1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Bar Owner: Does Your Band Draw a Crowd?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Helix, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. Helix

    Helix California U.S.A.

    May 29, 2015
  2. GBBSbassist

    GBBSbassist I actually play more guitar... Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2010
    Bar Owner: No, and we also charge $14 for mixed drinks, $10 for beers, and we also have really dirty bathrooms and bad food. You guys would be lucky to get this gig just for the exposure alone.
  3. Helix

    Helix California U.S.A.

    May 29, 2015
    Me: Well I'll tell you what, we have an open date this weekend, so we'll do it for $300.00

    Bar Owner: Sure, you can pay us when you get here....we only take cash though


    Bar Owner: Hello.....Hello......are you still there?
  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Folks, this is 2019.

    1. For a multitude of reasons, few bars have built in crowds that stay all night.

    2. Unless it cannot make more after paying you, not to mention having fewer tables, you don't deserve the gig.

    A friend of mine played a local club last week. They started playing at 9:00 - $5 cover. By 8:45, it was so packed, they were turning people away because there was no room, either in the band or the parking lot. They didn't have any problem getting more gigs or more money. Wonder why?
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  5. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This was just a funny meme posted for a good laugh. But it will instantly degrade into a debate over whether or not bands are there to provide MORE crowd or to provide entertainment for the EXISTING crowd so they stay longer and spend more.

    (For the record, it's both.)

    Thanks for the laugh @Helix :thumbsup:
    Bassist4Eris, neddyrow, Neo1 and 10 others like this.
  6. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Band and bars have to both realize this is what biologists call a mutualistic relationship. Both parties benefit if they hold up their end. If the band can't draw and keep people in the bar, they become a parasite. Likewise, the bar has to do everything it can to build a clientele, the relationship will also fail.
  7. I firmly believe that it is the rôle of the venue to deploy carrots as lures, and the rôle of the band to serenade the assembled Muskrats with their favourite song.
    ELG60 and G19Tony like this.
  8. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    1. Did you really promote the show?
    2. What is your usual crowd?
    3. If you expect us as a band to pack this bar for you, you'll have to pay more than what you're offering
    Chains, Mr_Moo and hrodbert696 like this.
  9. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    "Of course we draw a crowd. In fact, we can draw one right now if you'd like."

  10. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Totally legit.
    Most of the places I've played, including some major ones, would be empty it if wasn't for the music. That's why I don't understand why bands are so disregarded. Neighborhood bars are dumps for burn outs and most clubs are over priced. So unless it is a dance club, there is no reason to go to them. Except when a band plays.
    I'd really like to have a "strike" in LA where no one plays for a week. Then these crooks would realize which side their bread is buttered on. The problem is LA is too big and too full of dipsticks with stars in their eyes to pull that off.
  11. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Me: Yeah. I saw the Men’s Room. Could you maybe elaborate a bit more on the part about what we’d be exposed to?
    Mr_Moo, ak56, JRA and 3 others like this.
  12. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I don't blame them for wanting you to draw a crowd.

    But I don't do bars and restaurants anymore given some experiences. First, I've got all corporate, wedding and festival work for the last few years. I only did bars if I had a new band that wasn't pro level and wanted to get them out playing, or to help a club owner given my interest in supporting small business.

    I got tired of doing my best to fill restaurants and to get only spotty results. There were times I'd get 50-70 people and once we had to book people in for two shows on the same night because the capacity was exceeded. But the crowd they didn't buy the $9 to $14 craft drinks. So we weren't asked back. Or although I'd have a few good nights, the owner would tell me a bad night that "my marketing was pretty sad", and refused to count numbers of people I referred to his restaurant for family parties, my own birthday, and when guests were in town. He didn't seem to get that these numbers, outside the band night, were all there due to my referrals and efforts.

    And I find the marketing is really stressful and time consuming.

    No more clubs unless I want to do it for some reason...

    The best thing to do is to find a venue that already has its own traffic and just wants to embellish the experience for its patrons. That way you can show up, perform, get paid and go home.

    A change in the personal mission statement is coming regarding music in general :)
    Chains, Mr_Moo and SWRnut like this.
  13. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    You might be taking a big chance.

    Look at what happened with the TV screenwriters strike. The screewriters walked out hoping to get a sweeter deal. And the networks responded by bringing in a bunch of replacement “reality” shows that cost virtually nothing to produce and aired them instead. And the bulk of their viewers either didn’t care - or actually liked the new no-brainer shows.

    Strikes (like any revolutionary act) only succeed when there’s broad public support behind them.

    I don’t think local live music has that support anymore.

