"I haven't heard it but I don't like it"

(October 20, 2015)

Why do venues, in this enlightened age continually confront artists with erroneous assessments of what they believe they’re going to play rather than listening to and experiencing of the type of music they actually play? Too often I hear artists bemoaning some incorrect classification seemingly arbitraily applied to their music. It has become more than the 'too folky - not folky enough' debate, an increasing number of artists are classified, categrorised and pigeon-holed based on 'not much information'. Everyone is familiar with the 'never judge a book ...' saying, now it seems there should be another: 'never judge an artist ...'.  

Surely in this digital world anyone can find out what a band sounds like and make a reasoned judgement. After all, if an artist sends in a CD, download or link then it's only sensible to listen, you never know what you might be missing, so considering artists for the gig list should be easier. Well no, apparently not. There could be many reasons, erhaps because someone in venue management has either done a twenty-second search through the artist’s website or listened to a ten-second download and made what appears to be a random decision.

Is there fear on behalf of venue management? Because the market (hideous word) is so competitive it’s considered dangerous to move away from your accepted niche and try something different. Your audience may hate it and go somewhere else ... possible but unlikely, unless they already have other reasons to leave. Alternatively, are venues now working so hard to ‘keep the lights on’ that management simply don’t have the time or resource to listen and make a qualified rather than ‘knee jerk’ judgement? If that's the answer then it's a short-sighted atttiude, new music is alwyas arriving and sticking with the 'same old same old' often proceeds stagnation.

As it happens I have no hidden agenda. I'm not venue-bashing. I certainly don't have a plethora of artists in my back pocket that I'm trying to promote. I just talk to a lot of establishe and 'up and coming' artists and many are saying the same thing. 

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