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Selling Tickets to Play: The Poll

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by CapnSev, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. Yes

    81 vote(s)
  2. No

    26 vote(s)
  3. Carrots

    7 vote(s)
  1. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Per Jason P Bass's request:

    I am a full-time student, and my part-time "primary" source of income comes from playing gigs/teaching bass, and my vote goes to "yes". I make decent money with my soul revue and teaching, and selling tickets would only take away from that income.
  2. duderasta


    Feb 25, 2010
    Tampa, FL
    If I sell tickets, it's because I am booking the venue and promoting the event myself.
  3. Have fun with this poll but it does not address what I feel is the primary cause of controversy on this topic.

    I think we need to divide bands into two categories based on their goals, and that division will determine whether "pay to play" is a good gig.

    On the one hand, we have bands that are trying to put money into their pockets NOW. This typically includes all cover bands, but also some originals bands. They're trying to book as many gigs as they can, and minimize their costs. They generally play gigs at places that have a kitchen - the venue has a regular audience, and the band provides some entertainment for pay. These bands are generally not interested in public exposure, because their revenue comes from booking gigs, not selling tickets/CDs/merchandise.

    On the other hand, we have bands that are (for better or worse, wisely or foolishly) trying to "make it big". They're willing to spend money now in hopes of getting big money later. This group is almost exclusively all-original music. They do not book as many gigs as they can, but instead try to book gigs that look good on a resume, and are strategically scheduled/located so that they can get as many people as possible to show up. They aspire to play in places where there is no kitchen. They are interested in exposure and PR because they're trying to make their money off of tickets/CDs/merchandise. While they love getting paid a flat fee for playing a gig, they would probably play for free if 100+ (or 500+, or 1000+) people were there. Their costs DWARF the money they could make playing bar gigs.

    Now, these are broad generalizations, and there are definitely exceptions to everything I've said. But if we separate ourselves into these two groups, almost ALL of the "pay to play" controversy would disappear.

    To be clear, I'm not trying to pass judgment about either group - I have been in both groups, had a lot of fun in both groups, made a lot of money in the first, and spent a lot of money in the latter.

    If my band fell into the first group, there is NO WAY I would "sell 50 tickets" for a gig. If my band fell into the second group, I would seriously consider doing it if the deal was appropriate.

    PS - Have fun with the poll, but it's worded in a way that the results won't convince me of anything. :)
  4. grifff


    Jan 5, 2009
    Towson, Maryland
    These kinds of gigs are the only kind that my band does, so no.

    I'm assuming this doesn't mean the presell x number of tickets to play thing, in which case we do not do.
  5. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    I play in both (original and cover). I have played, and in the future probably will play, the pre-sell type gigs. For me, it depends on the conditions. We've done the battle of the bands series gigs (the pay-to-play type) as well as booking large local venues and had sales requirements from the promoter to ensure we get paid. It sucks, but, thinking outside of your band, promoters/booking companies have to make sure the venue is paid (and themselves as well) before paying the bands, so that's the way it will continue to be.
  6. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Why did you ask for a poll in the first place then?

    The poll isn't going to convince anybody anything of course, but if you're in the "make it big category", and your "primary source of income" is music- then IMHO you have a pretty lame source of income.

    If you are truly going to make money a priority in music, then you need to deliver a service that people want and will pay for, bottom line.

    That being said, I think this is a totally valid poll to see if the majority of TB will pay-to-play or not, regardless of whatever category you put them in.
  7. seedokebass


    Mar 21, 2009
    I'm voting no.

    In the past, most of these gigs were a joke: we'd sell a bunch of tickets and make squat. Not to say that you can't ask ahead of time what your cut is. Most people that book shows this way are going to screw you over. Not all, just a majority IME.

    The guy I work with now actually gives us a huge cut of what we sell. Like almost all of it. I'm assuming the bar pays him to pack the place, and gives us most of the money from tickets that WE sell.

    It's too bad that usually isn't the case, because most bands would be thrilled to know they could make a ton of money with minimal effort.
  8. Well, c'mon now, I didn't ask for THIS poll. I asked for "Music is my primary source of income, and if I have to pre-sell tickets for a gig, I immediately refuse: yes/no".

    I'm not personally interested in what "all of TB" thinks about this issue, because I don't think it's a very relevant sampling pool. It's pretty clear that many TB members are 18 years old or less, and trying to save up money to buy a $300 instrument - and we're talking about "risking" $500 (50 x $10 per ticket) to play a show. No offense to the young kids, but their perspective is not terribly relevant to the great big wild world. I wouldn't think twice about investing $500 in promotions to advertise the right gig.

    As was pointed out in the other thread, my poll question was very biased. Yeah, I know. I was (weakly) trying to illustrate that different bands fall into different categories - and for some of those bands, "pay to play" as it is mistakenly labeled can be a good deal. For other bands, "pay to play" as it is accurately labeled can be a disaster.

