodation may have already been made, and if so then it’s possible that there would have been a few phrases that would make a sailor blush that passed his lips when news came in about the shows being pulled.
Then there are the venues that will now be left with holes in their schedules, and knowing venues - and I do - this is never something they are very happy about.
If you were to put a scale on being unhappy, and one was how you feel when your biscuit drops off into your tea, and ten is when you are so unhappy that you are contemplating breaking the kneecaps of the person who has annoyed you, then the cancellation of a show draws a reaction that hovers around eight from a venue.
And without a doubt the promoter will be wondering why (s)he even bothered, (although apparently there wasn't a great deal of actual promoting done and some blame may need to be shouldered here) and I fully expect will now be ducking and diving around looking to stitch a pigs ear out of what could have been a silk purse.
See what I mean about no one liking this?
And ultimately let us not forget that there are those who did commit to going to the shows and are now left wondering why they even bothered to leave their cash resting in the account of someone else for a while.
None of it is very good is it?
There are a couple of reasons for the poor response to the tickets going on sale for any event though.
One is a lack of promotion.
It is a very real issue.
It doesn't take a great deal of common sense to wrap your head around how keeping the shows secret equates to no one attending, but the other that will have had an impact is that sadly people are simply waiting until the last minute before deciding what they are going to do, and while they have every right to do so this lack of commitment to an event leaves the promoter, the venue and the artists(s) in a very difficult position.
For instance I have been at the sharp end more than once of presales for a show failing to reach double figures and it takes a financially suicidal leap of faith not to cancel.
In the main my never say die attitude has often resulted in a successful night for everyone involved, but it hasn't always been the case, and I have put on gigs that have had acts play to little more than the bar staff of the venue, a few random strangers and the obligatory hardcore fan who always attends the bands shows with the full tally of people attending maybe being five.
The end of the evening ends up with the venue being extremely unhappy, the artist or band(s) being dejected, and for myself, well I slope off under a cloud questioning my taste in music and with my pockets far lighter than I would care to mention as people may weep.*
Basically it’s all just too depressing to contemplate.
In the case of the Andy Kershaw dates I fully expect they would have ultimately been fine as he is pulling an audience wherever he goes, but it would seem to be that the combination of the new-found apathy from the public about committing to shows, and a dearth of any real promotion hammered the nails into the coffin.
So while the promotion side of things is nothing much to do with the public there does need to be some partial responsibility taken.
Today I have seen posts from people who are a tad annoyed that they are unable to attend a show that is sold out.
None of them claim they were short of funds and couldn't buy a ticket and equally I've not seen anyone say they didn't know about it, but instead it’s been stated more than once that ‘I was just going to pay on the door’.
Not now they’re not, but let’s just forget for a moment that this is a sold out show and consider that it is this attitude that leads to gigs being cancelled.
After all how are the artists, the venue or the promoter to know what anyone’s intentions are?
If a ticket hasn't been secured by anyone then there’s no guarantee that it wont be left on the shelf come the night of the show.
Strip everything down and consider that you have booked a venue, arranged a backline and pa, sorted out accommodation for the acts, paid for tickets, posters and fliers to be printed and then with one week to go there has only been six tickets sold.
How many would seriously hang in there with a hope and a prayer?
If we were in a classroom I don’t expect that a forest of hands would be waiving about.
So what is the solution then?
Well actually promoting a show is one, but committing to attending it is another, and I don’t mean clicking on the attending option on a facebook invite page either.
Go and buy a ticket.
*I'm not a big fish in the promoting pond and I just randomly put shows on of artists that I like.
It's never been a money making venture and I either break even or lose. If there is money left over I normally share it among supports and on a really good night buy merchandise from them so that it goes back into their pot.
Anyhow, here’s my next gig.
It’s the Bonnevilles and while I could say they are fantastic I’ll leave it to you to have a listen and see for yourself.
Mojo seems to like them.
Also here’s some Andy Kershaw dates.
Do yourself a favour and buy a ticket.
– Victoria Hotel
5th Tywyn – Magic Lantern
– headgate Theatre