“Let’s start something bigger than us” – The Smith Street Band
Hello, my friend Max here at Seeing Your Scene has suggested I do a weekly column – it will probably end up more than likely monthly, but we will see. For those who don’t know me (I mean why would you?), I’m primarily a DIY gig promoter in Reading (however, I have recently moved to Bristol) putting on various DIY acts across Europe, along with plenty of local acts; I guess the more known names I’ve had are Chewing on Tinfoil, The JB Conspiracy and Dirty Revolution. I am also involved with a few bands outside of gig promotion; you can often find me helping out and hanging out with bands such as Will Tun and the Wasters. For some weird reason, which I can’t grasp why, people appear to care about my opinion, which is nice, I guess.
I thought I’d start my column off with something that people, and maybe more specifically people outside the DIY scene, talk to me about, which is money in terms of my shows. However, money is definitely by far the least important aspect of a DIY scene. Although I hate to admit it and hate the fact of it, we do need money to exist; although I guess we can try to run a moneyless scene but that wouldn’t really work, you can’t source your own petrol to drive your bands gear to a show – someone has to pay for it – but it’s horrible to think of anyone playing in a band or putting on a show or running a label is losing money and paying out of their pocket doing it.
When I put on a show, compared to say a professional promoter doing it for a living, I rate the success of a show, not on how much profit is made (ha, if only there was profit), not on how many people are there (although it does please me when there is a good turnout and it is a factor), but on how fun the show is, how good the bands were and most importantly how enjoyable people there found it. That is what gives me a fuzzy feeling when I’ve arrived home after a show I’ve put a lot of effort into; I pulled it off, everyone had a killer time, not that I have come home with more dosh than I left with (very rarely the case). It’s about keeping the scene going and having a good time. I guess money is always a bonus and that money can be put back into the scene, but in the end there just isn’t enough going around.
I remember talking to my dad the day after a particularly good show, maybe the busiest one I had ever had at this point, I was pretty high on life about it – I think I ended up maybe taking a £4 profit from it, some bands went paid badly in favour of us paying someone much less local a more decent amount. In the end it was a fantastic show, it was packed, everyone had a mental one, I felt glad that I was one of the people to make it happen. My dad asked me how much I made and asked something along the lines of “what is the point for £4?” I guess some people will never understand, but really we do this for fun, we do it for the friends, we don’t do it for money, everyone should at least break even and that would be fine. I could make money from booking shows, I could contact new young bands who don’t know better and tell them to sell tickets for the show or they can’t play and put my feet up. That’s how wankers do it, they fuck over other people and make money by doing nothing. I prefer this scene where although we run it on barely any money (and in the cases of a lot running it on loans and overdrafts), we run it on fun and the love for it, and that is far more special than any scene going that is full of money, full of people willing to tread on people for themselves, rather than working together to keep things going and keep things getting better. Keeping money out as a major factor of the scene is what keeps our scene both alive and special.