THE NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY PUBLICITY STUNT
On September 7, 2011, New York Music Daily’s founder began a 32-day attempt to break the record for most consecutive concerts covered by a music writer. Here’s a daily diary that capsulizes the ups and downs of this record-breaking venture. It didn’t go viral, and other than about a half-dozen times when traffic spiked after a popular band got some ink here, it wasn’t particularly successful in terms of making this blog more popular than Jesus or the Beatles. But it sure was a lot of fun. Below is a Q&A that explains the rationale behind this dubious scheme:
Q: Isn’t it ironic that now that you have your own blog, you’re leaning on me to ask you all kinds of leading questions?
A: Life is full of ironies.
Q: I understand that very soon, you’ll be trying to pull off your one-and-only publicity stunt here which is to break the record of the most consecutive concerts ever covered by a music writer. Don’t you already own that record?
A: No. The most consecutive days I’ve ever gone out, and then written about what I’ve seen, is about six or seven. I need a break like everybody else![editor’s note – that estimate is actually incorrect. The number turned out to be more like twenty – scroll down for an explanation].
Q: So what is the record?
A: I believe the record is 31. My game plan is to extend it to 32.
Q: It’s only 31? Isn’t there a Phish-head or a Deadhead who’s seen a hundred shows in a row, maybe a lot more than that?
A: I’m guessing that the record for simply being there and seeing concerts on consecutive days is held by somebody in B.B. King’s entourage, or maybe by a roadie for Steve Wynn, or someone who was on that endless Iron Maiden tour back in the 80s. The record I’m shooting for is for the most consecutive shows covered by a music writer.
Q: Who owns that record?
A: I don’t want to say. As far as I can tell it’s held by someone who used to work at one of the local rags here in New York, someone I don’t respect and for that reason I don’t want to give that person any press. A few years ago, that person saw a concert a day for a month – I think it was in either March or April – and then wrote about them. So either way I’m going to assume that the record is 31, so when I hit 32 I’ll own the record fair and square no matter what. What’s funny about this is that the person who currently owns the record was being pushed out of a job. I get the impression that the marathon month of concerts was an attempt to save that job – or to go out on a high note. What happened in the end is that what was probably pages and pages of writing was edited down to a 200-word sidebar that didn’t even appear in the music section – and then this person got the boot. Which was long overdue, by the way.
Q: Why don’t you go for 50 or even 100 concerts and put the record out of reach, more or less?
A: Like everybody else, my life requires frequent travel outside the city. Me being in New York 32 days in a row is really pushing it. That’s about my limit. Besides, I want somebody else to break my record.
Q: I don’t get it. You want to set a record and then lose it to somebody else?
A: That’s right. I think it would be incredibly cool if this could become a competition. Like the Coney Island hot dog eating contest. You may think that’s disgusting, but look what happened. The record used to be,what, 16 or 17 hot dogs – which seems like an awful lot to me, but now the record is something like 70 or 80. Think what a great thing it would be for live music in New York if a whole bunch of people decided to go on a marathon like this. And seeing a whole lot of concerts is more fun than eating a whole lot of hot dogs…
Q: This is going to be hell on your social life…
A: Au contraire! It’ll be the best thing that could happen to my social life. It’s the rest of my life that’s going to suffer. I’m taking one for the blog here!
Q: What’s in it for you?
A: Not a whole hell of a lot at this point. But I want to get this blog off the ground, and this seemed like a fun way to do it. It’ll be a fun thing to follow, a mystery: where am I going to be tomorrow? You’ll have to check back here every day to find out.
Q: Maybe it’ll make you famous…
A: Nope. I hope it helps brings visitors to the blog. But I’m doing this anonymously.
Q: Huh? You want to set a record and not take any credit for it? Doesn’t that ruin your credibility?
A: No, it establishes my credibility. I couldn’t do this if I didn’t do it anonymously. Think about it – there are a gazillion starstruck bloggers out there who will do anything to be famous. I’m doing this strictly for the music. Focusing on the music rather than on myself puts me on the side of the angels. Don’t think I’m not aware of that.
Q: What if you screw up? In other words, what if your concert gets cancelled, or rescheduled?
A: Trust me, I have a Plan B and a Plan C.
Q: And if Plan B and Plan C both fall through?
A: That’s not part of the plan. I hope it doesn’t happen because that means I’d have to start all over again. And I don’t honestly know if I could do that. It would probably take me a couple of months to find another window of opportunity. I’m not in this to lose – and I don’t plan on doing another one of these if I can help it.
Q: How do we know you’re not cheating?
A: Cheating? What do you mean? I’m not going to invent concerts that never happened, or bands that don’t exist…
Q: Like you see the eleven o’clock band at one place and then go across the street and see the midnight band there, and you count that as two days?
A: That’s not cheating. Midnight is the beginning of a new day. Now, staying at the same club from eleven to, say, one in the morning, and counting that as two concerts, would be cheating. I’m not going to do that. But I have to tell you, there may come a point where I need something just short of a 48-hour window to get stuff done. Or to get some sleep. And that’s part of the intrigue. How am I going to pull this off?
Q: By seeing a band right after work every day and then going home and writing about it?
A: There will be days when I need to do that. But I’m not going to get all frantic about time management. If there’s a good late show somewhere, that’s where I’ll be.
Q: So you’re not going to announce beforehand where you’ll be?
A: No! That’s what makes this so much fun. You’ll have to follow New York Music Daily for 32 days in a row to find out where I was last night – and I might give you a hint as to where I’ll be the next day, but you’ll have to figure that out. I will tell you this: I want this to be an adventure, but I also want to establish a baseline for future coverage here at the blog. For one, I’m really going to try to avoid covering groups or artists I’ve covered before, either here or elsewhere. I’m also going to try to avoid covering the same artist or group more than once while this is going on. And it’s going to be an eclectic 32 days – it’s not going to be all rock, or all jazz, or all classical. I’m going to mix it up.
Q: This is going to end up costing you a fortune….
A: Not at all. Another reason I’m doing this is to help increase awareness of how much incredible free music there is in this city. Being broke or out of work shouldn’t prevent anybody from going out to see live music. Just for the hell of it, I am going to keep a record of how much I spend over these 32 days. I buy a subway card anyway, so getting there and back is covered. I don’t plan on spending much if any money on dinner at any of these places – and if I get a banana at a deli, I don’t think that should count toward the total, I do that all the time whether or not I’m seeing a show.
Q: What if the show sucks? Are you going to stick around, or are you going to leave? And if you leave, does it count?
A: That’s the ultimate challenge here. I’m pretty good at picking shows: this will be a test to prove how good I am, won’t it! I will be honest – if I screw up and pick a bad one, I’ll own up to it. And sometimes the greatest bands or musicians have off days, or bad shows due to factors completely beyond their control. I’m not in this to pick fights with bands, I can and will sympathize with anybody who has a rough time onstage. Playing a gig in this city can be very hard work. Even if the show is bad, I promise to stick around for at least half an hour so I can report something meaningful.