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Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jondog, Jul 10, 2004.

  1. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    OK, it's 3:45 and I just got home. We played well, but the business side sucked so I need to get it out and maybe help you all understand how and how not to do booking. I got to take over this thankless booking job about 4 months ago. Yay. We want to play out more, so that means getting into new venues. New venues want to know how many people you'll bring, and unless you've got a ton of friends, that's unpredictable. We have over 600 people on our email list, but only managed to bring 5 folks out tonight. I thought it was ok because there were a decent amount of people in there, and they enjoyed the music and definitely didn't go away. Nope. When trying to get paid at the end the mgr. gave me crap for not only bringing 3 people (''it was 5" "DO YOU WANT TO ARGUE WITH ME?!" "no sir") but also for starting and ending at the wrong time. He paid us our full audition fee, so I cannot complain about that, but I'm not sure if we'll get to go back, and that is the whole point of getting into new venues -- to be able to have a regular place on the schedule that pays your regular rate, not their audition rate. I am partly to blame for this, as I did not write down the start and end time when I booked it. There was also mis-communication, as "last call" for him meant we're done and for me it meant play until they finish their last drink. As far as the start time, we couldn't have started on time if we wanted to or knew it because we had tech problems -- somehow the jukebox circuit blew (I have no idea how that happened), the PA xover died, and my preamp decided it would only output through the XLR and not the 1/4" (it always does both, so I can send a signal to both the PA and the amp -- I decided to just use the amp). It took awhile to figure out all of these things, but we really only started 25 minutes late. Also, I wasted time because I thought they wanted lights so I set some up but after the jukebox fuse deal I didn't dare turn them on, they suck a lot of juice. I can't wait to call him next week to see if he'll book another date with us.

    So, anyway, here are things I will now always write down when I book a show.

    start Time
    # of sets
    length of breaks
    end time
    drink/food deal
    sound/light requirements

    I will also say, yes we will try to bring people but we do not control their lives and there is NO GUARANTEE that everyone or even anyone on our list will come out. Especially to a new place they are not familiar with. However, we will do a good job at bringing back the people who do hear us.

    Now it's 4:10 and I'm going to bed. I'm sure there are other things I should write down when booking a show. Do you see anything I've missed?
  2. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Bummer man, the bad nights happen to everyone......just sucks double it was on an audition night.
  3. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    We have all had them. Don't feel too bad, but if the manager was upset on your audition night, I wouldn't count on getting back in there.

    And always know what they are expecting up front. It helps.
  4. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Also to add to your list- load in/out times, and also whether you will be playing the music (cd's) or them on the breaks. Seems pointless, but we get asked this a lot.
  5. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    Considering what you said, for a new venue, I'd ask what sort of promotion they'll be doing, like advertisements or listing dates in the paper, on their website, or whatever. Then at least you can do stuff yourself if you need to, instead of just assuming it'll all be taken care of and ending up with a low turnout due to a lack of promotion.
  6. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    OK thanks, I feel a little better about it today. Now I need to go unload the truck :meh: Yes these things need to go on my list . . .

    Load in/out time
    DJ before/between sets
    - Venue
    - Band

    Anything else? I was thinking some basics like

    Contact person/mgr.
    Phone #
    Venue street address

    I'm going to print up a contact sheet with all of these items as blanks so I can fill it in as I talk to them. I'm also going to call back some of my future new venues to confirm all of this stuff so I don't repeat my mistakes with them. A night like last night can be pretty stressful, but at least I can learn from it.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    jon - good idea on the contact sheet. i'm gonna use it also. it at least gives us some recourse at 3 in the morning when we tell the lowlife bar managers that "this" is what we agreed to.

    your tale from last night got me going as if it were my band. been in that position too many times, and i'm sure we'll be there again. i'd like to start a website, "bars that screw you" - for musicians to tell their tales at. you know what - I might actually do that. the messageboard that I have linked below is free and another can easily be started. maybe go the other way and start ones - "bars that treat us well".

    we've been doing this now for a couple of years and we're getting a little better at not getting screwed. one thing we learned is - burned once, and we're done. if a bar messes us around we're not even thinking of playing there again. the place where i saw you play is notorius for screwing bands. they get to do it because they have their set bands for the weekends, they do well with those bands, and they don't care what they do to any other musicians. we mean less than nothing to them. they don't need us. we don't need them either, we don't call them. we found that there's a lot of little unkown bars that appreciate what we do and we've been working out deals with them. we're starting to develop followings at those places. i feel like we used to push ourselves and beg to get into places that clearly didn't want any new bands, and we usually paid a price for it once they had us play. it's was incredibly frustrating. by playing these smaller places, as i said, we're starting to develop something. we needed to find out niche and weed out a lot of the garbage. doing covers for us isn't out main thing, so the pressure is off for us to play the top bars. if that's your goal i'd suggest tightening up your seatbelt and getting ready for the ride. i think the getting screwed thing is a part of that scene that some bands either miraculously somehow bypass, or learn to simply brush off their shoulders.

