A friend contacted me recently about doing a gig with his new band and asked me if it was normal for a promoter to require you to bring a certain amount of people to a gig to get paid. A promoter’s job is to get people into the venue. If the promoter is asking YOU to get people into the venue then essentially the person is asking you to do their job for them. This person is not a promoter but a con artist. If you are getting all of the people in the venue, then what are you paying the promoter for? So the answer to the question is “NO”.
A person that books you a gig and then puts the pressure on you to get people there is called a booking agent, not a promoter. A promoter hits the bricks and gets people through the door…that is what you pay them a percentage for. Promoters make flyers, send e-mails, and you know…promote!
These days it’s harder than ever for new bands to break into a music scene. A lot of sketchy people capitalize on this. There are some venues that will book a bunch of bands and require them to draw at least 20 people per band with a $10.00 cover at the door. Let’s say you have 5 new bands in one night. Now in addition to the minimum draw, the venue tells you that they keep the cover for the first 15 people through the door for each band. You’re a new band so what happens if you draw 20 people? The venue makes $150.00 and your band splits $50.00. Does this sound fair to you? It probably doesn’t sound fair because it isn’t. Now multiply $150.00 by 5 struggling new bands. $750.00. Does your booty-hole hurt? It should… because you just got the screw job. Lord forbade that you drew only 17 people.
To ad insult to injury to the above scenario you probably will not get a drink tab or a percentage of the bar. I know of one venue that gives you a $1.00 discount on drinks when you perform there. I guess that’s their way of kissing you afterwards. You have to keep in mind that, not only are these venues stealing money from you, but they are also making a killing at the bar from your friends (i.e. customers) that you lured in.
So how does a new artist break into the scene without paying to play or being taken advantage of?
Open for already established bands.
If you don’t suck too terribly, somebody out there with a following likes you enough to let you open for their band. You’ll get exposure and probably get paid. Even if you don’t get paid, you will not pay to play. If you are a new band, you have to understand that exposure is a form of payment.
Link up with a real promoter.
A real promoter will take a percentage of your earnings for the night for getting people in the venue and you can focus on the music. If you get a really good promoter, they will offer you a modest guarantee and big crowd. Getting a promoter is more of a common practice with DJs instead of bands, but it wouldn’t hurt bands to seek out promoters.
Don’t Charge A Cover.
You are a new band. Nobody but your significant others and relatives know who you are. People don’t want to pay to see some band they never heard of. If there is no cover, people are more likely to come in. The average person would much rather drink their money than support your creative efforts. The aforementioned being said, nix the cover and work out getting a percentage of the bar.
If you DO charge a cover make sure you get 100% of the door.
Why did I write this blog? Initially I wrote this as an e-mail because I didn’t want my friends getting duped. Then I decided to share it with the world and any other new artists that might be falling for something that’s taking them further from their goals.
Later & Don’t Be A Hater