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My Response To An LA Pay-To-Play Promoter

After posting my Should You Pay To Play article, I happened to receive an email from an LA promoter.

Here is how our conversation went…

myresponse2

T’s response:

Ari. This is an EXCELLENT post. There’s definitely a stigma associated with pay to play. But respectfully, I draw the line between pay to play (where the artist pays) and presell. I do NOT want ANY BAND having to buy tickets or pay out of their own pockets- for two reasons 1) its not ethical and 2) it means they have no draw, no fans, and that’s not cool for the venue, fans or other bands. Pay to play is VERY different from presale.

And speaking of preselling tickets (NOT coming out of pocket) what your post fails to mention- that this is business model is used by the most famous and successful bands in the world.

For example, when Justin Bieber plays the Staples Center, he does NOT always get a guarantee. He has to sell X amounts of tickets to break even, and yes those tickets ARE sold on his website. I repeat- if you go on the Rolling Stones website- you can buy tickets to their shows – and they do not break even until they sell X amount. This is absolutely no different than a band putting a PayPal on their website for their show. And if the band has a following, they WILL get paid. This is often why “famous” bands lose money- because they are booked into a venue they are not capable of filling. And yes, famous bands do NOT pay to get on a show. But they DO presell tickets. I know, because my good friend manages several famous acts. The days of the promoter putting up all the money- rain or shine- are OVER. Sponsor? Maybe.

I play drums in a band that draws between 150-200 persons every time we play. We worked our asses off to get FANS, not friends. So using the terms I sent you, my band would make at least $800 before we even left our driveway. And NEVER spend any of our money. Additionally, the younger generation often requests tickets, because being web savvy, they know they can make hundreds of dollars before they even play the show, and they want to be in charge of NOT just their music, but their careers. But I cannot stress this enough- most of our shows are NOT presell, and I do NOT want any band going to the ATM to play a show. That’s fucking crazy.

Last but not least, these terms are just a starting point. If you don’t want to presell tickets, you do NOT have to. Most of our shows are NOT presell – just ask anyone on our calendar. All I ask is that the band level with me about their draw, because I often rent these clubs for thousands of dollars (and we don’t get the bar) and its funny you mention how you don’t mention names because if I named every band who wasn’t forthcoming with me about their draw, we’d both be out of computer memory. And you know it. But I left law school to play drums in a band (much to my PHd mom’s chagrin) so I see both sides. I actually went to University of Minnesota Law School BTW!

i do not “prey” on young stupid bands. Just the opposite- i don’t want to work with ANYONE young and stupid because we all have to work TOGETHER – owner, musicians and promoter- to make a successful show. So please don’t see 1% of what we do and paint with a broad brush.

BTW do you have a draw? If you do, let’s give you a door deal and get you PAID. That’s ultimately what we all want, and I have zero problem paying artists on their terms as long as they are candid and truthful. But Ari, you haven’t lived life unto the fullest until 3 of the 4 bands you booked lied to you about their draw, and the club says “T you owe US $1000″. So as with everything, I think communication is the key.

Call me anytime. I’m happy to put you plus all on our guest list to any of our shows, buy you some rounds,and show you we are not the mercenaries you make us all out to be LOL!!

Stepping off my soapbox now, and again I agree with a lot of your post. Well written sir

Have a great night Ari and keep up the good work

T

My response to T:

T. So I didn’t want to respond until I gathered up some reputable knowledge and facts. After I passed along your response to my readers, a friend of mine replied and said “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Now my friend, who wants to remain anonymous as revealing the confidential breakdown he sent me could get him fired,works for one of the two largest promoters in the country. Everyone knows this company. He passed along an arena tour breakdown excel document of one of the largest bands in the country. This doc lists everything from capacity of the venue, tour history, ticket prices, expenses (rental, stage hands, catering, advertising, etc) AND, OF COURSE, this bands GUARANTEE. For every show on the tour they got a guarantee of $650,000 or 95% cut of ticket sales (after expenses) – whichever is greater.

My friend said every arena deal is structured this way and you are 100% incorrect that if bands don’t sell any tickets they lose money. If no one buys tickets on this tour, the band still walks with $650,000 PER SHOW.

