Arooj Aftab

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The album I've been most bowled over by this year (so far) is Vulture Prince by composer-singer Arooj Aftab:

Some previous discussion here: Rolling Global Outernational Non-West Non-English (Some Exceptions) 2021 Thread (Often African bands).

The description on her Bandcamp page captures the unique blend of styles: "Aftab’s liminal sound floats between classical minimalism and new age, Sufi devotional poetry and electronic trance, jazz structures and states of pure being."

But I think that makes it sound much more ethereal than it is. The record sounds very live, very corporeal in terms of voices, breaths, fingers on strings. Her presence is intimate and immediate; as graceful as it is you're not drifting through a dreamspace. It's also deeply emotional, as the rather good Pitchfork review gets into.

I'd talk about some stand-out tracks—and I can't not highlight "Last Night," a gently skanking & dubby rendition of a Rumi poem—but the whole thing is organically brilliant.

I'm going to spend more time with this before checking out her previous work, but rapturous appreciation posts of all kinds welcome.

rob, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:17 (one year ago) link

heard a track from this on WFMU a month or so ago and thought it sounded amazing. bummed the lp is sold out, but glad to be reminded of it, will listen now.

mizzell, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:21 (one year ago) link

I sampled the first few minutes of the opening track after reading p4k’s review the other day and immediately added the album to my list.

pomenitul, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:24 (one year ago) link

Says the LP willl be back in stock in a month. The clip I heard gave me the same initial feeling as Julie Byrne. Is that way off overall?

Evan, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:26 (one year ago) link

I don't know who Byrne is! Give me a song and I'll report back

rob, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:28 (one year ago) link

I mean, I only heard a few seconds of the song Mohabbat and my brain made a connection.

Evan, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:33 (one year ago) link

thanking you for this thread, rob! was thinking of making one myself after I listened to the album yesterday, but I’m happy you came through first

Long Tall Arsetee & the Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:35 (one year ago) link

Evan: oh I do recognize this cover. I would say there is definitely a bit of this kind of thing going on (esp in the song you tried), but Aftab also sings in Urdu and draws on ghazals and Sufi poetry and in general doesn't sound too songwriter-y

breastcrawl: my pleasure! and cheers to calzino for mentioning it

rob, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:39 (one year ago) link

it's lovely and versatile.

Draymond is "Mr Dumpy" (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:47 (one year ago) link

did not know i needed "Dub Sufi" but hey

Draymond is "Mr Dumpy" (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:48 (one year ago) link

what a voice she has as well, it's an incredible album.

calzino, Thursday, 29 April 2021 15:50 (one year ago) link

I plan to check out her earlier work, but were people already following her? I hadn't heard her name until you mentioned it calzino

rob, Thursday, 29 April 2021 15:52 (one year ago) link

someone I follow on twitter mentioned her in his weekly roundup of new releases. I'd never heard of her before.

calzino, Thursday, 29 April 2021 15:56 (one year ago) link

she was featured as an album of the day on bandcamp daily, that's how i found her. i usually check out those articles and if the description moves me i give it a shot

i'd venture to say her album is closer to album of the year than album of the day haha *rimshot*

the mai tai quinn (voodoo chili), Thursday, 29 April 2021 16:38 (one year ago) link

Adding to all the praise. Been a remarkable year in music, really.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 29 April 2021 17:01 (one year ago) link

ILM Archival Service

from the Hallelujah Poll, poll Halleluja.... poll:

she ended 7th (along with a host of others)

Poll Results
Option Votes
1.Jeff Buckley 15
3.John Cale 12
2.Leonard Cohen 10
19.Happy Mondays 6
22.Bono 2
8.Rufus Wainwright 2
40.Arooj Aftab 1
― Mark G, vrijdag 26 november 2010 12:59

from the Meshell Ndegeocello: RFI thread:

a friend of mine just played drums with her on a gig (not a meshell gig, backing up arooj aftab...anyone go to that?)
― this is unusual for batman. (Jordan), woensdag 2 november 2011 15:04

