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Negotiating with club owners?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by sleeplessknight, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    So, I'm usually the guy in my band who goes out and gets us gigs. Right now, we've gotten several one-off gigs and private parties, but I was wondering how do you guys deal with club owners who want to lead into negotiations with "We don't pay bands, they play here for tips". Have you guys ever successfully disarmed this kind of tactic, and if so, how'd you do it?
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Hi Lee...

    If they say bands play for tips and you want to be paid, just look elsewhere.

    Unless you can convince them that you can deliver a (large) crowd, they have no reason to give you a penny if they are doing OK with other bands playing for free.
  3. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Hey Brian, how's it going! Funny seeing you on here, further proof that it's a small, small internet! :p
    Well, the thing with the 'Knights is, we'll play for free if we REALLY have to, but since everybody else in the band except me has to drive 40+ miles to get to the gigs, getting paid is always preferred even if it's only $15-$20 a man (and I'd even forgo getting a cut to keep the owner's overhead down if it's a short drive for me) I understand the owner's need to get butts in chairs, but how can I demonstrate to them that we draw, and how can we put a number on that? Ferinstance, that Sushi bar we play at, some nights we get a dozen people or more in there who come SPECIFICALLY to see the band play. Every once in awhile, it's a bust and we're playing for the staff most of the night. The great thing about that gig is, we get paid the same regardless! :hyper:

    Recently we've gotten a bunch (read: 3-4) of highschool students who REALLY like us, and make a point to show up at EVERY gig even if it's only for a few minutes. I just don't know how to explain a sporadic crowd like that to a club owner in such a way that I can negotiate $50-$100 for the band for a night.
  4. You could always ask "OK...what do bands typically take home in tips from your club?" If the club owner doesn't want to say or seems like he's lying (giving a ridiculously high figure, etc), you can follow up with "Can you tell me which other bands have played for you here so I can check with them? I need to know, so we can be sure we will cover gas and other expenses our band will be incurring." If he's unwilling to do either of those things, don't play there.

    You could also see if you could take home a percentage of the cover charges, if there are any...though that doesn't always work out well in the band's favor, either.

    Guaranteeing a certain number of people that will be showing up is a good tactic...if you draw less, you don't get paid...but make sure at least that many people come...and make sure they spend money too, so the club/bar will have you back in the future.
  5. Absolutely agree with the above posts. However, when I was a young gigger, I used to do those kind of shows (even got ripped off by the other bands on the card).

    These days, I make sure it is clearly a business agreement - we get paid or we don't play.

    Sure, it probably lost us some shows, but we are now playing to a better crowd and are respected as a local talent. We could have turned out as a hack band otherwise.