Should You Pay To Play? Here Are The Worst To Best Club Deals In The World

I live in LA. I’ve been here just under 4 years, but in that time I’ve met many excellent musicians in town all talented enough to explode at any moment. The sad reality is, in a town so saturated with incredible musicians, the cream isn’t necessarily rising to the top as quickly as it would in other cities.

Everyone who is great here is on the same level – getting little victories here and there. Some land a major tour and hit the road. Some get signed and go through the major label roller coaster. Some work the YouTube angle. Some make their livings on song placements. Some fly around the country playing colleges. Some get in their car and tour the coast/country on their own. But what all the non-superstar musicians in LA have in common is, when we play a show in town we accept shitty shitty deals. How do I know that these are shitty deals? Well, I’ve booked hundreds of shows in nearly every major city in the country and know how other cities do it.

This isn’t going to be a post about LA (as that could fill a book), but rather the issue of “pay to play” clubs.

Let’s explore some of the many scenarios bands get offered by venues and promoters every day:


Require bands to purchase tickets upfront

WHAT IS IT: Typically this happens with “promoters” who scour Reverbnation (they used to use Myspace), find naive bands and promise them slots at well known venues. All you, the band, have to do is sell 35 tickets (which you must either purchase in advance or pay up before you take the stage). But hey, you get to keep $3 for every ticket you sell! What a deal! Except you have to buy the tickets for $12 and sell them for $15. If you do the math, you are making 20% of the cover from the people JUST there to see you – which is the shittiest deal in the history of shitty deals. They usually put about 5-15 bands on a night, who each play about a 20 minute set. And the bands never fit together musically.

IS THIS FAIR: F NO! How these “promoters” get away with this is they prey on young bands who don’t know any better and will do anything to just play the venue – including paying lots and lots of money for this. As tempted as I am to name the names of these fucktard promoters who do this (and boy would I like to) I will not and hope that enough of you read this article and tell these promoters to politely fuck off when they contact you (as I have many many many many times).

+++Fun story: My final year in Minneapolis, one of these promoters kept hounding me to play a club I had actually headlined many times. I told them that I typically get 500 people to my headlining shows and I’m not interested in their deal (as I had a very good relationship with the club already). They responded explaining how much money I could make with their shitty deal if I brought 500 people (duh). I responded telling them no thanks and to please not contact me again. I was then hit up by the same “person” with the same stupid form email multiple times in the following weeks. Each time I got more and more annoyed, until finally I contacted the owner of the club and told him what was happening and how it was giving the club a bad name and that they should stop working with this promoter. The owner cancelled their upcoming show and hasn’t worked with them since. BAM! More bands need to do this in more cities.

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t pay to play cool venues. You will be PAID (a fair amount) to play these cool venues when you are ready and can draw a substantial crowd.

+My Response To An LA Promoter


Venue takes a band’s credit card at the beginning of the night to cover the difference in the required minimum draw

WHAT IS IT: This is almost as bad as the above scenario. A venue takes a band’s credit card at the beginning of the night and unless a certain number of people pay to see that band (the door guy has a tally sheet) at an absurd cover price, the venue will charge the band’s credit card to make up the difference. They usually require a minimum of 50 people to see you at $15 a head (which they keep 100% of) and then they split everything AFTER THAT 50/50. So if you bring 100 people you walk with $375 and the venue keeps $1125. Basically, you’re getting 30% ONLY if you bring 100 people. If you bring 50, you get $0.  This actually happens at clubs on Sunset Strip.

IS THIS FAIR: No. You and the venue should be in this together. You took a chance playing their club, they should take a chance on you. I get it, they are trying to protect themselves financially, but there are much more ethical ways to do this.

LESSON LEARNED: If the venue doesn’t have enough faith that you will bring a crowd, then don’t take the show.

+How I Got 250 To My Debut CD Release


Venues charge a “rental fee.”

WHAT IS IT: Music venues that also host private events like weddings got smart to the fact that they were making a buttload more money when they got wedding parties to rent out the venue than if they book a night of music. So, these venues figured, “why not ask bands to pay nearly the same amount to book a night in our beautiful venue?” They’ll make you rent the place for, say $1,500. You can charge whatever cover you like and will make 100% of it (if you’re lucky). You are essentially acting as the promoter. Oh you play music too? Eh.