In addition, you are wrong about Bieber. Justin Bieber is not actually selling tickets onhis website. Go check. If you click Events on his website it sends you to his Facebook Pageand if you click one of the dates there it sends you to Seat Geek – which is a secondary ticket marketplace. Tickets are for sale on Ticketmaster.com but Bieber has no links to that oddly enough. But after the story broke that Bieber scalps his own tickets, this shouldn’t be that big of a surprise.

But regardless, comparing what the biggest superstars in the world do to young, inexperienced bands with no representation is completely bogus. It’s like comparing organic apples and Monsanto. But since you did, I had to debunk your claims.

My entire post is about how bands with no representation or much experience in the big bad world of show booking/promotion should protect themselves from unfair, unethical deals. You said it yourself, “I do NOT want ANY BAND having to buy tickets or pay out of their own pockets…its not ethical.” But, your initial pitch to me was for me to BUY TICKETS. Sure, ideally I would then sell those tickets and then some to make some money, but this is STILL not ethical.

Local promoters and venue bookers need to do what is fair and honest. If bands aren’t proven, then sure, don’t offer them a guarantee, BUT offer them a fair door cut. Don’t make them sell a minimum amount of tickets up front (like you initially offered me). Do your research on these bands. Listen to their music (novel idea eh?). Find bands that are hard working AND fit together musically. Then work along side these bands to PROMOTE the show. Instead of carpet bombing every band in LA with a form email with a subject line IN ALL CAPS, why not find 4 stellar bands who are all hard working and pitch them a show that you will all work your asses off on. Arrange an entire night of music as a Surge Event Presents evening and inspire and encourage (not threaten) young bands with ways to promote the show on their end. You promote it on your end. And in the end, you could potentially sell out every venue. That’s what I did for every show I played in Minneapolis (when I was local there) and I brought 400+ to nearly every show.

You will quickly get known around town as a favorable promoter by venues and bands alike.

You can change your business model. If every local promoter around the country who uses the same carpet bomb, unfiltered, un-researched email blast, presell ticket approach looked at the long term (instead of the quick buck), these local promoters would flourish and the industry would be very different.

It CAN start with you.

hand How You Promote A Show In LA (And Not Be A Dick About It)

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music business advice blog, Ari’s Take. Listen to his new album, Brave Enough, on Spotify or download it on BandCamp. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

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Comments (30)
  1. Floyd Flewitt

    Chicago is pay to play… its f%^ked up because these promoters are greedy as hell.. if an artist is lookin to perform and can sell a lotta tiks but cant afford to rent out a venue then this is great deal.. just know that the promoters is really not interested in your music. but this can be a great opportunity to create a buzz behind whatever your doing. think of it like your renting the stage but it has to be some planning and synchronization thru social media but im not fenna give away my ideas on the process.. i really wanted to say on a local level this is whats going on but the one thing i just hate is a greedy snake in the grass low life promoter who does this and books 20 or 40 acts for $200 $300 (200×40 in one night) with a slot time of 7 minutes. ive seen promoters get they A$$ whooped and money took.. if u doin buisnes just be fair dont be greedy cause word will travel and no one will work with you. i need 20 to 30+ minutes specially if im bringin in 100+ people who are buying drinks… it is a ponzi scheme and the local artist is at the bottom. “do the best you can with what you have and in the end you will have more”


    Reply
  2. Clinton

    I never understood musicians going after careers as recording artists by whoring themselves in bars. If you want to be a recording artist than be in recording studios! Release a killer record then hire a publicist to promote it nationally. Then you have a leg to stand on when asking for a guarantee or even better rent the venue and keep all the money. Stupid is a stupid does. For as long as people are stupid and gullible there will always be a promoter there to take your money.


    Reply
    1. mdti

      Hi Clinton,
      Could you please led me 100 000 to do all that? thanks a lot in advance (you will be nuimber one fan for me if you do that ;-) )


      Reply
      1. GGG

        A lot of people on this site seem to think you need some absurd amount of money to record these days.

        Do some research. Meet people. Practice your shit before you go in so you’re not wasting time. If you think you need $100K to record a record in 2014 you’re not trying hard enough.


