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A nice article about how venues expect bands to be promoters as well as musicians

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by lunarpollen, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. I'm not sure if this has already been posted in another thread already (please let me know if it has), but it's a really good read:

    La Club Owners

    And it's not just an LA issue, nor is it a new one...
  2. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Funny, I always thought of it the opposite way... unless you're playing in a fancy expensive restaurant that has tablecloths and everything, your job from the venue's point of view is to draw a crowd, not to play music. Playing music is what you do for the crowd, not for the venue. Most venues are less effective at promoting than we are, anyway.

    As an aside, I read years ago that pro sports teams' mascots (in the US sense of the term, not the UK) are expected to show up for the job interview with a marketing plan ready to present. Pretty much everyone has to be a promoter today.
  3. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I never saw that particular article, but the subject is not new.

    Problem is, trying to compare a musician (at least the ones being spoken of here) with a business person, or playing music with business.

    No seller of wine gets their rocks off simply by watching someone drinking wine, or gets a thrill from seeing their wine get taken out of the store. There is little/no pleasure in the activity short of getting money, and not worth doing otherwise.

    Playing "musician" is a hobby, being on stage, being watched by people, seeing people dancing to what they're playing, getting laid, pretending they're a star or whatever,

    So they actually get what turns them on independently from the pay.

    Hint: Don't try to make a lot of money doing something others do as a hobby.
  4. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    It is what it is and it stinks. I always tell anyone we book with we do our best to bring folks but that all we can do the club has to do the rest. We do help promote the club and our event the rest is up to them the club and it's service, food, drink and experience that might keep them coming back not us..we only play there a few times a year.
  5. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    I don't necessarily agree with everything he said, but he makes a lot of good points, and, generally, IMO he is correct in his assertions. I certainly agree that a venue has to create a following, not just a band. That takes paying attention to the bands that play there, and being objective about the 'quality' of the music. IME, few venue owners are involved enough to separate the good from the not-so-good. One place I know of does pay attention and it's packed every weekend, regardless of who's playing, but it's usually a band on the A-list.
  6. Actium


    Jan 15, 2011
    I know venues that do promote, kind of. They create a fan base within overlapping genres of music. Customers show up because they know they're going to get rockabilly, bluegrass or generic safe feel good rock and occasionally blues or some kind of combination of blues/soul. They don't have to do promoting anymore. Not beyond listing the bands and then introducing them once in a while.

    This place doesn't even serve food. Just your generic drinks.
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    At one point the article states:

    to me this is completely backwards. It should be:

    Personally, I have *never* gone to a show because I'm a 'fan of the venue'. I have always gone because of the band. I'm pretty sure that most audiences think the same way. In my scene, bands with no draw get poor paying gigs on off nights in sub-par venues, and compete with 1000 other bands with similar draw. I do not see this unfortunate truth as the venue's fault. Nor do I view it as somehow blocking my band's success.

    Honestly it comes across as the whining of someone unwilling to do the leg work. Of course the author is a self-described professional Jazz Musician. I play original pop/rock, maybe different expectations there.
  8. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Long Island, NY.
    Really? I go to local venues that I like all the time simply because I know them to have good music regularly. I won't even check their web page because they're that consistent of attracting good acts regardless of genre. Now I'm not saying bands shouldn't promote to help maximize patrons, but to think it's all on the band is silly. Heck, my band won't even play some venues because they're not known to draw good acts. It'll look bad on us to play there!
  9. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Where I live, it is like that. There is bar that have band playing but if they don't bring enough people, you won't see them again.

    This is something I hate about playing any music beside classical ... you have to put more time promoting, sell yourself than playing ... and so ... it seems players ( not musicians ) stop reharsing (so they only play very simple music) because promoting eat all their time.
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Well, consider me no longer "pretty sure" that everyone thinks like me! :) I can't help but wonder if differences in the Seattle and Memphis/Knoxville scenes are part of it. Is your scene dominated by cover bands or original acts?
    I'm with you on the idea that some venues belong off our list because we no longer see ourselves as a band that needs to take any gig that comes along. But it took a lot of shows before we felt that way. (I wonder if perhaps could we have just decided that from day one? )
  11. StrangerDanger

    StrangerDanger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    I agree.

    Its that way where Im from in NOLA and here in San Antonio, its getting that way. Problem is, when a club starts getting in "major" acts from outside of town that are good and bring a good crowd, then local acts get pushed out.

    I think the writer of the article is dead on about the business model being flawed. The proof is in the pudding. Nowadays, most clubs dont last very long before they are gone. I think now the life span of new clubs opening and maintaining their business is very short.
  12. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I can count numerous bars where my band has played where my BL will mail them posters several weeks in advance or even make a special trip to drop them off personally. And then we'll get there the night of the show and there won't be a single poster anywhere, in fact we're lucky if they have us listed on the marquee. Very very annoying. It should be a collaborative effort between the club and the band because both parties have skin in the game, but if the club won't meet you halfway, what can you do?

