THE ARTIST: Silence Kid (Baltimore, MD)

THE QUESTION:  Here’s my dilemma: My band is playing it’s first out-of-town gig this weekend, and we were just informed that our set would only be 20 minutes long. Obviously, my drummer and I are both pretty disappointed about this. We’re a dedicated and hard-working band, this won’t be a short drive for us, and we think we deserve better than this. But we have differing opinions as to what to do about it.

My drummer thinks we should request, or demand, more time. I understand that it’s true that you’ll always get saddled with the short end of the stick if you settle for less than what you deserve, and my drummer’s assertiveness has done great things in the past. In other words, it’s worked before.

However, I think we should keep our mouths shut. Here’s why:

  • We’re a year old lo-fi indie rock band. We’re good, but we’re not qualified to be divas just yet.
  • This show was organized by a small, activism collective. It seems like a “check your ego at the door” type deal.
  • We’ve played a show with these folks before and we had basically the same problem, so we have no reason to think it would be any different this time.

Who is right? What should we do?


THE ANSWER:  Jack, this is a really excellent question and something I’m sure many readers have struggled with in the past. Deciding on whether you should say something depends on the following:

1. Exactly how far is the gig?
How many hours will you be sitting in your car just to play 20 minutes. Sometimes, no matter how good the opportunity is, the trip just isn’t feasible…especially when you’re talking about a band vs. a solo musician.

2. Will you have a large return?
Does the show have great potential for you to come away with a boatload of new fans or good money? When you factor in gas, food on the road, and time taken away from what you could be doing alternatively, coming away with a good paycheck or a solid list of new fans makes all the difference.  Check out HOW DO YOU KNOW IF A SHOW WILL BE WORTH IT? 

3. Who’s putting the show together?
Sometimes you might not be entirely excited for a show but you’ll do it because you like the organization or person putting the event together and chances are, if they’ve kept you in mind for a few things, they’ll continue to keep you in mind for future, better gigs. Ask yourselves is this is one of those relationship.  Sometimes that’s enough reason to stick it out. 

4. Ask For a Longer Set.
It can’t hurt to request more time. Its not really a high-maintenance request but more of an appeal for the event hosts to consider how much time you have put into getting to the event. The worst they can say is “No”. Hopefully that wont leave a bad taste in their mouth. Also check to see how long the other bands are playing. Maybe everyone is doing 20 minutes. Or maybe the other bands have a larger following thus a longer set time. 

5. Vote.
The great thing about being in a band is that you have more people to help with the decision-making process. Take a simple vote and let that be your answer.

And yea…if this same thing happened to you guys last time, then yes, i agree that it would have been good to double check on set length before confirming this gig. Maybe just keep this in mind for the future.

Hope this helps!  If any readers have a suggestion for Jack, please stick it in the comment section.