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So we got ripped off again last night

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Apr 23, 2005.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    It happens less and less these days, but I woke up really pissed at myself so I want to vent and air this out. Writing often helps and I think we can collectively learn and grow off of each others mistakes.

    Cover gig. New bar, an hour and change away from home, when we booked it we clearly stated that we weren't going to bring any people because we're from out of town. We do that all the time now so we don't get screwed. Bars that have a built in crowd will hire us, if they don't have people they don't hire us. It works really well. This place hired us - yet they seemed to fantasize that we would bring a crowd.

    We get to the bar, it has 2 seperate floors. 1st floor has a pool table, juke box, bar, food, people - 2nd floor has a stage and a bar. It is completely empty. It stays that way. 2 people came up and left because it was empty. We play a set and then the lady comes up to tell us she can't give us the $400 we were supposed to get. Something else is dawning on me as I write this that's getting me even more infuriated. She said they only took in $10 at the door, she wants to pay us $110. At the time she said this I felt bad for them because until now they treated us really nicely, gave us some food, put pretzles and candles out at the bar as if they were really hoping for and expecting a crowd. Fast forward... we settled for $120 ($280 less than we were supposed to get) and pack our stuff up. Upon leaving I notice that downstairs is packed. I'm pissed but really tired and brush it off saying screw them. It's really burning me now.

    Since only 2 guys came up and she said she took in $10 at the door does that mean they were charging a cover for us??!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOBODY KNEW US THERE! Nobody in their right mind would pay a cover to see us if everybody was downstairs. We travelled all the way there and took a hit, they COULD have had us set up downstairs but had all this elaborate equipment upstairs. Wow, I'm freaking fuming now. I usually fight for our money but this was an old lady, I was tired, I wasn't in my right mind.... Basically they hired us hoping we would bring them more business and if we didn't, well then - no loss for them. Remember, we clearly told them we weren't going to bring anyone.

    writing this isn't helping. it's kinda fueling me. it's done with - we lose. arrrrgh!

    please don't post anything about having written agreements because if that's your thought then I don't know where you're from, but here in NY if want a written agreement it basically means you're not getting the gig. if anything would piss me off more than last night it would be the the person who says, "that's why you have to have written agreements." sorry - the real world around here doesn't work that way.

    i'm not in a good mood this morning. i'm gonna go respond to some posts that piss me off. :)
  2. similiar situation here on Thursday night. we were promised free beer, half of every ticket sale after the first 12 tickets, and then a cut of the door.

    we saw nothing.

    we're doing another show with this promoter. we were told we'd definatly have our beer and door money next time; quite simply, if we dont, he wont see the ticket money we made. :)

    sorry to hear about that situation, Joe. :meh:
  3. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    Man!!! You should of gotten it in writing that you were getting paid $400!!!

    :bag: :D
  4. Joe,
    I know the place you're talking about (R*******s in Yonkers?). My band played there about 6 weeks ago. When we played there it was dead but they let us play our 3 sets and they even fed us. I think that's because we played a benefit there the week before (don't get me started on what a cluster-f that was), but you're not the first band they've sent home after one set. Another band I know got sent home after 1/2 a set with only $40. It could be a very cool place if they ran it the right way...
    Sorry to hear about your gig. They want us back in May, but now I'm having second thoughts.
    Take care,
  5. Its a real pity you couldn't have set up downstairs, at least there was a crowd. Same sorta thing happened to me tonight, but i won't hijack your thread, Joe.

    Whilst I am a firm believer in written agreements, I understand that it doesn't work that way in your part of the world. My big thing is that I would rather play for less money to a crowd than get big dollars to play for a room full of carrots.
  6. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004
    Yea, written agreements and union can be gig killers. I had a college prof that said the worst thing he did when younger was join a musician's union and he couldn't get gigs at all because of it.

    For some reason when a band stands up for themeselves so they don';t get screwed, promoters and owners feel like they're going to get screwed. It isn't right and it sucks.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Yes, it was renegades and if you cancel please tell them that you read about The Nerve's experience there on a popular message board and that's why you're cancelling. or use our experience to tell them you'll only do it with a written agreement.

    I'm really getting sick of bars abusing bands. If they want to gamble and have a band lug all their stuff to their place and waste a night when they could be playing elsewhere, so that they can maybe have more business, let it be their freaking gamble - not ours. They know their bar, they know what to expect. If we're honest with them then they should be honest with us. Either offer us a set fee and pay it, or tell us that they're only going to pay us if they make money. or work out some other arrangement. Then at least we can decide whether or not we want to take the gamble.

