I hear it time and again, from those booking and/or otherwise hiring musicians: what are your stats?
Spotify following/listens, Instagram and now TikTok stats, sometimes YouTube and often still Facebook – the numbers are out there, and they are being used… Whether you like it or not. They are being used to determine whether musicians are safe bets for booking shows with; also, for pay rates.
As one who is no longer on social media, I can’t tell you how much I disagree with this practice – however, from the venue/promoter perspective, it’s hard data that is out there. It allows them the insurance that they need, so they don’t lose their shirts by booking the wrong act.
This means the onus is on the musicians, generally speaking, to do all of the crowd-building. Do the musicians ever have a chance to say “hey, your festival’s stats aren’t really up to where they should be for my liking – I don’t think this one’s going to work?” Unless you are at a headliner status, not likely to happen. Musicians – especially those that are full-time – have to get work.
When I read this article on why we’re not putting more pressure on music labels to come out with great statistics – it hit home. I do strongly believe that while musicians are and should be responsible for bringing crowds to shows and building a fanbase to buy their merch, it is absolutely a partnership in everything they do. They should have clarified/remind the venues and labels they work with, about said roles. “You’re planning to post about this event X number of times, and advertise in which places? Let me know, so I can be sure to promote in complimentary places on alternate days.”
When musicians are not treated as the partner, they are treated as the product – something expected to bring in money, in a specific way. This is where the business can get ugly. Let’s keep working on communication, agreements and joint efforts. Musicians are people – it is their music that is the product. One might argue it’s their presentation of the music that is the product. Statistics are one tool, to guide in decision-making. Let’s not make it the end-all be-all, turning this work inhumane.
~Always Listening, Often Reading