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        1. aaron m.

          hi ggg.

          you’re right. you don’t need 100k to record an album. you could do that for 20k or 10 or 5 or 2 or 0 like I do. let’s say you’re at a certain level though and you have music that’s pretty radio friendly and that’s the market you’re going for. i could see you doing maybe 30k easy but yeah you’re right that’s not 100k. so why ask for that much money? how can a band sell a million LPs and see maybe a fraction of the income created from that album.

          if you want to do a half-decent job marketing it, you could burn through all that cash pretty easily. word of mouth isn’t as organic as most people would have you believe and hiring publicists, recording videos, and just getting press can all cost a hefty chunk of change.

          so let’s just spitball and say you’re gonna dump maybe 20 grand into magazine ads and online ads. you’re really giving it your all here. i’m just SAYING 20k but you could probably go over that pretty easy. let’s say you go FULL PAGE, BLACK & WHITE in alternative press for a month? there goes 8.5k. you know. approximately. and that’s just one music mag. i don’t even want to think about how much it costs to advertise on pitchfork.

          ok ok you don’t want to go FULL PAGE but i mean, come on. you’ve already put 30k into recording & mastering your album (not accounting for album duplication costs which I hear are CRAZY RIDICULOUS for vinyl because let’s face it: who actually buys cds anymore) so why would you want to sabotage yourself by settling for LESS promo than you spent on actually recording the album. i mean, no offense but there’s A LOT of competition out there and you want to set yourself up for success, right?

          and how wide do you want to cast your net? how big is your show? let’s say you tour only the big cities in north america and despite a great marketing job, your expected ticket sales are maybe 25 – 50% of what you were expecting. at this point, you’re losing money but you’ve already paid for the venues so shucks why not go out on tour anyway?

          what happens if this happens in every venue you booked? fair enough that’s still not the entire 100k but we’re getting up there.

          But hey, you have plenty of expensive merch to sell at the shows. But since the shows are so poorly attended and your merch is so overpriced, it turns out you spent far more money on merch than you will expect to get back from it. but hey, at least you can sell it at a loss.

          also, let’s pretend it’s 2004 again and you’ve decided to play ozzfest because you’re a stupid nu-metal band so there goes another 25 grand.

          being in a band is pretty much a guarantee to lose money. even someone with huge budgets and radio play isn’t really guaranteed success. of course there are ways to record and tour for much, much, MUCH less than 100k but if you’re at the level where you NEED 100k for an album cycle, 100k may not necessarily be enough.

          oh yeah and that’s not even counting the time you’ll need to take off of work to play your poorly attended shows. and since you’ll probably be on tour for 2-3 months, you probably won’t have your job at taco bell when you come back but it’s okay. you’re living the dream.


          Reply
          1. DNo

            C’mon, that’s rubbish!!

            IIf you burn through 100k for nothing in 2014 you deserve to fail. Certainly in the UK there is a big developing scene of talented young artists that are proving you wrong. They focus on their music which is often recorded at home or in a cheap local studio, polish it themselves, promote it online and access the huge communities of music lovers. Seriously an aspiring artist spending 10k on a print ad? That’s ridiculous!

            No offence, but it’s views like that which hold young acts back. You make it sound like their goal is so far beyond their reach because of finances but the main thing that’s actually important is talent and determination. The gatekeepers are watching and are looking for artists like this…. I know this because I work for a major, I have lots of friends in Indies and I constantly see artist make a name for themselves without either of these or 100k in the bank. Artists need to stop reading those bullshit ‘how to get into the music industry’ guides and focus on creating great music and trying to get people excited about it.

            Oh, and buy the way. Who the hell goes straight for an LP’s these days? Focus on a great track, develop it, promote it, build some fanbase from it and then do the process again. Next thing you know you’ve got an album proven on minor level with a growing fanbase. Then someone will put 200k on the table for you to make the album of your dreams and fund your tour… Whether that’s a label, investor or crowd funded.

            Please stop spreading these myths of a music industry 20 years ago… and stop reading those books ;)

            Oh…. And to add something more on topic…

            Promoters, stop being lazy, do your job, research your bands and present something great to people you are trying to get to your shows whether the band is known or not. It’s you guys that should building up an audience.. all you’re doing is passing your risk on to the artist you should be supporting. Though maybe you’re right maybe labels should also start signing artist as long as they buy 10,000 CD’s upfront and then make them do our jobs promoting the product so to make sure we can make enough money back. Bullshit! Do your jobs or stop calling yourselves ‘promoters’!!


