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PAYOLA !

By Ronnie Shapiro Stoeckel

When you are the ultimate superfan of independent artists worldwide , you deserve your own page . Welcome to the SUPERFAN page and the newest edition to our team , Ronnie Shapiro Stoeckel .
She is going to bring you the independent music scene from the fan perspective .
Payola : the paying of cash or gifts in exchange for airplay . Although the term was first used in 1916 in an article in Variety , the idea of using money and other bribes dates as far back as the 1880s , when publishers would try to entice popular singers to sing their songs . This was a common occurrence in the music business throughout the years . Even Al Jolson was monetarily persuaded in the Vaudevile era to record some songs . In the late 1950s , disc jockey Alan Freed was caught accepting payments from record companies to get him to play their records . This practice was highly controversial at the time , and ended his career .
Fast forward to today ’ s world .
There ’ s a different type of pay to play that
happens , and that ’ s selling tickets to open for national acts , or “ buying on ,” if you will . For those not knowing , ( which shouldn ’ t be many of you since we ’ re all in the music scene ) you sign up to be an opening act , usually one of about 4 or 5 , 6 , 7 , 10 …… many bands . However you don ’ t get paid ( or you get very little pay ) and you have to sell a minimum amount of tickets to play on that stage . Some promoters actually have you just pay a fee to get on that stage . For some musicians , this is a big horrible no no . “ You don ’ t want to do that !! You ’ re demeaning yourself !! It looks bad for all the other local indie bands who are trying to make money !!! You ’ re selling out !!” Blah blah blah . You get the hint . They don ’ t like it . For a bit I was leery too . Who was I to think otherwise ? I was new at the managing thing , and used to people from all angles telling me how they think I should run my band . This past September , my band StillCraft decided to take the plunge and join the list of openers for Tantric . I had seen them back in February and they put on a great show , so we thought this would be a great first experience . I mean , if Rush could sell tickets in 1974 to buy on the stage as an opener for Kiss , we certainly can do it , right ? ( I know I know , we ’ re not Rush .
Sadly , there are many bands , that won ’ t make it out of this . Too many to count ,
Tantric is not Kiss . Just go with it …..) What if we sell the tickets , then go on stage and get sprayed with silly string and water guns full of urine ??? ( ok , we ’ re not the Raskins , who paid $ 1 miliion to open for Motley Crue in 2016 only to have their equipment wrecked and actually get sprayed with urine . Thank goodness !) We had to sell 20 tickets . At first it didn ’ t seem like a lot , but it was still during the pandemic , and some people were still leery about going out , but we gave it our all . We sold a few right off the bat , then the sales stopped . Completely . At 6 sold . I was panicking and trying to rationalize how we will pay for the ones not sold . ( Yes , for this gig we had to pay for all 20 .) “ There are 5 of us , we can each pay for a couple … we can take some money out of the band fund … we can give a free tshirt with every pair of tickets sold . Which one of you guys want to sell yourselves on the dark web ???” The people who we thought were 100 % absolutely going to make it , weren ’ t going to make it . Ok , who else can we get to buy tickets ? ( Here ’ s a tip – those close friends you think would definitely support you in times like this most likely won ’ t .) We were attempting to cash in on any and all favors we could so we would meet our quota . We had one month to do this , and time was ticking away . Getting people to spend $ 20 to drive over an hour to spend all night at a rock show of mainly local indie bands was a challenge , and we were highly frustrated . Although the venue and other bands wouldn ’ t know if we paid for the tickets ourselves , it wouldn ’ t look too great if we had no fans in that audience if we wanted to be invited back . My anxiety level was sky high . Some musicians still think we ’ re crazy for participating in the pay to play “ scheme ,” but there are many that will agree it ’ s a good idea . I decided to pick the brains of some musicians , starting with Jon Loree , drummer for Tantric . He said “ Selling tickets is a necessary evil because the demand for a live show is not what it used to be . It ’ s a pain that a local band has to sell 50 tickets for a show , but the connections that are made from opening for a national act is priceless . So while I understand a lot of the frustration regarding ticket sales , it ’ s also
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EXCLUSIVE GUITAR LEGEND SCHENKER CELEBRATES 50th YEAR WITH NEW MUSIC FROM MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP IN 9 YEARS. Michael Schenker has never been one to rest on his accomplishments. He is constantly charting new territory and exploring new ways to express his creativity. Going back to the well is not something that is in his DNA. Even in the process of resurrecting former projects, he still manages to take his ability into new directions, the mark of an artist. Don’t get me wrong, his classic riff-based arrangements and overtones still harken back to his days with UFO, Scorpions and Early MSG, just with a fresh twist. Happy Anniversary to an ICON! This album is a culmination of the last three records where you are performing with you old band mates. What was that like for you revisiting all that? MICHAEL: Well everything starts with Michael Schenker. In my middle years when I experimented, after I departed from the Scorpions, I decided to follow my own vision, which was based on experimenting. I was able to do instrumentals, acoustics stuff and I was able to get all of that stuff out of my way which I couldn’t do with Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Hunter or Deep Purple. So many people offered me a gig with them. I could have stayed with UFO which could have become one of the biggest bands in the world. It made no sense for me to go back to the beginning. I’m a kid in a sandbox, it’s just enough to enjoy myself. No competition, no comparisons, Just having fun. When UFO got big with Lights Out, I got scared, I walked away. Because I felt I was expected to write hits now. I wanted to be the artist. I was always a fan of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple all of that metal. That’s where I was coming from musically. So this album brings me back to where I came from. There are so many Michael Schenker lineups. The first Michael Schenker group was the rhythm section of the Jeff Beck Group with Simon Philipps. Of course in the mid- dle years it was just solo work with Michael Schenker. I was not after the same thing UFO and the Scorpions were. I had to fulfill my own vision. I wanted to find a singer who could join me in my sandbox, without an ego and Just have fun and I found that with Gary Barden. After having my own fulfillment with the projects, I started again and went back to the beginning. Everything I do comes from within and the eternal spring of creativity. I never take anything from trends. If anything I create trends. In the 80’ most guitarists copied my style and became famous and rich or whatever. Fame was never anything I looked for, not even in the begin- ning. I never dreamt about being a big star, I just wanted to have fun with a 6-string creating goose pimples. At some point I said, I just want to do it the way Michael Schenker sees it. (Continued on next page) MSG FB MSG Instagram MSG Site MSG Music Far Left Photo courtesy of: Stephanie Cabral Page 57