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Scumbaggery of local venues

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by oniman7, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. There was a place locally that had a reputation for treating bands bad, and the owner had a reputation for being a cocaine dealer/addict along with other nasty rumors about the place.

    It got shut down, to nobody's surprise, because of some building and health violations. The owner was working out of several skeevy areas for a while and then, out of nowhere, seemingly got a huge sum of money and bought up an entire complex where he now hosts 3 "separate" venues (2 of them are in the same building, but separated) and also seems to have hired a marketing guy (that's just my gut talking).

    His practices have always been unsavory, but lately things have been sticking out to me.

    There's a showing coming with Asking Alexandria, Suicide Silence (before they canceled due to their lead singer's death) and several other very large metalcore and similar acts. Tickets are something like $25. Obviously, lots of local acts want to be on that bill. So what happened? Bands are given 15 (or maybe it was 25) tickets at a time and told to sell them. If they get the money, they turn it in and receive their next interval of tickets. The first band to sell all 75 gets to play the spot. The other bands, from what I've heard, are out of luck, though I've heard conflicting stories that they do get paid a little bit for their efforts.

    Now I see on my Facebook news feed from 3 local bands that they're part of a show at this venue booked by some local "agency". The number of acts looked a little high, so I counted. There are 19 acts on this one bill. The doors open at 3 and the show starts at 4 where I can only imagine the headliner goes on around 10. This math leaves us with 18 bands in 6 hours, which means 20 minutes a band including change over times. Obviously nobody's going to stay for a 7 hour metal show to see a local band and the headliner. Tickets to the event are $12 advance and $15 at the door, and if I know anything about the venue, bands are getting only $2 to $3 of that.

    Do these practices seem unethical to anybody else?
  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Yes. Next question.
  3. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    No. Pay to play has been a tactic usd by popular venues since the dawn of paid entertainment. Does it suck? Yes, is it common today? No, why? Because live music has gone the way of Barry Manilow. Not as common as it used to be, thus some venues try to invoke premium practices with local bands and play the "who wants it the most" game. Welcome to the music industry. There is always someone trying to get over on musicians. If you want "fair" start playing acoustic coffee house gigs. As in life, music isn't fair, it's a business. If you want to get the exposure, play the trained seal and work for it, if not, well you are getting out of it what you put in.
  4. Yes, it's unethical, and there's no excuse for it, no matter how common it might be.
  5. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Unethical? Perhaps in the most literal definition of the word.

    However most of these schemes have nothing illegal or dishonest about them; the bands know what they're getting into and the promoters generally fulfill the terms of the arrangement.

    It would be worse if there were actual cheating, lying, and deception happening. But this type of promotion is a fact of life and many, many bands are overjoyed to have the opportunity to participate in them. Therefore I have no sympathy for those bands-- they are willing participants so it's a little silly to view them as victims.

    As long as bands agree to do it, it's going to happen. And if they want to do it, who am I to tell them they shouldn't??
  6. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Don't ruin your Christmas with scumbuggery.

    These bands are getting a raw deal, and the venues and promoters are very shady.

    If bands would refuse to do garbage like this, we would have less of it, but we have too many bands, and too many of these bands know nothing about business.
  7. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Since when did ethics have anything to do with business?
  8. jmac


    May 23, 2007
    Horsham, Pa
    So we've concluded that "unethical" isn't the correct word, but it's definitely sh@&*y. Like someone else already said, there are too many bands. Bars, clubs don't care whether the bands are good; only if they can bring people.
  9. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Business is about making money. Nothing more.

    The idea of running an ethical business, treating customers, associates and employees right are all concessions many businesses make because other businesses start those practices to get a competitive edge on other businesses.

    But if you have a working business model such as this where starry eyed naive musicians are begging to do the hard work to make your money for you, well, any smart businessman worth his salt would take advantage of that.
  10. dont support venues that run shows like that, even if it's your friends band.
  11. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    Sounds like an Afton show.
    Run far.
    Run fast.
  12. Personally feel there is a lot more to business than money. Business involves networking and building relationships with all associates. The bands are going to get tired of doing this and start throwing house parties, the kids aren't there for the venue; they're there for the band. So as soon as a few bands start backing off, so does the business.

    While he makes the money now, I've seen this cycle over and over for the past decade and I can tell you now it won't last long.

    IMO, the only way this model works is if you are offering more promotion and management. There's a company up in chicago who started out this way and expanded to venues in surrounding cities. This allows for less overhead because the headliners are booking a string of shows with them rather than just one, thus allowing tri-state promotion and the tickets don't have to be as expensive. It also gives the promotion company their own draw of kids knowing "as long as they book it, it'll be a great show." At this point the promotion company is getting 80-100 attendees on their own draw alone. Therein, they took a broader look at it than "just make money," and built contacts and a foundation for a strong business.
  13. placedesjardins


    May 7, 2012
    As for the practices, it's kind of unethical, but it's all voluntary. If you see through the scam, any band would not entertain trying to get a spot.

    As for the large text I pointed out, dude probably got the money through a big drug sale. Kind of Captain Obvious. If you think he's skeezy, just give the local police a tip. Let the narcs do their job. They may put him away for trafficking or money laundering, all those venues will close up, for better or worse. Have a nice day.
  14. People can only be taken advantage of to the extent that they themselves allow it.
  15. NO to pay to play!..wont do it!

    In my other passion/profession,I wont come to your bussines
    install your doors, windows,trim,build you cabinets for your
    benifit so can show my skill to your patrons!:spit:
    However, I will do it for charity,habitat for humanity,a
    neighbor/person in need!:hyper:

    There's many ways to get free exposure,put together a show
    with some other bands for a benifit..high school dance,create
    a new following,those kids will grow and remember you!
    My buddy in high school grad had Heart play! 1976:cool:
  16. devilman666


    Apr 23, 2011
    manchester nh
    Alittle off but almost the norm for heavy music with locals. Most of the time you have a ticket min and time slots are picked by best selling band. This forces band to actually have fans to play big shows. The only real beaf is the umber needs to be reasonable. The promoter should still be selling the most tix and get support from bands .
  17. devilman666


    Apr 23, 2011
    manchester nh
    I'm playing a show with Job for a Cowboy and Cephalic Carnage sat and we had tickets to sell for our slot. We draw well and fit with the nationals so for us no big deal but we were asked to sel at least 25-30 and if we can 50. We sold over 30 and still have days left. This ain't show friends it's show business
  18. Yes, because this is clearly what happened, and the police clearly have no idea. A tip from you will make all the difference. I'm completely serious, and I'm never sarcastic.
  19. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Take it Eugene!

  20. bassbully

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

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    There is a club that runs just like this one north of here....don't know if there is a drug thing there but buisness wise it is run the same.

    It is a pit and has had allot of issue with bands for years yet they con kids to sell tics and then even more tics to play 5th -6th or 7th opening for a national band or rapper etc. You don't see any experienced bands going there and they would never try to even get them to play since they can smell the place a mile away. Stay away from those places and never support them.