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Old 07-25-11, 01:55 AM   #1
davidkaye
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Default Why I Hate Festivals

I hate festivals, most festivals, busker festivals, music festivals, wine and cheese festivals. I hate them all, (well except for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in SF at the end of September because it's free and they get name acts. It's backed by a billionaire).

I hate music festivals because they spend a lot of money on a few big acts and expect the other acts to work very very cheaply or work for free -- for "exposure". Not only that, but festivals take away from music venues such as bars and nightclubs. ("Why should I plunk down $7 to see a couple bands when I can plunk down $45 and see 10 bands?") I've seen the music festivals in San Francisco nearly dry up the live club scene, especially as someone who has put on over 400 shows in the past 12 years. I can't make it work anymore. It's like pulling teeth to get people to come out.

I hate busking festivals because they expect buskers to work for tips only, but yet the promoters want to get rich off the events. Sorry, if you want me in your festival, we're going to split some money here.

Also, the busking festivals like to give out awards and all that, to make it seem like the busker has done something really great. But face it, anybody who has been busking for some time and gets up the nerve to participate in a busking festival already has their chops. They know what to do to get an audience. They're *already* doing something great. They don't need awards.

And should a busker want to go on TV or into a Vegas showroom or whatever, busking awards aren't worth much; clips are. Well, you don't need a busking festival to get you clips. You need a friend with a camera. Even the grainiest of video conveys the talents of a good busker better than any busking awards can do.

So, there. No festivals for me.
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Old 08-17-11, 08:01 PM   #2
Irina
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Check out this thread
http://www.performers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=268
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Old 08-17-11, 09:52 PM   #3
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Your blanket condemnation of festivals is only interesting in that it reveals a complete lack of experience outside your tiny little SF ecosystem.

What you do and don't like is, I'm sorry to say, irrelevant. You hate festivals. I hate certain types of cheese.

The reasons you list are entirely opinion based and some are simply factually wrong. There are festivals in your area who don't pay fees. fine, don't work them. There are festivals in your area that do pay fees. I worked for a week in Petaluma last year, [only a bus ride from you] for a good fee. There are festivals in your area who pay performers [Sonoma site specific arts fest] but it seems because it doesn't fit into your convenient 'this is why I'm an unemployed performer' excuse.

You confuse SF with the world at large. What is it exactly you feel you are entitled to that 'festivals' deny you?

There's a truism that a persons enemies are in large part what defines them.

Mine for example are the innate stupidity and selfishness of the last 300 years of western civilization as reflected by myself and to one degree or another everyone I've ever met.

Your's are festivals, not hosted by billionaires, in your immediate vicinity that don't employ you.

You whine a lot. I have yet to hear a constructive peep out of you. Whatever is putting the handbrake on your performance ambitions it's not 'festivals'

I've nothing against whining. But if you could make it a little less petulant and add a little more sauce to your aging bitterness I'm sure we'd all be more inclined to help save you from yourself.
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Old 08-17-11, 10:17 PM   #4
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As you wish...

As to constructive peeps out of me, well, I've suggested getting signed contracts in writing before performing for festivals. That's constructive. In other posts I cited the First Amendment rulings that protect busking, but in the several years since I've been online here I guess those were deleted because I can't find them at present.

Okay, some more constructive peeps:

(1) Have business cards that show what you do (meaning a small photo of you in action on the card, or at least some clip art that shows your props). In my case I use either a photo of my button accordion or I used the full photo of myself showing me playing my button box while wearing my pirate garb -- it's the full version of my avatar here. The point is to VISUALLY illustrate what you do so that the patron can immediately associate the card with the performance they liked. It will make them more likely to call you.

(2) Leave lots of contact options: phone number, email address, website, etc. People are finicky about what means they'll use to contact you.

(3) When busking it's important to consider the visual aspect of the act. I'm just a lowly button accordion player, not a juggler or acrobat, but I find that when I dress a bit out of the ordinary my tips go up. That can mean wearing a tophat or a scarf or an American flag tie with a vest and suspenders. In other words, street clothes don't say anything, but "performing clothes" cue the audience in that you're a performer and what you're about to do is something special.

(4) Always make some effort to suggest what the audience should do. People need social cues. For a juggler, etc., it's a spiel at the end telling the audience that you're not paid by the venue or the city or whatever and that you depend on tips. For a musician like me, it's a small sandwichboard sign that shows a photo of my instrument and a photo of a handful of bills. The printing says, "Your tips keep music alive". Again, people have to be shown what is appropriate to do or else they don't know.

