Why I think chip music artists don't get gigs (and how to fix it)

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This topic has 16 voices, contains 22 replies, and was last updated by Avatar of idevourstatic idevourstatic 2183 days ago.

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February 5, 2012 at 9:06 am #4033
Avatar of bitman

Hopefully this thread can shed some light on options for people who live in places that do not have regular chip shows (IE not the Northeast or California).

So, I would imagine most of us here are at a level where we can perform a decent amount of our material. The main issue is finding venues to play at or people to play for and publicizing our work. Hopefully in this thread we can bounce around some ideas.

Open mic nights come in a few flavors: Starbucks, bars, and public libraries or amphitheaters. I would not recommend playing in a bar, most people are too drunk or inconsiderate to really listen. At Starbucks or a similar hipster-nest you can find open minds and ears, I have found it to be a safe bet. I would imagine open mics having tact time limits (most don’t allow for more than 10 or 15 minutes), so it is important to convince the audience within the first minute that you are playing real (good) music. I tend to open with a cover song or something.

Busking is something I have done only three times and I think it is something that those of us with commercial releases should tap in to. I have never busked for money, instead I hand out little pixel-art Gameboy carts I have made with a QR code that links to my Facebook page, as well as having the URL for my SoundCloud. I try to hand it out to everyone interested, and politely chat up anyone who doesn’t look like they are in a hurry. I think that this is a largely untapped resource for those of us in places with a large college or busy metro area with a park.

I believe that another thing that would help to give chip music credibility would be greater collaborative efforts. Danimal and An0va are great examples of chip integration with guitar playing. Currently I am trying to start an electronic jazz ensemble at my college’s School of Music, as well as prepare a ton of cover tunes I can play the leads for on my trombone and trumpet at bars. Collaboration with local artists will also help expand your own ideas, of course.

I feel like the reason chip music is not gaining a ton of ground is because still not enough people consider it “real music” based off the sound. Chip music is merely a sound, whereas the genres of music produced with that sound are practically limitless. Chip has worked with metal, funk, jazz, dance, and dubstep, but most of the examples of these cases are few and far between. I think that if the community was a little more assertive and a little more promiscuous we would see ourselves being more viable solo acts. I don’t want to see the “waah, there are no open mic nights” posts on those other websites, and it can often take surprisingly little initiative to coordinate them.

I play the trombone and gig all over the state (I live in Alabama), and I am only 18. It is my main source of money for school (it doesn’t pay very much though). I live in a rather uncultured state that for the most part believes that if you can’t play acoustic guitar or rap you are not a musician. Collaborative efforts between chip artists should be more common, or at least more get-togethers for shows. Hell, Roboctopus lives somewhere (I think) within a two hour’s drive away from me and I’ve yet to meet him. And it is completely due to laziness on my part. Some of you are great musicians, and some of us are the laziest of people and I too am lazy. We can’t just upload our music online if we want publicity, it has never been that easy.

All of us would have given our left nut/ovary to have played at Magfest or gotten a release on Ubiktune. Some of you are good enough to deserve to play at Magfest or Ubiktune. But we cannot just sit in our homes and write music just for the few people who know 8BC is down. Most of us are not sufficiently supporting Noisechannel even while 8BC has been a sitting duck for the past month and a half.

Want to have little pixel art Gameboy carts to hand out to people? Someone post in the thread and say they like the idea, and I will upload my template. If you want to make cheap little T shirts, I can give you a template of mine to use with a little pixel-art Gameboy to use as a jumping off point. Want to know what speakers I use to busk so I get boom for the buck? Ask and I will put links up.

