Ari's Take

Are You In The Right City For Your Music

10
I lived in Minneapolis for 7 years. Other than making great friends, becoming a supportive member of the music community and my overall love for the city itself, it wasn't the right music scene for my style of music. Meaning, there were very few other artists making music within the same or similar genre to what I was doing and the city's music newspaper editors, bloggers and radio DJs did not support my style of music. Minneapolis is the most hipster city in the country (step aside Portland and Brooklyn). And I don't mean hipster like the actual NYC hipsters of the mid 90s. I'm talking about the educated, upper-middle class, thrift store wearing, fixie riding, thick rimmed glasses sporting, ironic mustache growing, local coffee shop frequenting, cigarette smoking, unbathed, music snobs. These hipsters hate anything or anyone that is deemed part of the mainstream. My music is much more polished and I sing way more in tune than they prefer so I was ignored until I couldn't be ignored any more and then I was just hated.
+Be A Supportive Member of Your Music Community

Was Minneapolis the best city for me? Well it got me to where I am today and I have no regrets, but in retrospect probably not. I did find a great community there, but I can do that anywhere. Knowing the scene and becoming a supportive member of the scene is very important in the beginning. This is where your development will come from. These are the people you will play shows with, the journalists who will give you your first bit of press, the radio DJs who will spin you on their local show, the clubs you will spend the majority of your evenings in (even/especially when not playing), and the music lovers who will be your first fans to frequent your shows.

So finding the city that has the right infrastructure for your band is crucial. Should you stay in your town of 50,000 and play the same 3 bars every week? Probably not. You need to first start with a city big enough that has multiple reputable venues conducive to your style, a free weekly entertainment newspaper or something similar and widely read online, and many many other bands performing around town who have similar aspirations as you. These bands should be diverse in style, but there should be at least a handful of other bands in your city that have a similar sound as you with whom you can put together shows that won't confuse the audience. e.g. Hip hop followed by death metal followed by Americana.

In Minneapolis, I made the best of what I had. I did put shows together with bands who weren't necessarily the same style as me but who I was a fan of and I knew our fans would get into each other's music. I had built up a good local and regional fan base that these other bands recognized and respected and wanted to play shows with me to grow their base as well.
+Shows Sell, Events Sell Out
+Be A Supportive Member Of Your Music Community
+Our Tour Page Is Totally Full (of empty shows)

However, because my sound and my perceived image was something that Minneapolis' media didn't care for, I was completely ignored.
+Does This Mustache Make My Ass Look Fat

I was playing a weekly residency at one of the premier venues in the city and bringing out the numbers that very few other bands in the city could do, but no matter how many times I contacted the publications or radio stations, I got ignored. Not even a mention. Other bands were getting massive press and radio spins, but weren't getting more than 50 people to a show before the press. On one hand, that's awesome that the local media highlighted the bands they felt deserved recognition who weren't getting it, but on the other hand their taste was quite narrow and I didn't fit into it. So no matter how much I refined my live show or how many months I spent in studio perfecting my album, I got ignored because of the style of music I played.
+Who is Ari?

I hit my glass ceiling in Minneapolis. I did the best I could with grass roots promo and, at my peak, was pulling out 500 people to my headlining shows with virtually 0 press or radio.
+How I got 250 people out to my debut CD release

I think it was a blessing in disguise that I wasn't showered with love and praise from the Minneapolis media because it forced me to hit the road and not expect anything from any other city. Bands that got used to the love and praise in Minneapolis and didn't receive that when they hit the road (or the turnouts) got so discouraged that some called it quits after one tour.

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