Great article on "pay to play" gigs. (Anyone in a band should read this!!)

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by Ror3h, Sep 7, 2007.

  1. Ror3h

    Ror3h SS.org Regular

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    PAY TO PLAY

    by Tambre Bryant

    If a club asks your band to guarantee ticket sales or buy tickets up front, tell them to go fuck themselves. Why?

    1. PAY-TO-PLAY chases the record companies and other people away from the venues doing it because they get tired of seeing headliners that are not necessarily talented but can afford to be there. While a lot of the real talent rots away in a garage or rehearsal space because they can't or won't pay to play.

    2. If you're a band that pays to play you are losing respect in the music community and you are supporting a promoter that is exploiting you. Wake-up. It's exploitation of musicians and if the promoter is into that, most likely the employees are exploited too. And who knows what else the promoter is into besides greed.

    3. As a musician you really are degrading yourself asking people to give money for a ticket or buying tickets with your own money. You will start to get a clue when your family buys the tickets but stops going to your shows or when your friends run and hide when they see you 'cause they know you're going to hit them up again. Until you finally realize that you are working with the scum of the business and these pay to play clubs are never going to give you a break. They are not interested in what they can do for you but how much money they can make off of you.

    4. You already spent alot of time and money getting to where you have a band ready to play out. You spent years practicing. You spent money buying equipment, maintaining that equipment, moving that equipment. You spend money on a rehearsal space, perhaps lessons as well. So these pay to play clubs are not helping you pay these expenses, why should you pay for theirs? A musician is one who gets paid to perform (believe it or not) and the promoter is one who purchases talent and sells tickets to see, the talent they purchased believe it or not).

    5. Some pay to play clubs have been known to take musicians equipment as hostage till the musician comes up with the money for the tickets unable to be sold.

    6. Pay to play clubs have a certain percentage of it's community that boycott pay to play and will never go to these clubs to see you.

    7. A club that needs to make bands pay to play doesn't know how to book or manage their club and doesn't have a clue to what the music business is all about. Much less how to create an atmosphere that will draw people to the club regardless of who is playing. Why would you want to play in a joint like that?

    8. Most likely you will get a very short set on a four or more band bill. Most likely you will get cheated out of a quality sound check. If you opening for a national act you're not only paying the national act you are getting less space on stage in front of their drum set then you have in your little rehearsal space you pay way too much for.

    9. The time you spend selling tickets could be spent in practice. Money spent on paying to play could be spent buying studio time to record or to make promo packages or set up merchandising that will make your band money, or to put on your own show and make 100% of the door or put you on tour etc...

    10. Most likely one or more of the bands on the bill with you will be non-professional in musicianship and other areas as well.

    11. Many musicians even though they have day jobs are homeless or living in their rehearsal spaces in order to pay to play.

    Other pay to play ripoffs include charging bands too much for a video or audio tape of their show or charging a band for sound, lights or advertising. The biggest rip-off of them all is having to pay off a booking person under the table for a certain show or slot on top of the pay to play guarantee.

    OK. So you're a band that has no problem selling tickets and you make good money off your ticket sales. How long do you think that is going to last before reason #3 starts to kick in, remember? Your family and friends avoid you or when you realize it's the day of the show and you have tickets left you can't sell and you have to come up with the money out of your pocket.

    So you say your band does not have to pay to play in the pay to play venues because the booking manager digs your band. Well ask yourself this. Are you getting the nights you want? Are they calling you to fill last minute dates? Are they paying you a percentage of the door? Do they treat you with respect when you play there? Do you get a sound check? Do they put you on good bills? Are you always playing too early or too late? Do they let you play long sets? Are they covering your expenses to play? Do your fans enjoy seeing you in that venue? Are they treated with respect?

    Even if you get everything YOU wanted from a pay to play clubs you are still supporting a place that exploits musicians. And what do you think will happen when you fall out of grace with the club? So you say the club is big and has a large overhead. Well is that the musicians problem this club owner opened a business he can't run any other way than you paying for it? If the club is that big and you have to pay to play then you didn't do yourself a favor by building your draw in the smaller clubs first and getting to the point that the bigger clubs call you cause your name draws thus you call the shots on what you want to be paid.

    Don't let these club owners tell you, it's a straight ahead business deal and that it's good for the musicians to "learn the business side of music." It's bullshit! Selling tickets is not going to teach you anything you need to know to perform your music. Maybe it will prepare you for a job in sales when your career fails in the pay to play scene.

    The clubs can't survive without bands. The bands are the majority. If all the bands said no to pay to play, no club would be able to exploit bands. In Seattle a club owner tried to get the bands to pay to play. No band did. The club closed and reopened with new management and a non-pay to play policy. The bands have the power to create a new order in the clubs and in club policies.

    In my opinion any band that plays the pay to play venues are cutting off their own nose despite their face and they have no self respect or respect for the music they claim they love. The national acts that play these venues, shame on you for not supporting the up and coming and not telling the pay to play clubs to shove it. I have found alot of the nationals don't even know it's pay to play, please get your booking agents to ask questions. Alot of people won't go to see you in these clubs.

    The local press that won't write about pay to play because the pay to play clubs advertise in their mags. Shame on you for selling out. It's time to stop pay to play. It's time to start boycotting pay to play venues. It's time we put respect back into the music part of the music business. Give musicians back some of their dignity. Who do these clubs think they are playing God with your career. You wouldn't pay to work any other job, why this one? It really is a matter of ethics. Even for the nationals on arena tours, are you paying to play. Fuck these record companies and booking agents that don't have your best interest at heart. If you look you can find people who do have your best interest at heart because your's is their's. Play places that you can fill and will pay you what you're worth.

