What to do about gigs?

I need some advice here. I’m not sure what to do about gigs on this blog.

As a rule I don’t post about individual gigs and concerts here, my main reason being it will lead into a terrible spiral of inherent systemic bias and favouritism as I can’t help but push the musicians I like and ignore the ones I find mediocre. While this would be find on my own blog it’s not what CiB is about.

Now, I can talk about promoters and festivals as it’s possible for me to cover them all but with the shocking number of gigs taking place in Birmingham of a week it’d be a Sisyphean task indeed.

But there’s a lot of cool stuff happening on a granular level that can’t be picked up by concentrating on the big guns, so I need a way of doing so. And, above all, it has to be very easy to administer. Any ideas?


  1. Why not create a calendar for events that links to the various promoters sites for further info. It would be a useful way of knowing what was on at a glance.

  2. I don’t fancy your chances of trying to collate everything – it’s also hard to know here to draw the line, is it created in Birmingham because it’s promoted here, on here, cos one of the bands is from Brum, what about just support acts, 50% of a band, just the drummer, what if it’s in Wolverhampton, does a pop-act count…etc…etc…

    But – there is however small amount of bias and favouritism in any news outlet, so I shouldn’t worry too much about that.

    I think either you should take a feed from a listings place, and also write (or invite others to write – I know this hasn’t worked well in the past) the odd piece about new bands or really notable gigs.

  3. Lisa: As nice as that idea is it’d be an admin nightmare and I’d give up on it after a few weeks. Trust me, I’ve tried it a couple of times before.

    On the bike ride home today I had an idea for a Flyers Blog where a group of people post up flyers with a short explanation why they recommend the gig. That way you have personally recommendations (eg, show me all the gigs Jon recommends) and collectively an attempt at being reasonably comprehensive.

    Tumblr would probably be the best model for this but I don’t think they support mutiple blogs for one account, let alone group blogs. Then again, the category / tagging thing on WordPress might be more apt. One to think about. (And if anyone wants to take this idea and run with it feel free.)

  4. Robin Valk

    I used to do all this in another lifetime on another medium, and it took up waaay too much time. I can think of two blogs that do this already {in a subjective but impressive way), and neither can or would wish to be seen as completist. So who would you be doing this for, Pete?

    Maybe it’s worth focussing, as you are already doing, on the new breed of new young promoters? Who are they, who do they rate? What do they think is missing in town? How can things be better?

  5. prem1um

    I agree with Robin and I think that CiB could be a great channel to shout about new, original or just hardworking but undervalued artists and promoters in Birmingham. The big national promoters have always had the lions share of event listings whether in print or online.

    Something a little more in touch with the local scene perhaps with that 2.0 edge of letting the artists and promoters add their own info might be worthwhile trialling but I also think its fair to say you have enough of a handle on the Brum scene to be able to select a gig and write your own take on it…

  6. You’ve had this idea before… or something similar.

    Isn’t it just upcoming with pictures, in a way?

    Unfortunately it’s too much like a job, even if you only cover the genres you’re interested in. It needs a critical mass of hundreds (or at least 10s) to make sure everything is covered.

    upcoming.org seems to do a fair job of this anyway.

  7. It’s up to the bands to do something that warrants you covering them.

    So if a band becomes the first rock act to play a gig at a city centre venue re opened after refurbishment and collaborates with an internationally known local artist for a show they hope will make people think about the place of music in their lives, the you might say that’s news worthy.

    Or if that band (in the pre CiB days) plays their 28 minute debut single for the first and final time along with a set of visuals based on the single sleeve then again I’d agree with the reviewers of the Sleep Easy Mr Parker gig at The Rainbow last November who hailed it as: “a triumph of art over commercialism that takes the fetishism of the limited edition format and extends it into the live arena” and being worthy of coverage.

    And if that band collaborates with a local photographer to present a piece of work during their next Birmingham show which is inspired by their home city and a classic film shot in another city then I’d say that that’s worth a mention.

    I wouldn’t dream of sending you a press release which states that Einstellung will be playing at El Paso’s, Old Street, London this Saturday 13th October and that the most recent comment on the band’s myspace page reads: “Your music makes me want to move to Birmingham”, because that simply isn’t news!

