What Opening for Bon Jovi Would Mean for Your Band

Photo credit: ABC7Chicago.com

This week, Bon Jovi announced a contest in which they are seeking 31 local openers for each stop on the upcoming leg of their “This House Is Not For Sale” tour, beginning Wednesday, February 8 in Greenville, SC and stopping nearby to us in Philadelphia on March 31.

There are different ways to look at this. Obviously, many will see this as a golden opportunity; the chance to open for one of the most successful bands in the world. Without a doubt, performing on a stage in front of thousands at the Wells Fargo Center is certainly better than not doing that.

However, there’s another side to the debate – one that would suggest that this opportunity, and others like it, is not going to do you any favors in the long run. Some skeptics would even argue that such contests are nothing more than publicity stunts, and just a way to cut the cost (or eliminate one entirely) of an opening act.

As a local music advocate, I can see both sides of the coin. Depending on how the opening acts are marketed, this could be a huge deal – one that, if all goes well, could put a couple of new bands on the map.

On the other hand – and I say this as a “second wave” Bon Jovi fan, from 2000’s “Crush” onward – a distrust of commercially-successful music (and those who make it) often permeates our community. By many perceptions, mainstream radio gave up on caring about the “little guy” a long time ago. Why would that change now?

To settle this dispute, I come to you with two simple truths. Hate me for these if you must, but…

  1. If Team Bon Jovi selected you for this opportunity, not a single one of you would say no.
  2. They’re choosing local acts over an established mainstream opener. That’s more than they have to do.

The artists selected in this contest may not land multi-million dollar recording contracts. Some of them may not even gain lasting fans, at the end of the day. However, 31 bands will still come away with the resume builder of having opened for perhaps the most consistently successful touring rock band of the past 30 years. That is no small deal.

(Of course, this isn’t to say that you should ever rest on the laurels of being “that band who opened for a bigger band.” If I had a nickel for every EPK I’ve received that said that, LVU would be headquartered in a skyscraper with gold-plated walls.)

My point is that, in the end, your hard work and persistence to make your way through this ever-thickening musical jungle will certainly have to continue, regardless of whether you are chosen to open for Bon Jovi on the big stage. But, if selected, you’ll likely receive a short-term boost, and you would almost certainly have an experience that, as a musician, you would never forget. In that case, what do you have to lose?

Go ahead and apply to open for Bon Jovi, but don’t forget to keep working hard and planting the seeds of your music everywhere else, too.

If you persist for long enough, the fruits of your labor will begin to grow in one way or another. This is just one potential avenue.

Where do you stand on this topic? Let us know in the comments!

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