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Cover Charge? What Cover Charge?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by plankspanker13, Oct 27, 2013.


  1. So, I finally have a "we got screwed" story to share.

    It's Friday, at a beloved local venue that is like a picnic ground with a liquor license. The adult lifestyle group is there (they don't like to be called swingers, but they are), in force. They love us, and request that we be the band, when they do meet & [DEL]mate[/DEL], ERRR, greets. It was the middle night of 3 nights in a row, for us, at 3 different venues. Musically, we were on top of our game, and the friends and fans made it even better. We were even aware of personnel from other bands being there, to check us out. You know that means something, especially in light of the following.

    The trouble is that the venue was charging a $5 cover; an abnormal instance. No biggie, it would seem, but our regular fans are not used to having to pay a cover, to catch us. Moreover, they were told, upon being asked to pay the cover charge, that it was "because of the band."

    We didn't see a dime of it. In fact, the bar had taken away the $50 tab that they had been allowing us, so we were asking to be paid the difference, instead. We can buy our own drinks. Not much fallout, that night, but, during the post-gig, Saturday, when we were patting each other on the back for 3 well-played gigs, a member of the band who works in law-enforcement, when told of the prior night's cover charge situation, was ready for blood. He indicated that the venue was committing fraud at the state and federal level, and possibly libel, as well. He has pledged to furnish the statute numbers, and we're gonna see what we can do about avoiding getting the shaft, for future gigs. We are back there, in a week, and will be watching closely.

    I do not feel that we should be asking for more money for that gig, but I do feel, moving forward, that we need to present our information to management, and indicate a willingness to go to war. My legal-eagle bandmate is talking about a $100K lawsuit, and we have at least a dozen friends/fans who would testify to being told about the cover charge being for the band. The reality is that, financially, it amounts to a small claims case, but from a criminal law standpoint, it does look like the opportunity to make a stand for ourselves, and every other band that is under-paid. If we are the draw, then we should get a piece of the door. It's no different from a cover charge situation for a pay-per-view event; the venue has to make up the expense. In our case, we had well over 200 folks there, but, for the sake of easiness, I will call it 200, at $5 a head. That's $1000. They have to pay someone running the door, and I will generously allow $100 for that. Cover was charged, beginning at 7:30, and through the end of the evening, with the music stopping at midnight (it is an outdoor venue, after all), so the $100 allowance for labor cost is very generous. That still leaves $900 of pure profit that the band deserves a piece of, especially we are being cited as the justification for the charge. To say that the band is the reason, without paying us, is untrue, and inherently libelous, not to mention running afoul of truth-in-advertising laws.

    When it comes to getting the gigs, and paying us, I have no qualms about our band leader, but I sense that he is weak-kneed, when it comes to asserting our position, with this venue. I'm not sure that he executes contracts for gigs, either, but that does not take away the criminality (it just means that we have to seek punitive, rather than compensatory damages, via the legal process, if it goes there; I suspect that there would be some sort of out-of-court accord reached, and want to present to the venue, with that in mind, so that it is still a win-win). That said, I don't want this to be one of the seemingly weekly Craig's List rants about the scene sucking, and venues abusing bands, so I am airing it, here, first. If it is deemed beneficial to our cause, I can always air it on CL, in the future. I thus welcome everyone's take on this.
     
  2. bkbirge

    bkbirge

    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    All they have to say is they didn't mean that the money was for the band, just that they were charging extra because they booked a band.
     
  3. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Sue
     
  4. There is live music, every weekend, at this venue, so that argument does not get off the ground, much less fly.
     
  5. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    When you said this was a "we got screwed" story at the swinger gig I was expecting something completely different.
     

  6. A gentleman never tells...but there's some imagery available, and you ought to know where to find it, in this forum, by now.
     
  7. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    I'm a bit confused here, so please excuse me if I'm missing a vital detail. Are you saying that you have a lawsuit against the club just because it charged a cover charge and you weren't paid out of the door money? Many venues charge a cover on band nights and but pay a flat rate. If the deal was a flat rate, then I don't see the big deal.

    :confused:
     
  8. Meyatch

    Meyatch Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    Saying they are charging a cover because there's a band is absolutely not the same as saying the cover charge goes to the band. If that's the entirety of your case I don't think you have a very good case of winning.

