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"They Only Eat Their Young":

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by rickbass, Apr 10, 2001.


  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Played this gig last weekend where the admission really stuck in my craw. The deal was;

    - 21 and older; $5 at the door, $4 advance (this is the US midwest; cost of living is low; gas is often around $1.32 a gallon).
    - !8-21 (can't buy booze); $9 at the door, $8 advance

    (That's like, what, almost 3 1/2 pounds vs. 5 1/2 pounds vs. for you UK'ers?).

    When we booked, I didn't know about this. We are being asked to book again and I'm tempted to ask the club manager to consider lowering the cover for 18-21 year olds. The place was fairly packed, but they could have fit a few more hundred in.

    Maybe I should just shut up. Do you folks have any sway over cover charge where you play?
     
  2. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    We usually tell the club owners if theyre going to charge at the door(some do,some dont)to keep it $5 or less,so we dont scare anyone away.Most owners are pretty receptive to our ideas because we generally draw good size crowds to our shows.Typically the price difference for over/under age is $2.Its hard to charge more,cause where I am(Northeast USA)theres alot of clubs,and if the price is too high,theyre off to the next gin mill down the street.

    Btw Rickbass,if the club owner agrees to lower the cover,you may want to discreetly put one of your roadies at the door for the next show to make sure they arent being overcharged.We did this years ago at some real dives we played,and were shocked at the number of people that were either overcharged or not charged at all.
     
  3. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I would definitely have someone watch the door. We got a club owner to lower the price, being relative unknowns we wanted people to actually hear us. We were told by numerous friends that the guy not only charged a higher rate, but instituted a drink minimum! I have never booked there again, a few years later he went out of business. I imagine his greed carried over to every part of his business.
     
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Mike and Blisshead - Your advice is well taken. Thanks.

    But, here's the dilemma I see - So you put a watchdog on the door. What happens if they see something hinky going on with the cover/ticket price? Threaten to stop and break down the stage if the situation isn't rectified?

    Don't you think there's a probability the club owner/manager is aware of it? I'm not saying that I do suspect they are. I honestly don't know. I never got involved in how the place is managed, but I do get prickly when I know attendance could be even higher.

    Insights or experience with this would be appreciated.
     
  5. gweimer

    gweimer

    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    We used to play for a percentage of the door, and hired a doorman with a counter to watch as people were let in. They counted who paid cover charge (amazingly, clubs seem to have a larger guest list in these circumstances). One such night, our counter came up double what the club had tallied. This was a club where we had a good relationship, but this IS business. It meant the difference of $400 pay for the night. Our usual money guy didn't know how to handle it, so I got called in (as unofficial leader of the band). Both the club owner and I felt we had an honest count, but who was right? He wanted to pay us $400, based on his figures, but we showed that we should have gotten $800. Here's the lesson: Look at the facts - big club, great crowd, receptive crowd, regular bookings. I asked if $600 would make this a done night, and the owner agreed without hesitation. We played there often, and probably made it up in the end. Did the owner try to stiff us? - probably. Calling his people liars and cheats will make it hard to come back. Remember this when you play out - if there are only a limited number of clubs, learn to keep on good terms with these folks. Even if they can be leeches, they are your bread and butter at times. Learn to negotiate fairly - it's ALWAYS give and take.
     
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Thanks, gweimer. What you say about the long term view is a good point (among others), especially when you're drawing on the door.

    My concern isn't really the door $$$. Rather, it seems predatory to impose the stiffest ticket on those who can least afford it. Unlike other clubs where a line forms outside about 10pm-11pm on a Friday night, this place is HUGE (used to be a bowling alley). It's not like they're taking up space where a legal drinker could be.
     
  7. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Usually just knowing that your watching is enough to keep most club owners honest relatively, in my experience anyway. As far as the disparate covers, I guess you just have to decide if it bugs you enough to stop playing there. Good luck, it's a bad situation to have to deal with, can sour what would otherwise be a great night. -B
     
  8. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    I would think(hope) that if the club owner continues to charge high prices to the younger crowd,that eventually his/her business is going to fall off,and maybe then theyll get the picture.Unless,of course,the younger crowd only makes up a small percentage of the patrons,in which case the owner may not care.

    Rickbass,whats the average cover charge at similar clubs in your area?

    Sorry I cant give you any tips on how to deal with owners/mangers.Im just the Bass player.I leave all the P.R. stuff to the drummer and singer.Good luck.
     
  9. gweimer

    gweimer

    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    rickbass1, in your case, the club owner is making his money from the older crowd on liquor sales. That's why the cover charges are different. One thing you might try (if any club owner is truly willing to do this) is to keep track of bar totals (every SMART club owner does this for every band that walks in the door) when you play. You might be able to use that as a lever - negotiate setting the cover charge against a guaranteed bar total.
     
  10. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    I had a situation one time where we played a bar where the owner made a bunch of promises that he did not keep. We were told that we had to be in charge of taking the cover and that it was our responsibility to check IDs as well. We put one of our crew on the front door to do just that. About halfway through the opening band's set, I noticed people sneaking in through the back way. I immediately put a "guard" on the back door to direct people to the front where they would have to pay to get in. At the end of the night, we had taken in enough money to cover our expenses but not as much as we could or would have had we had the owner's help in keeping any of his promises. I guess my point is this: We did alright that night but I never booked another show there again. In fact, we were the last band he ever had there and he went out of business a few years later. You can't argue with the owner or his people because bottom line is that it's his club and you are on his turf. If you don't like the way he (or she) treated you and your band, and you think you got screwed, don't go back there again. It's understandable that you want to be heard and you want people to be able to see you, but don't take one in the a** because you think it'll somehow payoff somewhere down the line. You wouldn't go to work at the local foundry for free based on the fact that it might someday lead to an even better desk job, would you?

    Hategear a.k.a Cameron(ius)
     
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    What I'm thinking is that the fact that they're a small percentage may be caused by the cover differential. I think the management is shooting itself in the foot.
    ___________________________________________

    Rickbass,whats the average cover charge at similar clubs in your area?

    In this central part of the US midwest, $3-$5 is typical for cover bands. We get more because were old farts and have a following, plus we play road dates throughout the year, so the locals don't treat is like the neighborhood cat. Depends mostly on the rep. Buddy Guy played the same club the other month and got $29 a head. The Budweiser Concert Series bands, e.g, Shuvel, Fear Factory, Soulfly, and that level, command about $12.
     
  12. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    gweimer - C'mon, give me a break. You know we've both have been doing this since the invention of dirt. Maybe you thought I played drums, too. ;)

    You're right about the leverage. We send as many drunks out the door at 2am/3am as any band. Plus, our crowds aren't the kind that fights/moshes when they get a load on.