Zen Tea has a multipurpose back room that is used for meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, and other classes. We store our cases there when we perform. A couple months ago, I was in back with Connie, the owner. I looked around and said, "Have you ever had music back here?" Connie perked up at the idea, and we decided to go for it.
|Tea for Two|
The weeks leading up to the show were a little nerve wracking for me. I knew we were going to sound good, but I was a little worried about ticket sales. This was my first experience creating and promoting my own show, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I would have loved for the tickets to sell out the first day, but we're not exactly the Beatles. After the first week, we sold five tickets. After the second week, we sold eight. I was bracing myself for a minuscule showing, but this afternoon, Connie called to tell me we had sold out. As a matter of fact, people were still calling today, and Connie had to inform the callers that there were no more seats available. Full disclosure: With tables added for ambience, the small room held 22 audience members, so we didn't suddenly sell 100 tickets overnight. For our current fan base, this room was just right. As our number of fans grows, we'll gradually be able to fill larger rooms.
This little experiment was a resounding success, and now we have a model that we can use to create similar gigs. At Zen Tea, we'll still be playing mostly freebie shows in the main area, but we're going to put on special shows in the back room now and then. Connie and I are talking about a Christmas show, and we'll probably put on a Valentine's Day show as well. We'll also be looking around for other places to play…places that may have a little used back room, as well as less traditional venues. Aside from Zen Tea, I'm not interested in the idea of playing in coffee shops anymore. The coffee shops and similar venues are saturated with musicians who play for tips only. Owners are understandably unwilling to pay for music when there are dozens of musicians who will play at no cost.
Rather than go where all the musicians are, I'm going to start creating opportunities by going where the musicians aren't. I think there are plenty of places in Atlanta that will be willing to host a concert, do their part in promoting the show, and share in ticket sales. We'll start small, targeting similar sized rooms and seeking larger and larger venues as demand grows. I already have some venue ideas, but I'm not ready to spill the beans until I've booked a few places!