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Cover Charge? What Cover Charge?

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


  1. bassbully

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

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I booked almost every band I have been in since I have a business and sales background and am an all around good BS'er.

    I also owned or was owner in three retail businesses in the past and know in some ways what it takes to keep one going.

    Of the bar/club owners most all complain about bands as much as bands complain about them.
    Most of them see bands as a pain in the butt, difficult, moody and just not worth the efforts to have them for the most part.
    Some of these places keep trying but others quit booking bands due to their demands and attitudes and some even closed.

    Part of it was the owners lack of understanding the local market .. that led to the closings. These owners wanted live music but bands just make to many demands on them and most time there was little in return.

    Some of these places only have bands payed by tips or a small flat rate regardless of the band and how many people they bring...maybe not fair but this way they don't loose.

    The best clubs I ever played at were small places that the owner personally wanted the music and was willing to pay for it basically out of pocket for it.
    These owners liked bands/music at their clubs but it really did not add allot to the business.... they like the look and mood it creates more.

    Allot of owners I worked with owners sing this tune. A band they booked brought 30 people the first time they played here but after that they brought little to nobody to the next 2 gigs. These same bands wanted more food, drink and sometimes more money thinking that since they were rebooked they were local favorites but their following was fluff.

    As much as I hate clubs who say you need a draw or bring a crowd to play here I will admit I understand it..don't like it.

    Think of the owners side. If you take a flat rate accept it, door you better draw. Most bands do not have the power to make demands today.

    I can't recall the last time I saw a local place that the band demanded to be payed well since they were the reason the place was packed.

    In the OP case forget it. The fall out might kill you ever booking that club again. It might also kill your band and maybe even your local scene.
     
  2. +1. As the saying goes, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. Plus as mentioned, they paid you the flat rate agreed upon, but they have other costs like security, insurance etc...I dated a gal for awhile that was an event planner, and there are a lot of expenses you don't even think of. And it always seems like the door money is a huge amount but after expenses it's a whole lot less. I remember her grossing over $75k at some events and her profit at the end was maybe 5-7k for a couple month's work. I think it averaged that she made around $30 an hour all said and done. Not bad but plenty of people thought she was getting rich when calculating cover charge x number of attendees.
    Without knowing every detail, it doesn't seem like there's any fraud going on, they paid you what they agreed to pay you. If they make a huge profit, they aren't obliged to share it with you. If the event lost money, would you be cool with them cutting your pay or not paying you at all?
     
  3. BWB

    BWB

    Aug 30, 2000
    Knoxville TN
    Correct answer.

    However, the OTHER issue is you should tell this venue to pay you, or **** off permanently.

    Stay safe out there.
     
  4. If they charged, and when people queried, said it was to pay for the band - that's not untrue? If the band got paid by the venue, then how the venue find the money to pay the band is nothing to do with it. If you played for free, and they told people it was for the band, then even then - it's nothing to do with you.

    Loads of venues charge people for the use of lights, follow spots and other services. A venue near me that I run has a £25 per hour charge for the stage manager. This person doesn't get the £25, he gets about half that. Hirers think he gets paid a lot of money - it's business. Contracts are for sorting this out. Did you get what you were promised? That's the only thing that could be looked at in court. Being honest, fair and reasonable count for nothing if it's not in the contract!
     
  5. rolandm

    rolandm In search of the lowest note.

    Aug 8, 2010
    Peoria, IL
    First off, while your bandmate is indeed a law enforcement officer, he is not an attorney, has not passed the bar exam, has never prepared or tried a case in a courtroom, and is not qualified to speak to the merits of a case being won or lost. Go ask an actual attorney if you have legal questions.

    When a venue charges money at the door, it's 99.9% because of the band. There's no doubting that. If you charge $X and they cannot recoup that, plus other operating costs plus acceptable profit margin from alcohol sales, they are going to add a cover charge so that they can. It's how things are done. If your audience doesn't understand that and actually has a problem with it, then you need to make them aware of the fact that is how the band-venue world works.

    And it could have been much worse. We booked at a large local nightspot for a guaranteed amount vs. the door. Whichever was higher is what we were paid. We clicked 286 people through the door after 8:00 when they start charging a cover. And yes, we clicked it. And if you contract with a venue for that, so should you. It's called accountability.

    286 X $5 = $1,430. We expected a big fat bonus amount at the end of the night because our draw was the venue's standard $400.

