Okay, let’s get right to it. There are three main reasons why you should be recording every show:
1. To review your work
2. To make shows available to current and potential fans
3. Tour without touring
Review your work
For me, playing live is the point of all this. It’s the reason we practice alone, the reason we rehearse together. It’s the reason we spend a boatload of money on gear. It’s the reason we tirelessly promote shows, even when it seems like no one is paying any attention at all. A few minutes together with some other folks working toward one goal together can be magic.
It’s also the reason we lug so much heavy shit around all the time. Now that I think of it, why is it everything that sounds good is heavy as hell? God, lead singers have it so easy. You think Mick Jagger or Robert Plant helped with load ins? I doubt it. Slackers.
Equally important for me, though, is improvement. The show needs to be getting better over time. Otherwise there’s really no point in continuing. Sure, you can ask your friends how you did after the show, but they’re not really a good source of info because they’re your friends. They’re probably going to tell you the show was great even if it could use some work. Also, “it was great” doesn’t really tell you anything about how close the sound of the show was to the sound you want to achieve in your head.
Critics are also not a great source of info on how your show sounded, firstly because they don’t know how you want it to sound. They only know how they wanted it to sound. Second, it’s much cooler nowadays to tweet that something sucked than to say it was good. I don’t know why that’s true, but it is. If someone says your show sucks, but you’ve listened to it with your own ears and you know it sounded awesome, then forget that guy.
Long story short, the only person who can really tell you how your show went is you. You can hear everything that went perfectly, which is awesome, and you can also hear the parts that could use some extra work, which is also awesome.
Make shows available to potential fans
Everyone knows a great way to get into new venues is to gig swap with other bands. Let’s say you want to play at Fat Paul’s Music Hut, and a band who plays there regularly wants to get on the bill with you at The Slamcave. No problem! You just open for them one night and they come open for you.
That process gets a lot easier if the other band can hear what you sound like, and even more easier if they can hear people going nuts listening to you play.
Also, potential fans in cities you are about to visit can see what you’re all about without having to put on some pants and drive down to the Slamcave and find parking and all that hassle. Let’s face it, parking at the Slamcave is weak. It’s a lot easier to just pay a couple of bucks to download the show.
Make shows available to current fans
There’s great news for the people who are already converts to your way of life. Never again do they have to miss a show. Sure, it’s best if they clear their schedule every time you’re in town, but sometimes they just can’t get off work or their dog eats a whole pan of brownies and gets sick or whatever. What if someone is a huge fan of yours, but ends up moving to another town? They can still hear you rock out live every time.
Those little morsels can keep fans who otherwise might have wandered astray engaged. Unless you’re a trust fund baby, recording an album is expensive and time consuming. Having some live shows for sale is a great way to stay in front of your audience and even make a few bucks while you’re grinding away in the studio.
Tour without going on the road
Everyone wants to go on the road. Well, everyone except the people who have been on the road. Still, as much fun as it can be to travel around with your friends playing shows, touring is expensive. The price of gas might go up and down week to week, but it’s definitely going up every year. Hotels are expensive. Sleeping on a pile of gear in a moldy trailer when it’s 95 degrees at midnight sucks bigtime. Trying to drive five hours to the next town starting at 3am is no fun, and let’s face it, really dangerous. Don’t do that. Get some sleep.
Back in my day, before I became a crotchety old never-was, we didn’t have your fancy twitters and facing books. People would go out to a live music venue on a random night because there was nothing else to do. That meant you could get on a show in a new town and have a hope of getting seen by some new faces who were keen to discover a new band. Thing is, now people can discover acts way easier through the internet. Also, people who might have gone out to a venue ten years ago are now staying home to pound through an entire season of Arrested Development. Asking people to come out to a show is a big request, and it gets bigger every year.
I can’t count the number of times I have seen a band form up, learn a few songs together and immediately start trying to book shows in surrounding areas. Next thing you know they’re fighting and breaking up because they’re spending so much time and energy and no one is coming to their shows.
It doesn’t make any sense to go on tour unless there is an audience where you want to go. You can grow and gauge that audience by marketing recorded shows to them and save a boatload of time, money, and energy in the process.
We want to help you bring your music to the people with a low barrier of technology for you married to a low barrier of cash money for the fans. We want shows to be easy to record, easy to upload, and easy to buy. That way, everyone gets the most out of every performance.
So record those awesome shows of yours and get them in people’s ears. You might even end up with a few dollars in your pocket.