    That's why my band loves playing the small-town street dances that comprise the bulk of our summer schedule. A lot of times we're the only live music that town gets all year. Which means we get huge [built-in] crowds, great pay and get treated like rock stars. Yeah the playing outside thing can be a little dicey but the benefits more than make up for it.
  13. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Long Island, NY.
    I'm Knoxville based right now for school :) To be honest, there's actually a great mix of good local cover bands and original bands. The scene here is great for either type of band. Of course, the main Knoxville strip is mainly interested in cover bands because they'll keep the most patrons in house, but the downtown area absolutely craves original acts (be them local or from out of town). You can actually make decent coin as an original band around here. Most gigs my band will pull $250-$300 (+food and some sort of deal on drinks), which is fantastic for an original band in most music scenes.

    Good question! I'm not sure if I know the answer. My band had only been around for about 4 months before we finally said, "Okay, we need to stop playing this and that venue because our reputation is at stake." So in those regards we made the transition REALLY quick. However, I think every band needs to pay their dues (as it's called) and will have to play a few stink holes just to get themselves somewhat known on the scene and to get some street cred under their belt.
  14. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I go to some music venues to support the venue. If the club supports the live local music scene and has the kind of music I'm into.... I am a regular customer.
  15. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    What do you mean? We dont get paid a zillion dollars, We brought all 6 of our friends, 4 of them minors....all together your club made maybe 40 bucks on soda.

    We should get at least 75 dollars for each band member, and next time we want M&M candy with all the brown ones removed.

    Hah hah people are so clueless.

    Most decent clubs have been around for years they all place adds here and their and have internet sites too.

    But still you wonder why 1000 people dont magically show up.

    Because the band needs to promote their shows. unless of course you want to play for the bartender and the security guys the rest of your life.

    oh yah helps if you band is actually good too. Not just begging your friends who dont wanna go "for support"
  16. Bingo!!

    A positive snowball effect. The places that consistently have the best music (of whatev genre) will have the best built in crowd...I don't even bother looking at where some band might be if the club is a cool place to be and be seen.
  17. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    While I am in total agreement that bands need to promote themselves, what I got from the article is another underlying issues: Bands need to quit slitting their own throats to get up on stage, especially in Pay-to-Play Capital, Los Angeles, USA. This was evident when he told the anecdote about the club owner posting on Craigslist.

    Having a successful gig is the responsibility of both the performer and the venue/promoter. The performer needs to have a good product that they promote. The bar needs to run a good establishment - yes, the venue does matter - and promote on their end. Also, venue owners need to give bands the opportunity to build. I can't tell you how many times we've had to get club owners to put us on rotations. They would book us once every seven months and wonder why we weren't building. It's simple: Nobody remembers who the &#(@ we are the next time we come around when you don't have us in a rotation.
  18. Let's pretend I'm the bar owner.

    Ok, if I hire your band, you want $300 to provide a service for a few hours. That rate puts you up there with lawyers and doctors - highly educated professionals that I can sue for malpractice if they mess up. Musicians? HA! I personally couldn't care less how many people are splitting the fee, or how many hours of practice you put into it. No matter what, it's only 1 band providing a few hours of service. If that's a problem, you have a bad business model.

    Shelling out $300 means I'm taking a serious financial risk - that could entirely wipe out my profit for the night, or put me in the hole. You absolutely refuse to share the risk by pre-selling tickets or playing for a percent of the door. I have to blindly gamble away my profits on the hope that your band will enhance my business by helping me generate at least an extra $300 in extra profits. If I wanted to blindly gamble, I would buy lottery tickets.

    Can this get any worse for me? Yes! You absolutely refuse to demonstrate that you'll help me get those extra profits by promoting your big show. You say it's MY job to provide YOU with an audience - complete lunacy. Even worse, you cannot promise that your performance won't chase away the regular crowd. You might be unbearably loud, you might play music nobody likes, you might be a terrible band. Now I'm out $300 for your miserable "service" plus I lose all the business you chased away.

    So in the final analysis, it is much smarter for me to have no band at all. Are we done? Can you get out of my office? There are dozens of bands waiting to talk to me, and they want to promote their show and play for the door. Speaking of the door, don't let it hit you on the way out.
  19. One thing everyone forgets is that the majority of venue owners are idiots. They have no idea about effective promotion, their primary concern in life is split between trying to make as much money out of the venue as possible for the least investment, and how to screw at least one and possibly all of the barmaids. I have played in hundreds, probably thousands of pubs and venues in many cities over 35 years of pro and semi-pro playing. I could pretty much count on my fingers and toes the number of switched-on owners/managers.
    A band is the last thing most of them can be bothered with, and is more of an irritation than anything.
    How many hundreds of times have I turned up to a gig ready to set up, only to find....
    *The pool table that is occupying the band's area is still there, and what's more is still being used.
    *The big screen is in use with a football game being shown, and it's right where the band needs to set up.
    *The portable stage is still stacked away in the storage area.
    *The band area is full of tables with punters eating/drinking.

    This shows me EXACTLY what the owner/manager thinks of the band. With an attitude like that you're going to have more chance of winning the Texas State Lottery than getting effective promotion out of these idiots. Be nice to the good ones, they're few and far between.
  20. It's actually very interesting to talk with the bar owner before or after a gig. You get an insight into how the business works -- i.e. I would never be a bar owner myself.

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