IS IT FAIR: Well, it’s not ideal. The venue is basically completely covering their ass and will make out on this deal regardless if you bring anyone. The venue is basically admitting they have 0 faith in your draw and they are doing YOU a huge favor in LETTING you play their club (for an exorbitant fee).

LESSON LEARNED: I would say pass on this deal typically. Play a different club that gives you a fair and standard deal. Or, crunch the numbers and if you think you will bring enough people to make this deal worthwhile then go nuts. It helps to fill a promoter’s shoes once in awhile.


Venues only pay you after a certain number of people come to see YOU

WHAT IS IT: I’ve only really seen this kind of deal in LA and NYC (some other cities are catching on though). Basically, the door guy has a tally sheet with each band’s name on it. The venue works out a separate (standard) deal with each band. Typically, you get paid ONLY IF a certain number of people (I’ve seen 15-75) pay to see you (and not the others on the bill). You then get a cut of the door from dollar 1 after the minimum number of people come. Meaning if the minimum is 35 people at $10 a head and you bring 33, you walk with $0 (and the venue takes your $330 – and all the drinks your fans buy). However, if you bring 35 (and your deal is 60%) you walk with $210.

+Booking Your Own Tour: A How-To Guide

IS IT FAIR: Kind of, but not really. On the surface it looks like they are just covering expenses, BUT if they have 5 bands on the bill and each are required to bring 35 people at $10, the venue is getting WAY more than just the amount to cover expenses. If every band brings 30 people the venue makes $1500 (30 people x $10 x 5 bands) and each band makes $0. Yikes!

LESSON LEARNED: I don’t like these deals because it encourages competition amongst the acts and not a “we’re all in it together” approach – like I stand by. You have 0 incentive to work with the other bands on the bill to make it a great night – encouraging fans to stay from beginning to end. Because of this, bands in LA and NYC don’t get to know each other that well and typically show up right before their set and leave shortly after. “Hit it and quit it.” Which rubs off on the fans too. It’s VERY unique to see fans in LA or NYC come for a full night of music (because of this practice). Venues don’t realize that if they stopped working their deals this way and started encouraging complete bills and promoting the entire evening of music, they would get more people in their club for a longer period of time (i.e. more drink sales). But hey, I don’t run the clubs.


Venue takes expenses off the top

WHAT IS IT: A venue will take an amount off the top to cover expenses before they split the door. I’ve seen anywhere from $50-1500 for 500 cap and below clubs. Standard is $50-350 depending on the size of the club. Anything above $350 for a club under 300 capacity is screwing you.

Typical (non LA/NYC) door splits are: 70-100% for 21+ clubs, 65-80% for 18+ clubs, 40%-70% for all ages clubs. Remember, clubs make their money on drinkers. If you’re primarily bringing under age attendees, that may be great for your ego and T-shirt sales, but it does nothing for the club’s bottom line.

IS IT FAIR: Sure. They wouldn’t need to hire a sound guy or a door guy if you weren’t playing there that night. This money (typically) does go directly to these people and then the venue splits the remaining money with you fairly. But once venues start charging you for security and bartenders (like the Roxy) then you should shoot back “ok, well our merch persons costs $100 for the night, our guitar tech is $250 and our groupie manager is $300. How about we call it even?”


Door split from dollar one

WHAT IS IT: Many venues are happy to have you and will split the door with you from the first person who pays a cover. This is ideal. If 50 people come at $10 a head and you have a 70/30 split with the venue, you walk with $350.

IS IT FAIR: Absolutely. I see this deal occasionally, but most will at least take $50 off the top for the sound guy.

+9 Things Every Musician Needs To Know About The Sound Guy


Guarantee vs. % of door (whichever is greater)

WHAT IS IT: If you are more established and have a great relationship with the club, you can negotiate this kind of deal. It takes some serious clout, though, and a proven history in their club. Venues will do this to get you to play their club (and not the other options in their city). Because of your proven history, they feel confident that with the amount of promo that they will do, they will be able to get enough people out to your show to make it financially worthwhile for them.

IS IT FAIR: Absolutely. You earned this!

+How To Bring 50 People To Any Show

There’s a fine line between what is acceptable, ethical, smart business and career advancing.