    I'm beginning to believe they fed us because they knew they were going to screw us.
  8. We haven't actually booked another gig there yet, we're still debating, but based on your experience and other bands we know I doubt we'll be back there. For a place that's trying to make a name as a live music venue, they don't deal with bands the right way. They shouldn't penalize the bands for not bringing a crowd, especially to a place under new management. That's their job, not ours. Unfortunately that's the way it goes in these parts. If you want the name of a few places in Westchester that treat bands reasonably well let me know...
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Yes, definietly. Please email me at nervemail@aol.com . I can get a few numbers of places that have treated us real well from the guy who books us, for you - too.
  10. My jazz band got shafted last Friday - and the landlord is a bass player! :rollno:

    As it was a small rural venue about an hours drive away we agreed to play there for a lot less than our usual fee. He eventually paid us 2/3rd's of the amount. Reason given - the place was near empty. Sorry... since when was that our fault? It's nearly always empty in there - that's why he puts bands on - to get people in there. He knew it would probably be quiet when he booked us and that we wouldn't bring more than a couple of people with us. The band played - and the few people who came in the bar stayed and enjoyed themselves and complimented us on our music.

    He even got his wife to do the dirty work of giving us the news whilst he was 'busy' in the cellar! :rolleyes: Unbelievable...

    I appreciate and have sympathy for venues that struggle to put on music, but I will not tolerate being ripped off. The guy had no intention of paying us the agreed amount - that much was apparent. It had nothing to do with music, and everything to do with being a tightwad. I told him in no uncertain terms what I thought of him...

    He wasn't very happy about that.

    That makes two of us.

    Thankfully. it happens so rarely I could count the number of times on my fingers... Played a gig last night - good crowd - friendly staff - got paid well - fed and watered - everybody had a great time. :D

    Why can't they all be like that?
  11. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    That sucks. I know its par for the course in a lot of areas, but it still sucks. The best thing you can do is talk about it with other local acts. There was a major venue in Baltimore a few years ago that had a habit of screwing over acts. Word got around and eventually they could only get the worst bands, either high school kids playing out for the first time, or really crappy established bands who had reputations for causing trouble or being flakes. No one wanted to come because the bands sucked, and eventually the management turned around, started rebuilding bridges and is now (supposedly) much better to deal with.

    This is good reason why you should always try and bring merch to gigs, selling a few t-shirts and CDs is good insulation if the gig money isn't forthcoming.
  12. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003
    Mistake #1.
  13. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    I'm not a member of the New York Bar Association but....

    I'm pretty sure you'll find that a verbal contract is binding in New York State.

    I've sued a bunch of bar owners on verbals. I've never lost a case or a gig over it.

    It's kind of the musicians "Ace in the hole" They won't sign a contract but it's a contract non the less. They just THINK they can't get dragged into small claims court.
  14. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    well then that's the risk you take, right? sucks, but true.
  15. How about just having the whole band get together and back the bar owner into a corner? Maybe then they'd be willing to pay you the cash? ;)
  16. I understand where you're coming from and that might work in some places, but the bar Joe is talking about used to be an Irish pub, and it's pretty nice, but under the new management the crowd they draw is mostly bikers and between the staff and their regulars you'd get pummeled pretty badly.
  17. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    It's a little silly of them. If they charged no fee at the entrance, there would have been plenty of people to see the show and that would have put the bar in the concert room to work (this way it was closed for the whole night :( ) and so, get enough money for getting the band payed. They would have offered more to both the crowd and the musicians (and even they'd surely have made more money). Very silly of them! I have quite a few regular gigs and one of them is not a fix payment. Guess what? In average, it's the best paid I have, 'cause they don't charge the crowd anything to see the show, but the bar is working at full during the act. Also they make a call for the pople in the basement (pool table, food) to come up when the show's about to begin. Smart, 'cause it means gain for all parts involved. One more detail (this is why I love playing this bar, even it's not a fix rate gig), they always give me a copy of the cashier's backup paper ribbon so I know exactly their income during the show, and why they're paying us what they do (50% of bar's income).

  18. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Hey guys, please count me in on the venue sharing PMs.

    Joe, I know exactly how you feel. Even though contracts are rare around here I've started faxing a contract anyway. As we finish the phone conversation negotiating the terms I say "ok, what's your fax # so I can send you this contract we've both agreed to?" I am quite sure that if they want to screw us they still will, but it makes me feel better and the band won't think it's my fault if I can show them the contract. I can send or post a copy of the blank contract if you want, but it's pretty basic. At the bottom I put "This is a binding contract" to make it sound official.

    To the person who said use small claims court, the time and aggravation of court makes it not worth it for one share of a $400 fee. The bar-owners know this. If it was a $2000 fee, then I would agree that court is the way to go.
  19. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I don't use contracts on places I've played before and play fairly regularly, but I DO use contracts or at least confirmation letters for the new places.

    I understand when you say that new places balk at contracts, but a confirmation letter sent to them shouldn't give them the heeby-jeeby's. At that point, when they approach you with a "deal" to quit early, you politely say "sorry, this is what we planned on, we're set on playing", then be professional, do your job (even if its to two people) and politely demand your money at the end.

    Sometimes, its better to have a contract refused and lose the gig than to drive more than an hour and set up not to get paid, right?
  20. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    this is why im glad my band doesnt play bars.

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