Jerk musician emails

Last week turned out to be a busy one for Greenfoot.  Fresh off of playing a show last weekend, we had another one scheduled for Thursday night at The D Note, one of our favorite venues.  As with all shows, we have different avenues of promotion: the fliers at and surrounding the venue, posting on our web site and RSS feed, sending out a message to our mailing list, posting on MySpace and our newest method – posting on Craigslist.

Late Wednesday night I posted the following ad for our Thursday show: Come see great band @ one of Denver’s best live music venues – TONIGHT. On Saturday I got an email from a musician through the ad (didn’t even leave a name), basically chastising us for any reason he could find.  I know that people just have a random ax to grind, and I’m not going to dignify his email with a response – but that doesn’t mean I don’t have any thoughts about it.

First off, I don’t understand why musicians feel the need to make playing music some kind of pissing contest.  In the shows we’ve played around in Denver, we’ve seen some really good bands and we’ve seen some not-so-good bands.  We’re all entitled to our personal opinions, but we keep those within our band – we don’t speak negatively about the band to other musicians, and we surely don’t rip on the bands directly.  We’ve put our music out there and have received some constructive criticism – and welcome that.  I don’t see how someone takes pleasure in ripping on other bands – maybe it makes their ego feel better about their band.  Whatever.

I do want to react to a few things he wrote in his email though:

[The subject was “Govt Mule meets Led Zeppelin????”] seriously??  Do you really think your band compares even one microshed to these two powerhouse legends?   You need some humble pie and an honest assessment of your band from another working local musician.  Good intentions are here – believe me.

If you look in the original ad, I never said that we were the next Led Zeppelin or Gov’t Mule.  I specifically wrote “[our sound] been comparatively described as ‘Gov’t Mule meets Led Zeppelin’.”  This guy is reading into this line a little too much.  This is music marketing 101 (and credited to the Musician’s Cooler podcast): Instead of saying “our band has a very unique sound”, try to think of some of your major influences (specifically ones most people would know) and use those influences as descriptive’s.  That way, when someone reads that and says “I like those two bands, I’ll give it a listen”.  Every musician has influences, it’s not an insult to use those influences when you describe your music.  In the case of this guy, it worked – he just took it the wrong way.

I checked out your YouTube videos.   Gov’t Mule meets Led Zeppelin?  Hardly.   More like “High School Garage Band Rehearsal” meets “Really Bad Jam Session.”

Good intentions are here – believe me.

As a fellow local  musician, I REALLY recommend some more woodshedding before you put your name out there on YouTube, Craigslist, etc.   First impression is a lasting one.. I for one will never come see your band because of the first impression I had after seeing your YouTube videos.

This makes absolutely no sense to me.  YouTube and Craigslist are great publicity tools, but we’re not talking about sending a CD to Rolling Stone or a video to MTV.  I’m not supposed to use these web sites to promote our band’s music, but somehow we’re supposed to expect people to magically come to our shows without any promotion.

Secondly, first impressions are important, and I’m proud of the work that we’ve put our on our web site and on our videos.  Does it have room to grow?  Of course, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t use it as a promotional tool.  In the case of the YouTube video: it was put out by the venue we played at, we can either pretend it doesn’t exist or embrace it.  It’s a great performance so we were happy to put it out on our web site.  As we grow as a band we’ll make better recordings and better videos.  That said, we don’t expect everyone to like our music.  Everyone has different tastes and that’s fine.  Frankly, if this guy treats fellow musicians this way, then we don’t want him at our shows.

Do NOT EVER compare yourself to bands like LZ and Mule unless you can back it up.   It really leaves a disappointment when I read that part of your ad, hit your site, and find the very elementary and mediocre work you guys are doing. Booking managers will feel the same as me TRUST ME.

Ok, calm down.  We used some comparative descriptions, we didn’t shoot your dog.  I’m not going to re-hash my argument from above, but just that this guy shouldn’t take this so personally.  We put ads on Craigslist for people to come check out our site and hear our music.  We hope people will like it, but if you don’t then that’s fine.  I’m sorry this guy felt like we wasted his time, but apparently his time isn’t so valuable that he can’t compose a diatribe about how he hates our band.

And booking managers will feel the same?  Some may and that’s fine, but we’ve had a steady schedule and played at a lot of great places this summer and met most of our goals.  We’ve worked hard and it’s paid off, but I guess booking managers feel the same as this guy.

I do between 60 to 80 gigs a year with my bands and I book 95% of our gigs.  You really need to think of a different way to market yourself besides the LZep/Mule thing.   What a disappointment.

Ok, so this guy can pee further than we can.  I’m glad his head grew as he wrote that sentence.  This guy is comparing apples to oranges.  When you want to make it big in music then it’s probably your full-time job and probably do need to play 80+ gigs per year.  That not our band’s goal.  We’ve all got our own careers, families and other priorities.  The music is simply a release for us, we’re happy with playing 3-4 shows per month.  We work hard and welcome any success, but our livelihood isn’t dependant on playing 80 shows per year.

And with his 95% of 60-80 gigs booking experience, the best advice he can offer us is “don’t say Led Zep and you guys suck”.  Thanks for the substantive advice!  I really appreciate all this guy is doing to support his fellow musicians, nothing like tearing other people down to help think better about yourself. But good intentions are here – believe me.

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