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What does your promoter/soundman charge you?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BassMan5k, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. BassMan5k


    Jan 5, 2013
    Hi, I just joined a country cover band whose been using the same promoter for awhile. Recently, the guitarist showed us the breakdown of pay/costs for the gigs.

    Bar Gig 1 - Pays $750 - $450 for the band, $190 for sound, $110 for booking
    Bar Gig 2 - Pays $650 - $350 for the band, $200 for sound, $100 for booking
    County Fair Gig - Pays $1000 - $600 for the band, $250 for sound, $150 for booking

    Are these reasonable rates? What does your promoter and/or sound guy charge you for gigs?

  2. gard0300

    gard0300 Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Vandalia, Ohio
    We generally pay our sound guys 150-200.00 with basic or no lighting. There are few guys around here who charge 300-400.00. But have far more sound support than needed at most places around here.
  3. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    That seems steep to me, but if you're playing out consistently, and the sound guy is hauling the gear, AND he makes you sound good, have at it!
  4. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    We pay our SoundMan like a 5th Member of the Band. But he uses our equipment.
  5. dannylectro

    dannylectro Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2010
    Yonkers, NY
    Sound run by me (bass player), lights auto (Chavet, etc).

    Band: $500 - $1000 for five guys.
    No sound guy, no booking person, no nobody. Ocasional equipment expense. That is all.
  6. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    I mean, sure, if your soundguy is Eddie Kramer or Roger Nichols. Don't really understand why the soundguy should be getting paid probably 50% more than the band members. I mean, if that includes PA and/or lights that wouldn't be there otherwise, ok. But just to set up the mics and run the board? No way.

    As far as booking, has this band been playing the same places over and over for a while? How much effort actually goes into booking in a case like that? "Hey, we want to play your place every 3rd Friday of the month", "Ok, cool", "Sweet, see you then". That's worth 15% or so? A better idea would be to say 10-20% for the FIRST gig at a new (to the band) venue, and then a flat fee of say $50 per gig for every date after that at a previously played at venue. This does 2 things. Firstly, it prevents you from overpaying someone for 5 or 10 minutes worth of emailing. Secondly, it gives them incentive to keep getting you into new places (because they get paid more).

    I mean, you guys are losing nearly half your take to just the sound and the booking guy. Factor in gas, accessories (strings, drum heads, etc...), and other expenses and it almost makes it pointless to play at all, even for grosses that should otherwise be pretty decent.
  7. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware rep.
  8. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    It sounds like the promotor is more of a booking agent. Some of them have exclusives with clubs and you can't just quit paying them a fee because you don't like it. It works out to about 15% which isn't unreasonable. AS far as the sound goes it depends on what he is providing and whether or not he knows what he is doing.
  9. BassMan5k


    Jan 5, 2013
    To clarify, he is using his PA and he does the booking. However, the band has all bought IEM's, so really he should just be doing FOH. I don't think there's a light set-up

    It sounds like the general consensus is that he's overcharging?
  10. Tx Basser

    Tx Basser

    Jul 21, 2012
    We play country (Classic and current and some classic R&R) and we own the PA system and control our own sound. We have a booking agent who books us in the places they have contacts at. The agent gets 15% of the total pay. On the gigs we get ourselves, no agent percentage. Most gigs we play are 4 set gigs and are $500.00 per night.

    We have talked about getting a sound person and if we did, we agreed he would get an equal share of what each band member makes. But he would also have to get there when we do, help grunt the gear and tear down and load.
  11. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    Wait, it's the same guy?!? Definitely overcharging then. He's making way more money than anyone else involved, AND charging the same regardless of take (oh, unless the take is a lot bigger and then he takes more, of course). That's total BS in my opinion. Why is the sound $10 more at the place that the booking fee is $10 less? He's making what, 2-3 times more than any band member? Unless this is a pretty extensive PA that he's bringing, I don't see how that is worth it.

    He may think the show won't happen without his PA and him booking the show, but neither will it happen without the band to play. So it needs to be a symbiotic relationship where everyone benefits. He's kind of double dipping too. The reason bands pay booking agents is to have the opportunity to make money. But every gig he books for you guys is an opportunity for HIM to make money to, bringing the PA and running sound. So his booking fee should be minimal at best ($40-50). For running sound he should get something close to what each band member gets. For the PA, it depends on what he's bringing. If it's 2 JBL EONs on stands, a small mixer, and a handful of mics and cables, $50 would be pretty generous, especially considering he's already getting paid for booking and running sound. In some ways, it's like the bass player charging the rest of the band to bring his bass amp. It's your personal tool set that you need to have on hand to do your job. And honestly, for shows at that level, you really should have/need much more than a couple of good mains, a sub or 2, small mixer, 1/2 dozen mics, and maybe about 4 wedges.

    So yeah, I'd say either this guy is overcharging, you aren't charging the venue enough to begin with, or both. From what you've told us, it's definitely worth it for your band to reexamine all the financial details and figure out what makes sense and what doesn't.
  12. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    He is only overcharging if the bands can get the same amount of money from the venues. Since it seams like alot of bands posting on here can only get $300-400 a night then it looks to me like they are still ahead with this arrangement.
  13. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    As a sound man, I charge my best (consistency-wise) clients a full share. However, I provide FOH sound, the board, wedge monitor for the drummer. All of my consistent clients use IEMs (except drummer), and each gets a personal mix.
    The promoters around here (Lansing, MI) all get between 10 and 20 percent. This seems to work out to a full share as well.
  14. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    Maybe. But I highly doubt this guy is pulling some kind of voodoo magic with his booking. And for a $300-400 gig, you show up with a couple powered speakers, a mixer, and enough mics and stands for the singers and any acoustic instruments and call it good. Guess what, at $300 a pop for a sound guy/booker, you can BUY that small PA in about 4-6 gigs and be beholden to no human c- -k - -r (Deadwood quote).

