On Monday I went to explore an open mike night I hadn’t been to before (the still relatively new Eurobar one, run by Chis Bayne and the Moriarty of Oxford open mikes Nigel Brown under their joint Baboom brand).
And it was a bit out of the ordinary, largely because halfway through a massive posse of south Asians (Oxford University business school students apparently) turned up to commemorate their imminent departure from Oxford by half a dozen or so of them doing a slot (or as much time as they were allowed to keep the stage for, pretty much). This consisted of out-of-tune renditions of the beginnings and choruses of various Bollywood songs, in ragged what was supposed to be unison and surrounded by much general chaos. The musical standards of open performance nights are rarely high, but this felt like sinking to a new low to me.
But, as the majority of the people making for a very unusually crowded evening of its kind were their friends, they went down wildly well – far better than any of the several much more professional performers. At the end of the day social popularity trumped musical appreciation.
So I had a realisation of the obvious, which is that cultivating social or parasocial relationships – all the stuff with social media, selfies, oversharing personal information and emotion so that your followers have a sense of narrative and insight however questionable – has as much impact on how your music is received as the actual quality of the music, a lot of the time.
Which may seem irrelevant to my work as a contractor, so to speak; a session / backing / sub for someone else player rather than a name act (generally). Not so, I think. Merely that my audience, my market, the people I need to cultivate socially are not the listeners but the fixers, the producers, the acts hiring me. Look out for the swimwear selfies, Parlophone.