It sounds a bit unbelievable, but back in 1991 and 1992 Phil’s band ‘T.F.B.’ (aka Doktor Phil & The Medicine Men) really were playing 20 to 25 gigs every month… The bulk of the gigs were music-pubs, but there were quite a few proper music venues in there too (where the band took the door charge), a few bike-rallies and some festivals. It was a golden time for live music.
So what happened?
Well – there is not just one reason for the decline; that’s for sure. And it’s certainly not fair to start casting blame. But – here’s a few reasons why things have changed.
- With the advent of higher alcohol prices in venues – and lower prices for the same in supermarkets, a few folks decided to stay home for a drink.
- The video-rental business (anyone remember that?) was thriving, and coupled with the supermarket booze, a few folks decided to watch the latest movie.
- Satellite Television had just started to bloom. Dishes started to appear on houses and although the programme material wasn’t prolific (or that good!) it would grow very quickly to music channels, sport, movies and more.
- ‘Every Dog Has Its Day’… An old proverb, but after ten years of the same bands playing similar sets, just maybe a few people were looking for something new.
- Computer games had been around in arcades since the early ‘70s but by 1990 there had been massive advances in home computers which although looked infantile by today’s standards, it was a hit for kids and parents alike, helping to keeping them at home.
- Some venues decided that instead of paying the band, the band should pay them! Or – the band would be paid in tickets (which they had to sell to their friends/fans/family to get paid). Ludicrous! But sadly, there were so many (especially ‘indie’) bands without a gig, they’d so one (or many) for free. It didn’t take long for many ‘proper’ music venues to adopt this strategy.
- Solo artists / singers who were popular started appearing in the same pubs where once only bands had played. It was advantageous to the landlords as they were (albeit sometimes only marginally!) cheaper than a band. The audiences didn’t seem to complain (especially as some of the acts were very good!)
- Karaoke and Disco appeared and spread like wildfire in the venues where bands had once played. Audiences loved a bit of participation (especially when they’d had a few!) and regards the disco – most bands just didn’t play the style of music that DJ’s were playing – which some audiences loved.
On a lighter note, there seems to be a resurgence of live band venues now. It’s mainly limited to pubs – and the wages haven’t change a great deal from the 90’s… But when you have music in your blood, it’s most definitely not about the money!
Here’s a quick link to Doktor Phil playing live in Mallorca a couple of years ago… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4JxDPs79xY