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    2. Floyd Flewitt

      A lotta publicists are just as bad as the janky promoters out here….. ive yet to find that boutique publicist…. any recommendations?


      Reply
  3. Rikki

    Quit your whining….a band IS A BUSINESS……..

    Let me tell you how a DJ works…..a total newbie DJ will usually work for very little money say $40-50 per gig NO reputable DJ i know would ever call it an “internship” and not pay you…or I would out then real fast….

    Plus most time you will get a meal at the venue or at least the DJ would take you to a diner afterwards. After a while you learn how to DJ and then you go out on your own getting fully paid.

    But here is what bands REFUSE to get……..we are playing other peoples music for your entertainment…..If you are a cover band and the bar owner wants to hear your rendition of “Born To Be Alive” then you MUST get paid…

    But bands want to get paid for their original music and they have no following…..so what does a DJ do? He rents a hall/ room advertises his specialty eg house, deep house, EDM, trance, rock and roll metal night….and gets 100% of the door money…yes the DJ fronts his capital and so should a band….after all you are a BUSINESS!

    Next if you want to be taken seriously you must have your own website NOT a Free WIX or soundcloud but a real website in your bands name.COM

    Then you need to find someone or PAY someone to professionally record your bands 10 songs. This really doesn’t cost much….if you are in a garage just put the camcorder on a tripod but and here is the BIG BUT….the sound must be very good NO bass distortions NO sounding like you are 30 feet away and in a bathtub….you need an audio engineer with 3-4 mikes who will mix the sound before it gets recorded……

    Once that is done after all you are a BUSINESS then go to the promoters and ask for a freebie slot……you never know they might be so impressed with your professionalism and dedication it just might work.

    PS the thing that really ticks me off is if you have some crappy live videos…someone you know must be able record you properly……and please for gawd’s sake dont post the same feakin song from 5 different venues.


    Reply
    1. GGG

      This is all irrelevant.

      The point is if a band doesn’t have a following and can’t bring in money, the promoter SHOULD NOT BOOK THEM. Don’t trick naive bands into playing a show and losing $150 because 5 out of 15 people come. Just don’t let them fucking play. Simple as that. Far less dickish to turn them down then cheat them out of money.


      Reply
      1. Rikki

        GGG it IS relevant…..Its a business you could be selling frozen yogurt instead you play in a band. You have to invest Your capital in yourself. If nobody shows SO WHAT? you are out the money….

        My GF sells artwork and draws quick sketch portraits she has to pay for a table and the “promoters” try and bring in a crowd…. if she cant sell her services we lose money and probably will not go there again next year….sometimes you get lucky and make a lot of money.

        So pay to play is just what everyone else does so why do you think its wrong?


        Reply
        1. GGG

          You can’t just compare any “pay to whatever” scenario to music. You know who else pays venues up front? Strippers. Should I compare bands, or your girlfriend, to strippers now?

          Also, “If nobody shows SO WHAT? you are out the money….” Yea….that’s exactly the problem. My issue is much less some ethical issue I have, and more I just fucking hate people who call themselves promoters and don’t actually do any promotion. Mass emailing a bunch of bands and finding some that don’t know any better is just shitty. If this guy has to spend so much money renting out a venue, maybe she should, oh I dunno, have already found bands he knows will sell tickets? Your “it’s a business” argument should be attacking the shitty promoter who rents out a club without knowing who he’s even getting on stage.

          Case in point, I know a guy who does pseudo pay for play shows all the time. He makes a deal with, say, Knitting Factory in BK, and does a ticket buy. Difference with him is before he makes the deal he knows exactly what bands are playing. And he knows the first one will bring around 20, second will bring around 50, and the last two 100 each. So the burden isn’t on bands because bands bring those fans anyway, and the promoter is selling the pre-sales.


          Reply
          1. rikki

            Again GGG its the music BUSINESS sometimes you lose…….you have to allow for this in any business plan.

            I agree promoters who dont do their homework and rip off the bands….but if bands knew how to use the internet and most kids today are clueless they would see if the promoter actually did anything to promote other venues and nights aka “a track record” of success.