  8. I don’t think the listings game is really what you should be concentrating your CiB energies of Pete – i anyone’s interested tho’ I’ve quickly modified a Drupal installation I’ve been messing with to be a ‘social’ events calendar. (http://hampstr.co.uk/?q=event/2007/10/08/month) it could work – but a lot of people would have to contribute (and unfortunately keep to the style to make it usefull).

  9. Maybe some clever play with del.icio.us tags/feeds such that anyone who writes a blog post/review of a gig can give it a certain tag that would allow it to appear in a collated feed on CiB?

    You’d probably want to cast an eye over the submissions to ensure there wasn’t any content appearing that shouldn’t, but otherwise it might work… maybe?

    At least it’s a model where the community can post (and comment) on the music/gig scene and gain awareness via CiB with minimal effort from yourself.

  10. I’m really erring towards some kind of community blog based around flyers. Sod date formats and tagging – that never gets traction. Just slap up the flyer with some links to the bands and categorised by venue. Then you either have the “river of flyers” or filter by author / venue.

    Then, from this pool, if any jump out as being more than three acts on a stage making a beautiful noise they can go onto the CiB blog.

    This fulfills the requirements of croundsourcing, opinion filtering and resource building along with minimum time expense. Now all we need is a name. Don’t leave this to me or else it’ll be called “Brum Flyer Nation” or something equally uninspired.

    I was erring towards wordpress.com (robust, deals with the user admin nicely) but the standard templates deal terribly with Author links. Might be a way around but still to check what Blogger does these days.

  11. Agree with Robin – I attempted to start covering none mainstream gigs online a while ago – Jazz, Classical, Folk, Indian, Flamenco etc, and even just in Birmingham, it’s a bit of a pain keeping everything updated, on top of any changes, and often for what real end?

    Yet for these less-mainstream styles of music it’s sometimes harder to track down online when/where the weekly/bi-weekly/monthly sessions take place; if someone new is in town, a new promotion, or if anything special or out of the ordinary is going on. Sure, we’ll get blasted with the big names on at the NIA, Symphony Hall etc, but what about the new visitor in town who puts jazz into google and ends up at the website for our rather poor excuse for a jazz festival – surely we can take him to the Yardbird on a Thusday, to a Sampad gig, Commuter Jazz, a Moseley Folk gig at The Cross, a Jibbering night in Kings Heath, something loopy at the Old Mo …

    Otherwise Mr X visiting from Europe will really need to be on top of everything in the more niche areas – on the individual band/promoter/venue mailing lists etc, and even then a lot will rely on a single flyer or word of mouth, rather than trying to pull in new people or visitors to the city, or even just the occasional gig-goer after something interesting. There’s also a huge student crowd out there who are often not tapped up outside of Selly Oak or the City Centre.

    CiB is already established and an excellent platform to help great events out of the mainstream and marketing spotlight to keep running and find different audiences.

    What might be good is a weekly roundup of the forthcoming week, with a ‘top 3’ interesting gigs in particular genres or styles. It shouldn’t try to cover everything in every style, else it’ll end up listing Yet Another Jazz Jam, Visit Our World-Beating MySpace or A.N.Other indie band at the Flapper and be saying nothing new or interesting.

    Equally, as Bounder mentioned, you could open it out a little and get a few regular people to contribute or cover a certain idiom, a bit like Adrian does with football on the Stirrer, and/or have recommendations from a few people – Robin’s 5 recommended gigs of the month etc.

  12. I was erring towards wordpress.com (robust, deals with the user admin nicely) but the standard templates deal terribly with Author links.

    What functions would you need from the author links? What would they need to do?

    Does wordpress.com allow for non-standard templates yet? (sorry, haven’t look at it in a while)

  13. Tim

    I echo Nikki’s comments on wordpress.com but also possibly a dedicated Created in Birmingham Gig group on facebook. Equally, there has to be a raison d’etre to it rather to reciprocate gig listings that you might hitherto see in the press.

    Thus perhaps concentrate on promoting those things that those who read your blog would be interested in.

    Kind regards,

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