Bar and club owners drive me crazy

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by yamark, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. yamark


    Jun 6, 2009
    Lancaster, KY
    I joined a band about 3 months ago. They were focusing on recording when I joined but had no gigs lined up to finance a release. I suggested that we get some gigs, save a couple grand and have the mastering, photography, and printing done professionally. They agreed, but gave me the task of handling a section of the region in which we play. My region is Lexington, KY.

    I went bar to bar and club to club handing out demos then emailed an EPK to several others. I got pretty good responses. They like our stuff and are very interested in having us play. Dozens of places. In 9 out of 10 of the responses, they said something like, we'll book you on the 29th or 30th, just let us know when you are available. I responded, we are available on the 29th but would like some details before we confirm. Here are the 3 main details I asked about:

    1. How does your establishment pay the bands? (Generally speaking, bands get the door in Lexington. We just want to know for sure before we book)
    2. How long will our set be and what kind of set in terms of originals and covers do you want? (Around here, some bars want a percentage of covers to originals, some don't care.)
    3. What kind of PA system will we be behind or do we need to plan to bring all our own gear?

    Only a couple of owners or booking manager has responded to my questions, returned a phone call, or returned an email.

    We have booked every gig when the manager responded.

    Am I doing something wrong or are these folks wanting an agreement before they agree to pay us a certain amount? I feel like they are trying to get away with paying us as little as possible.

    Is there a better way I can go about finding these things out or communicating with them, or should I just stay away from these places?
  2. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    You will find out that 95% of club owners or managers are not very good at being professional business people and NEVER return phone calls or call whenever they tell you they will. The worst part about booking gigs is chasing people and all of the nonsense and lies you will have to deal with.

    You asked very specific and legitimate questions. However, you are correct in assuming that they want to pay as little as possible. Words of 40 years experience advice - never play strictly for the door only. Also, if you have your own P.A., it is always best to take it along just in case any house system is not what you need or are told it will be be unless you have already checked it out in advance. However, it is good to have backup equipment just in case something goes wrong. I have had that happen with in house systems where they don't work right and the venue did not have backup gear and we had to bring in our gear.
  3. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    +1. IME, everything else Richland123 said is correct, too. But especially the part about them typically being non-professional. All that really works, again IME, is a personal agreement with a signed contract followed by a handshake - in person. Be prepared to complete the deal while you are standing across the bar from them. And then you can sit and wait for them to call on the agreed-upon cancellation date (or even later) and cancel! (Also, IME) Maybe you need to set your sights (and your sites :)) a little higher. Usually (not always) the bigger a place is, the more often they have bands and the more they pay, the more professional they are.
  4. Welcome to world of trying to get gigs for your band. Being one of the people that books my present band. And having years of experience booking my past bands I have learned one very vaulable thing. You have to be persitant. That is the only way you will get gigs. Don't give up.
  5. yamark


    Jun 6, 2009
    Lancaster, KY
    Here's an example of lexington

    The biggest music venue here called us one Thursday. Said they had a cancellation of an opening act fro Friday and wanted to know if we'd open for this national touring band. He promised to return the favor.

    We agreed and 2 months later, he wont return any communication.

    This from the biggest and most frequented place here.
  6. yamark


    Jun 6, 2009
    Lancaster, KY
    but is there a point where i become annoying to them and then can never get a gig there?
  7. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Don't talk to somebody every day or they will get annoyed with you. There is a fine art to booking a group in a professional manner. Also, never act like you are desperate for gigs. They will take advantage of you if they sense that. In addition, never lie about your band and make promises that you can't deliver such as you will guarantee to pack a venue or you can play anything, etc. Once you get a bad reputation, it will follow you. Club owners and managers do speak to each other just as bands do. You always want to establish a positive and professional reputation in spite of all of the horrible things that can and will happen to the band along the way. Be a class act.
  8. You can never be annoying enough IMO. The squeeky wheel gets the grease. If it's a place that my band wants to play real bad I will even go to the club to try to find the person in charge of booking it and try to talk to them in person. Sometimes the people who book the bands like that because it shows that you are persitant and will probrably do a good job playing in thier club. And you will try to bring people there to see your band. Which is real important to the club owner.

