It's a realistic question, and I don't pretend to not know why it's asked, but I feel there should be more conversation, more getting to know you, and maybe dinner or a movie before it's asked. At least pretend you want something more from me before you ask the question.
"How big is it?|
"How big is what?"
"Your draw. How big is your draw. How many people do you think your band can bring out?"
I know why you're asking. You're asking because you want to make sure the house is packed and you can make money selling over-priced drinks to my friends and family. But it's getting old when that's the only question that matters.
But there's another factor. How hard do you suck? Ask me that. Some people don't like our sound, some people love it. That's the nature of being a "local band," and being unsigned and without management. But we're not bad, and we do everything we do for the purpose of expressing ourselves, challenging ourselves, getting our rocks off, and connecting with the audience in a way that leaves them entertained and potentially recovering from permanent liver damage.
If you really want to see how big our draw can get, give us reasonable opportunities to expose ourselves to your audiences.
In my opinion, suck and draw are not mutually exclusive traits of a band. A band could have amazing draw but suck really hard. Other bands are really fantastic, don't suck at all and simply don't have much of a draw for whatever reason.
To battle the question of "how big is your draw," I'd really love to figure out a way to form a band that really sucks. A band that will make the bartenders hate life, the sound guy pull his hair out and the promote cringe in shame... but have a huge draw. The band would do no actual damage to anything, but simply be incredibly bad, distasteful and rude, but we'd find some way to back a venue with a fire-hazard sized crowd of well-tipping drinkers.
I was approached by the merch bitch of a local band at a recent show. The band is at least partly made up of kids who look like they might have just graduated high school or gotten out of juvenile detention; they have that wispy downy, three-day goatee action going on. They play absolutely horrible metal covers and have a huge draw. They have no reason to be insecure aside from their entire approach to music.
He lamented "Man, I just heard someone talking shit about our band in the bathroom. They need to recognize. We're awesome. Look at how much merch we have. We have t-shirts and stickers."
He didn't elaborate further, and I wish he had, because what I just quoted sounds so shallow and beside the point that it almost sounds like I'm exaggerating. Statements like that prove nothing about the awesomeness of your band. It just proves that you have the money to buy t-shirts and stickers.
While this is an extreme example, too often, this mindset pervades the music scene. Many young start-up bands feel this way, and even established cover and "working" bands. It's just stupid.
Get over yourself. Get over your draw. Go practice and get better at what actually matters. The music.