    Just for arguments sake they may have hired extra bartenders and security. They are using extra electricity for the band, and I assume they paid you some money.

    I'm not saying you didn't get screwed but I don't think you have much of a case.

    If they were telling people the cover charge will be paid directly to the band you might have a case, but that's not what you said.

    Also there's a real possibility no other bar in the area will hire you if you sue one of them for pay and get them rung up on fraud charges.
     
  9. jchrisk1

    jchrisk1 Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    I agree.....and if your band agreed to a flat rate and not a percentage of the door, then you really don't have a complaint. And, you may lose a seemingly steady gig.
     
  10. I personally just wouldn't play there its that big of a deal. Ill play free shows for the right situation, like our towns big festivals as it lets us reach potential new fans, i have no problem playing for free to open for a national touring artists for the same reason. Im really not really picky about door money because we tend to make 2-3 times as much off merch sales anyways being an original band. But if there's a door charge IMO the only people that should get a cut of the door is the band(s)and the sound guy. I've seen clubs do that sorta thing your dealing with. I've gotten a $40 (as in $40 for the whole band) handshake after playing for 500 people that all paid $7 at the door. Those venues usually don't last long. Bands worth their salt refuse to play their and eventually the reputation of the club falls to nothing and they go out of business.
     
  11. GlennW

    GlennW

    Sep 6, 2006
    If there was a contract, and your band got paid what the contract specified, I don't see how you have a case.

    The cover charge deal...that had nothing to do with the band's compensation.

    But they lied about it...so what...you still have no case if you got paid what you were supposed to be paid.
     
  12. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe

    Jul 8, 2008
    Connecticut
    C'mon people ... it's been said here a bazillion times ... CONTRACT. If a venue won't sign their names to their promise to pay, walk away ... they don't intend to pay what they said they would.
     
  13. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    To go after them is Career suicide IMO. You had a flat rate deal and that's that.
     
  14. GlennW

    GlennW

    Sep 6, 2006
    Back around 1970 or '71 Santana played a local concert, and afterwards went to a bar and was jamming with the band.

    The bar manager, opportunistic mofo that he was, put one of those folding blackboard sidewalk signs out front with "SANTANA $5" written on it. He made some money that night. Did Santana sue? No, and neither should you.
     
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Save yourself the aggrevation and let it go. Anybody suggesting a 100K lawsuit is an idiot.
     
  16. GlennW

    GlennW

    Sep 6, 2006
    Maybe they'll settle out of court for 50K. :bag:
     
  17. I'm not a lawyer, and sometimes matters of law don't line up with common sense, but I don't think you have a damn thing here.

    Fraud? Libel? I can't imagine that's the case. Were they telling people that "100% of cover charge proceeds will be paid to the band."

    Did you get paid what you agreed to? Did you agree to a flat rate?

    If yes, my take is that's the end of the story.

    Under that arrangement, your belief that you're entitled to any other "share" of the venues receipts is way off base, IMO.

    I don't see it as an opportunity to make a stand...certainly not by threatening legal action or suggesting that you're owed some amount other than what you agreed to...I see that as an opportunity to alienate this client venue of your band.

    I think that what you have an opportunity to do, again, if you're playing for a flat fee, is to negotiate a higher fee. If you can't, you have two options (1) don't play there or (2) play for what you agree to.
     
  18. Thick McRunfast

    Thick McRunfast Not just good, good enough

    Sep 30, 2012
    Portland, Oregon USA
    That's crazy talk. Go talk to a real lawyer
     
  19. bkbirge

    bkbirge

    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    Unless you have a contract and proof that they are supposed to treat every band the exact same then I don't think you have much of a legal argument. Sure, it was slimy as heck what they pulled and I'd let them know and blacklist the booking team for sure but I don't think you are going to get much of a payday going to court over that.
     
  20. bassbully

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

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I don't get this. If you agreed to play for a flat rate but are upset the bar charged the door what is the issue? In the past bands I have been in were offered to take the door or flat rate but never both.

    What's next? You get the rate, door and a percentage of food and drink?

    Thinking like this is what has killed live music in my area..bands don't understand that the bar is a business that must see a profit from booking bands..not the other way around.
     

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