    i checked your gigs list to make sure we don't venture out to the place that screwed you last night. there's a nice handful of like places out there. didn't notice any others on your calendar that have screwed us or i'd forwarn you. beware of S.I. be very clear with any deals you make there. especially in bars that have just 2 initials for their name. :)
  8. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    One thing you may want to add to your contract is an "act of God" clause. This will protect you should something out of your control like the blown circut, etc arrise again and keep you from starting at the scheculed time.
  9. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    I'm not really seeing this as a contract, but I suppose it could be one if we both signed it. It's more about getting myself organized so I remember that this place is the one that wants us to start at 10:17 and end at 1:55 and only play Avril Levigne cds between sets.

    Joe, thanks for the sympathy. You are right about never dealing again with places that screw you. The first show I booked, the South Orange Grille, screwed us out of 50% of our fee, and I wasted a lot of energy trying to get it and only managed to squeeze 25% of what he owed -- *not* the reason I'm a musician. We will never play there again. I heard a rumor they're out of business now, so it serves them right.

    For the record we did not get screwed last night, it was just stressful dealing with time confusion, equipment failures, and a tough guy manager saying that he was "guaranteed" a draw from us. I know I never said that. My singer thinks it's a standard negotiating tactic so they don't have to pay you what you ask for the next time -- we'll see, I'll let you all know what happens when I call him next week.

    Now, one exception is the show last month that Joe and his singer were kind enough to come out and see. That guy definitely screwed us in that he paid us about 1/3 of what he promised. He wasn't a mean tough guy about it though, he explained himself rationally as a business man and told us that while he liked the music we could pack up and go home 1/3 of the way into the night because he wasn't going to even have enough $ in the drawer by the end to pay us in full. It was a very dead Thursday. My guitarist was mad because he's the only one of us who's a full-time musician, the rest of us have day jobs, and I was bummed but tried to stay calm. We stayed and played and had a good time and made some friends with the few people there (I'm talking 15 at peak). I could have refused to deal with him again, but instead I told him we were not happy (at all) but would be willing to call this an audition show if he would commit to several future dates at a good (our minimum + 50%) rate regardless of draw. He did. We now have two well paying shows booked there (pretty far in the future but still) and he called me last week offering that same rate for a cancellation he just had. Unfortunately, we were already booked for that date, but it showed that he was wanting to pay us. My guitarist believes we'll get screwed again by them, but I don't think so. Yes, it's possible, but I think we will be into their regular rotation for next year. So anyway, in this case I'm going with a 2 strike plan and he's on strike 1 but looking good.
  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    quick story regarding "that place" that may help in your future dealings with them. we did an audition night a little over a year ago. the girl at the bar (who was booking the shows at the time) asked if we wanted to do an upcoming sunday that was on a holiday weekend - 4th of july, i think. i told her that i could nearly guarantee that we weren't going bring a soul into the bar that weekend, and asked if they were still willing to pay ($300) even if we didn't. she said yes. I asked, what if the place is empty? she said it won't be - they were having a pary earlier on. i asked again very clearly - "what if by some strange chance it is. will you guarantee us $300 regardless of whether or not there are any people in here." she said, "we don't screw bands here. we don't do business like that. you'll get $300." i said, "ok". shook her hand and said we'll take the gig.

    guess what.

    the bar was empty.

    guess what else. she wasn't going to pay us. "i can't pay you. there's nobody here."

    it's the one time my mr. nice guy flew out the window. i said i'm not leaving until we get paid. i meant it, and she knew it. i was at a point where if they didn't pay I could have gotten arrested for doing stupid things. and i'm never like that. she was lying about our very clear agreement right to my face, and she so clearly knew she was. we wound up getting paid the full $300. ironically, they booked us again - couple of weeks before you played and they did the same thing thing to us as they did to you. we didn't take any of his "weekend deals" as an ammends. i've played there on weekends with other bands. if you don't bring people, they're not going to give you what they agreed to - or they're going to give you a really hard time about it. just be forwarned.

    sorry - that wasn't as quick as i thought it would be. :) this stuff just really gets my blood pumping.
  11. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Thanks for the details Joe. That is pretty extreme. I guess with him I will have us both sign the contact sheet and make it into a contract before we load a single piece of gear into the place.