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underpaying club

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jondog, Mar 28, 2004.

  1. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    I'm the new person in charge of booking our band, and on the second new place I got us into, the manager ripped us off. When I went up to get paid after we packed up, he said he was short, could I take half now and come back later for the 2nd half? I said ok because it would be a good place to play in the future and I was planning to come back the next night to hear my friend's band play. So I went back last night, we had a talk about how clubs and bands need to work together to build hot spots and what can we both do to make that happen and at the end I politely said that the first thing he needed to do was pay us for work already performed. He gave me half of what he owed and when I asked for the rest he said he was working at the edge of his margin and had to pay out as it came in. There were a lot of people there so I said ok in an hour? Yes. But that didn't happen, when I asked he shrugged and said work w/ me here! At the end of the night we got into a semi-argument where he accused me of stalking him all night and shaking him down for $100. I left.

    What can I do besides never play there again? No I don't have a contract or a union membership. This is the 1st time I've wanted one in 17 years of gigging. I can tell all of you DON'T play at the South Orange Grille.
  2. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    In my area bands win this in court almost all of the time. Take in any promo that you or the club has and go to small claims court. or, If you like the bar, ask them to rebook you at full price with contract and chalk it up as a try out. Keep in mind that alot of club/bar owners know each other and talk now and then. Make sure you want to take a stand.
  3. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Thanks for your reply. I don't think I want to go to court over $100. I found out my friend's band did get paid, so that burns me even more. I'm sure it's an issue of them having a lower fee and a bigger crowd (even though it wasn't their people), but what really burns me is that the guy could've said that instead of "in an hour." One plan I had was to send a bill directly to the owner. If we do play there again, I will not be speaking with that manager. Somebody else will have to broker the deal and there will be a written contract and it will have an extra $100 over our usual fee to cover the gyp.
  4. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    Always have a contract! I was in a band back in NY and was told by the manager of a venue that we were not being payed what was supposedly agreed upon by the owner. The band leader asked us if we wanted to play 2 sets instead of 3...........I packed my Sh** and walked! I don't put up with a**hole bar/club managers period! My foot will be up their a** in a minute! My current band plays by contract only!
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I'm a little confused - which is more important to you ? - getting the other half of your money, OR, returning to "a good place to play" ???

    From what you say, it sounds like your interpretation of "later" is different from the club manager's interpretation.

    Personally, I'd try to get agreement with the mgr. on when "later" will be for your pay and not burn a bridge on a "good place to play."
    For all I know, the club may have had their monthly liquor/beverage bills coming due and have been strapped for cash. Often, they can cover your pay without much trouble early in the month.
  6. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    It's been my experience that unless you have had a long working relationship with the club owner, they typically should not be trusted to deliver on payment at a later time.

    It is a sign of a poorly managed club when they hire a band to generate revenue and then cannot pay the band afterwards.

    It's also been my experience that while some clubs may have a hard time paying a band when the gig had a poor turnout and the club did not recoup the investment enough to cover the associated expenses, it is still a part of doing business. They know this upfront.

    Clubs hire bands to generate money. They know that live entertainment will bring in customers...customers that will get thirsty dancing, etc. and spend even more money. That is the only reason they do it.

    Any club that will hire a band to make money, knows the risks associated with that. Contracts are not the be all and end all, as any lawyer can make them mean anything they want. But if it is at least documented, you have more of a legal ground to stand on.

    No place is worthwhile playing at if you get screwed out of money. Do you think that the liquor vendors would put up with not being paid? How long would the club be in business if he didn't pay his vendors?

    Be professional about it, and expect them to do the same, or don't play there anymore.
  7. Barfly


    Dec 27, 2000
    GTA, Canada
    We just got screwed this past Saturdy night. The bar doesn't advertise at all and was moaning about a poor turnout. This place is not local to any of our band members so we didn't bring a crowd - which, IMO, is the bars job anyway.

    This was our 4th (and last, at our own accord) time playing there. We played one set, got paid half, then split. And the owner didn't even have the nuts to come tell us himself, he sent his coked out minion to deliver the news.

    Too bad, too. That place used to be a decent joint.
  8. Juniorkimbrough


    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    Surprisingly a few weekends ago, a bar we play at once a month or so, the next day the bar owner called one of my bandmates complaining about how there were "too many people there".

    ***?? Isn't that our job to draw a crowd? You mean you are complaining about us making you money? Then she told on herself and we found out another band there is getting paid quite a bit more than we are and they don't even draw a big crowd....

    The place probably was exceding the firecode, but that's their job to keep it under that.....we are freakin' playing music, we can't stop and keep people from coming in. At least put someone at the door or something, don't blame it on us.

    But I still think it's funny that they told us that there were too many people there.
  9. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    We are very fortunate. We do most all of our business with a handshake. We have had some instances where turnout was very low/bad club night and we took a cut or quit early. Working with them when times are bad has put us in a position where they call us for larger events. In some places, we don't even talk about the money. Of course, in our area the "scene" is very different from others around the country.

    Whoa! I just realized how old this thread is. I saw the post by RickBass and had to check when his last activity was.
  10. The only real guarantee you have is the fact that the owner wants you back again. If he does, he'll pay. If he doesn't , he may or may not.