            How about GOING TO a night that the promoter is doing and Visually see what is going on……

            Kids today really have no clue how to do any research on the internet because they are always texting and using APPS when they need to be very good at SEARCH.


            Reply
            1. GGG

              I’m not saying bands are completely innocent; they SHOULD know better. But at the same time, many don’t, and we should just shame shitty promoters out of jobs, rather than trick bands out of money.


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      2. Rikki

        If Bands were smart think of it as an opportunity for live practice and make sure you have someone who can record it properly….so you have something great to show people on youtube, for the money you “lost!”.


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  4. DNog

    Ari,
    Great post…I am curious if you heard back from him after this last reply. Doubtful. I couldn’t agree with you more on this post as a general state of what’s wrong with promoting/booking shows these days. I’m not from LA or NYC for that matter but so I never had to deal with the pay-to-play bs that seems to be relevant in these major cities. I did however play in a band for over 10 yrs., everything from coffee houses to arenas through my career and can definitely verify that that promoter is full of sh*t. Justin Bieber gets paid no matter what, that’s what a guarantee is, if the show bombs, it’s on the promoter. He loses his ass not the artist. The only variable that would change pay due to turn out would be an extra back end cut. A split between the band/promoter after the guarantee and expenses are met through ticket sales. This can range at any split percentage that is originally worked out between the artist and promoter before the show. A good asset if you are an artist and know you are playing a strong market where the show will hopefully sell out. If you take a smaller guarantee with a bigger back end split you could in turn make more than originally asking for a larger guarantee up front.
    As far as pay to play, I think that promoters have gotten lazy and forgotten what the major part of the job is…to promote. While it’s smart to work with artist you know are going to bring people, as a promoter you are trying to make money as well and should be working your ass off to help the show succeed. After all it has your company’s name plastered all over it too. Hopefully artist stop agreeing to these terms and figure out alternatives so this pay-to-play model goes away for good.


    Reply
    1. Minneapolis Musician

      Well-known art galleries do not let unknown amateur artists hang their art in prime spaces in the gallery to see who might show up.

      The gallery owner pays for rent, heat. electricity, and insurance every month to their landlord. The gallery needs to earn enough from sales where they “split the door” with the artist. So, they don’t take just any artist.


      Reply
      1. DNog

        “A split between the band/promoter after the guarantee and expenses are met through ticket sales.”

        “While it’s smart to work with artist you know are going to bring people, as a promoter you are trying to make money as well and should be working your ass off to help the show succeed.”

        I’m not talking about straight door splits, I’m talking about back end splits off guarantees. A separate deal.

        There is also a major difference in that a promoter generally works with multiple clubs and not just one venue. If they are good at their job they should have different size/style venues to work with different artist and cater to each of the needs of the artist and venue.
        Venues generally have a round about set price at what it cost to use their facility. It’s a PROMOTERS job to know what amount of tickets sold they need sold to pay that price, the artist price, pay their expenses and hopefully make money on top of that. If you have an amazing unknown artist you definitely shouldn’t just book them in a large venue and cross your fingers. But as a promoter you can understand their talent and work with them through bookings in smaller shows or opening acts to help bring them more attention until they get to the level you can hire them to headline a larger club and make money for both of you. Most promoters don’t take that investment in local artist. It’s a numbers game to them. So in my opinion it’s promoters that are out of their league using this pay-to-play method to make a quick buck and not have to do the work and research to be actually successful. Screwing artists, venues, and most importantly themselves when they eventually fail. My 2.


        Reply
  5. ww

    basic economics. there are infinitely more bands than venues. venues get to dictate the terms because they have the leverage. wanna play in a venue? you gotta share more of (or take on, entirely) the risk and investment. same reason bands now “license” their music for free, and some supervisors are talking about pay for placement.

    wanna make it in music? better make sure your band is fucking great and can draw fans. sucks, but it makes sense to me. life ain’t always fair.


    Reply
    1. Minneapolis Musician

      “must be great”

      They must be great at entertaining the type of people who come to that bar. They don’t necessarily need to be skilled musicians.

      Just wanted to clarify that.