The NYC club listing below is not clear--are they playing Pakistani music?
“An incredible incredible stupendous stupendous group of humans will walk and run and dream and weep through an evening of songs by Arooj Aftab and Grey Mcmurray.
The Sea Gazing Family Band for the night of October 29th 2011 will be:
Arooj Aftab
Mathias Kunzli
Joshua Valleau
Conor Elmes
Norman Vladimir
Grey Mcmurray
and Meshell Ndegeocello”
― curmudgeon, woensdag 2 november 2011 15:24

pakistani jazz?
― this is unusual for batman. (Jordan), woensdag 2 november 2011 15:43

from the Return of the World Music Thread: 2012 thread:

Al Sarah and the Nubatones // Arooj Aftab // DJ Ushka
A night of ultimate contemporary world and roots fusion sounds! [...]
Arooj Aftab will perform a duo set of acoustic, pre-partition, sufi inspired south asian semi classical music with Guitarist and Co-Composer Bhrigu Sahni.
The show is at a secret location on Saturday Sept 29th in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. You must RSVP, attendance is by invitation only. Send a message to alsarah5✧✧✧@gm✧✧✧.c✧✧ and you will recieve a confirmation email with time and exact location.
Not a good look to miss this, so see you there!!
― EVERYONE COOKING SCMABLED EGGS,CHEESE WITH TOASTER!! (forksclovetofu), vrijdag 28 september 2012 20:28

(7 years go by...)

from forks’ NYC Live Music and Entertainment listings in 2019:

April 28 – Arroj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shazad Ismaily

August 7 – Jesus Carmona / Arooj Aftab – Dance - FREE

Long Tall Arsetee & the Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Thursday, 29 April 2021 17:52 (one year ago) link

Listening to "Mohabbat" on's nice. It seems like I was sent a promo, so I'll check out the whole album.

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 29 April 2021 22:55 (one year ago) link

I'm halfway through the first song and it's amazing. Though its different, it hits similar spots for me as that Alabaster DePlume record.

keto keto bonito v industry plant-based diet (PBKR), Thursday, 29 April 2021 22:57 (one year ago) link

Adore this album

Tim F, Friday, 30 April 2021 02:51 (one year ago) link

"Mohabbat": all that balancing on the acoustic guitar cycle, the vocal notes occasionally venturing, returning closer to the hub (yes also thinking of bicycle guitar): makes me think of 60s Joni and Fairport, like if they did another otherwise elusive JM song after "Eastern Rain"---yeah this and "Last Night" especially make me think of DePlume, and a production by Solid Air-era Martyn, eventually veering toward One World, if he were directing say Danny Thompson and Terry Cox--but the singer, confident as ever, never gets lost in the pile-on of my associations. Lots of other stuff on her bandcamp...
April 28 – Arroj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shazad Ismaily Tell me this is on YouTube, or somewhere.

dow, Friday, 30 April 2021 04:54 (one year ago) link

"Mohabbat" is also reminding me of how "Eastern Rain" and some other things on FC's What We Did On Our Holidays always had me thinking of East-West trade routes involving maybe the Arctic Circle, pre-Ice Age, say (thinking of that during Weed Age)

dow, Friday, 30 April 2021 05:06 (one year ago) link


wow wow wow wow wow

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Saturday, 1 May 2021 14:26 (one year ago) link

booming post :)

rob, Saturday, 1 May 2021 14:42 (one year ago) link

I listened to this on long drive and it was very meditative. It put my mom to sleep (which she needed, lol).

keto keto bonito v industry plant-based diet (PBKR), Sunday, 2 May 2021 00:30 (one year ago) link

oh wow this is astounding

ufo, Thursday, 6 May 2021 21:55 (one year ago) link

Good interview here:

Of note: she's recorded a to-be-released album with Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily as Love In Exile

rob, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 14:09 (one year ago) link

I had no idea she was an Abida Parveen protégée of sorts. Now there's a legit lineage!

pomenitul, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 15:01 (one year ago) link



Love in Exile performs as one continuous hour-long set.

Pictures help us to live in complete possession of our sense of sight…[they] send us back to life and to the other arts with the ability to see beauty all around us.
—Duncan Phillips, 1926

Join us from the gallery exploring the senses in our exhibition Seeing Differently: The Phillips Collects for a New Century, for a transformative, hour-long musical meditation from composer/pianist Vijay Iyer, vocalist Arooj Aftab, and bassist Shazad Ismaily. Love in Exile creates lush, cathartic, and ritualistic soundscapes that activate visual works in the gallery by Leo Villareal, Malissia Pettaway, Rudolf De Crignis, and Richard Diebenkorn.

