The Cheese Sandwich
I love a cheese sandwich, I really do. It doesn’t have to be a fancy sour dough artisan loaf with cave aged cheese and organic sea salt butter either. I love a pappy sliced white bread with a cheese slice kind of cheese sandwich. We all do. It’s tasty and familiar. It reminds us of lunches packed by our mums that we took on school trips when we were kids. Anyway, I digress…..
Who the hell am I?
If you don’t know what I do, I am a songwriter and a performer, a singer/songwriter if you will. Over the last 20 years or so, bloody hell it’s really been that long, I have traveled all over the world playing my songs in various festivals, pubs, bars (there IS a difference), coffee bars (see I told you), cafes etc etc the list goes on. You get the picture. Mostly I am playing to people who have never heard of me and are hearing my music for the first time. I generally get a good reaction, if I didn’t then I would have packed it in years ago. there have been a few instances when I have thought about it, really.
It’s a numbers game…
At a gig I guess that 10% of the audience will love what I do. I mean really love, not just like but really get it. They sit quietly, listen to the lyrics, appreciate the arrangement, love my voice and the way I play guitar. We are talking 10% ok?
Out of that 10%, 20% will want to join my mailing list and only 10% will buy a cd afterwards. That figure is born from my experience over the past 20 years or so.
Therefore I need to play to as big an audience as possible yes? The bigger the audience, the larger the 10% is yes?
Well, yes but…
To add to my calculations there is also, I believe it’s called a “variable”. IF the audience are used to hearing people perform covers then the percentage drops, a lot.
A little about covers
I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST ARTISTS WHO PERFORM COVER SONGS! I really don’t. This article isn’t bashing cover artists or tribute bands. I often play bass for bands that play covers, I really enjoy myself and love that the audience sing and dance along with what we do, it’s great! So, if you play covers… We’re good yes?
When you perform covers all the hard work has been done, even if your are performing covers no one has ever heard. The song has been crafted, re worked and edited until the writer or performer is totally happy with it. It’s been played on the radio over and over again and it’s made it into people’s psyche. They have memories attached to it and all you have to do is perform it and you are on a winner.
I have to get the audience to like my music, music that I wrote. It’s as simple as that. They have never heard it before and have never seen or heard of me.
That doesn’t make me better, it’s just different.
The point of the story…
The reason I wrote this is really a reminder for myself and hopefully for other sing/songwriters.
When I come back from a gig and I didn’t have the audience sitting open mouthed taking in every song, hanging on my every lyric and guitar lick. They may even have talked through my most difficult song, the one with the harmonics that took me months to get right and that night I bloody nailed them and the bloody audience didn’t even clap let alone buy a CD…. Yet they loved the band/performer who played nothing but covers……
People love a cheese sandwich …
I am not a cheese sandwich.
I shouldn’t play my music in a cheese sandwich shop.
p.s. I used cheese sandwich as a metaphor but I could have used bacon sandwich, but I don’t eat meat.
p.p.s. I was chatting to the lady working the checkout at Tescos and she told me she had never eaten an aubergine …. never