If we do not try to bounce better ideas around each other, I do not see us as a community making any strides in getting more fans of our music. That means no gigs, that means no money, no real fun watching people’s faces light up. If we just sit in our homes and write music and put it online, it gets lost while any fellow with a guitar can go sit outside and play “Hey There Delilah” and get all kinds of praise. The world doesn’t deserve that. Neither do you.


tl;dr ideas for publicity for everyone to use

February 5, 2012 at 10:02 am #4034
Avatar of dylanbrochill

this isnt exactly a moneymaker or a new way of publicizing yourself, but ive done a few webshows with freque and other noichan artists and weve had a good 20 or so people tune in. thats not a lot but i feel that this community is friendly and tight enough that if we continue to grow and continue to host these kinds of things that webshows will be a good way to get your name out there as long as everybody involved promotes it equally to the best of their abilities. ive played open mics, bars, and ive busked. busking was okay, i too didnt ask for money. i had a few assholes get up in my face but they werent too bad. at open mics everyone seemed to enjoy it but like you said, time is limited so you have to play your best material. surprisingly, i liked playing bars the most but you must be careful as to what bar you choose. i played at the more cultural bars that supported a lot of experimental music. ive played with artists from jazz to one guy playing a chord for 20 minutes just modulating his synth. ive also played with guys who just rub a magnet on some chicken wire or put wrench to their guitar strings hahah. just know where you wanna play. im also looking for something new to add to my live performance. im considering just sampling all of my complextro stuff and using a novation launchpad, m audio trigger finger, or an mpc to mix and match and make some super tight sounding stuff. the thing im not seeing enough of is vocals over chiptune. id love to see a guy or girl singing and playing their gameboy stuff.

February 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm #4037
Avatar of vcmg

I don’t get gigs because I’m lazy and shy.

I’m lazy because I don’t rewrite my songs for live performances, unless pressing Start and standing around is okay for gigs. (And frankly, I’m not sure how to go about rewriting them. If someone would be so kind as to send me one of their live .savs to look at…)

I’m shy because well, I’m self-conscious on the stage, even though I’ve been performing for years. I don’t have any stage presence either.

February 5, 2012 at 7:46 pm #4038
Avatar of Solarbear

Do chip artists not get gigs? First I’ve heard…

February 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm #4039
Avatar of Dire Hit
Dire Hit

I don’t get gigs because i’m a minor and would probably get laughed at.

February 6, 2012 at 3:00 am #4040
Avatar of Dos

It’s way easier if you have a scene or group to latch in with. Portland’s a pretty good place for chip music.

February 6, 2012 at 5:17 am #4041
Avatar of mikeeteevee

@solarbear – I think this really depends on your location. So basically, I live in South London and know a few people around here. In fact I had a promotions company and put on some of the bigger local bands into the most prestigious venues, but as soon as I think about playing live, I get a spike of ice in my asshole.

Open mic nights would only be drunk guys waiting for acoustic covers. Most of the bands are rock and so I would be lost amongst a sea of noise supporting anyone like that. Basically, I need to think out my own style of music to even get a gig. Harrowing.

I could travel further up into London, but it can be a pretty cruel place. Maybe I just need to get my kit together and just play and play and play with the skin of a rhino and see what sticks to the wall.

@VCMG I think it’s genuinely the norm to stand on stage shaking a Gameboy. It’s kind of become part of the culture. In particular the LSDJ is like a swap shop of ideas. Of people coming together and jumping up and down to their music. But I guess in terms of pushing yourself outside of the scene, this is only going to go so far. You don’t want to get down from stage at a gig and have to tell everyone in the audience “I know I kind of look silly a bit up here, but this is you know, part of the scene”

@Dos – yeah this, I think maybe you need to buy up a Gameboy for a musical friend for like, $5 and make them join your own scene.

@Freque – can we somehow stop the posts from telling us in sequence how many updates we’ve done?

February 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm #4053
Avatar of roboctopus

Roboctopus lives in Madison, AL. There is zero scene for chip in Madison/Huntsville, and as far as I can tell, zero scene for ANY electronic music (unless you’re a DJ, maybe).

But that’s cool, because I really have no aspiration to play a show. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I’m not busking or playing open mics any time soon.

As far as “pushing” chipmusic, I personally am working on an album of chip + instruments. And it may just be me, but I swear in the last month or two I’ve been hearing more LSDJ + acoustic guitar tracks. Seems like it used to be if there was a guitar it was all Anamanaguchi distorted. Maybe the scene is expanding a bit.

I agree with @dylanbrochill in that more chip with singing would help expand the audience (and it needs to be good singing, haha). Some poppy LSDJ, acoustic guitar, a girl singing and tapping a tambourine. Yeah.