This performance will be broadcast on this event page and is free with registration. Once you have registered, return to this page on Sunday, May 9, scroll down to the section “Watch the Stream” and enter the password provided to you at registration. The performance will be available to view On-Demand.

dow, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 16:40 (one year ago) link

You don't (and apparently no longer can) register to stream---I couldn't get the cart etc. to respond, so just clicked on the Vimeo, and here we go---already sounds awesome.

dow, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 19:52 (one year ago) link

Three pieces, in total a little over 53 minutes. First is the longest, slowest, zoneist, zzzz-est for me, penultimately, but I woke up for final coalescence---main thing here is, this really is a group, and everybody gets enough room, but Iyer goes a bit far into the weeds sometimes---however, on the second piece, about 24 minutes in, he switches to electric piano, and the whole thing is a little faster, more discernibly developmental---on the third one, he goes back to the acoustic, Chopinesque, then she comes in sooner than on the second, he goes to both hands on the left side, with pedals, and Ismaily's Moog bass drone is ominous--she reaches some peaks all through, without ever losing her cool.
I'll check their album for sure, but glad to have hers first.

dow, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 21:21 (one year ago) link

O now this is the shit (occasionally seems like some instruments other than listed, but might be how the listed are used---wouldn't swear she's not the flute, also, like it says, A masterful expression of lyrical and acoustic soul, tripped out through analog voltage and experimental digital filters.)
released March 9, 2015

Bird Under Water
Written, Arranged and Produced by Arooj Aftab

Arooj Aftab - Vocals
Jörn Bielfeldt - Drums/Percussion
Mario Carrillo - Contra-Bass
Bhrigu Sahni - Acoustic/Electric Guitar
Magda Giannikou - Accordion on tracks 2, 3 and 4
Sonny Singh - Trumpet on tracks 2 and 5
Baqir Abbas - Bansuri on track 1
Rakae Jamil - Sitar on track 3

Tracks 2, 3 and 5 co-written with Bhrigu Sahni
Mixed and Mastered by Jeremy Loucas
Engineered by Joshua Valleau and Alex Syner
Album Art by Anum Awan and Yikun Liang

dow, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 23:20 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

Kind of a DePlume vibe, or related appeal,anyway, but maybe earlier in the day or evening, and a little more spare?

dow, Monday, 31 May 2021 22:06 (one year ago) link

Sorry, meant to link re Carlos Niño & Friends on Rolling Jazz, but Arooj fans might dig that album too.

dow, Monday, 31 May 2021 22:11 (one year ago) link

certainly digging it

corrs unplugged, Tuesday, 1 June 2021 15:35 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

she’s on obama's summer playlist lol

the mai tai quinn (voodoo chili), Saturday, 10 July 2021 14:37 (one year ago) link

prob freaking out a lotta rightwingnuts who have no idea who she is

Yours in Sorrow, A Schoolboy: (forksclovetofu), Monday, 12 July 2021 15:29 (one year ago) link

Suroor might be my highlight from Vulture Prince, but there are moments in every song where she stops me in whatever I was doing. I also love how she manages to jump from orchestral to reggae to harp-folk to post-rock delicate soundscapes in an otherwise very consistent style. Suroor sounds like a Mande-Arabic fusion, in a pleasant unplaceable global way that I guess is the new platonic ideal of world music.

Nabozo, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 10:01 (one year ago) link

there are moments in every song where she stops me in whatever I was doing

I hadn't listened to this in a little while, but I put it on while in mountains with some friends for the first time in a year and everyone was totally spellbound. It's really powerful

rob, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:03 (one year ago) link

yeah you gotta be careful where and when you put it on haha

it’s firmly a “don’t drive with this” album for me, along with prefab sprout’s i trawl the megahertz

bezos did the dub (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:17 (one year ago) link

I wonder how much Obama pays his playlist consultants

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:17 (one year ago) link

and are they hiring? I always feel mildly owned when those lists drop lol

do we have a driving music thread? vc's post reminds me of a friend who would drive to stuff like Stars of the Lid and Windy & Carl that would 100% result in my death if I tried it

rob, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:33 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Heard this for the first time yesterday and was utterly entranced. By necessity, so much of my listening these days is done while doing other things - working, cooking, chores, etc. It is rare that an artist so completely pulls me out of my immediate focus and compels me to listen the way this did from the opening track.

