Backline Burden: Why every performance matters

For you it might be just another gig - for someone else, it's their future.

The gig is set, the band is called in, and the visiting artist arrives at the rehearsal. To everyone in the room, it’s pretty much a normal day.

Except somebody has a lot more at stake.

For the traveling independent artist, every tour outside their area is a matter of life and death for their career. Many of these artists depend on local musicians to support their shows, since they can’t afford to travel with their own bands.  This means every new city or venue introduces them to an entirely new set of musicians.

Now imagine the horror of the visiting artist when she discovers that the band didn’t learn the music properly. They felt it was just another gig, and decided by their inaction that they would work out the music on the fly.

Who has the most to lose?

Instead of an opportunity, the performance is now a powder keg that might explode into a financial and creative failure. She may be looking at lost revenue, lost opportunities and a serious dent in her reputation.

Of course, everyone on the stage has a responsibility, including visiting artists who should come in prepared and give the band professional respect. But backline musicians also have a huge role to play in making an artist look good. Just imagine if your entire career rested in the hands of strangers. Would you want them to take the job seriously? Would you be happy with a halfhearted effort?

Local musicians have a much better chance of surviving the aftermath of a lackluster performance. The audience doesn’t often know who is at fault when things go wrong on stage. Usually the fronting artist takes a hit.

We’re all familiar with the Golden Rule –  do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When working for another artist, apply the same rule in the musical sense.

Prepare the music for others as you would have it prepared for you.

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