I’ve been with local bands to cities such as Brighton, London and even further afield, and they have ended up playing to a handful of people, most of whom are often members of the other acts on the bill.
This can be very disheartening, especially when you usually end up playing for virtually no money.
And then there is the dreaded ‘pay to play’ option, which so many bands, understandably, fall into.
Of course you want to get out ‘on the road’, but it’s not very easy to do, successfully, without the help and back up of a record company or booking agent.
One option is Off Axis, an initiative started up a few years ago, which is taken from an idea originally pioneered in Brazil.
Off Axis was started up to “help bands to connect together and build audiences and networks across the UK”. This is done by acts doing gig swaps with like minded bands from across the UK.
You can find out more about the Off Axis idea by visiting their website at: offaxisnetwork.com/about
Acts from Hastings such as Alibi, Kid Kapichi, Someone Anyone and Dorey The Wise have already played well attended gigs in places such as Wales, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh by using the Off Axis system.
Those same bands have also hosted gigs in Hastings, giving support slots to acts from across the UK.
In 2018 Off Axis are taking this initiative to the next stage, with the aim of having 20 monthly Off Axis gig nights across the UK, starting in February 2018.
Towns and cities already signed up for these monthly gig nights include Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Leicester, Sheffield, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee, with more likely to be added. That’s quite a list of potential gig opportunities for local acts.
Hastings is also one of the locations taking part in this new idea, a recognition of the quality of the local music scene in the area.
Local acts will be putting on those monthly gig nights, at various local venues, with support slots coming from out of town bands, with those local bands then playing gigs across the country in return.
Apart from these gig opportunities outside of the Hastings area, Off Axis will be working with a number of UK music festivals to showcase emerging talent from the Off Axis network on their stages.
Hastings bands Dorey The Wise and Kid Kapichi have already played on an Off Axis stage at the Kendal Calling festival in the Lake District, so this is building on previous success.
All of this will be great experience for the acts taking part, helping them to hopefully build an audience outside of their hometown, getting invaluable gigging and touring experience, and giving them a real push towards their dream of making a success of their music.
As Jeff Thompson, the founder of Off Axis, told me “The idea is that Off Axis provides a regular opportunity for local fans to see top quality live music, from all around the UK, on their doorstep.
Hopefully, over time it means that we can draw music fans to these monthly nights based on the reputation of Off Axis, and hence providing a trusted means for audiences to discover brilliant new music.”
One thing to bear in mind is that all Off Axis shows are run with the goal of the travelling bands expenses being met, as a minimum requirement, thereby avoiding that 'pay to play' situation mentioned earlier.
Off Axis are always looking for new acts to get involved with their initiative, from different musical genres. So if you think this could be for you, why not sign up? It’s free too.
For a taster of what an Off Axis gig has to offer, Hastings' very own Someone Anyone are hosting a gig at The Printworks in Hastings on Saturday, 23rd December.
Support comes from Spark, who are traveling down from Liverpool for the gig, Hattie Briggs from Gloucestershire, and local artist Eleanor Mason.
You can find the Facebook event page here: facebook.com/events/
If you want to get involved with Off Axis visit: whatisoffaxis.com