Indexed, Thursday, 2 September 2021 13:54 (one year ago) link

best album of the year, imo

grove street (party) direction (voodoo chili), Thursday, 2 September 2021 14:01 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

nommed for best new artist at the grammys lol

grove street (party) direction (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 18:09 (one year ago) link

that's what the obama co-sign will do for you

grove street (party) direction (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 18:10 (one year ago) link


Indexed, Tuesday, 23 November 2021 18:46 (one year ago) link

also up for best global album i think.

When Young Sheldon began to rap (forksclovetofu), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 21:59 (one year ago) link

she's on my year-end list, great album

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 22:00 (one year ago) link


maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 22:17 (one year ago) link

vinyl just went up on bandcamp i guess... last batches sold fast

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 22:24 (one year ago) link

She was genuinely stunning last night. Her voice is incredible—the album doesn't quite do it justice really. Reminded me that when I played Vulture Prince for my partner her first reaction was "you have to see this kind of music live" (meaning, more or less, qawwali/ghazals), and she was right!

The lineup was Gyan Riley on guitar and for one song some kind of electric...idk, something in the sitar family tree (which I wouldn't have minded hearing more of), and Darian Donovan Thomas on violin, which he also made sound like a synth sometimes. Sounds like the same as Glastonbury. They were both great, though if I had to complain about anything, Riley got a bit more of the spotlight than necessary I felt, a few times I got itchy waiting for Aftab to sing again while he soloed. She has a dryly funny stage presence too

rob, Wednesday, 6 July 2022 13:48 (four months ago) link

Toronto had those 2 guys and Maeve Gilchrist on harp, too. Great set. The audience was extra hott though - big reactions for every single solo. Neat to see her in a 600 capacity club... wonder if that'll be happening much more, now signed to a bigger label and whatnot.

maf you one two (maffew12), Saturday, 9 July 2022 17:03 (four months ago) link

Wow---makes me wonder how far into a fairly high-profile Western Hemisphere career/possible stardom Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan might have gone, if he'd lived longer---she's got the advantage of (pretty much, of not altogether) starting her career in the West, in Brooklyn, I take it, and her (pretty much, if not altogether) Western Hemisphere line-ups are of her own choosing, it seems, dunno how much choice Khan had in recording with Michael Brook and so on, although there were several collections of the uncut, prewesternized voyages in the 90s: Shanachie's Greatest Hits, for example, and their wilder release, Intoxicated Spirit omg. I dunno about the Real World stuff, never listened much, but remember liking his cut w Eddie Vedder(!) in the midst of Dead Man Walking onscreen, however it may have fared on the soundtrack album. Devotional and Love Songs and Rapture had some okay Western sounds; there was maybe just one rock-ish track on the latter.

dow, Saturday, 9 July 2022 21:24 (four months ago) link

Riley got a bit more of the spotlight than necessary I felt, a few times I got itchy waiting for Aftab to sing again while he soloed

have to agree, good as he was

some kind of electric...idk, something in the sitar family tree

I also wonder what it was, here's a bad photo I took, maybe someone can help identify the instrument:

corrs unplugged, Monday, 18 July 2022 09:22 (four months ago) link

Ooh that is actually cooler looker than I realized in a dark & neon-lit club (Aftab made fun of the lighting at one point; I felt kind of bad for the tech, but they were pulling out all the stops to an absurd degree).

Still not sure what it is--I said "sitar family" because iirc it made a sustained, droning noise rather than a something more lute-like. It could be a really simplified veena maybe? I can't remember what his hands were doing while playing it though

rob, Monday, 18 July 2022 14:56 (four months ago) link

three weeks pass...

