Matthew’s Throat vs. The Evils of Commerce

At the Merch Table It’s a cruel, double-edged sword, this convention thing. On the positive side, I get to meet all kinds of cool people wearing cool outfits and wielding cool props. On the negative, every dealer’s den (or sales floor, etc.) is the same torturous shout-fest no matter which convention I go to. Anthrocon‘s aircraft-hangar-sized room is by far the largest I’ve seen, though it actually isn’t the loudest. Still, it managed to take its toll after two days of meeting with fans and fellow fluffy freaks.

My voice is my livelihood. When I’m not singing, I’m recording audiobooks or narrating videos for paying clients. Without these two little fragile folds of flesh, I’m really not sure how I’d even earn a living. I try to baby them as much as possible, even though I do enjoy a martini now and again (you can’t live in a bubble, after all). Still, nothing tortures the voice more than talking, and the louder you speak the worse the damage.

Skyfall costume at AC 2013 And yet, I can’t afford to hire a dealer table assistant (some would call it a Booth Babe, but that brings up terrible GoDaddy-esque images). In fact, part of me doesn’t WANT to, because the dealer table is where I meet a whole lot of new people. I didn’t get into this business to hide in my hotel room, perform, and turn back into a hermit. I love meeting people and seeing costumes like these.

Every year, though, I play a show that I know could have been better. Why? Because by the time I actually hit the stage, my voice is already worn out. I’ve gotten much better with warmups and strengthening techniques, but it always feels like I’ve run a marathon the day before I’m supposed to climb a mountain. Notes feel shaky, some aren’t even there at all. When it comes to my live performances, I try to be a perfectionist… and this is just simply unacceptable.

I suppose at this point I’m writing to ask my fellow performers, my minions, my fans, and my friends for their thoughts. How can I put someone ELSE at the merch table for the duration of a convention when I can’t yet afford to pay my drummer full-time? I’d love to take volunteers, but would people really be willing to give up MOST of their convention time? Even a full day? I can’t just leave an empty table with promo materials on it, that’s several shades of lame.

Getting a megaphone ain’t an option either- I HEARD YOU THINKING THAT. In a crowded dealer den, that’s the equivalent of annoying your neighbors with loud parties every weekend. At best it’ll make other artists hate me, at worst it’d get me booted out entirely.

Where do YOU think I should go from here?

  • Rhainor

    I’m not at this point myself, having only been to one convention ever (BronyCon, last summer), but I know some people who’ve been going to cons for years get to the point where they can’t enjoy a convention unless they’re helping out in some way.

    So yes, it’s possible you could find someone who’s willing to voluntarily give up large portions of their free time to man your booth.

    • http://matthewebel.com/ Matthew Ebel

      Hmm… maybe for the next con I’ll put out a call for help via the usual recruiting channels, see if anyone’s willing to trade some time for… well, I’ll think of something I can give!

  • Sarah

    1. Learn American Sign Language
    2. Find some students looking for ASL practice
    3. You only sign while you’re at the booth, students interpret for you and be your voice
    4. ????
    5. Profit!

  • Scott Garron

    You need to invest in the cone of silence! .. on wait. That always made Maxwell Smart speak louder and the other person could never hear them. Nevermind. Oh! Maybe just a headset mic, a distribution amp, and a few headphones for your guests. Ooorrr Maybe make your table into a recording booth with sound treatments and everything! Make them feel like you’re interviewing them on a radio station! … ok. I got nothin’, really. All of those things sound more expensive than just having a booth babe. :/