I have no idea what my point was…

February 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm #4056
Avatar of Solarbear

Well, I can tell ye, there is absolutely no chip scene here. As far as I know, I’m the only one. Still though, I’ve gotten plenty of gigs with the local hardcore/emo scene, and they seem to dig it pretty well.

February 7, 2012 at 9:22 am #4060
Avatar of mikeeteevee

Boom! Work colleague installed LSDJ on his GB emulator on his smartphone. Immediately asked for a tri-wing screwdriver. I am not the only one now!

February 11, 2012 at 6:43 am #4111
Avatar of j3771c4

I get plenty of gigs, latch on to whatever there local electronic music there is. In Cambridge we’re quite lucky as there is a nice little electronic weirdness scene.

Is there some kid at school who you heard makes dubstep on FL? Go and talk to him. Make some music together. Even if you think dubstep is boring!

Make music that doesnt just sound like happy bleepy mario at a rave. Make music that doesnt sound what people expect 8bit music to sound like.

Is there someone who puts on a funky house set? Make a mixtape of funky house chip music, go to their night give it to them and chat about the idea of them giving you a 30-45 min DJ set at their next night.

February 11, 2012 at 8:53 am #4118
Avatar of idevourstatic

Make music that doesnt just sound like happy bleepy mario at a rave. Make music that doesnt sound what people expect 8bit music to sound like.

like a presuicidal Dizzy at a Joy Division concert!


February 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm #4147
Avatar of Panda Mindset
Panda Mindset

Here’s a tip, If you live in a major city I’m almost certain that it has a park where all the youth hangs out during the summer.

I’d say just go there with your live gig equipment and rock out. I bet alot of them would like the nostalgic sound of 8-bit.

Ofc, don’t forget to pay attention to any laws regarding the area you’ll be giggin’ at. You don’t want to get fined just for playing chiptunes. :P

February 14, 2012 at 12:11 am #4148
Avatar of bitman

I live in Birmingham, Alabama, tied with Orlando for the 3rd spot for “City with Most Murders in the US.” There are no safe parks, and surely none my geeky ass would be safe in. The nearest skate park is nearly 100 miles away, and if you don’t play hip hop (rap) or country no one likes you. Literally. Roboctopus is in the same boat.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have even one club or coffee shop in town to play at, or a local venue. I am thinking we should just trash the topic since I could not properly get my point across in the first post I made. :/

February 14, 2012 at 12:36 am #4149
Avatar of vcmg

Well, you could try doing webshows, like dylanbrochill said.

February 15, 2012 at 10:43 am #4150
Avatar of bitman

How does one put on a web show, and even if one can get the resources, where/how would one want to advertise it online?

February 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm #4248
Avatar of 9-Heart

Make music that doesnt just sound like happy bleepy mario at a rave

You can’t.
Because most people who hear chiptune for the first time in they life, will be like: “Hey, sounds like [INSERT FAMOUS 8BIT TITLE HERE, like ZELDA, MARIO, TETRIS and so on],

In Germany it’s also pretty hard. There is a little scene, but only some gigs and they are all like in one or two places.

February 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm #4249
Avatar of vcmg

@bitman All you need is a webcam, your gameboy or whatever, and a Ustream/Twitch.tv/Justin.tv account.

I guess you could promote it by posting about it here, CM.org, 8bc, reddit, everywhere. Get some other people to perform with you too! If you can get a big-name chipper to play you’ll attract more viewers.

February 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm #4286
Avatar of alexpowrs

i live in rosarito baja california and i can clearly say that there are no chip artist in the state of baja california i think im the only one :( i love playing in cafe’s busking or even on small skate contests :D the pay isnt that much like 10 bucks the gig but i love doing it sometimes i finish getteing free drinks haha i love to do what im doing and i will aprecciated if some of you would come to rosarito to make a mass chip festival :D

February 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm #4314
Avatar of PANDAstar

Actually, I’ve played a few bar open mics, and I make very dancey music. They loved it! Of course I’m nervous as hell because the atmosphere is entirely acoustic sets, but after I played, they made me do a Q&A, and I had several people approach me after my set to just talk about video games (which I dont mind as well)
I feel that with crowds like those, its easier to understand a genre if they relate it to old school gaming. To them, those were great times to be remembered.

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