    You the press, the local bands and the national acts, it's time to support the musicians instead of the clubs. You have the power, now get the balls.






    Discuss.
     
    Paul Malmsteen likes this.
  2. Roundhouse_Kick

    Roundhouse_Kick SS.org Regular

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    I agree with those points and some of these promoters are complete disgraces. Unfortunately around my area most if not all decent venues employ pay to pay policies, that rely on you being able to shift 30-40 tickets to play them. Often the promotion of these gigs is PISS poor, and the venue/promoter won't put any effort into selling tickets, so the emphasis is all on you badgering people to come. Just seems to be the way its going these days.
     
  3. 7 Strings of Hate

    7 Strings of Hate Mid-Level Asshole Contributor

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    way i see it, if you have the goods, and you kick ass, you wont have too much trouble getting into the clubs and places that dont screw you, but i would never pay to play, thats bullshit
     
  4. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Two comments-

    -while generally the gist of the article is true, a lot of those are bullshit. 10 and 11 in particular sound like the guy was running out of steam in a big way.
    -Never say never. I'd have no problem agreeing to a guaranteed ticket sale commitment if 1.) I was asked to guarantee a fraction of the total capacity of the clup - say, 20-30 tickets guaranteed at a club that could hold 400 max, and 2.) I knew that my band had at least several times that many fans who'd want to go anyway.

    It comes down to two conflicting but true statements: First, the club is not doing you a favor by booking you, but rather the reverse - you're being paid to go into their establishment and provide music so people will want to come and buy drinks. You don't "owe" them anything for this. However, second, not only is the club not doing you a favor, they shouldn't be doing you a favor - they're under no obligation to book you if they don't think you can sell enough tickets and draw enough people to at least let them break even on the night.

    So, I can see where they're coming from - a club has to have a pretty substantial amount of capital in reserve to be able to chance unproven acts and not risk going out of business if they have a month-long string of shitty bands playing that can't draw crowds. A pay-to-play scheme can allow clubs that don't have the available startup capital to chance this to at least have a guaranteed cashflow, and if executed fairly and properly this means that many more clubs for your band to play at. However, if done unfairly with high guaranteed ticket sales and most if not all of the available tickets being "guaranteed" by the acts on the bill, it turns bands into a cheap commodity and puts the burden of work on the band, not the club, to sell tickets.

    I guess I'd agree to a small guarantee (20 tickets at $5 in advance, maybe $7 at the door for the remaining 230, say) in a situation like this in return for a higher cut of the door take, say. You have to see it from the perspective of the club as well as your perspective as an act, and if it really looks like they're just out to rake in as much cash for as little work as possible, then yes, don't play there. But it's not as simple as "pay to play is bad."
     
  5. Groff

    Groff Medicine Chief/RHLC© Contributor

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    We did that ONCE to play at the Trocadero in Philly.

    Noone truley gave a shit about us, besides the people we got to come see us.

    Ticket sales is the venues problem.
     
  6. metalfiend666

    metalfiend666 - Forum MVP

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    At least in the UK, that practice is illegal. It's called theft. Unless you owe huge amount of "ticket money", the value of your equipment is a great deal more than the money "owed" to the venue. Legally they can't hold your equpiment to ransom, they have to sue you for the money. If anyone does, call the police and they'll be forced to give you your equipment back.

    Same goes for car dealerships or mechanics refusing to give you your car back because you haven't payed for work they carried out without your consent (we've all had that happen to us I'm sure).
     
  7. jacksonplayer

    jacksonplayer The Fusion Guy! Contributor

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    I'm not sure they can legally do it here, either, unless the band has signed a contract to that effect. A lot of times it comes down to muscle and threats, unfortunately. There's a very good reason that Led Zeppelin had a 300+ lb. brawler as their manager.
     
  8. skinhead

    skinhead Manager / RHLC ©

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    I will say what happens here.

    Here you have to pay on each place that you will play, and the metal here it's not paid.
    You get only paid with the selling of the CDs, being independent or with a discographic.
    I don't like paying to play, i'll ike if it was free or the club give you some money to use it to handle the equipment.

    To have an idea, to play with Cannibal Corpse, Arch Enemy or Napalm Death it was like 2000 american dollars each support band. Sick shit :crazy:
     
  9. noodles

    noodles Contributor

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    Funny, I've noticed that when I sell a ticket to someone, they almost always show up. If it is pay at the door, and someone promises me up one side and down the other that they are coming, then they almost never show up.

    A promoter who does his job? What's that? :lol:

    Our excellent merch sales after opening for a national act takes offense to this statement.

    I fail to see how this is any different from the clubs we play where we don't have to sell tickets. The simple fact of the matter is MOST bands are non-professional, both in musicianship and other areas as well.

    Division tends to sell about fifty tickets a show, which is the minimum we have to do in order to achieve the highest payoff per ticket ratio at the club we most often play at. Well over half of these sales are usually generated by interest in the national act we are opening for. Targeting your friends/family, or the people who just want to see you, with expensive ticket prices WILL drive them away. You're trying to build fans, not drag the people you know to see you play.

    Any more that fifty tickets, and you're stretching for not much more payoff, as well as risking burning out people in the future. Merch sales is where you make your real money. Either way, the club owner loves us so much that he usually kicks in extra. It is far better to have a solid fifty, every single time, then to bounce between twenty and eighty every couple of shows.

    The article makes a lot of good points, but I think it is oversimplifying things.
     
  10. skinhead

    skinhead Manager / RHLC ©

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    But Division it's a pro band, you and your band members are exellent musicians.

    I think that the people go when a band it's talented.
     

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