    There will be a lot of times were you just have to give up and accept that you are probrably not going to get booked at certin clubs. But don't let that discourage you.
    Just move on to the next one.
  9. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    If I'm trying to book us into a place, I will call the place to find out who books the bands and when they are going to be there in person. Then I will show up, ask to meet with them, buy myself a beer, and bring along the band calendar, press kit & demo, and a fill-in-the-blanks contract. If they won't commit in person, I will make an appointment to visit them again in a week. A week later, I will call to make sure they are there in person, then I will visit them again with the fill-in-the-blanks contract. Sometimes they will never commit, but many of them will when they see you in their joint and spending money.

    I don't know how things work in your part of the country, but around here many of the places do all their booking on one or two days for the next 4 or 6 months. You obviously need to find out when that is. I have found that a bartender who is NOT the owner, manager or booking manager is often your most reliable source of information about their place, its policies and booking schedule.
  10. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    This is so true. Don't waste lots of time and effort chasing a place forever that does not seem overly interested and won't pan out anyway when you can use that work on other places. You have to play the law of large numbers and contact as many places as possible (especially a new band) but it never ends since places come and go frequently and you should always be searching for new venues. For every 100 you contact, hope that a few will come through. It is like planting seeds, plant as many as possible, nurture and work them and some will come to fruition and some will die on the vine and never result in a gig. Some will happen quickly, some will take a long time, and some will never happen.
  11. yamark


    Jun 6, 2009
    Lancaster, KY
    "but around here many of the places do all their booking on one or two days for the next 4 or 6 months"

    I wish this were the case here. But they aren't organized enough to even know who's playing this weekend.

    I got a call today from one of the managers I spoke with, she said they needed someone tonight. How can you own a bar that boasts great live music and not schedule bands?
  12. ^ ALL excellent advice. You have got to EYEBALL these people. If you want gigs, eyeball the person that books the bands. They will easily ignore you if you call or e-mail, or snail mail. They dodge you just like some people dodge creditors. Think about it, although you will probably make them money (and you should), all they think about is having to pay you, and therefore they just think, oh well I will deal with that later. It is a lot harder to ignore someone that is looking at you.
  13. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Some places are booked by people in whom, let's say, professional competence is still a work-in-progress.

    Still, it goes both ways. Most people that handle booking field unsolicited calls from a lot of bands that are flakes, screw-ups, have no draw, or even actively clear rooms with their own brand of still-developing competence.

    I'm not defending clubs that don't return calls, but if you were getting called daily by every band within 100 miles, your enthusiasm for chatting up unknown new bands might dip.
  14. This made me laugh my @$$ off. Thank you for that obvious truth.
  15. You need to do some homework. If you know some other bands that play these places, ask them these questions. Owners and bar managers are quick to avoid anyone who requires their time.
  16. PJMiDi


    Feb 27, 2009
    Columbus, OH
    as a musician who's father has owned bars/restaurants my whole life i've seen plenty of flakes. also you have to take into consideration the amount of energy it takes to run a bar/club/restaurant correctly, some people im sure are just trying to book bands for as low as possible, some probably just forget to call back b/c of other meetings/business reslated issue's. most bars make money off alcohol and food sales; yea a band can boost these occasionally, but if the bar isnt set up specifically to have bands playing a few nights a week the owners most likely just forget and concentrate on crap like liquor reps, city regulations, stopping fights, dealing with drunks, and constantly counting how much has been stolen from them by their own employees. personally i would just take what you can get keep up your promoting and hope to get more shows the more you can spread the word about your band
  17. Moe Monsarrat

    Moe Monsarrat

    Jul 30, 2006
    Austin, Tx.
    Endorsing artist:Regenerate Guitar Works Carvin, Micheal Kelly Guitars
    It's a struggle. That's why people hire agents. Know any good agents?? No....So you end up doing it yourself. Yes, you can be too irritating. In fact the only way to assure that you can get away with being irritating is to make the owner a lot of money. Once you do that you can be as irritating as you want to.
  18. DrewBud


    Jun 8, 2005
    A lot of venues can book their club with the same rotation of bands and have no need to give new acts a chance.

    One of the better ways to get gigs at a new venue is to befriend an established band that has a similar fanbase and get them to agree to have you open up for them.

    Most established bands have good enough relationships with the clubs they play to provide input as to who plays with them. Plus this takes some work off the club as they book one headliner and the headliner takes care of the rest.

    Once you have your foot in the door at the club, and assuming you're good, it's pretty easy to get in with the booking agent/manager/etc. to establish a relationship for additional shows.

    Just make sure you return the favor to other new bands once you have the relationships established.