Mandatory Ticket Sales (by band) to play gig

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by ScurrilousNerd, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. Dylanvoy

    Dylanvoy SS.org Regular

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    its like that in certain venues here in NJ too it gets annoying sometimes but it motivates us if we sell 20 tix we get paid but if not we still play. but at some places its you sell 15 or no get out. and being a young local band with fans that cant drive to come to these shows sucks. especially when the venue is 30-40 minutes away from our town.
     
  2. eyeswide

    eyeswide SS.org Regular

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    I think people are getting confused with their own entitlement and the economic reality of the live music business. There are too many bands (supply) saturating the market, competing for a potentially declining (demand) number of fans that go to shows. There was also somewhere on here where a guy said he would never go out of his way to promote his band and sell tickets - his job is to play music and the promoter's job is to promote! So, there is this divide between the expectations of artists, promoters and the business environment they operate in.

    I think the term "promoter" should not be used, because the vast majority of promoters aren't promoters, they are organizers. There's nothing wrong with this, but it's a communication issue people need to understand. The organizer arranges the bands, the venue and the sound. Without this stuff, a show cannot happen. You don't need fans coming to shows for a show to happen, but you do require them to make it economically viable.

    So let's build a scenario: an organizer has lined up a bunch of new, young bands that don't have a draw. They have a bunch of money put into getting everything happen, and maybe they've tried a bit to raise awareness. The bands think it's up to the organizer to bring out people, because their only job is to play music. The show happens and no one turns up. The organizer now loses money, and maybe the bands do too. Everybody loses. The organizer doesn't want to put on more shows because they're losing money.

    You can even change things up a bit here. Say the organizer did a ton of promotion, put up posters everywhere, facebook ads, and basically did everything you'd expect. Then, people still don't show up because no one's heard of these bands. Maybe the bands even lied to the organizer: "oh, we've got a great draw, we can easily get 50 people to show up for us. Either way, the organizer gets ....ed over.

    So, many of you demonize them, but how is this fair for the organizer? I've seen this happen in my scene before. These guys love the scene, and want to contribute. They put on shows but end up losing money because they have no business savvy and are working with bands that don't have a draw, and don't care about bringing people out.

    This is where paying to play and selling presale tickets comes in. You need to measure the opportunity cost of the marketing awareness and value generated by paying to play vs. not doing anything. If I was offered to open for Metallica for 100 nights at $1,000 a night, I would be walking out of my job, selling everything I have that isn't needed for a stage show, and going to a bank for the rest. Why? This is ....ing massive exposure, and you can be damn sure that your merch sales each night are going to end up above that $1,000 you paid for each gig.

    Same thing with doing ticket presales. Can your band draw 100 people without presales? Can you prove this to the organizer? Then if you don't need to sell tickets ahead, don't. If the organizer won't budge, then you have the choice not to play the show.

    tl;dr: Your band has no value. There are 1,000 bands like yours looking for the same gig, and if you can't show the gumption that separates you from them, that's your own fault. Many people don't go to gigs just for the fun of going to gigs, and the ones that do have more options that ever.

    Are you going to be in the band that doesn't do anything except bitch and moan because you aren't handed high profile gigs for your unproven band? Or are you going to take action and make a name for yourself and draw organizers and fans to you for your work ethic and visibility?
     
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  3. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    Well, if a promoter books bands and doesn't do anything besides find a venue, he doesn't deserve any more than any of the individual bands get, but most of the time, any money goes through that guy before the bands see it. And we're not talking about shows with five locals, we're talking about an already established act that needs openers. This is where, at least around here, the pay-to-play falls on its face. You are usually paying for a bunch of tickets and then given the "opportunity" to play on a side stage 2 hours before the posted show time to bartenders and the handful of people who showed up that early....If an "organizer" thinks he's needs to book eight locals who pay him $300/band to play to cover the cost of getting the headliner, maybe he needs to rethink who he brings to town. If its a local guy trying to make local bands pay him to set up a show for them, they should tell him to fvck off and do it themselves. Your Metallica example is kind of off-base, because obviously you're going to get good exposure from that, but at the end of the day, you're probably taking the slot from a more deserving band because you can afford it, which is BS. I'm getting in the habit of getting guarantees even for local shows to at least cover gas. If you want my band to come to your show, its gonna at least cost the price of travel. If you're only asking my band to play because you need $300 more dollars to make your guarantee....eat my fvckin ass.
     
  4. eyeswide

    eyeswide SS.org Regular

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    I meant to go further on this and explain that paying that much to open for Metallica would be great, but paying to open for someone who wouldn't provide the exposure isn't worth it. Say it was $300 to play a shitty slot to open for some regional touring bands. If you decide to take it, then that's not the promoter's stupidity - it's yours.