    At the end of the night, we were handed $280. That was the draw minus the bar tab, which the bar manager could not produce to prove. Two of us had 2 drinks all night, and the other two of us drank water, because sloppy drunk didn't fly in that band. When asked about our obviously full bar, the manager said they had 70 paid admissions at the door. Querying friends of the band, we discovered the door man was checking IDs but refusing to take money from people presenting it, except in roughly 70 instances. That kept $5 per person from going to the band. Did those folks hold that $5 back in their wallets? Heck no. It was spent at the bar on drinks. So the bar had a great night, one of many we'd provided them with

    The following day, our drummer, who was the BL and also good friends with the owner, called the owner's house and spoke to him. He stood behind his guys doing this. If that's what they said the deal was, that's what it was, and he was not moving off their decision, period. So we made our own decision, to never book there again. And when I asked around, this was a common theme with their bar with several bands, including the top drawing act in the area. What was odd was, we'd had several big nights there for them, including running them out of liquor or beer on a couple of occasions. So you'd think the last band they'd want to do dirty would be us. We were also sponsored by their distributor and pushed the distributor's beverages hardcore, something the distributor tracked and could verify. But we still got done dirty.

    Point is, everyone can be a target. Sometimes you see it coming and can protect yourself contractually. Other times you simply vote with your gigs. We started booking at their competition, and provided their competition with several of those big nights after that. Did they complain or come back crying and saying they were sorry? No. Because they moved on. And so did we.

    And so should you. You cannot change what they did or how they did it, so there's little use expending effort there. You would likely incur a great deal of cost in a losing effort if you actually did find an attorney willing to pursue legal action, and an LEO is not a lawyer. Cut your bait and move to a different fishing hole, or use it to re-negotiate your contract with the venue. In the end, get back to your business and focus your efforts there instead of being distracted by things you cannot change or simply aren't worthy of your efforts from an ROI standpoint.
     
  6. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    If you didn't negotiate the cover charge into your contract with the venue, then you don't legally get any of the proceeds from the cover charges. Don't burn a bridge for good steady work because a hothead thinks he can sue the venue for $100K... just renegotiate if you really want the proceeds from cover charges for future gigs with them.
     
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    If this is a joke it is hilarious... if it is serious... ***??

    I am just baffled at how this whole scenario came back to lawsuits. All you need to do is demand payment or not play there again. We are talking about a hobby band here. If my bandmates wanted to take on this kind of useless hassle I would let them do it by themselves and be putting an ad up on craigslist for a new band.
     
  8. OP,
    You did the right thing writing your story in TB. It'll probably save you lawyers fees and some time to see if you really have a case. If you do negotiate a share of the door, expect the bar to start at their cover charge (say $5) and add the negotiated amount on top (say $1-$2) so now your cover charge is $6 to $7 which would be price of a beer (+tip) around my parts. You may lose foot traffic on a higher cover charge so it may be a wash.
    That said, in your advertising to your faithful, you may want to advise the cover charge so they have fair warning.
     
  9. I would get this gig under contract, and stipulate your door cover charge requirements in the contract. Maybe that they can't charge a cover, since that's what you're used to? Or at least a maximum amount.

    The advice to stay on flat-rate pay, rather than pay based off of cover charge, is a good one. Seems like this place might skim on cover charge given the opportunity.
     
  10. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    I find it interesting that the OP has been asked repeatedly for his contracted terms and has never weighed back in on the thread with that answer.
     
  11. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    OP posted yesterday night, it hasn't even been 24 hrs yet. Maybe he doesn't check the forums daily or is busy
     
  12. sounds like OPs band needs to chill the eff out.
     
  13. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Bee Eye Ehn Gee Oh.
     
  14. Totally legal. No fraud. The patrons don't have a say in where the money goes. In fact NOBODY but the venue owners have any say whatsoever, UNLESS there is some kind of formal agreement stating otherwise. There doesn't appear to be one.
     
  15. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Maybe, just maybe $50.
     
  16. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    Or we'ved been lowerened. :ninja:
     
  17. NWB

    NWB

    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    This post should be read by the OP before he submits an angry diatribe on the local CL as he was threatening to do.

    Very good stuff TwoFingers.
     
  18. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    AHHHH i see what you did there :bassist:
     
  19. yeah, the only times I get that kind of deal is when I go through a booking agent, and they get us a deal like, "$500 flat, or 50% of door, whichever is greater"
    and that can work out pretty good if the room is full.
    Other times, in markets where we are a known draw, we get the "$1000 flat, + 50% of door after 200 paid, 100% after 300 paid."

    Just gotta get it in writing. And if they claim a bar tab that is false, and they can't print a receipt for you, then just stand firm and tell them that is not true, we didn't drink that, see, there are only 8 empty glasses on the stage, not 15.
     
  20. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.
    Hi,

    I seem to echo the consensus in this thread. :rolleyes:

    It's unfortunate and embarrassing if you did not know about the cover charge and you didn't get a chance to tell your friends who came. I've had that happen before.

    But if you got paid what was agreed upon, then there's nothing to get upset about, really. Next time just make sure you have all the gig details before you invite your friends.

    It sounds like everyone had a great time. It's too bad this little detail got overlooked and blown out of proportion. Consider the ramifications of any legal actions. Is this a good, steady, fun, decent paying gig for you?


    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     

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