Sunday, 22 January 2012

That Time of Year Again...

Well after the Christmas and New Year break, it's that time of year again...Yep, time to go hell for leather on all the venues and event promoters whom you started bothering last September. A handful in September, as it was still the high from the last season. Then a few in October. More in November, and you always mean to do as many in December...but even if you don't flag, mysteriously offices shut earlier, folks are on leave, or simply it's more answerphone than staffed phones... And now it's time to hot up the pace, ringing all those whom you've e-mailed and who haven't yet replied, reminding those who've sounded interested, trying to get hold of those who've mentioned bookings in order to elicit firm dates (not least because of those who are asking when you're free - of course you as yet have no idea!). E-mailing again all those who've lost your details when they were away or off sick, and phoning new places to ask whom to contact. Filling in online forms for various festivals, and generally gearing up be a stalker - well, that's how it feels. My intentions are honourable - I just want some work, but now I know what days x works, when y has been on holiday for how long, and when they've been off sick, that z takes long lunches, that v never gets into the office before 10, that u always leaves early, and that o is only ever available on a Thursday... If I had been employed to check up on these folks about the amount of time they are actually in their offices, I'd have had a fat cheque or two by now! Sorry, I couldn't help being silly for a moment there, but it IS demoralizing trying to get hold of very busy people to get an answer to your question, and that being one of importance to you. It does one good to see the funny side from time to time.
   I was just wondering how many times I'd already rung x and y, when my co-performer Deor reminded me just how many times it took me to eventually get through to a certain big festival curator last season. Because it's only when you've caught their fancy or captured their imagination, whipped up their interest, that they give you their mobile number, and start calling you back. THEN communication becomes smoother and easier, simpler. But - you have to get to that point first. When you're booked and performing, everything feels right, and afterwards, with the festival programme or venue brochure tucked safely under your arm, you forget all about the huge amount of admin. - and I don't mind admin.! - but I mean the soul-destroying chipping away at the rock face, and the feeling of dogged warding off of despair that it induces - you forget about all that stuff that you had to do in order to make it happen. And it feels as if it was always going to be, that you would get these gigs.
   It wasn't of course. If it hadn't been for all that hard graft, it would never have got arranged. Promoters are busy. Festival organizers have to deal with dozens of acts, sometimes hundreds, depending on the size of their marquee, field or area. You have to convince these folks that they ought to remember you, that you will be great, and remind them of that.
    I only remember the curator ringing me back and everything going from there, negotiating the fee and parking permits. 'No' said Deor - 'Twenty phonecalls it took to get to that stage.' 'Twenty?' I gasped. But when he said it, I DID recollect - yes, unless you're at one of those gigs who just book you time and time again, that's the sort of effort we're talking about. The thing to keep telling yourself? 'Something WILL happen. I MUST just keep on'. And remember - it was like this last time, and the time before that... Call it the 'January Blues'.