    And the really big gatekeepers don’t care. They have America’s Got Talent and all the other juried “top talent” shows to prospect and screen test for the next big thing. The major’s talent scouts aren’t trawling the local bar scene these days. Way too inefficient. Far easier to dangle the proverbial carrot and let them come to you in droves.
    Koshchei, Ekulati, Mr_Moo and 2 others like this.
  14. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    "Does your band draw a crowd?"

    "Give us some pens and paper, let's see what we can come up with"
  15. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    It's not an unfair question. Analogies like this don't always work.

    Bars are not the entertainment business. A bar provides a service and atmosphere.

    Bands seeking work in bars are only there to entertain, and they need to draw enough people to justify their cost to the business.

    If a band was going to rent a hall for a performance, the band itself would be asking, "how do we draw a crowd" to pay the rental, other costs, and hopefully make a little money.
    Chains, Mr_Moo and JRA like this.
  16. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    That bartender has a typical for the low key narcissistic and selfish owners who are running many small businesses: “Don’t bore me by telling me how much you’ve already done for me. Let’s confine our discussion to what you’re going to do for me right now.”

    Hardly surprising considering that a large number of the people who own or are in charge of small businesses are doing that because they don’t play well with others and would otherwise be unemployable if they weren’t doing their own thing.
    FunkHead, Omega Monkey and JMacBass65 like this.
  17. Dr_Benway

    Dr_Benway Banned SUSPENDED

    Aug 22, 2018
    These posts are always great for figuring out who to put on your "ignore" list!
    pwhalen and JRA like this.
  18. Goatrope


    Nov 18, 2011
    Sarasota Florida
    Funny topic.

    We “draw” our regular followers, but those folks aren’t likely to come out two or three times per weekend.

    I agree that it’s a symbiotic relationship, and consequently, we’re more careful about which places we play. If that bar in the middle of nowhere isn’t getting any traffic without us, it’s probably not going to get a huge, recurring influx of patrons because we’re playing there.

    In our area, the best places are those where they are surrounded by other bars, so patrons can wander on foot between bars.

    If this is the case, then we can pretty much guarantee that we’ll make your place a bottle neck in the flow of patrons. We’ll ensure more people are coming in than leaving.

    So it’s not so much about a “draw” but instead, retaining patrons. :)
  19. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Yeah, this triggers a bunch of thoughts.

    One, yes, if a venue is paying the band, it's a business deal and it needs to be financially beneficial to the client. If you pay a band $500 and the venue only brings in $400 more than they would have without the band, it's a losing deal and the bar should not be hiring bands (or not that band, anyway). Bands need to respect that if they're asking to be paid.

    But I think of the "draw" question a couple of different ways. One is that draw is interactive. I booked my band at one venue and friends of the band were laughing at the announcement on facebook. Underlying the humor, to wit, was that they might love to come see the band, but they weren't going to do so at that venue. It isn't an either/or for whose responsibility draw is, but will THIS band be an asset for THIS venue.

    The other angle is from a marketing perspective. In advertising, there are "product" ads where you're trying to make someone buy the widget you're advertising, and "image" ads where you're trying to get the public to know and like the company. If you think of hiring a band as a kind of advertising, the "product" advertising model would be focused on "draw" - did we sell enough widgets to be worth the cost of advertising the widget? Did the band draw enough people THAT NIGHT to be worth hiring them? I think it's a tough climb for a band to really win that argument, especially if it's new and trying to get established.

    But from an "image" advertising perspective, a venue can position itself as the cool place in town to come and have a great experience, and the availability of quality live music is a part of that image. So for instance, when I book a band at a venue, a lot of my friends may not even have heard of the venue or think of it as an interesting place. They may not actually make it out to see the band play that night; but now they know it exists and maybe they'll stop by another night. So booking bands can be a worthwhile investment in marketing your venue over the long term even if the till that particular night is not ideal.
    Ducerro, Bassist4Eris, City and 3 others like this.
  20. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    No fault there -- I agree entirely that the bar owner has business objectives, and they can only afford to pay the band to the extent the band generates enough income to cover the expense. If I was doing business consulting to a restaurant, I would say exactly that to them...depending on their overall strategy.

    But as a band leader, that's not attractive to me personally anymore -- to have that pressure on me for the low pay given by restaurants and bars. I have other opportunities that will net me the proceeds of a year's worth of gigging in two months. And there is no recording keeping, tax filing, 1099's, arranging schedules, rehearsal disruptions to family life, leaving the house at 4 pm and getting home at 11 pm at the expense of family, equipment repair, and stress etcetera.

    After 10 years of doing this music thing in most markets, I'm starting to get funned out. Maybe that'll change in the next few days. But for now, I'm gonna pick and choose, and restaurants are at the bottom of my list.
    Mr_Moo likes this.

Share This Page