Look at it from the venue’s standpoint: They are taking a risk every time they open their doors for a show. If no one shows up, then they do lose money (door guy, sound guy, bar tender, electricity, heat, AC, on and on). If they are strictly a music venue and don’t open unless they have a show, then they really are losing money the moment they open the doors, until people (ideally drinkers) enter their club.

The biggest misconception bands have about venues is that the venue is going to promote their show and bring people to the club. Venues think bands should promote the show and bring people to the club. In the end, neither end up promoting the show and no one shows up.

+7 Reasons Why No One Is Coming To Your Shows

The reason all the clubs in LA and NYC can create such horrible deals for the bands (and fantastic for the club) is because there are SO MANY bands willing to take these shitty deals. If one band refuses, there are 10 more waiting in line (maybe not as good) that will take the deal. Venues in smaller cities tend to create better deals to lure in the good bands who will bring a crowd. They realize that if they offer shitty deals and enough bands pass on the deals, there will be no bands left to play their club and they’ll go out of business.

+Don’t Be Afraid of The Phone (What Bookers Look For)

The most important thing to understand is: don’t play a big venue if you can’t fill it. Take shows at smaller clubs and fill them. Open for bigger bands at bigger venues to build your crowd. Keep selling out the small clubs and eventually you’ll be able to move up the big clubs with enough clout to get a fair deal.

+My Response to an LA Pay to Play Promoter

Photo is a screenshot from the movie Jerry Maguire

40 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    “Photo is a screenshot from the movie Jerry Maguire, used by per- um”

    • jw

      It is really hilarious how DMN justifies skirting copyright, all the while criticizing Google & other “egregious copyright offenders.” Like really hilarious.

      Or grabs free photos from flickr, & then criticizes the film/tv industry for using or asking for free music.

      Has DMN ever paid a dime to the photography industry for the images it uses on the site?

      • Anonymous

        “Or grabs free photos from flickr, & then criticizes the film/tv industry for using or asking for free music”

        Well, I don’t think it’s fair to criticize people for using Public Domain material.

        But yes, this is piracy and not any better than Google.

      • Anonymous

        They used to do this on every single article until people started calling them out on it.

      • Jock Elliott

        As a reader and person who knows industry this I can say DMN follows the rules pretty much every time. Promo pics, album covers, screenshots, stuff like that is typically considered promotional and categorized as fair use especially if it refers back to what its coming from.

        • Anonymous

          “DMN follows the rules pretty much every time”

          It certainly does. That’s why exceptions like this stick out.

        • jw

          Sure, but DMN is quick to call out a producer who is asking for a pro bono track for a tv show, or someone asking for a pro bono performance at an event, or Getty Images for encouraging royalty-free music licensing, when there are certainly amateur or desperate artists willing to give their art away for free (or even artists that it just makes total sense & even be beneficial for), just like the amateur photographers on Flickr.

          Granted, DMN isn’t reaching out to photographers & saying, “You’ll probably get famous by licensing us your photos to use for free, it’ll be great exposure,” but if DMN is going to seemingly take the stance that these types of situations make it more difficult for the “real” musicians to get respect for their work, the same sentiment ought to be applied to photographers.

          • Carlos

            This isn’t a photographer. It’s a movie turned meme which only helps promote the film.

          • jw

            So if I used a Black Keys song in some content I was producing, could I make the argument that it only helps promote the band?

            Or would it have to be memed first? i.e. If I was creating a film about feuding musicians or twitter beefs or some equally mind-numbing but related topic, would I then be justified in using the Black Keys’ work in the film, without paying for it?

            I’m just trying to point out that these aren’t black & white issues, but DMN seems to hold others to standards that it doesn’t hold itself to. Copyright can’t be applied selectively across mediums.

          • Anonymous

            “I’m just trying to point out that these aren’t black & white issues”

            You sure picked a poor example trying to prove that point. There’s nothing gray about this, it’s even used for commercial purposes.

          • Anonymous

            “This isn’t a photographer.”

            Oh, I see. So who created it in your opinion? Were one or more gods involved? Magic?

            “It’s a movie turned meme which only helps promote the film”

            lol, I refuse to believe anybody can be that stupid…

        • Perry Mason

          Bubba—that ain’t “fair use.” And, citing the source has absolutely nothing to do with fair use.

    • hippydog

      I’m not a lawyer, but I would argue that since its a well known meme “fair use” does apply..