I saw her last night in Ljubljana. Beautiful music, crystal clear sound. She could tone down the between-song banter a bit, which I felt broke the spell at times. By all means talk to the audience but I found some of her anecdotes rambling and not as funny as she thought they were. I just wanted them to get on with the music. Wonderful musicians [guitar & violin] + voice, though, obviously.

giraffe, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 07:53 (three months ago) link

lol i loved her banter but can see what you mean

maf you one two (maffew12), Wednesday, 10 August 2022 10:32 (three months ago) link

I like the idea, as mentioned on here upthread, that she likes to put her audience at ease. But some of her gags and stories were just lame or didn't hit their targets. Oh well, sorry to dwell on that aspect because it was otherwise a very special gig.

giraffe, Thursday, 11 August 2022 06:44 (three months ago) link

I do agree it doesn't really benefit the music

maybe some of it is nervousness

but the music's so good it doesn't really matter

corrs unplugged, Thursday, 11 August 2022 08:47 (three months ago) link

Here's a brief interview with her in this 'culture news' report on Slovenian TV, in which she comes across really well: [I'm in the background briefly!]

I love what she says about connecting with the music even though you don't understand the language. I love the idea of someone singing with gentle power in (what is to me) a completely unknown language.

giraffe, Thursday, 11 August 2022 09:53 (three months ago) link

I see what you mean, giraffe, but I saw her last Saturday in Katowice and personally didn't mind her stage banter at all (though she didn't really tell actual anecdotes, more just was vibing with the energy in the room).

TBH it did initially take me out of it to see her being this down-to-earth chill performer pouring herself wine on stage, joking, and taking a selfie video with the audience but I suppose it was only because I had no reference point—I had never seen or heard her speak before, only listened to Vulture Prince a lot since last year, and probably subconsciously projected the heavy emotions in the songs onto the person behind them. So maybe I half-expected a solemn mystic singing behind a haze of smoke—but that's obviously on me!

Actually, now that I think about it, her warmth and laidback attitutde provided a nice counterpoint to the gut punches served repeatedly in the songs (the performance of the actual music was absolutely top notch). She seemed genuinely lovely and like a cool person to hang out with, her band members (Gyan Riley on guitar and Darius Donovan Thomas on violin) too.

ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ, Thursday, 11 August 2022 14:34 (three months ago) link

Lots of good points,ˈʌglɪɪst preɪ [How do you pronounce this?]. When someone you've never seen or heard live before walks up to the mic you have no idea what kind of person they're going to be and there's a measure of trepidation all round. When she started talking I was taken aback by the contrast between the solemnity of the music and the chilled comedy of the performer between songs (she was unbelievably relaxed at the mic). Maybe we were unlucky with the package of jokes we got... :)

giraffe, Thursday, 11 August 2022 15:23 (three months ago) link

reminds me of Townes Van Zandt on some stages, going back & forth, stark ballads and zings


Hugely honored to receive the Presidents Pride of Performance Award today wowwww thank you Mr.President @ArifAlvi and H.E US ambassador @Masood__Khan for the nomination

— arooj aftab (@arooj_aftab) August 14, 2022

dow, Sunday, 14 August 2022 22:52 (three months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Her tweet thread about touring and playing to large crowds but still losing money is getting attention

Touring has been amazing. We headlined a ton, had massive turnouts and have proven ourselves in all the markets. Yet still, running 10s of thousands in debt from the tour and I’m being told that it’s “normal”. Why is this normal. This should not be normalized.

— arooj aftab (@arooj_aftab) September 6, 2022

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 17:50 (two months ago) link

This is after artists already lost so much income during Covid. Now post covid flights fuel visas taxes and hotel prices are outrageous, promoters afraid to raise ticket prices, audiences still nervous to go out… what a fking mess and we are expected to take the hit

— arooj aftab (@arooj_aftab) September 6, 2022

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 17:51 (two months ago) link

I don't know all the ins and outs but it sounds like a lot of those things are outside anyone's individual control?

Evan, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 17:59 (two months ago) link

Yeah, I mean, that's why it's such a depressing situation, there's not magic bullet solution. Raising ticket prices enough to cover all of those other cost increases is really unlikely to help, it'll just encourage more people to stay home.

That said, I don't know enough about her specific tour to know if this is indeed entirely representative. The "10s of thousands" sound pretty shocking for sure.