    Once he's stiffed you in the past, I think it'd be a good idea to make sure you get paid before the nights over next time. Something like half before you start, half after a set or two, or you won't go back. I don't expect him to go for it, but don't settle for a scenario where he can do it to you again.

    Contracts are nice, but its a lot of bother going to court to get it, and you may lose anyway. It helps, but its not a guarantee.

  11. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    What can I say that hasn't already been said? Business is very Darwinist; if you let people walk on you once, they'll try to walk on you everytime. If a club is "short" at the end of the night, that shouldn't be your problem. Bands shouldn't have to work on credit. I don't pump gas into my car and then tell the attendant that I'll pay half now and half next week.

    Don't get me wrong - If you play a club and 5 people show up, I do believe that you should work with the club that night on payment, especially if you have a pre-existing relationship with the owner.

    When too many bands take it up the rear and then come back for more is when whole music scenes suffer. Club owners can then get away with paying bands crap or screwing them over entirely. That's why the LA scene is so messed up. There are so many hungry bands willing to play into the whole "ticket system" and the clubs know they can take advantage of that. Never slit your throat to play because you're not just slitting your own throat, your slitting everyone else's who's trying to play in your area.
  12. Gee, a club ripping off a band? Wow...never heard of that. ;)

    Seriously tho, unless you have a contract or management representation PLUS a contract that was signed by the booker / club to back you for recourse, I wouldn't go burning any bridges.

  13. fsanfili


    Feb 5, 2004
    Los Angeles
    I just sent this email to a "promoter" in the LA area who wanted my band Ghost Town to presell a minimum of 20 tickets:

    Sorry, we have a firm policy against ticket pre-sales, as we are musicians, not promoters. We do our own publicity for shows, of course, but feel it is wrong to ask artists to shoulder the financial risks of putting on shows, just as it would be wrong to ask bartenders, bussers, and other club employees to shoulder the clubs' financial risks by preselling tickets, guaranteeing a certain number of drink sales, etc.

    I think companies like yours, who do little actual promotion, and give no thought to building shows with complementary artists, ultimately do harm to the long-term following of clubs, and degrade the clubbing experience in Los Angeles. I encourage you to rethink your business model.

    He wrote back saying "OK, no ticket presales, but will you sign a contract guaranteeing 20 at the door, and make up the amount of the door if you draw less?

    I wrote back that if he can get the bartender to sign the same agreement, we're on.

    I haven't heard back.
  14. Barfly


    Dec 27, 2000
    GTA, Canada
    Nice job. Mind if I use this?
  15. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    "would you rather pay the $100 you owe me or would you rather pay the deductible your insurance company will want?"
  16. Forrest_bass

    Forrest_bass Your gonna hurt that thing, or break it off....

    Jun 18, 2005
    Plano, TX
    Always have a contract, and always put everything in the contract, everything... That way everyone knows what's suppose to happen. Most bands I've been in usually ask for half after the first set, and the balance at the end, unless it's a trusted source. A contract may not get you paid, but does tend to hold some power over the event, which may be enough to keep it out of court.

    My first ever gig (27 years ago) was for my sister's birthday party. It was a free gig, all we wanted was free Dr. Pepper. We had my parents sign a contract saying just that.
  17. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    You're having problems getting paid? Wow! I'm really surprised. We're from the same area and I never ever have any problems whatsoever with any of the people around here I deal with. I wonder what you're doing wrong? I've met nothing but completely honest, hard working bar owners/managers who are all about helping bands and giving them the respect they deserve. I'm sure it's something you're doing Jon. Get it together already.

    Did I mention that the Passport Cafe finally did the same thing to us that they did you?
  18. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area

    This thread is from March of '04! That place went out of business around October.

    <Nelson/on> HaHa!<Nelson/off>

    So, now that I have almost a year and a half of booking experience, here's what I've learned . . .

    Yes have a contract, but don't be surprised if it is not honored. Contracts do make you feel more confident and make it easier to explain to your bandmates that you did your job and the clubowner really did rip you off. No, contracts are not normal around here if you are not w/ an agency. I made a form w/ Venue, Date, etc. on it and then at the end of the booking conversation I say "ok what's your fax # so I can send you our contract." I have rarely followed through and actually obtained the signature.

    I have been shorted a few times since March '04 (yes including Passport Joe :meh: ), one of these times even had a contract, but nobody else has ever lied to my face like this first guy did. "Yeah tomorrow." "Yeah, in an hour" and then trying to ignore me and then arguing when confronted? ***!? If you're not giving me my money, say so and we'll all save some time and I can get to keying the car in the Manager spot out back.
  19. +1!!!
  20. fsanfili


    Feb 5, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Sure, feel free to reuse it. I should update, though: I DID hear back from the booker, with an offer for a gig with no guarantee or ticket presales. I was fully expecting to be dealing with a typical sleazy LA booker, but this guy seems to be pretty genuine -- he's interning, and probably doesn't really know WHY putting some of the financial risk onto bands is evil. He seemed to understand my viewpoint in the end, listened to the band's tunes (http://myspace.com/ghosttownla), liked them, and booked us.

    So trying to reach out to someone rather than blow them off (my first impulse) actually paid dividends! Will wonders never cease....

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