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A "friend" is putting on a fest, charging $25 to get in, and not paying bands...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by glocke1, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    Every other year or so this guy has a rather small festival…stage, good sound system, light show etc..and it usually attracts on average about 750-1000 people at least.

    Admission is 25 bucks, and I just found out from one of my other friends that landed a spot there that none of the bands are getting paid except for the headliner…

    kind of screwy…the only reason i would have gone was to see my friends band play, but im not so sure how I feel about paying that much money and the only band that gets any of it is the headliner...
  2. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    But just think of all the exposure those bands are getting!
  3. +1. Yeah, unless you can’t see your friend somewhere else another time, that wouldn’t make any sense.
  4. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    What would a patron get for their $25?
    Has he always charged that much?
    Seems a little steep just to see some local acts.
    I have a hard enough time booking us at a place that charges a $10 cover. It doesnt sit well with me.
  5. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    I know opinions on playing for free vary on here vastly, but I'd consider it strongly as a 750-1000 person strong crowd a good enough level of exposure to consider playing for not much. I'd play it for free beer if I had an original act I could trot out that people would get into.

    This happens pretty commonly around these parts. We often used to get booked for $150 for a 45min slot because the headliner ate the budget with their guarantee. Getting paid zero is always unacceptable though because you can't get a tax invoice for the gig.
  6. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Why do these god****ed so called "festivals" always balance their books on the backs of the musicians? We're the people who make the whole thing possible! Say what you want about the popularity of DJs, no one is going to stand around your crappy field all day listening to someone play mp3s. If their turnout is what you say it is, they're going to gross about $20K. They can't afford to pay the bands?! :spit:

    The solution is simple, folks. Don't allow yourselves to be exploited, and you won't be exploited. Not only would I refuse to play this "festival", I would refuse to attend.

    My drummer throws a backyard festival every year. Paying the bands (and the sound guy) is the biggest part of his budget. And he only charges $10 a head. AND he waives that if you bring a dish to share.
  7. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    I will play for free too, and under many more circumstances than many TBers will, but not when I know the venue is going to gross $20K.
  8. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    Does the $25 get you unlimited keg beer and dinner, or just a chance to listen to the chumps who play for free?
  9. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    Gross of 20k might only just cover the overheads. Who are the headliner? What's their guarantee? What's the venue going to cost to operate with staff, security, setup, hire or whatever? Are we dealing with original or cover acts?

    We don't have a lot of info from the OP with regard to costs, which you would expect to be the primary driver of the ticket price.

    Don't feel that I'm missing your point though, because I agree wholeheartedly that it's almost always the talent who get shafted financially. We then get into that familiar extended debate about money vs. value of exposure though.
  10. I look at a lot of these festivals as akin to the golf or and surfing Pro-Am events, where the “pros” are paid appearance money and the “ams” are charged an entry fee. These festivals are the same. Big name act gets paid, local acts play for free but piggy back on the draw of the name act. If you want the appearance fee, you need to be the pro.
  11. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    If he runs it as he has the times i have been there, it will be as follows:

    Stage, PA, light show…all top notch, the real deal...

    That is ALL the patrons get…

    Band members get a "green room" which is a tent set up with beer, food, etc….

    Headlining act gets paid…

    I also am friends with the stage manager, played with him a few times actually…he let it slip in a phone conversation the other day that his overhead for this is about 5k-6k, though i think that just covered the stage and PA….not the lights..its on his own land so there is no fee associated with that.

    To be honest Im betting its going to be a bust…there is a HUGE act playing within a 2 hour drive of the fests location that night, and many people will be at that. Hell, to be honest Id put the 25 bucks towards going to see this act before i paid 25 bucks for this guys festy.
  12. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    I think $25.00 is a little high also but there are also cost far beyond the stage, sound and lights. For a venue to have 750 persons it will require permits, event insurance, lots of porta-pottys, security staff , etc, etc and some type of rent a fence to keep out people who did not pay a cover charge. The promoter may have more invested than meets the eye. just sayin.
  13. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    Or he doesn't bother and the whole thing is put on under the table. Such things exist.

    I recall a popular method to get around liquor licensing in unlicensed venues was to sell raffle tickets for the price of a beer. Then you could exchange that ticket for a beer. The theory is that it's not against the law to sell raffle tickets and there's no law against swapping a raffle ticket for a can of beer.

    Whether such underhanded tactics would survive a police raid are sorely debatable however.


    On the whole it just sounds like a bad idea purely because the guy has booked up against a major act on the same night. That's gig suicide.

    We have walked off on promoters who don't factor in stuff like that. If there's a bigger gig on the same night in the same scene we raises our guarantee to account for the fact that nobody will be coming and usually the promoter will balk at that.
  14. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    The answer is pretty simple. For every band that refuses to play for "short" money, there are 10 more who will play for free because they think it will be "great exposure". As my brother once said to me when I was talking about band exposure: "Visibility is great. You can die from exposure".
  15. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    Well if the promoter is bootlegging the event, and on top of that not willing to pay the bands a nominal fee to perform, I would not want to be involved as a spectator or as a performer.
    Who knows what could happen.
  16. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah, the guy said his overhead is $5K-$6K, and if the 750+ holds up he will bring in at least $18K. If he is not at least throwing the opening acts a few hundred bucks he is a jerk.
  17. On the other side of the coin, if a band doesn’t present any benefit to the promoter, why would they expect to be paid.

    At the end of the day, the promoter (or bar owner/club manager etc) is the one who is risking their hard earned presenting an “event” for bands to play at. If the choice is $500 for Band A, who will add 20 guys to crowd or Band B who’ll bring 10 guys but play for free, Band B wins. The truth is the quality is probably comparable between bands at that level.

    Headliner A is going to bring 600 people through the gate @ $25/head, even paying $10,000 would be good return on investment.
  18. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    Who is the headliner this year?
  19. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    Headliner is a popular band that plays in my trip state area. Not getting anymore specific than that.

    I think a lot of this is under the table and the max I would put his overhead at is 10k.
  20. tbirdsp


    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE

    Ahh, what could go wrong? :eek:


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