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 7 September 2022 18:07 (two months ago) link

The magic bullet solution is twofold: to boycott streaming services and for everyone to get vaccinated

That tweet is ultra depressing. I mean she was on Obama's playlist for chrissakes

Paul Ponzi, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 18:45 (two months ago) link

I read that more as a riposte to the idea that "touring is how you make money in the music biz" rather than a specific critique of venue prices, even if that seems like the only immediately available solution

rob, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 18:46 (two months ago) link

obama should give $100,000 to everyone he puts on his playlist

comedy khadafi (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 7 September 2022 18:46 (two months ago) link

or royalties on his next book

comedy khadafi (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 7 September 2022 18:47 (two months ago) link

Not sure about other cities, but she played a pretty small venue here in the spring (~200), so am curious if others have seen "massive" turnouts. Tickets were only $31 all-in with venue fees and taxes. I have to imagine her audience is older, which means she can probably stand to raise prices and not lose as many, but I do think her demos have been slower to return to nightlife post-covid.

Indexed, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 18:57 (two months ago) link

yeah, i think what she is saying there is "hey i'm doing pretty well and still drowning, help our industry is dying"

obviously i don't think bands playing shows is ever going to disappear, but the one-two punch of predatory streaming and COVID may take out a lot of them ... probably already has and we just don't know it yet.

adding this after seeing Indexed's post: yes, her interpretation of "massive" and proving oneself in markets may be different than others'.

alpine static, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 19:00 (two months ago) link

Well, feeling guilty, I just bought VP on vinyl. Didn't realize it had finally been released.

Indexed, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 19:33 (two months ago) link

bummer for sure

usually would not advocate for patronage but the margin on a vinyl is not great afaik, so I imagine sending ~2 dollars directly could possibly benefit as much as buying a 30 dollar vinyl

touring should not have a negative margin

corrs unplugged, Thursday, 8 September 2022 08:07 (two months ago) link

I wanted to buy Vulture Prince at her gig - I like buying directly from the artist where possible - but they were charging 40 euros. I want to be a good fan and support her but I couldn't justify spending that much on an album.

giraffe, Thursday, 8 September 2022 12:07 (two months ago) link

Not that that detracts from what she's saying.

giraffe, Thursday, 8 September 2022 12:10 (two months ago) link

I find it hard to believe that many artists are touring at a loss right now, let alone a loss of “tens of thousands” of dollars

zacata, Thursday, 8 September 2022 12:34 (two months ago) link

yeah, for a three piece... I dunno, should be possible to pay hotels and travel expenses

but then again, it's the music biz

remember when I first read abt members of TLC filing for bankruptcy at the height of their immense commercial sucess (but I digress)

corrs unplugged, Thursday, 8 September 2022 13:07 (two months ago) link

I think they played a lot of festivals, which I could see not paying super well (?). Also, on her list, "visas" stood out to me. I don't know if she has US citizenship or not, but especially if she doesn't, I imagine that is pretty expensive

rob, Thursday, 8 September 2022 13:24 (two months ago) link

I see she has a European tour coming up. Possible that they have just had to pre-book (and pay for) lots of plane tickets, visas, hotels, etc. in advance of getting paid?

Indexed, Thursday, 8 September 2022 13:50 (two months ago) link

I thought festivals (and colleges) were the big money makers on tour? That's what I have always heard.

Paul Ponzi, Thursday, 8 September 2022 13:53 (two months ago) link

I read that more as a riposte to the idea that "touring is how you make money in the music biz" rather than a specific critique of venue prices, even if that seems like the only immediately available solution

― rob, Wednesday, September 7, 2022 2:46 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

Her wording in the two tweets shared above kind of conveys that feeling popular tweets often do where people are meant to be whipped up to "take a stand" against some oppressive societal system or power ("This should not be normalized" & "we are expected to take the hit") so while I agree with you about their likely intention I was a little unsure myself, hence my own initial response. Also I do wonder how universal her experience is, not to push back against it or anything but there are a lot of baseline variables depending on who you are, where you're going and what you need to bring with you.

Evan, Thursday, 8 September 2022 15:44 (two months ago) link

I find it hard to believe that many artists are touring at a loss right now, let alone a loss of “tens of thousands” of dollars

― zacata, Thursday, September 8, 2022 7:34 AM (four hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

why is it hard to believe that artists are touring at a loss?

comedy khadafi (voodoo chili), Thursday, 8 September 2022 17:14 (two months ago) link

festival guarantees are much much smaller than a regular gig for all the small font artists. if an artist wants to book hotels instead of sleeping in cans or buses, a 20+ day tour can run up thousands of dollars, even if all three band members share a room.