    In the scenarios I'm providing, I'm going under the assumption that no one is trying to screw anyone over. That is, the organizers are just trying to make a show happen and not lose money in the mean time. If a guy is putting on regional/national touring bands, then gets opening bands to pay to play in the slot, but has success at it, he isn't the one in the wrong business. You might not agree with this business model, but if it works and people buy into it, then so be it. If you have the mildest sense of responsibility and can handle putting on a show yourself, by all means do it! But don't act like a victim because someone else is doing something you don't like.

    I don't disagree with getting guarantees, and when I play shows, I get paid for it. I also work my ass off promoting the show and my band, so you can also be guaranteed when I'm on a bill in my city, we are going to be bringing out our fans to see us. You'll know for sure when you see all the people in the crowd wearing our shirts. If you're not willing to get involved in promoting your own band, no one owes you anything, much less a gig or a guarantee.
     
  5. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    I agree with that statement. I'm not the victim here 'cause I won't take a pay-to-play gig unless I know its a win for us...gotta be the right bands, the right time slot, the right venue, but some of these venues/organizers are literally preying on young bands and ripping them off, mostly because they can get away with it.
     
  6. eyeswide

    eyeswide SS.org Regular

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    This pretty much sums it all up. Put in the work for yourself. If someone sells you snake-oil, don't get mad at the salesman - learn from it and don't make the same mistake twice.

    The tone some people were taking on here... Like, "I'm an unknown musician with no draw, but I expect you to pack a room for me and pay me money for it." We (metal musicians) play a niche genre with a small following. We're not cover bands at country bars with a built in audience. We are a much riskier venture, so bands and promoters/organizers need to adjust operations accordingly.
     
  7. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    100% accurate and I'm sorry the best post in this thread.

    The promoter I knew growing up used this method, made a good living and made his way to being THE guy in a huge scene and booking bands like Slayer.

    Played 100's of shows for him and never sold 1 ticket.

    You let a good band open for a huge crowd a few times and they will bring people back on a smaller show. Everyone wins.

    You let a horrible band of well off young teens that can sell 50 tickets to friends and family, eventually the herd will thin.

    Pay to play is bullshit yes, but you do have to understand the promoters usually lose money and that's why they do it.

    The problem is they're using the wrong methods and no one has the balls these days to take chances on a great unknown band.
     
  8. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    Funny but what's funny to me is clubs like this that shit on bands. I agree some of it's annoying and true but it's excessive.

    I've played at this club and it was a complete shithole. They would always book 5 local bands that no ones heard of and get mad and post shit like this because they couldn't pack the place.

    Pay to play at its finest and this club is no longer operating. I wonder why?

    One of the guys there that was actually smart opened up Fubar, gets national bands in there and allows good locals to open up for them. That club is doing just fine and I don't think they have a we hate bands but actually need their support to stay in business because we're a dump flier on the wall.
     
  9. ke7mix

    ke7mix SS.org Regular

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    As much as I can say I agree that selling presales suck. BUT It can be good. If you sell a presale to someone they are WAY more likely to show up to the show because they have already dished out money to come, its not a greedy guarantee. It allows bands to promote for themselves other than the usual flyering (which is a very hard way to draw a real crowd) or by facebook events or word of mouth.


    When i say my band sells tickets, its because we are known in the scene for being a GOOD live band, which is a big part of the battle, if you cant play, its hard to get a good draw.

    And yes the promoter will promote, but if the promoter is promoting for a venue who has Animals as Leaders, Bring Me the Horizon, Born of Osiris, and Dark Tranquility within the same 2 weeks as some local show with 5 bands that play every weekend, the promoter is going to promote the shows that actually will have draw.

    Presale tickets are sadly a reality of non DIY local shows, because its about profit.

    If sell presales and play good live, you will have a much better chance of being promoted by a promoter than some 5 piece who can barely bring 15 people to a local show.

    +1 for the spacing your shows out, if you are good, it will increase your draw, becuase for the people who say "ill come to the next one" the next one is in 4 weeks
     
  10. chamelious

    chamelious SS.org Regular

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    My thoughts:

    This is called "pay to play" and should be avoided.

    However, if you're playing a hometown show, you should be bringing more than 15 people. More like 5-10 times that. You do that by only playing locally a few times a year, and really putting in the promotion work. The fact that most bands DON'T do this, is why a lot of venues/promoters struggle, and why a lot of them start implementing pay to play in the first place.
     
