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Coffeehouse Gig and Economics in Question

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Thunderthumbs73, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    "...they'll still pay $100 but we need to bring in a crowd that racks up $200 in sales."

    I tend to think this is a bogus request, despite the fact I understand a business is a business and businesses must make money. I also read this information, above, as "we need a $100 minimum from you (or your "crowd") to play here." I am NOT into "pay to play."

    What say you?
  2. are they asking you to make up the difference, should the minimum not be met?
    if so, there are other venues...
    if not, then play the gig with a smile on your face and make life easy for the staff and management...even if they come up short, they'll probably give you another shot, if they like you, personally.
  3. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    I haven't gotten to the bottom of that specific question, but it could certainly be read that way. Thanks for your thoughts.
  4. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Times are tough right now, and clubs and coffee houses are evaluating all of their expenses: in the case of entertainment, is it "necessary" or "merely desirable?" If entertainment ain't paying for itself, it's merely desirable and is subject to the axe.

    We're lucky (so far) that we have a supportive fan base from which clubs have benefited financially. If people didn't respond when I sent an email to let them know about upcoming gigs, I seriously doubt clubs would re-book. Fortunately, we play bars, and in a recession people are willing to spend money (although less than during good times) so they can create a party atmosphere and drink to forget.

    Coffee houses are a horse of a different color; around here, a lot of them are going without paid entertainment in favor of open mic nights, poetry readings, or recorded music.
  5. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    They may just be letting you know what's what. i.e. If you don't bring in $200 in sales... this is your last gig there.
  6. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    That's kind of what I would think, but these kind of statements are the kind of thing that needs to be clarified before hand. If not with a written agreement, then at least with a second conversation with the management.
  7. chroma601


    Feb 16, 2007
    Sylva, NC
    How about you play for free, but with a tip jar. The coffeehouse gets live music to draw in a crowd, you get what they leave you.
  8. bassbully

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

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    See this is the problem with most places...whats the point. They hire you for $100.00 and need you to cover your costs plus put $100 more in their pockets?
    Where do you make out in the deal? Its the old.. Ya you can play here if you can bring in 100 people with you deal :rollno:

    Is the place willing to promote? Give you free drinks ,food etc? Discounts for say 1 guest? If not i would walk. If a bar, club ,coffee house etc cannot do more than just pay a low rate to book and demand a return to cover expenses forget them.
    You are there to entertain people and hopefully keep them there adding to the bottom line of the biz. Maybe even draw in more people than the place would get without music .Its a gamble like advertising.

    To me its like a restaurant hiring a chef to cook cuz they like their food but telling him/her that if you want to keep the job you must bring in 50 people a night to eat it :rolleyes:
  9. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    I stopped playing a couple of $800+ gigs because they expected us to bring 25+ people to each gig. Everyone in my band has been doing this for a long time.... we don't have 25 frinds that want to see us for the 20th time!

    I don't need the stress and generally only play gigs that bring their own crowd (we always keep 'em there). We average $100 each and a few beers. Works for me.

    Also, I avoid any "splitting the door" or "percentage of the bar" deals. Unless your friends man the door or unless your friends count every drink consumed in the bar..... "thou shalt get screwed".

    Just my $0.02.
  10. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    I don't think ANYONE who has friends who want to see their friend's local band 20 times. And I play in a few decent bands. Ha!

    But seriously, thanks for the feedback.
  11. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I wouldn't take the gig. I play solo (guitar), duos (guitar and bass), and combos (whatever it needs) and mostly old roots music, folk, early rock. I sell entertainment (myself). The coffee shop sells coffee. I try to keep that separated.
  12. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    It depends on their definition of "bring", and what the penalties are...

    It should be pretty obvious: If they sell $200 of stuff they probably need (keeping it simple) $100 to pay for it, overheads, taxes. That leaves $100 which they give to you. In other words they need to sell $200 of coffee to cover the $100 they're giving you. That's not them being nasty, but rather telling you some basic maths.

    At the end of the night, they look at the till receipts and if they're not up $200 on a regular night, then bringing a band in wasn't a good business decision. How they approach this with you is where there might be an issue. If they're just telling you for your information, thats actually pretty open and fair of them - a good thing.

    If they're telling that they're counting YOUR friends (people you BRING, rather than draw in), that you need to make up any difference, or generally being confrontational about it, then you've got more of a problem.

    If it's simply letting you know that if it's quiet you won't be booked back, then at least they're telling you now.

  13. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I'd find another gig.
  14. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    "Coffeehouse" and "Economics" usually don't go together in the same sentence. :D

    To me, this doesn't sound like an ultimatum, but merely a frank statement of what makes economic sense for the coffeehouse.
  15. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Word. Screw "pay to play". Even here in San Diego it hasn't come to that...
  16. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    You have the right idea. Here are some sample calculations (using hypothetical averages and ratios) that provide a simplified glimpse into a typical ROI calculation:

    Sales Without Entertainment:
    Average Selling Price of Drink: $5.00
    Number of Drinks Sold Per Hour: 60
    Number of Drinks Sold in 4 Hours: 240
    Average Sales Per Hour Without Entertainment: $300
    Hours of Entertainment: 4
    4-Hours of Sales Without Entertainment: $1,200
    Gross Operating Profit Ratio: 10%
    Gross Profit Without Entertainment: $120
    Cost of entertainment: $500.00
    Cost per Hour for Entertainment: $125.00

    Additional Sales Required to Break Even on Entertainment:
    Cost of Entertainment/GOP Ratio
    $500.00 / .10 = $5,000 Sales Required

    Sales without Entertainment: $2,400
    Additional Sales Needed To Justify Entertainment: $5,000
    Total Sales Required for the night: $7,400

    Additional Sales Needed Per Hour: $ 1,250
    Number of Additional Drinks Per Hour Required: 250
    Additional Number of Drinks Required to Break Even on Entertainment Expense: 1,000
    Total Drinks Sold in 4 Hours Without Entertainment to Break Even 240
    Total Drinks Sold in 4 Hours With Entertainment to Break Even 1,240

    Note: Profit ratios are not fixed; they comprise both fixed and variable components, and change as sales volume changes. That said, these kinds of thumbnail calculations will put you "in the ballpark."

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