Silence is Not Golden

It occurred to me recently that booking is the absolute worst thing a musician has to do.

More than hauling a 75-pound keyboard onto the stage, more than constantly warming up and rehearsing and keeping the little throat-flaps in shape, more than moderating your liquor/smoke/coffee intake to protect those throat-flaps from damage, and even more than the constant need to market yourself— which is usually the last thing any musician wants to focus on. Booking sucks.

Why? Because venues and agents and promoters are inundated with a hundred bands a day trying to get their attention, so 99% of them just don’t bother responding to emails or phone calls.

Think about it for a moment: As a kid, one of the worst things you experience from your peers is the silent treatment. B. F. Skinner posited that you change behavior more effectively praising the good and ignoring the bad. Anyone with a dog knows that if you ignore it long enough, it’ll shred your furniture just to get your attention— even if it’s negative attention.

The silence is worse than the punishment.

It’s the same way for any artist who creates something thought-provoking or controversial as well. Most would rather hear you say you hate their creation rather than crickets. Heck, there’s even Biblical precedent here. In his letter to the early Christian church in Laodicea, Paul said to either love or hate Christ, not to just be lukewarm (Revelation 3). Why? Because a reaction— any reaction —can begin a conversation, but to be ignored is to negate one’s very existence.

When you’ve got something to say, as all musicians do, there’s nothing worse than yelling into the void and hearing nothing. A lot of us perform because we feed off the reactions we get (that goes double for you punk bands).

While I can sympathize with the poor agents and venue bookers that have to mitigate the endless river of shitty bands day after day, I wish the process wasn’t so discouraging at every step. This is why bands need managers— not just music industry types, but anyone who can market and sell and lives for the challenge of getting that response.

And this is why bands need fans who talk to them. Which, thankfully, I’ve got. When you’re shouting into the void, it’s nice having all those hands to keep you from falling in.

The Democratically Elected Best of Matthew Ebel Join the Robot Army, get a FREE album!

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