  2. Mike C.

    Hi Ari,

    Great post. Very insightful for bands at every pre-fame level. I think if you rearranged the THE WORST with the merely REALLY BAD deals above, i would agree more with your assessment. Clubs that require credit cards for bands to take the stage are definitely THE WORST. I’ve never even heard of such a thing.

    Yes, the pay-to-play model, what you’re calling ‘The Worst’, isn’t ideal for any band. But there are a few things that bear mentioning:

    1. You get to play at a large venue that they wouldn’t otherwise play at. Bigger stage, better sound, cool lights, etc.
    2. You get to leverage fans from other bands on the bill. Instead of playing in front of 50, you’re playing in front of 350. Opportunity to gain new fans, merch sales, etc.
    3. Large venues actually do draw on their own. Maybe a bit of stretch, but some people will check the trades or weeklies to see a random band playing the Whiskey-Go-Go.
    4. If you’re a hard-working band (and you mention how critical this is in nearly all your other posts), you shouldn’t have a problem clearing your pre-sale hurdle. All bands sell their own tickets whenever they have a show, anyway, so they’re used to this. If you’re a poser, you’ll be exposed on show night. It’s your risk.
    5. Usually, an NYC promoter wont make you come out of your pocket when they hand you the tickets to sell. You just need to come up with the dough at showtime. If you’re short, you probably won’t work with the guy in the future, but he won’t make you pay the difference.

    Most NYC clubs under 150 cap. will offer the “Good” deal you mentioned, or they might take the first 10 people in the door to cover the sound guy, then give the rest to the band. They only want the bar. If there are 4 bands on the bill, the venue is happy with that. But if you’re a band that only draws 10 people, you probably won’t get booked again at the venue.

    You should do a post the REALLY WORST WORST deal for bands: Buy-Ons to name brand Tours. It makes the pre-sale game look like buttercups. But then, as you mentioned, there are plenty of bands willing to do this. Which begs the question….is it really such a bad deal?

    thx again for the post – would love to hear any comments

    Mike C.

    • GGG

      Re: #2, ehhh, it’s a crap shoot. If you’re a band at the level of pay to play, so are all the other bands. Which means, 1 or 2 max will bring the full amount of people. And the majority of them will show up 2 minutes before their friend’s band goes on and leave 2 minutes after. Unless you’re the first band, you’ll definitely get some spill over from other acts, but it’s usually not worth it. You will certainly not have 300 extra people hanging around to watch you.

  3. R.P.

    Move out of America if you think these are bad things. This is simply called: Capitalism. One of the greater aspects of Capitalism is that you have choices.

    • GGG

      Which is why they are listed from worst to best. Make your choice.

    • Versus

      Nowhere in the Constitution was there a stated necessity of capitalism.
      Even if one believes in capitalism, this faith does not negate the necessity of regulations and laws to prevent exploitation.

  4. hippydog

    Quote “Bad. Venues charge a “rental fee.”

    I dont agree on that one..
    Sorry, but this is how venues work..
    If the rental rate is fair, then its up to you to use it or not..
    you dont want to be a “promoter” , then hire a promoter..
    you dont think the rent is fair? find a place with a better deal..

    Why should ANY venue or club have FAITH in you? thats the job of the promoter

    its simply supply and demand.. if a venue can make more money on a wedding, then dont put shows on a saturday.. do it on a thursday..

    You could have made this article a lot shorter
    by simply saying..
    in the entertainment industry there are a heck of a lot of scumbags who want to make money off you..
    beware of those people..

    • John Danielson

      It’s bad for any band that isn’t going out looking for a venue offering that type of deal – that is, intending to be their own promoter. It’s on the unethical side if a venue if scouting for bands and then offering them this type of deal, but makes great business sense if you can promote your own show and actually attract enough to pay yourself after covering costs.

  5. Joe Manager

    As long as the terms are known and understood upfront by all parties.

    There really is no “should” or “fair” here, truth be said. It all comes down to what party has the leverage. Just like any business.

    Ex.: I read some years ago that the Stones were asking for 105% (or similar) of the gross!

  6. Willis

    Bottom line – any band that has to deal with pay-to-play doesn’t have leverage…and that stinks, so they take whatever deal they can get for a chance to perform.

