Monthly Archives: January 2014

Maths and the missing audience

Suppose that there are 300 folk acts – solo, duo, band – actually working in the UK.  Further suppose that each of them wants to play 100 gigs a year.  Suppose yet again that they’d like 100 people to be at each gig.  That comes to 30,000 gigs and 3,000,000 attendees.  Which is a lot.

But suppose every gig attendee could be persuaded to go to a gig a fortnight.  That’s not a huge ask, particularly as a lot of these gigs will be in the cheap, £10 or less ticket range.   As each act would play two gigs a week that’s 1200 a fortnight, with a total attendance of just 120,000.  Which is not a large number at all, particularly when spread across the country.

Now, I have no idea of the exact number of at-least-semi-professional folk acts out there gigging.  But it’s not going to be ten times 300.  It might be twice as many, maybe even three times.  And whether 100 attendees is a reasonable average target is also up for debate.  Some would be grateful to get that many on a regular basis, for others (particularly bands) it might not be enough.

But getting the exact figures is just fine-tuning.  The point is that, in the light of the regular, well intentioned but sadly-rehashing-the-same-old-arguments threads you see on Facebook and forums about boosting audiences, the actual number of people who need to be enthused might well not be that large.  Which doesn’t make the task simple, but it does make it easier than it might appear initially.

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No support

Sometimes it’s not possible to have a support act at a gig I put on because of the venue or the timing of the evening.  Apart from those constraints though I always try to include one.  But there are artists who refuse point blank to have one.  Not many, but some and it’s simply not negotiable.  The only argument I’ve ever heard any of these artists put forward about this is that the support will probably be some dreadful local singer-songwriter or whatever so they’ll spoil the evening.  Granted that this may sometimes happen, but it doesn’t at my gigs and it doesn’t at a lot I attend either, where supports are good, carefully chosen and enhance the evening.

But that’s not the main point.  Everybody needs a start, and support slots are a vital opportunity for young and up and coming acts.  To deny them that is inconsiderate at best and unacceptably selfish at worst, particularly when you consider that the headliners will almost certainly have got their starts playing any number of supports.  A bit more remembering where you’ve come from and a bit less I’m a star from a few people wouldn’t go amiss.