      Reply
      1. ww

        “great” is subjective of course. point is, if you’re not connecting with fans who want to pay money to see/hear you, then you better get comfortable being a “skilled musician” in your bedroom playing to the mirror for the rest of your life.


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  6. Izzy Presley

    Great read. One of my biggest complaints about shows here in LA is that they don’t keep genres together. You go to The Whisky on any given night and get a pop band followed by a death metal band followed by a blues band followed by a hard rock band followed by who knows what. It makes no sense to me because of the mass exodus you mentioned in the article. It’s frustrating.

    Izzy


    Reply
    1. Me

      Your problem is that you’re going to The Whiskey. ;) Venture East to Silver Lake/Echo Park/Downtown and you’ll find venues/promoters that know what they’re doing. I don’t hear too many people complaining about pay to play on the Eastside.


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  7. CrowfeatheR

    Promoters are supposed to sell tickets to the public and promote the show to the public, the bands are supposed to provide quality entertainment. A real promoter has a network of media connections who kow he provides a quality show and will push their shows in their medium, be it the local FM Dj or teendy blog writer. Anyone who simply rents a space and sells the band tickets to their own show is a shyster, con job , scumbag. The clubs and scum shysters love this arrangement, they get to make money with almost no effort involved. They could care less about the end product, the venue reputation (see ari’s why live music sucks article for more on that) or the reputation of the so called promoter. So what does this arrangement do for a band? They get to play a show with a bunch of bands that do not fit together, with a sound man and venue who couldn’t care less how you sound, with a promoter who is probably going to fudge your draw via his doorman to claim he deosn’t need to pay you. Now, do they care they have no repuutation? No, because there is always another gullible delusional fool with no business sense to prey on. Our only remedy to this is boycott these venues and promoters and chastise anyone who partakes in the destruction of our business and artform. The myth of “exposure” and being “discovered” is much to blame, maybe Ari could write a few articles in the reality of how people actually become sucessfull. It isn’t mr big shot record company dude “discovering” you in a some sleazy bar.


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    1. Anonymous

      its different for bands than it is for hiphop artists, if you got a band with half way decent music. you can walk out the door and easily find somewhere to play at that will pay you… a lot of these acts let their pride get in the way. tryin to go straight to the garden but never played a house party let alone a hole in the wall club. this aint the 80’s… music is in abundance right now. social media can make or break an artist a bad deal can be turned into a great opportunity. So if you go that pay to play route make it work for you fu#k the janky promoter use them like they are using you.
      ..


      Reply
  8. Beeftwerky

    Clubs used to be frequented by pretty much the same people, no matter who was playing. Most of the bands were regulars. Now it’s like the club owner hasn’t got a clue how to draw a regular crowd and feels no interest in the matter. Then he blames the band that he hired when nobody shows up? I know times change but sounds like the clubs are run by amateur businessmen. It may also have to do with every other kid you see is a master guitar virtuoso and people aren’t as easily amused at the prospect of sitting through yet another boring Slash/John Mayer wannabe with purty hair. Maybe it’s all our fault for playing the game the way we are told it must be played.


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  9. Jae

    Just wanted to share how we do things at one of the clubs I engineer at in Buffalo, NY… We are a 230 seat venue with bar and kitchen. We have a promoter that books our bands. Sometimes these bands are small, independent, touring bands with little following, sometimes they are Grammy winning artists with built in followings. These bands are paid no matter what based on the price we contracted with them at the time of booking. We then set a price, print tickets, and do the marketing to bring in the listeners. Tonight, for example, we had only 25 presale tickets for a $15 show. The band, from Memphis, got paid their agreed upon rate. We also provide the band with free drinks and free food from our kitchen. In some cases, like tonight’s band, we negotiate an amount of money in advance for them to go get dinner somewhere else. It’s on us to figure out what the break even point is and to market our shows to beat that. Not the band. Some of these shows are only $5 and some are $65. When Eilen Jewell first played out club it was a $8 ticket and 25-30 people showed up. 2 years later, she now puts 200 people in here at $20 a ticket. We try and do that with all the bands we book. It helps that the proprietors, staff, we’re all musicians, too. We might start by getting them as an opener for a well established act. In fact, we have the Sheila Divine coming for only $10, it’s already a sold out show and over a month away yet, and we have a local band opening. Kinky Friedman is coming for $35 and we have a local songwriter opening. It’s how we build followings for the artists, which also means us.