  7. westcoastmgr

    Disagree about rentals. If bands I manage are playing in a market where I know they have an audience, a rental sometimes works out better than a guarantee + points. Usually promoters don’t promote so if we’re going to fill the venue for them then we want the profits too. With a flat rental, we always make more $$. Problem is, the booking agent doesn’t like working that way. They want the guarantee.

  8. Veteran Talent Buyer / Promoter

    Guarantee = $500. Band brings 50 people. House loses every time.

  9. Veteran Talent Buyer / Promoter

    We live in a $20 world, with people who will only “sit” for 90 mins.

  10. stylzs

    This is an excellent article, I would love to share information . I have an upcoming event in which none of the artist either paid me to be on the show or even had to sell tickets it’s an upward battle to find great talent that all complements each other but i found them

  11. Promoter

    Interesting article, and while I agree with some points, I also strongly disagree with others. First off, I wouldn’t say that ticket deals are the “worst”. My question is: Why are they? In my opinion, the credit card thing seems totally outrageous, and way more so than any ticket deal.

    Now to get into the matter: I’m both in two bands myself, but I also organize shows as a promoter (in Vienna, Austria btw), both smaller “underground” type of shows but also shows with more established acts. Now here’s the reason why the arguments in this article are flawed: They only work if the venue itself is also the promoter of the show, since the venue gets all revenue from drinks/guest consumation.

    If I organize a show as a promoter, however, I get zero shares from that. On the contrary, I need to cover:

    1) Expenses for bands: guarantee fees, hotel/accomodation, transportation etc.
    2) Catering for all bands and crew
    3) House sound engineer, maybe light tech
    4) Music royalty fees for public performances
    5) my own crew
    6) additional promotion costs for flyers, posters, internet ads etc.
    7) venue rent

    Now when I’m booking shows, I either book shows exclusively for smaller/underground acts (where all acts will get a share from their ticket sales and, if it’s possible, a small guarantee) or a more established act – usually for a guarantee plus %-deal after break even – and then I always try to negotiate a deal to enable one or two “local support” acts with ticket deals. Why?

    The reasons are simple:

    1) Local supports help draw people/fill the venue, especially when the main act’s drawing power is difficult to gauge
    2) Local supports will be comparatively cheap: catering will be covered by me, and they usually will get the mentioned share from the ticket sales price, but no guarantees beyond that. And frankly, their limited drawing power would also not warrant any higher payment.
    3) It’s always a good opportunity for younger bands to support more established acts, just to get the name out there and continue to build their own fanbas. It’s also a great opportunity for networking, and just to gain more live experience in different clubs/environments.

    Now as a member of two bands myself, I’m naturally not a fan of the “ticket deal” cenario, but in all honesty, both as a band guy and as a promoter I understand the reasoning behind it, and consider them pretty fair deals. And here’s why:

    1) As a young/unkown/underground band, you don’t draw crowds. Zero. Zilch. Except for your friends and family, and only if YOU as band actively tell them and engage them to come to your show.
    2) So as a promoter, I will not pay you to play at my show. Because you draw zilch. If you as an underground band play at my show, you will only cost me money (catering), but not bring any money.
    3) And I still need to cover the expenses I outlined above. To illustrate this: I usually book my shows at a venue in Vienna for up to 200 people where I don’t need to actively rent the venue. But even a) WITHOUT venue rent and even b) WITHOUT any “big name” band that will get a guarantee (so it’s just “underground” bands), I will have expenses of around EUR 700.- (= approx USD 1.000.-) for catering, promo, techs, royalties, crew, promo etc. – so the claim that “anything above 350 USD for clubs under 700 capacity” is ripping bands off is just COMPLETE BULLSH*T. Yes, it may work that way if the club = the promoter and gets to keep all proceeds from drinks, but not otherwise.

    Question: So what incentive do I as a promoter have to book you?

    Answer: None.

    Question: So where do you play your shows?

    Answer: Nowhere, except maybe shitty band contests (which are usually the greatest rip-offs BY FAR) and really tiny clubs in front of always those same 20 friends and family you always play for.

    So this situation helps neither your band, nor any promoter. You will never get bigger, you will never draw, you will never make progress, promoters STILL won’t book you for bigger venues or shows, and you will STILL not get any better deals for your shows. Because you STILL DRAW ZILCH.

