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Venue trying to "lock" my band in...opinions please.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jonas_24112, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. jonas_24112


    Jul 11, 2011
    I live in a small town that has 2 main live music venues. They are about 2 miles apart.

    Venue A books bands or DJ's on Sat. nights. Booking is literally first come first served and always has been. It's usually half and half- every other week a special guest DJ and every other week a live band. Venue B has no contracts or stipulations on their bands. Just show up and play for the door.

    Venue B used to have live bands every Saturday night and were known to be a for sure live music venue every Saturday. They stopped having regular live bands on Saturdays in 2010 due to another live music venue about 20 miles away soaking up their business/bands on Saturday nights. The other venue 20 miles away closed, and now Venue B wants to bring live music back to their Saturday nights. Venue B also pays the door.

    I know that Venue B used to require a contract with their bands that prevented them from playing Venue A. When approached by Venue B to book some gigs, I asked if they had a problem with my band also playing Venue A. (Our plan was to play A one month, then B the next on a regular rotation.) Venue B said that wasn't a problem anymore.

    I had to talk to the owner of Venue B last night about a situation that arose during our last Saturday night gig. (will post another thread about that later.) He said he had more good comments about our band than any other he had in the last year, he wants us on a regular roatation, and where else are we playing, have played, our plans, etc. I informed him we already played Venue A and are booked there again in Feb. and we would like to play A and B on alternating months. He very nicely suggested that playing every month in such a small area would burn our fans out and he really didn't like booking bands that played at A. I asked him to be patient, we are just now getting out and building our fan base and I would like him to talk to my entire band about it when we play his venue on St. Patty's Day. He said he would.

    Finally, I have been going to both bars for 15 years and know both the owners and staff well enough to be considered more than acquaintances. There a very close ties between the owner of Venue B and my wifes family. Due to this fact, I'm trying to make this "purely business". Of course, you know it won't work out that way.

    So, I've bought some time to think this over and talk with the band about it. Any of you have opinions or experience with this?
  2. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    Unless he is paying you double rates for losing the A gig, I would say no. Is he wants exclusivity, he needs to pay for it. Being a house band for a bar has benefits, until it ends, then you have a couple clubs kind of bitter you turned them down. People remember those things.
  3. bassbully

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

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I would look at this as which club offers my band the most in the form of crowd, money, gigs, sound,exposure etc. If the club thats want to "lock you in" is thee club in the area then yea.... I would do it. The market in your area is a big part of what you can and cannot do a s a band. I am in an originals band and we know where we fit and we we don't. If a club is a good fit we stay, if not we go. If they were to lock us down were a top club and would prefer us not to play a local club that was subpar? We would lock down to the better club for sure.
  4. AtomicPunk

    AtomicPunk Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2007
    Detroit Metro, MI USA
    We have a situation where we play one bar in this city, we always kill there, etc. Owner would like it if we don't play other bars in that city. We told him if that's the case then book us more often so we don't have to do that. He did.
  5. If you have a guaranteed take at Venue B, and a good enough fan base that will follow you, then I would do it. BUT, it works both ways, you lock him into your fee as house band plus bar tab (whatever). You might want to include in that contract at what distance you're allowed to gig again. If it is only Venue A, then you're set. If it is Venue A and all venues within 100miles, then ... uh.... no.
  6. DBCrocky


    Oct 18, 2011
    Cary, NC
    You are in a strong negotiating position. If they want to lock you in, go for the moon with what you want in return. You can always say "our band has decided it's not in our best interests to lock into a single venue at this time".

    As long as you are polite and professional, if Venue B is going to draw a line in the sand, then there is no option for you to play both venues. Even if Venue B gets unreasonable, you always have Venue A.
  7. If that happens run over to Venue A and try to lock THEM in.
  8. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    You're getting "tri-angluated" so to speak. Venue A and Venue B have a certain conflict and you're stuck in the middle. No matter what you do, so long as you're trying to smooth that out, you lose.

    It's imperative IMO that you stay independant from any contract. It seems at this point that you're in a good position....stay that way and play both places or whatever YOU want to do. But no contract, again, IMO.