    Right now Stone Temple Pilots is #1 on billboard for rock songs. Tell Stone Temple Pilots that you can book them in a great venue, but they HAVE to sell 1,000 tickets. Do you think STP is gonna say, "No way! That's pay to play! We provide the music, it's YOUR JOB to provide the audience!" This notion is ridiculous. If you're playing original music (or otherwise fall into the second category in my previous post) you need to sell tickets or stay home. If you can sell the tickets, you can get paid.

    If you cannot sell the tickets, and you're in the second category of bands, you need to evaluate your situation. Improve your product, improve your marketing, improve your networking, improve your motivation, or improve your negotiations.

    But selling tickets is not relevant to every band. If people would acknowledge THAT before talking about "pay to play," the advice would be more meaningful, the stories would be put into context, and the debate would be more productive.

    You're right - the poll is valid for what it asks. But personally, I'm not that interested in the result. If you fail to put the vote in context, it undermines the conclusion. You could 1,000,000 "yes" votes from coverbands and 10 "no" votes from original acts, but you don't know who is who, and the results will be silly. And the results won't convince me of ANYTHING relevant to "pay to play" gigs.
  9. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    73% yes, 27% no.

    That's a whole lotta words. Would've been easier to say "I was wrong."

  10. SpamBot


    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    What's also funny is that he read "many" as "most" in the original thread and got his panties bunched up over a percieved and ultimately true assertion.
  11. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I quoted your exact words in the OP.

    Music is my primary source of income, and I voted no.

    EDIT: I'm not trying to be a total jerk, but I think that you really will find that most of us here really do think selling tickets to play somewhere is BS.
  12. Alright, look at like this.

    Get 1000 lame, no talent, lousy, miserable cover bands. They have 1000 embarrassing myspace pages. Their stage attire is hilarious. Their performances are torture.

    How many of them think that "pay to play" is a good idea? The leading scientific research suggests that 72% of those bands think it's a bad idea, and 28% think it's a good idea.

    But what did you prove? Did you prove that "pay to play" is a bad idea? Or did you prove that 1000 no talent loser bands cannot sell tickets?
  13. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    There's a big difference between putting some cash on the line to make a gig happen and actually having to be the person selling tickets.

    I would put up some cash to make the right gig happen (i.e. if I believe I'm going to get my invest my back plus enough profit to make the gig worthwhile).

    But, I would not sign up to take a fistful of tickets and go be responsible for selling them or eating the cost of those tickets.
  14. I voted no, never had to do it, never did it and never will. What I think, though, is irrelevant to anybody else. Everybody has their own opinion...you're not going to change my mind and I'm not going to change yours.
  15. I actually like selling tickets. It's more likely that someone will come see you if they've purchased a ticket. The whole "sell x amount of tix to play" is a load of crap, but getting pre-sale tickets to sell before the show has always worked for my band. If you're an originals band playing out at a club/venue, most booking agents are gonna assume that you have a following and expect you to do some promoting.

    EDIT: Although, I have never been required to sell ALL of my presale tickets. Those I don't sell, I give back to the venue to insure that I didn't give them away for free.
  16. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Those bands don't get any more paid gigs than yours.
  17. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    If you're against selling tickets, you should vote "yes." The question is, "Do you refuse to play the ticket-selling gig?"

    We're still running at roughly 3-1 against selling tickets, but maybe that needs to be weighted to account for false "no"s. Either way, I think, yeah, it counts as "most." :D
  18. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    The presale tickets for local bands game is lame lame lame.

    1st, music is not my primary source of income, my busy long-hours job is. 2nd I have a family, and I commute 45 minutes far away from the city, which means I get home late every evening...typically get home 8 on most days, and 10 on a few.
    The very last thing on earth I have time for is chasing fans and friends around to presell tickets to during the week.
  19. TheVoiceless


    Jun 11, 2008
    New Jersey
    Aerosmith has to sell tickets to get paid, so should you........ Now if someone hires you to play then you get the set fee. But the point I am trying to make is if you are in band its your job to be good enough to draw people to your shows.

    I think what scares people off is that they get in over their head and they do not know how to negotiate with promoters. Be real about your draw with the club. If its 15 people so be it. Just assume you will play first. And if you are good and promote soon that 15 turns to 25 and your playing middle of the bill.

    One major component which I want to stress is DO NOT PAY FOR ANY UNSOLD TICKETS!!! we have in the past because we are willing to sacrifice to look good in the eyes of the owner in one case. But negotiate that ahead of time.

    Unless you can sell 100 tickets you will be buying your way on the Headliner show thats in town. But don't feel bad... that opening act on the tour you are going to see might of had to pay $3,000 to $30,000 to be on the tour.

    Remember if you want to make a million dollars in the music biz you need to spend 2 million.
  20. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    EGGGZakaly....... ;)

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