There. Four peeps.
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Old 08-18-11, 10:59 AM   #5
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I don't like any kind of cheese anymore. Learning how milk is harvested has ruined it for me.
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Old 08-18-11, 02:49 PM   #6
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But I still BELIEVE in cheeses...
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Old 08-19-11, 10:28 AM   #7
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David, you are a solo street musician, right? Well, nobody invites solo musicians to work at festivals...If you were in a decent band - your opinion of festivals would be totally different! You would still dislike festivals which do not pay stipend or provide housing - but you would be singing 'hosanna" to festivals in general! We have tonns of accordeon/fiddle players in New Orleans - they are mostly in bands and festival-hopping all summer, because it's 90 degrees and 90 % humidity in NOLA may-september, they would starve on the street...You are very lucky you can work on the street in SF year-round all by yourself!
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Old 08-19-11, 05:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irina View Post
David, you are a solo street musician, right?
I said absolutely nothing about my own playing. I'm doing just fine, thank you.

As I've said in these posts, I've put on over 400 shows these past 13 years in the Bay Area. I know that an audience is finite. Either the audience goes to see the big corporate events (festivals put on by giants such as Better Beverage (BBC), Another Planet, the Clear Channel spin-off, Live Nation, etc), or they go to the local clubs owned and operated by entrepreneurs who have put their money and their credit cards on the line because they support local artists.

Audiences are not going to spend their money on both, as was evidenced this past weekend when 150,000 people attended the Outside Lands festival and did not go to the local clubs.
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Old 08-19-11, 09:21 PM   #9
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OK, so you hate CORPORATE FESTIVALS which steal resorses from community. I got your point. But not ALL festivals are corporate - a lot of them are put together by non-profits! And not all corparate festivals are bad for community either - take Jazz Fest in New Orleans, it brings about half-million or more tourists, and it ends at 7pm - so all this crowd goes to bars and night shows in clubs, and Mon-Wed there is no music at Fairgroiunds, so tourists run around and shop and tip buskers on Jackson Square and Royal street! But it is really difficult to compare one festival to another - there are so many of them!
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Old 08-20-11, 01:04 AM   #10
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I just googled this Outer Lands festival you hate so much - this was Phish show in Golden Gate Park! You are bitching that folks go see Phish instead of drinking in a local bar? Phish did not perform for about 7-8 years, this is their comeback tour...And they had a lot of other awesome bands, including original Meters. I could have so much fun body-painting hippy-chicks there! Who cares about the bar-owners - I bet Golden Gate hippies made tonns of cash, and every smart busker was set up on the walkways to the festival and on Height street...
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Old 08-20-11, 02:40 AM   #11
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Me and Airbourne Dan [Boston] and Modern Gypsies [NY] and Jeff Krahn from Toronto, and a group of woman dressed as rabbits rather than bunnies did their 'Last concert' in Vermont. They employ a huge amount of peripheral performers as well as installation artists who build crazy stuff.

They are a 'corporation' I'd work for again.
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Old 08-20-11, 09:08 AM   #12
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I did not make it to Vermont, but I was in Coney Island for the show before Vermont...still have pictures somewhere...it was soooo fun. I am happy - Phish is back!
Do you guys do 'Gathering of the Vibes"? They pay 'peripheral performers" also, so does EarthDance. Thanks for the term, I never heard it before, Oregon Country Fair uses the wording 'ambient entertainers". Let me know of any other groovy music festivals which either pay or just allow buskers - I love this kind of gigs.
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Old 08-22-11, 03:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irina View Post
I just googled this Outer Lands festival you hate so much - this was Phish show in Golden Gate Park! You are bitching that folks go see Phish instead of drinking in a local bar? Phish did not perform for about 7-8 years, this is their comeback tour...And they had a lot of other awesome bands, including original Meters. I could have so much fun body-painting hippy-chicks there! Who cares about the bar-owners - I bet Golden Gate hippies made tonns of cash, and every smart busker was set up on the walkways to the festival and on Height street...
Phish? Gimme a brick! As to the drinking, what do you think people did in Golden Gate Park? Again, I'd rather the money went to local independent people who have put their hard-earned cash and bank loans into building a community of folks who like to see live local music than give it to promoters who really don't give a damn about who their festival hurts.

