Really: Park the bus, permanently
Regular reader NG asks a good question:
So what’s the solution to the problem … especially with costs becoming more of an issue these days?
I have no idea. But I can’t believe the answer is to start passing along your costs to your most reliable consumers in such lopsided ways (unless you’re American Airlines). It would be one thing if DBQ was unilaterally raising the price of their product across the board – Crossroad’s website, retail, table etc - but they’re not.
They’re clearly grasping at the nearest, quickest revenue source at hand, which is understandable. But it also looks like pretty bad business, whether it raises real meaningful revenue for the group or whether it drives people away from the DBQ product table. Why? Because in either case it’s not addressing the long-term reality facing a group like DBQ and so many others - namely, the sg market is way past its saturation point in terms of supply, and what demand there is tends to favor amateurs and paraprofessionals. And this was long before fuel prices and other economic pressures of late began impinging on an already unstable market.
We’ve known about saturation for years, but up until now it’s been possible for full-time groups to scrimp by in this difficult environment thanks to a variety of related factors, not least of all: the willingness of so many professional sg types to work for near-poverty wages, often without healthcare and other benefits whose absence directly erodes quality of life.
Energy prices are upsetting that already delicate and precarious balance and unlike other business models, where wages can be cut, people can be laid off or let go, and resources can be reallocated, your average full time sg group (like DBQ) was already cut pretty much to the bare bone in terms of salary, staff, and resource allocation — having cut almost everything possible in the last recession (cf the early 90s, when the species Liveium Bandicus went more or less extinct in sg) and ensuing years, all of which have been lean by historical comparison.
So, in DBQ’s case, if it were my hard call to make and parking the bus (and I mean permanently) wasn’t an option, I’d actually recommend canning their piano player. At least if I were a management consultant looking to cut overhead in places that wouldn’t completely collapse the core product, that’s what where I’d look. Because let’s be honest: sg long ago gave up it’s right to claim that live music is essential and that live musicians aren’t expendable. Even for a (faux) classic quartet like DBQ, a live pianist is not a necessity. It would cramp their style a bit for the more raucous and free-form encores, but they’d get used to it. And we know from so many other examples, audiences just really don’t care if the instrumentation is live.
Beyond that, they could hike their flats (if they’re getting much of one to begin with), but that’d probably only end up being another way of idling the bus (if no one’s willing to pay) or buying more fuel (if they have to do a lot of chicken feed dates to make up for the loss of flat-paying gigs). They could leave their flat alone and consciously cut back dates and focus on high-volume, wide-margin gigs, but a like some many full-time sg groups, DBQ simply doesn’t have a sufficient following or a distinct enough act for that to be a viable option.
Which leaves: hanging it up (cdguy says something similar here). No one, of course, wants their favorite group to go under, but I don’t see how the economic pressures roiling the music industry all the way down to the gospel sector don’t force some significant contractions in the slate of full time groups on the road in the traditional sense.
As a selfish fan and unobligated observer, I would honestly prefer some contraction and thinning. Leave the love-offering circuit and that tier of cover-tune quality to the regional groups increasingly filling the gap in the
You just need to be honest with yourself, and skyrocketing fuel prices could be just the truth serum southern gospel needs.Email this Post