  11. Thaeon

    Thaeon SS.org Regular

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    Pay to play sucks... I understand where the promoters are coming from. They don't want to lose money. Bands, as 'workers' at the event, should get paid. Bands are working professionals. This local model doesn't work for anyone. Any community that believes it does is shooting itself in the foot. Any time anyone is guaranteeing themselves pay at a local show (venue, promoter, or band) geared towards original music is a risk. If you are trying to minimize the risk you take by screwing either the venue or the bands, you are stealing from your coworkers. You will eventually put yourself out of business, because no one will work with you anymore. I've seen it happen a lot in my local scene. If you're promoting a show, and not taking a risk, you're robbing others of their hard earned money. If there is pay to play in your town, don't work with that promoter. Take the risk yourself if that's the only route you have in your town. If the promoters don't promote, save the cash among a couple bands you like in your town, and work out something with the club. Take the door, if its a bar, pay your sound guy out of pocket, and split the door. Any club with a bar is going to be stoked to get the extra traffic at the bar that bringing your friends in for a show will make them. Trust me. Music brings in more traffic. Some bars want a cover band and that sucks. Sadly, thats where the money is, in a local scene, till you have an actual fan base. Lastly, the economy is in the shitter. No one values music as much as musicians. The local scene is cannibalistic. The largest part of your audience will always be other bands. Everyone else doesn't care about local music. They want to see Kings of Leon or Radiohead or whoever else. If you don't put into it the value that you want out of it on the front end and aren't willing to take a loss at it, or do it just for fun, you'll never get anywhere. If you're playing to get paid, you'll never get anywhere because people can smell how disingenuous you are. Remember, how it feels to not get paid. Spend your money on shows for not only acts you love, but venues and promoters you love too. Give them both a reason to love you. It'll work in your favor, I promise.
     
  12. Orgalmer

    Orgalmer Chuggasaurus Rex

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    Just thought I would weigh in on this a little as I'm from AU and possibly have had different experiences. Strong opinions ahoy! You don't have to agree with me on this, it's just my two cents.

    Firstly, we don't have pay to play here. If you get on the bill, you're playing that show. We have presale tickets for most of what you would call "battle of the bands" and a few select venues also push this as well - in recent experience this was not so much of a problem as we could actually draw a small crowd.

    The problem that we found was that while our first show brought over 50 people, the numbers very quickly dropped off, not because we were terrible (we were by far and away one of the more competent bands) but because everybody had seen us at least twice before at the same venue. Why would they need to come and see us again? It's just us, with the same shit bands, at the same average venue, doing the same thing each time. This is partially the bands fault for not being savvy enough to break out of this cycle.

    Secondly, I feel like both points are somewhat right with regards to promoters/bands. Yes, bands need to not only have an interesting enough set to bring people (and bring them back), but they also need to network well enough to bring new people to the venue. Whether this is them going to other shows and networking (word of mouth, direct contact), working out something with their freinds to bring their friends (referral), or promoting through social media (see: completely fvcking useless) the band has to make a group effort to get this done and they have to think seriously about some questions:

    - "What are our target audience?"
    - "How do these people find out about shows?"
    - "What makes our target audience attend a show?"
    - "What kinds of shows will bring the best results for the above? House shows? Regional shows? Inner city shows?"

    These are really simple questions that require the band to notch out an idea of who they are trying to attract to their shows. Knowing the above will give you an advantage over "generic djent band X" who just plays everywhere for any reason with no business model. You will therefore choose your shows carefully, so you're not wasting yours and the venues time.

    In saying this, the responsibility also lies with the promoter to actually do their job, and promote the event. No, making a flyer and telling bands to sell tickets is NOT promoting. That's being a fvcking asshole and leeching off of the bands you put on. Promoting requires a concerted effort to actually do your job - whether this be social media (see: still pretty useless) or word of mouth/direct contact at other shows or putting on a band (or bands) with a reputation to make the show worth going to, it's the promoters job to do this and no one elses The bands will do what they can, but you can't rely on them to actually promote your show for you. This is exacerbated by promoters here enacting a minimum sale rule, where if I don't sell X amount of tickets, I have to pay the promoter instead of getting paid. I understand this, but it sucks all the same.

    TL;DR: If you organise a shitty show, you're going to get a shitty turnout, and make a shitty amount of money, and woe betide any band who is unfortuante enough to get caught up in this business model. Aside from the small pool of bands with established connections, the great unwashed of the music industry are in a lose-lose situation while promoters have set themselves up for a win-win every time. For the industry to thrive, both parties need to work together as opposed to having an "us and them" mentality.
     