the venue also takes home 50% of the door and 100% of the bar for the vast majority of artists who aren’t at the superstar level. and in rooms like the ones aftab is playing, you basically have to sell out to see any money at all

comedy khadafi (voodoo chili), Thursday, 8 September 2022 17:17 (two months ago) link

50% of the door is a generous estimate that not every artist gets, they usually just get a flat guarantee (given the budget that a lot of small venues work with, that number is prob much smaller than you think it is) and the promoters get the ticket proceeds

comedy khadafi (voodoo chili), Thursday, 8 September 2022 17:20 (two months ago) link

Lots of venues take a percentage of merch sales too

mizzell, Thursday, 8 September 2022 17:26 (two months ago) link

which is bullshit

Paul Ponzi, Thursday, 8 September 2022 18:17 (two months ago) link

Do they really? Not just when they provide a merch person?

Evan, Thursday, 8 September 2022 18:35 (two months ago) link

No, the venue usually gets the money from the merch person. They count everything in during load in and recount it after the show. It's a really shitty practice.

Paul Ponzi, Thursday, 8 September 2022 18:44 (two months ago) link

I have never understood why bands don't just load more merch in during the opening band. I guess you'd have to be pretty attentive to keep track of it all (ie "why is there more merch here now than when you started?")

Paul Ponzi, Thursday, 8 September 2022 18:45 (two months ago) link

I actually don't know how widespread it is, but Stereolab recently posted that there were only 2 venues on their upcoming tour which don't take a cut.


mizzell, Thursday, 8 September 2022 18:46 (two months ago) link

That is such a bullshit practice that needs to be shamed out of existence, ASAP. I've seen a couple of impassioned arguments FOR the practice from small venue owners that bemoan how much things cost for them, but none of it was enough to convince me.

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 8 September 2022 18:52 (two months ago) link

My most detailed peek into touring band finances was a band some friends were in that used to tour Europe playing mostly small theaters. 8 piece band in a bus plus a sound person, driver, and merch person. Pre-pandemic they would come home with some money, let's say $5 - 15k per person depending on the length of the tour. Not great money at all if you're trying to live on it, and can't take a a full-time job so you can tour a few months out of the year. But definitely not losing tens of thousands of dollars.

I'm sure things are worse now in terms of missed shows due to travel snafus and COVID, lower turn-out and sales, etc. But I'd love to know how much worse, ie does that explain everything or are there additional factors in Aftab's situation.

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 8 September 2022 18:59 (two months ago) link

I see she's booked to come back to the Washington DC area in April 2023 on a bill with Vijay Iyer, and Shahzad Ismaily all together in a collaborative project called Love in Exile at the fancy suburban Strathmore Music Center in Maryland that I think holds 2,200 people. $23 to $68. Not sure they will fill the place, but maybe she gets a sizable guarantee?

curmudgeon, Friday, 9 September 2022 03:05 (two months ago) link

recent conversation i had with two booking agents suggested that Europe for jazz/"world" is good guaranteed money, US is not.

i cannot help if you made yourself not funny (forksclovetofu), Friday, 9 September 2022 06:19 (two months ago) link

Lots of venues take a percentage of merch sales too

this is insane? does that go for both US/EU?

corrs unplugged, Friday, 9 September 2022 06:31 (two months ago) link

xxpost To have an idea of what you might be for with Love In Exile, scroll up to where I posted the link to their streaming concert: click on that, then click on the Vimeo you'll see, as I just now did: seems fine, although I didn't try to play the whole thing. Mainly because, as I said in my comments then (May, 2021), I sometimes got frustrated by the knottier, lengthier piano traffic patterns, despite the excellent vocals and bass---piano was effective at times as well, but judging by posts about recent shows, seems like she still gives her colleagues a lot of space---and Vijay is my least favorite of the people she's performed with (although he's always been an effective anchor-to-axis-and-back for Burnt Sugar). But she's mentioned a Love In Exile album that was finished a while back, and I would like to hear it---for one thing, maybe studio budgeting etc. would rein him in.

dow, Friday, 9 September 2022 06:47 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

Time to spill the beans …

— arooj aftab (@arooj_aftab) November 18, 2022

big movers, hot steppers + long shaker intros (breastcrawl), Sunday, 20 November 2022 13:33 (six days ago) link

Definitely looking forward to that at Big Ears.

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