Thursday, June 5, 2014

Rabbl - the Company That Pits Local Bands Against Each Other For Stage Time

Here is a brilliantly written article by Matt Cohen bringing to light the new method DC venue The Pinch is utilizing to book local bands, wherein they are subjected to a competition of sorts to be able to secure a show date at the bar.

Crowdfunding, at least Rabbl's version of it, has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

We can all agree that pay-to-play types of approaches to booking are the absolute worst and scummiest ways that you can go about putting shows together, right? This, as Matt Cohen points out, is along the same lines. Rabbl is a system that, like many others, puts the band in the lowest possible position and forces them to use their own time and resources to do the jobs that the venue should in fact be handling themselves.

Except instead of paying to play a show and getting a guaranteed date, Rabbl works in such a way where the show date and venue are only hypothetical until the band manages to sell enough tickets to appease Rabbl's requirements and effectively "wins" the show date.

This is fucking absurd. I think venues are beginning to forget a few things, for instance:

1) Without the bands providing your patrons with live music, you are just another bar with nothing special to offer. 
2) Bands are there to do a job. People that do jobs should be paid, especially when their efforts are resulting in extra revenue for your business. 
3) Just because you own the space does not mean you deserve or are entitled to all that extra revenue. Pay the damn bands. 
4) Not all good bands have a large following yet, especially when just starting out. That is why they are playing shows in the first goddamn place, to get their name and material out there as well as develop a fan base. Rabbl is setting up The Pinch to be cheated out of some phenomenal bands. 
5) On the other hand, not every band with a large following is good, either. Here again, the venue will be cheated out of better suited bands.

Is it seriously too Herculean a labor for these venues to just ask for advisement from local booking agencies or an informed individual of the metal community? Why not just seek out bands yourself? There's no rule that says you have to outsource every task to a different organization.

There are tons of metalheads and places where you can find information on local bands in this area (this site is one of many) that would likely be happy to volunteer a few suggestions and advise on some bands/bills that people can get excited about. Hell, I would do it for no fucking charge.

There are better ways to do this where we can all benefit - venues get lots of patrons and tons of alcohol sales, bands can get the bulk of ticket sales instead of a five dollar bill and a "thanks" or free beer, and show-goers can have a great fucking time and see bands they are sure to enjoy or have been looking forward to catching live.

Seriously, fuck this kind of treatment for local bands and fuck the greed and selfishness that drives it. We deserve better.

This area in particular has made significant contributions to metal, with bands like Darkest Hour, Misery Index, Pig Destroyer and many more breaking out and exploding onto the scene, bringing serious talent with them.

The world has taken note of it. There is an undeniable pull in this area that attracts those of like mind, just as there is in Europe, and the metal community here is one of the strongest in the country. Europe's metal scene and ours are very mutually supportive to each other, which strengthens us both even more. We are all very good at working together to collectively support talented bands, to give constructive criticism when it's needed, and to ensure that as many touring bands have a chance to play shows whenever possible.

Just look at any fundraiser put together by metalheads. Almost always, they meet or exceed their fundraiser goal and when the call to arms is made for a cause that will benefit someone in need, every able-bodied headbanger will surely answer. The amount of things we have been able to accomplish in this area alone (DC and the four-state) is truly astonishing. Things are starting to pick up now in a way I've not seen for nearly a decade, and it's fucking exciting.

Let us not lose our momentum by shady practices and greedy venues. Do not let anyone encroach on your right to negotiate terms. After all, you are working hard and performing is a tough job - you deserve to be properly paid and looked after. Keep fighting to get your fair share of the ticket sales, even if it seems like a losing battle at first. It is a battle that can be won in time.

The entire world and everything in the music industry is undergoing a massive shift in how things are done, so how we handle this period in time is crucial to how shows are booked and bands paid in the future. Society is realigning after digital music and services such as Facebook and Bandcamp have rent the old ways asunder and revolutionized how bands are formed, promoted, and discovered.

We must try to ensure that we retain some control over the rules of engagement when it comes to booking. Shit like this, pitting band against band in a community of people who support and encourage one another's creative growth, needs to be nipped in the bud.

I strongly recommend you read this article and learn more about Rabbl. There is some invaluable information and advice contained within. Take heed, stay strong and demand better.

Long Live Local Metal (photo of LA ARMADA at The Sidebar; taken by photographer Brendan Fieldhouse)

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