    We have a regular rotation of “house bands” but these bands are comprised of who’s who players so they are really polished and have a decent draw. We let the house bands select and invite their own openers to our club. The openers get $50 per person no matter what the turn out. If the door is better, they get paid more. But no matter what, they get $50 each.

    There’s no presale take, no fees, no pay to play at all. We pay for them to come entertain. If new bands want to come play our venue, they contact us and if the music fits our vibe, we try and find a way to get them in. Sometimes, that doesn’t work, sometimes it does. There are bands that have played only once and can’t or won’t come back for various reasons.

    I know this doesn’t work for everyone. I just wanted to share a story about a great venue that books big and small names, everyone gets paid, and if anyone loses, it’s the venue, which means we just have to do a better job.


    Reply
    1. Jae

      Oh, and I wanted to mention we’ve been in business for 35 years. We’re not new to this.


      Reply
      1. CrowfeatheR

        35 years says it, this is how you make a life as a quality venue. These pay to play clubs are just looking to make their next bag of blow, there is no tomorrow.


        Reply
  10. T-roy with Surge Event

    Hi GGG. Normally I stay away from these keyboard debates but I did want to answer some of you questions. I liked your post and you brought up some cool points of interest.

    1) Did Ari hear back from me after his reply? The answer is YES. In fact, Ari heard from me BEFORE I replied and after. He specifically asked me if I was cool with him publishing my response, and I said yes. Then, after his response, we communicated back and forth some more. I didn’t feel the need to continue the debate and back and forth with him online any more (nor address what I thought were inaccuracies – for example major artists do NOT always get a guarantee- my friend worked for an artist whose band got their show cancelled at Staples Center due to lack of ticket sales and they did NOT get paid no matter what) because I knew the people reading would continue the back and forth- and it has been an awesome read and lively debate.

    2) Not sure how everyone missed this part that I wrote “I do NOT want ANY BAND having to buy tickets or pay out of their own pockets- for two reasons 1) its not ethical and 2) it means they have no draw, no fans, and that’s not cool for the venue, fans or other bands” How did everyone miss this? How did everyone miss that I wrote “I do not “prey” on young stupid bands. Just the opposite- i don’t want to work with ANYONE young and stupid because we all have to work TOGETHER – owner, musicians and promoter- to make a successful show”? How did everyone miss that I wrote “I have zero problem paying artists on their terms as long as they are candid and truthful”? How did everyone miss that I wrote “Most of our shows are NOT presell – just ask anyone on our calendar”? None of this has been addressed because pay to play is such an emotional topic that people often lose sight of the total conversation. Clearly that happened here- the vast majority wrote with their heart instead of their head. Respectfully, even Ari wrote ” But, your initial pitch to me was for me to BUY TICKETS” when I NEVER asked him to buy tickets!! We never asked him to buy ANYTHING! lol!” And GGG I AGREE with you- “The point is if a band doesn’t have a following and can’t bring in money, the promoter SHOULD NOT BOOK THEM”. No kidding GGG!

    I’m not hear to bad mouth Ari or debunk his claims. The dude has an AWESOME blog and I recommend it to a lot of artists. But otherwise the posts never end. If you read my email I was extremely complimentary to him and chose the high road. We could both go “expert to expert” all day and come up with conflicting information. And I kind of feel bad that I even waded back into this debate because I’d rather read all about it. I feel zero need to have the last word. I’m not that kind of guy. The bottom line is this – musicians are not stupid idiots who lack savvy. Judging by some of these posts, you would think people think musicians are all little naive little kids and some dude in a white van is ready to snatch them up. But I know that most musicians in LA are smart and have their act together. Musicians are now more than ever responsible for their own careers and are adults. They can choose who they want to work with and they have the power to do whatever they want. They are not victims. They are empowered (I know, because I am one) I encourage all musicians to work with the promoter and the venue to get the best possible deal for themselves and I also encourage all musicians to display their intelligence when writing these posts instead of going of on rants that have zero to do with what was written. But it is a free country – and people can post whatever they want and I respect their opinion.

    Not sure where you live GGG but good luck with your career and wishing you the best. Take care

    T


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