    But I really don't understand why any venue owner that was going to regularly have live music wouldn't just BUY their own damn PA. For $5k you can get plenty of PA for most bars, whereas if you had to pay the band an extra 200-300 a night to bring their own or contract a 3rd party, that's just throwing money out the window. Instead, you OWN the PA, and that 200-300 a night (say 4 nights a week) pays for your PA in like 2 months. Oh, and then guess what? When you want to upgrade or just not have a PA any more, you sell it off and probably get back 1/2 or more of your initial investment. Then you have a soundguy or 2 on call if the band doesn't want to bring their own and you pay him whatever you decide between the 2 of you.

    Bonus of that is the band doesn't have to take over the whole place for 2 hours to do their setup because all they have to do is set up their own instruments.
  15. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    That's a great theory, but IME, bar owners aren't that smart, or aren't able to put out that much initial investment. I only know of two bars in the area (80-ish mile radius) that have their own PA, and only one of them has a sound man.
  16. It depends on the sound guy and how big the gig is. Assuming that we supply the PA system, a big show with a guy who's certified or at part of a professional organization will get the guy about an equal part as the members of the band. If the guy is a buddy from another band who doesn't have much experience, but can fix minor problems or just check our sound will only get $20 or so. Usually, the soundguy's experience and the pay is somewhere in between.
  17. I'm guessing (as someone who's not in the restaurant industry) that there's probably a few factors.

    - Many bars that don't have a PA system usually don't pay the bands any more. There's a bunch of places around here that only pay the bands $300-400/night. Even one of the 'better' bars that's known for having good music and a healthier crowd still only pays about $400/night, and it doesn't have a PA system.
    - The better bars with bigger crowds that don't have PAs may not be run by a bar manager or other staff people who know anything about PA systems or want to bother with them. Even if they are paying the band extra for the PA, it's probably too much hassle for them to keep at least one staff member who can run a PA system well, especially since the bar industry typically has a very high turnover rate.

    Also, as Tekdiver pointed out, it may also be that even if a bar's gotten popular and has a big crowd, the bar owner may not want to hassle with installing a PA system after the fact.
  18. Keithwah


    Jan 7, 2011
    Milwaukee WI
    15% has been a industry standard since I started gigging in 1973 for booking. If the guy had some good rooms or festivals, it's well worth the cut. And really, you guys are getting a good deal on the sound as well if its reliable and he's a good sound dude. Seriously, most of the guys on this forum will never see a $750 gig. A good operator is worth $100 a night easy. He's working and deserves to be paid fairly, even though $100 doesn't really cover his time investment. So the rest is to rent the PA, which is a very reasonable price for a small system.

    Now what does it really matter if he booked the gig too? The guy who makes the gig happen deserves his due. The sound company deserves their due. So *** is the problem with what this guy charges? If he kicks in an eight hour day traveling to and back from your gig, he makes less than $20 an hour. So like he's getting rich?
  19. BassMan5k


    Jan 5, 2013
    Thanks for all the opinions guys! The gig went great, the sound man brought 2 2x15 PA speakers and then 4 subs, and then LED lights for the front and back.

    We ended up paying him $300, but he did get the gig and ran the sound (he books almost all the bands at this particular venue). Overall, the sound was good. There were some issues with the sound check as the set-up took longer than expected, but thankfully we ran a second sound check song to dial things in. This doesn't seem to be as big of an issue as I thought it'd be, so I look forward to gigging more with this band.
  20. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Keithwah NAILED it.

    It doesn't matter how many jobs one guy does. He should get paid for EVERY job he does. He's getting 15% for booking. That's pretty standard (usually between 10% and 20%). No scandal there at all.

    Now, as far as sound goes, what is he bringing? That, and ONLY that answers the question of whether or not he's taking you for a ride for sound. If he's bringing two Peavey SP2s on stick with a couple of CS-800 power amps, then yes, he's sticking it to you. But if he is bringing a full on system with a couple of 2-15 tops and 2-18 subs, a nice FOH board, a decent monitor board, nice mics, and setting it all up, then he's not screwing you at all.

    Now, how much the gig pays should have NOTHING to do with how much the sound company makes. (I ran my own sound company for quite a while so I have context.) If I am setting up the same system, providing the same number of mics, speakers, watts, channels, hours, etc. then WHY should my FEE be any different just because YOU are making less? That makes no sense at all. I am providing the same goods and services. Here's what you do about the sound. Figure out what he is bringing. Then call some other sound companies in the area and ask what they would charge for the SAME kind of system in the SAME clubs. If you don't compare apples to apples, then there's no reason to call. Once you do that, then and ONLY then will you know if he is ripping you off on sound.

    Again, if he is doing TWO JOBS he should get TWO PAYCHECKS. And how much one paycheck is has NOTHING to do with how much the other is. He is NOT double dipping as stated earlier. He is doing TWO JOBS. You do ONE. You show up and play. He does TWO. He makes calls and builds relationships with club owners and festival committees while you are at home playing your Xbox (or whatever you do on your off time). In other words, you don't have to do that job because HE DOES. And then he does AT LEAST the same amount of work that YOU DO at the shows (I would argue MORE, but again, I have owned a sound company so.....).

    I'm glad your gig went well. And I'm glad you are more worried about you than what someone else is getting.