Okay, APE is based in San Francisco, but it's run by the people who used to run Bill Graham Presents. They're BIG. They're corporate.
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Old 08-22-11, 04:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irina View Post
OK, so you hate CORPORATE FESTIVALS which steal resorses from community. I got your point. But not ALL festivals are corporate - a lot of them are put together by non-profits! And not all corparate festivals are bad for community either - take Jazz Fest in New Orleans, it brings about half-million or more tourists, and it ends at 7pm - so all this crowd goes to bars and night shows in clubs, and Mon-Wed there is no music at Fairgroiunds, so tourists run around and shop and tip buskers on Jackson Square and Royal street! But it is really difficult to compare one festival to another - there are so many of them!
San Francisco has its jazz festival. It became so successful that it's now pretty much a year-round thing. But the continuous jazz festival format is absolutely KILLING Yoshi's, a world-respected jazz venue. Yoshi's, a Japanese restaurant in Oakland and SF, has had a 30-year reputation for an incredible experience in jazz and food. But now they've had to fill out their bills with hip-hop and oldies touring cover bands, and lately they've even added hamburgers and fries to their menu! Yoshi's is being destroyed because the jazz festival is taking away the jazz audience.
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Old 08-22-11, 09:48 AM   #15
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Hi, I checked your web-site, you are a strolling accordeon player at parties, it is not something you can make $$ with at big festivals, may be a block-party, but definitely not large-scale music festivals. I am a big believer in "Livelyhood shapes mentality" truth, obviously big festivals are not good for small venues where you work.. so they are bad for you... but most people on this forum are festival buskers, festivals are our bread and butter. I personally have 'Love and hate relationship" with festivals, because I also do a lot of "entertainment vending", and some festivals treat vendors like dirt - but I am not going into that, because it is a buskers forum. The only festival where I busked which I truly hate is "Taste of Chicago" because street performers are supervised by security and treated like slaves, but $$ is really good there, so no matter what the conditions are folks will be going there...
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Old 08-22-11, 01:10 PM   #16
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Hi, I checked your web-site, you are a strolling accordeon player at parties, it is not something you can make $$ with at big festivals
You're missing it. I have no desire to work festivals. There is nothing personal in this. I'm talking about the small venues that suffer when big festivals are in town. Is this really such a hard concept to grasp? There is only a finite amount of money to go around and if it's spent somewhere it's not spent elsewhere.
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Old 08-22-11, 09:01 PM   #17
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Then why are you posting it on this forum? I am sure there are a lot of forums on the net dedicated to cursing corporations! Organic farmers are suing Monsano, Walmart is destroying local commerce etc etc The promoters puting together music concerts are really not that big in comparison with these corporate giants - and they are selling music, not guns or genetically-modified foods or pharmacutical drugs or vacinations causing autism.. . Oh, how about BP Gulf Oil spill? Shall we start an Oil Spill thread on buskers forum? this will be actually a relevant topic as BP oil spill directly affected out business, and BP did not give any NOLA street artists or buskers any money...
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Old 08-26-11, 03:50 AM   #18
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Phish is awesome. Although they have been back together for a few years now, so not exactly a comeback tour.

Outside Lands brings a shit ton of money to SF, no it probably doesn't get spent in local music venues that weekend, but it does raise interest and expose people to live music and provide some work for people who might tip a busker. Anyone who can afford to go to Outside Lands can still afford to go to a local show if they want to, and are local. Maybe next time they make the drive from Walnut Creek, Sacramento, Fairfield, or wherever that's what they will do. Maybe they will go see some awesome band they had never heard of with those cool people they met at Outside Lands. Outside Lands does (or did in the past) hire lots of local performers for one of the tents. I used to work there.

Yoshi's is dying? Really? Yoshi's is so close to stepping in front of a subway train that they opened a second location in The Fillmore a few years ago. Yes, they have expanded their offerings, but businesses have to do that. Besides they are booking groups like Public Enemy, KRS ONE, ZAPP, and George Clinton. This doesn't strike me as a radical excursion for a jazz club, as these are the icons of the previous generation of black music.

David is determined to hate festivals and that's just that. I can respect that, I have some things I am determined to hate regardless of the points of fact. Don't we all?

I hate Outside Lands, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Power to the Peaceful and pretty much all big festivals in Golden Gate Park. Largely because I live right next to where they all happen and have to ride the N judah during these things with all the stinkbomb drunken music fans. I am beginning to despise the SF Giants for this same reason, but I guess that's a topic for another day. At least I don't live next to Candlestick.
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Old 01-25-12, 06:08 AM   #19
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Why I love to busk at festivals. There are throngs of people who are looking for entertainment and amusement as they stroll around. I can set my own schedule and play as long or as little as I want. I don't get booked. I come, I play, I leave. The festivals I play are usually located in or near the a city or town center and are very busy. Once I find the right spot I'm in business. That is as long as I'm not kicked out. I spend the whole summer every year going from festival to festival to play. Music festivals are the best for me but city festivals are also good. Where ever the people are is where I want to be when I'm busking. Of course it's just the opposite when I've finished the season . By then I am seriously over boogied and had more then enough of noise and crowds.
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Old 01-25-12, 11:58 PM   #20
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Why I love to busk at festivals.
Actually, I have no problem with the idea of busking AT festivals that are not busking festivals. I've busked at music and crafts festivals, farmers' markets, and in front of the AT&T ball park where the SF Giants baseball team plays. I've made good tips that way.

But actual busking festivals are what annoy me because I feel that these festivals are trying to codify what has been a freelance kind of endeavor. And I assume that sooner or later freelance busking would be banned when it's not part of an official busking festival.
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