    You can do that and remain "friends" with all involved....they might respect you more for it.
  9. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    If you play too much at ANY venue, it can absolutely kill your regular draw...unless you guys are a cover band...which you may be...so in that case, I agree with the others who say ask for a nice compensation if you're going to be the "house band" for venue B
  10. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    IME, this is the case even if you ARE a cover band.

    My previous band (100% covers) was together 5 years and only played outside our hometown about 5 times that whole time. After awhile people just lost interest and then the people in the band started losing interest, and that's when I bailed.

    Fast forward to my current band (80/20 covers to originals)... we played over 50 shows last year and less than 10 of those were in our hometown. I asked our BL about that and he said that when play here (in our own town), he wants it to be an "event" that doesn't happen very often. He explained that if we're playing locally every other weekend then people won't come out because they'll figure they can always wait 2 or 3 weeks and they'll get another chance. He has proven to be 100% right.
  11. Then say, "sure, we'll lock in. Now what will you do for the band to cover the lost gigs and income? Will you sign a year long exclusive contract?" Cuts both ways, you know..
  12. calshands


    Feb 11, 2004
    That is exactly what happened to my last gig. We had some good attendance in the beginning, but by the end of the run -- about 9 mos, every other week -- it was down to nothing.

    When we decided to stop doing that gig, a bunch of people I talked with were disappointed and said something to the effect of, "Oh, I figured I could catch your next show..."
  13. It is a once a month gig, right? I assume there are other bands that keep the variety enough for people to be interested?
  14. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    I don't really mean to ruffle feathers, but seriously, if a band can't keep a decent amount of people interested or excited enough to show up at a paltry two gigs a month in a local area, you've got bigger problems.

    Bands, and clubs, if they are on the scene long enough go through cycles of being "hot". IMHO, it is stupid to try to avoid getting cold or stale by reducing the number of gigs you play. The name of the game is to get hot and then try to make hay while the sun shines. If your band is really good and has something unique to offer, you will stay hot a long time. But if you are a run of the mill, dime a dozen bar band then yes, people will soon tire of coming to see you play...but they are going to get tired of seeing you play anyway, so you might as well make some cash and have some fun before they get bored with you.
  15. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    I wouldn't say once a month is too much for even a smaller town. I've been on touring circuits where we hit certain towns on a monthly basis. It's when you're playing the same place every week that you run into problems.
  16. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    No guaranteed flat rate and only 6 gigs a year at Venue A - NO DEAL!
  17. This is the right idea, but I would phrase it differently.

    "Yeah, we'd love to play exclusively at your club and on your schedule. Unfortunately that's not going to work because we would lose [so many shows] and we already have a great audience at the other club. We're looking for an opportunity and you're offering us hand cuffs.

    I mean, you do want your club to compete, right? We'd love to work with you if you can offer us a better arrangement. We want to play at your club 6 times a year (or once every 2 months) with no restrictions on what we do with our time."
  18. I'd love to see such a venue demand exclusivity from the plumber, tiler, interior decorater, alcohol distributor, cleaner or any other number of service providers that increase the attractiveness of a given venue to its potential patron base :)

    The venue wants to "lock you in" you tell em you're booked but considering cancelling for more coin. Yes, its cut throat. So's the rest of the game ;)...
  19. Although I haven't seen it stated anywhere in this thread, I'm guessing cover band, right?

    Here's what I see - in my area (DFW), people who go to the clubs that book cover bands tend to stay at that club. That is, they will come to that club to see you, but not to any of the other clubs you play in the area. Granted, this is a much larger area - but I have played clubs as close together as the OP and not seen any common faces.
  20. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Very good observation and from my cover band experience, I concur.

    Even the best cover bands in this area have very little in the way of a "following", defined as a group of fans that show up at every or almost every show they play. At any given venue a cover band is lucky if 30% of the turnout is their following... the rest are people who are loyal to that venue and would probably be there no matter who was playing. In other words, any bar owner who is expecting a cover band to bring in a lot of paying customers over and above the venue's regular clientele is being unrealistic and is setting the band up to fail.

    And that only increases the farther the band is playing away from their home market cause with gas prices the way they are and sobriety checkpoints everywhere, people just aren't road-tripping to see cover bands anymore... no matter how much they may like the band.

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