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Tribute Bands and Startup Lands (Part 1)

Tribute Bands and Startup Lands (Part 1)
By Adam Draper • Issue #71 • View online
Musicians and Startups are different, but how?

Music is weird, it’s something I spend so much time listening to, yet not too much time thinking about. It causes me to think, but not about music. The only times, I’m really ever actively thinking about music is if I’m at a concert watching someone perform, which is rare. I’ve never been a huge concert goer.
I have been to a Journey tribute band concert though. I forget the exact details, but somehow I ended up in an excruciatingly long line around a full block in SF for a band to NOT play their own music, and to play something that could be easily syphoned through Spotify. Piled on top of that, everyone dressed up in bright neon colors, and created the 70-80s atmosphere, as if we were all time-traveling together to the 70s and 80s. The essence of Journey was still in the room, but the REAL Journey band, obviously wasn’t there… that I know of.
“Art is how we decorate space, music is how we decorate time.” - Reddit user
However, the most fascinating part of this night is not that some random people are on stage, acting like someone else, singing someone else’s music (incredibly well), and that the audience is treating them like the real band… the crazy part is why!
Why would a group of people do this, why would they not play their own music. Isn’t a large part of music culture the creativity of making your own tunes?
It turns out the random 5 people on stage, who are pretending to perform as Journey, can get paid more than 20x more money to NOT perform their own songs, and to performs one else’s. Tribute bands can make up to $10k a night, whereas the average performer with no following, can only make around $4o0 if lucky. Obviously the $10k a night performances are for the tribute bands that have really created their own names for themselves.
If you read things I have written, I sometimes will bring up a writer by the name of Chuck Klosterman. I think he does an amazing analysis of tribute bands in an essay about “Paradise City” a Guns N’ Roses tribute band.
In the world of music, these bands are a way to pay homage to the bands of different eras, and evidently make more money doing so. They get to use a pre-created community of enthusiasts, who already know a pre-existing list of songs. The music is an infrastructure for the community of fanatics who manifest a piece of their identity in the music. The Tribute band is able to borrow that community and ethos, to build their own community and ethos.
In the startup company world, I’m undecided on whether this type of legacy/contemporary interaction exists. I guess you could make the argument that every company is some derivative of the Silicon-Chip, and from there we are just build applications of communication and memory on top…
We will talk Open-Source, Uber, and Infrastructure/applications.
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Adam Draper

I ponder as a VC.

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