  13. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    truth
     
  14. Orgalmer

    Orgalmer Chuggasaurus Rex

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    I know, right?

    I can't speak for the plethora of bands who have no idea and are just in it for funsies, but serious bands get stuck in this rut and it's not fair on anyone. Not the bands, not the promoters, not the fans. Something's gotta change!
     
  15. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    It seems like there really is two camps; the promoters, who think they should make good money doing very little (I called a venue and found and open date! Now I get 30% of the door and 15% of presale whether the bands get paid or not!), and bands who think that simply by existing they will have people come to their shows and get paid. The band needs to promote THE BAND i.e., get people excited about your music, meet people and let them know what you do...and the promoter needs to do the same for THE SHOW......

    I've even seen some promoters that are band members who seem like they are trying to .... themselves...make your own band pay onto a show, then pay yourself separately for "promoting" whether "the band" makes anything....and other promoters who have actually gotten verbally upset about "local bands who think they should get paid to play" because "nobody does it for the music anymore".....whatever the .... that means.
     
  16. Enselmis

    Enselmis SS.org Regular

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    Man, I guess my band is lucky. We pay the venue money to book the place then we make every ticket we sell and then a portion of the booze. We usually split it equally between the bands playing the show. Typically we come away with a few hundred bucks per band.

    edit: In regards to Orgaimer's post, I noticed the same thing. The first show has a fair bit of people then it sort of drops off. What I've also noticed though is that as time goes on, the numbers start to increase again. I think a big part of being in a band is making it through that sort of valley to the point where people start WANTING to show up to the next show and the next show. I think that most of what makes you a good band is your ability to make people have a good time. If the people in the crowd really enjoy themselves, feel involved and happy then they'll come back to your shows. At that point you stop needing to deal with shitty promoters, people just show up if you put on shows. I realize that's a very idealist attitude but I think it's reasobale at least.

    Kind of off topic post but whatever.
     
  17. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, this is how we used to do it when we were younger, it was a lot easier to fill a place (and we could usually find a place for cheap if we wanted to do all ages). Then you are the promoter and the entertainment.
     
  18. Thaeon

    Thaeon SS.org Regular

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    It's a good idea to not saturate the market you're playing in. If you're wanting to play a couple times a month, I would trade shows with bands in the same area of the country. It's pretty easy to play a couple shows a weekend if you drive a couple hours, play a show, crash with a local band, drive a couple more hours saturday morning, play a show the next night in another city and drive home after the show. That way you can play at home once or twice a quarter and hit all of the other regional markets once or twice a quarter too. You'll make friends with some of the bands in the regional scene, and potentially get better traction. If you can say that you're booking shows regionally, then you'll be able to get the attention of people willing to take a risk on music.
     
  19. Orgalmer

    Orgalmer Chuggasaurus Rex

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    I totally agree with you man, the main issue is that when you have an initial surge of interest and it drops off, you have to start thinking really hard about how to get people coming to your shows without asking or hounding them. If you can crack that, then you're sorted.

    This is where I could see being given a shot at a larger show would be really helpful, but obviously me not being a promoter I can't explain the reasons as to why this does not occur. I feel like the mistakes I've made in the past are the following:

    - playing the same thing each time with very little interaction with the crowd and/or little difference between sets, show to show
    - promotion of the show extends as far as doing "ticket runs" and posting on Facebook. Just not good enough to be honest. Going to other bands shows to show them support is a big gesture that you're in it for the industry and not just to wank off.
    - playing the same venue at least four times (seriously) consecutively.
    - Playing inner city shows when all the people that come to your show are already from your local area; what's the point? You need exposure in areas you don't frequent. Lack of regional shows, house shows, AA shows and self-organised shows means less audience exposure.

    Thaeon's point about playing outside local and then coming back locally is a brilliant idea.

    I feel like the last band I organised had a much better sense of what they were doing but still not enough to break through that barrier of shitty shows. Oh well, you live and learn right? Just learn from my mistakes guys, pleeez :(
     
  20. Thaeon

    Thaeon SS.org Regular

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    All good ideas... And thanks. I've been doing this for over 20 years. In that time I can't count how many bands have come and gone, and only four or five are doing anything worth mentioning industry wise. And I hate almost all of them. The flaming Lips, Hinder, Colourmusic, Shiny Toy Guns, Horse Thief and All American Rejects all came out of my local scene... NONE have played many local shows in that time save Colourmusic and Horse Thief. And they are still barely getting traction. Shiny Toy Guns moved to LA toget noticed and then moved back. I used to go to house parties that Jeremy Dawson DJ'd at.
     

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