    Thus, I believe these ticket deal cenarios are actually “fair enough”:

    1) If you’re a small band with no name drawing power, you will need to prove that you can actually draw. So I ask you to sell a certain amount of tickets, and for your efforts you get to keep a share from your sales as your fee.

    That sounds fair enough to me, actually. Why should I otherwise take the risk of paying you a guarantee fee, if I have no reason to know or believe you can actually bring people to the show?!

    2) The problem, if I don’t do the “ticket deal” – and I’m also speaking from experience here, unfortunately – is that if there’s no ticket commitment, bands just won’t give a shit. I tried doing shows without these deals, since I’m no fan of those… but then a local support band who was supposed to be opening for a more “established” act and where I expected them to sell between 30-50 tickets (because that’s what they “claimed” they’d draw) effectively sells 5 tickets.

    3) So effectively, the local support, who draws ZILCH, costs me more money than they bring. Again, no reason for me to book them.

    So all in all, everyone loses: The band MAY get an opportunity to play at my show, maybe with an established main act.


    But then they do zero promotion, sell zero tickets, show zero incentive, and zero effort.

    Question: What happens?

    Answer: I never book them again.

    Problem: If I give EVERY band that chance, and every band screws up, I keep losing money and ultimately won’t be able to do shows anymore, because I’d be doing band welfare instead of running a business. And I have neither the time nor money for that, unfortunately, and so the circle stops.

    Take as an example the deal that’s presented as a “good” deal in the article: Door deal split 70/30 from dollar one, ticket price $10 per head. Sounds good on paper. But now take as an example the one I mentioned above, and a total of 5 people come to the show. That’ll leave the band with $35 and happy, and the promoter with $15, but with expenses of somewhere between 500-1000 dollars to be covered. In what universe does that commercially make any sense or seem fair?! Naturally, if I – as the promoter – have the BY FAR greater commercial risk when putting together a show, I should also have the greater revenue share than the bands; and not the other way round.

    If however the band has a ticket commitment and manages to sell those tickets, then I see they are serious about their stuff, and they are willing to put in the extra effort to get their crowd to come out to the show, and I’m willing to put my trust in them again in the future, and also give them better conditions on the deals etc. The band makes some money, gets some good rep and new fans for playing with established acts who also draw their own crowd, and the whole venture is made easier and less risky for me as a promoter, increasing the chances I will continue to do shows and continue to give bands opportunities to play, and so the circle goes on.

    So in conclusion, I can understand the sentiment that “ticket deals” or “pay to play” deals are unpopular – but the problem is, many bands feel entitled to better deals when there are simply no reasons to justify that entitlement. Everyone has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is always the bottom. If you’re a no-name band, just leaving the rehearsal room for the first time after maybe a year of rehearsals, nobody knows you. Nobody knows if you’re any good. Nobody will come to your show, if in the same month established bands are in town, because people will spend their money on those shows, and not on yours. Period.

    So at least at the start of your career, you will need to be your own manager, agent and promo girl/street team as well. It will be YOUR job to inform people about your band, and get your name out there, and get people to come to your show. And those people will, for starters, be your friends and family.

    As a promoter, I will of course also announce and promote your shows – but again, if your name alone has ZERO value, all announcing and promotion in the world will do no good, because NOBODY WILL CARE.

    So at first, YOU AS A BAND HAVE TO MAKE THEM CARE. And if you make them care, that signals to promoters that you yourself care about your band as well, and you’re willing to go that extra mile. And that’s a basis one can work on.

    • Anonymous

      Hi! I found your post on, from 2 years ago, so it might appear quite awkward to you to receive this post now, I guess. My name is Irene Sparacello and I bumped into your post while searching for promoters based in Vienna. That would be for a Spanish cover band of Queen. They are not the typical cover band, bythe way, no dressing up…no fake mustaches etc.. they have their own tracks as well. They have found some possible venues where to play in Vienna, but we would need promotion then, cause we can’t control it from here.
      I read entirely what you wrote btw and agree in very single thing.
      You also play in two bands, so you know what it is like. How difficult it can be. You know the struggle.
      Well, if you think you could collaborate with us (or give us some tips) I can send you then all the links, included the concert they did with an Orchestra on November last which was simply amazing. I
      promise: They are amazing.
      My email is:
      Phone +39 347 900 4924

      Thank you in advance,
      Auf wieder schauen (hoffe ich!)

  12. Anonymous

    Only some pompous entitle prick would write an article telling bands not to pay promoters. If the band has no promoter then they need to pay a fucking promoter a couple hundred or sell some tickets and throw their own show to loose THOUSANDS. You think people are coming to see a band that has ZERO promotion? Bands pay promoters because they have NO BRAND AND NO PROMOTION dummy. STFU. IF they could just book a venue, pay for fliers, pay for radio, get the people in the building and make music then MAYBE they could GET BOOKED. Otherwise they just need to stay the fuck inside the studio and stop writing asinine articles bashing the industry.

    • Dary Rodriguez

      These schemes are not paying promoters, they are paying an established pub/bar/restaurant which benefits from live music. Its not a joint venue where they both take risk. The risk is passed entirely to the band, and the venue soes not take any risk at all but does rips the benefits if its a successful night. Its a situation where the bands cant win a fair amount for their efforts.

  13. John Danielson

    My only issue with this article…

    “The biggest misconception bands have about venues is that the venue is going to promote their show and bring people to the club. Venues think bands should promote the show and bring people to the club. In the end, neither end up promoting the show and no one shows up.”

    If a venue is known for having good music most of the time, they have regulars to the point of not needing to promote, and not having to offer bad deals to the bands. If the band is offered a cut of the door, sure, it makes sense for them to promote as well, but they wouldn’t necessarily have to if the venues would treat musicians properly in terms of the service they provide. A venue not known for regular music can’t hire a band that only *might* draw, which means they can’t hire a band that will work cheaply. Unfortunately, many owners are cheap, and they think this is a corner they can cut by offering a bad deal. You get what you pay for…

  14. Rocket J

    You missed one: In NY there are venues charging rent for the room *AND* taking a percentage of the door. On top of that they get their 400% bar mark-up. They’re grabbing from everywhere!

  15. Dary Rodriguez

    It is curious how many owners will ask you for an audition on a Friday night when their place is full capacity with clients. It is very sad that so many bands are willing to do so, the venue can have free music for months and months without actually paying one cent to the bands. Many young and not so young dont get it and will give away their performance with the hope of getting a steady gig or that magically an A&R will get to see them. Ask the same owner if they will give their food for free in order to attract customers, you know what their answer will be. Then, why is that we keep on fallling for these situations? Do we value our craft so poorly? Recently we rejected to be a houseband for a TV show because everyone in it is getting paid except the musicians. What do they think will be the benefit that we will obtain from 10 sec bumpers? My experience is that you dont get any more gigs than without this kind of TV exposure. But then again, someone always gives it for free. No wonder its so hard to make a living from your music.

  16. Shane NRG

    Forgot one.

    – First $100 from door goes to the sound-guy then you get a % per head after, divided between each band. This is more common I think. Especially in Los Angeles.

    • Ari Herstand

      That’s the “Standard” deal I listed above. Typically the venue deals with one band who organizes the evening and that band pays out the rest. Or all the bands settle up with the venue at the end of the night together and split the remaining percentage equally.

  17. Anonymous

    i like the Bad myself, then i get to control the show and assume the risk, better long-term for my reputation and character. If a Bar/Club acts up, then fuck em, just rent out a warehouse or industrial type space get a liquor license and then walk into the Bar and hand out flyers and incentives to get their customers over to where they should be, and then of course ask the Bar owner/manager for some free drinks just for the pleasure of showing my face in their establishment!


  18. Ryan

    I just recently got out of a band in which we worked with this certain promoter. Just by judging the way he presented himself, the facebook page dedicated to his infamy, and the three tattooed out body guards that were around him 24/7 at every venue he booked. It was safe to say he couldn’t be trusted, but unfortunately the man promised us the opportunity to open for such large acts as Anthrax and Testament so we decided to stick with him. What he made us do is drive a far distance to him, buy 25 tickets ( 20 dollars each)at a time to sell and gave us the goal of selling 75 so we could choose our time slot. As shady as this sound, it get’s worse. We never and I do mean NEVER got any money back from our shows, we never did get the time slot we were promised and we never got credited or plugged whenever he went on the radio to discuss the upcoming venue we were playing to help us out. After reading this article Ari, I have an idea now to know the next band I’m with if I’m getting a good enough deal to play there or not. Thanks for writing this!