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what is pay to play?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by axelrod, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. axelrod

    axelrod Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2013
    So some other of my band members are talking about putting together a show at a club that says you have to pay 175 dollars to cover sound, and the bands receive all the gate. Is this "pay to play"? I'm not interested but they seem to be. Should I try to talk them out of it? Harder.
  2. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Sounds like it. You said the word "bands," and i wonder if there is a number of bands on the bill that would be splitting that gate. If not and just you, if you know your draw(have a good draw) and what you can charge, you can maybe make a profit.

    Do you see the band making a profit here?
    Mr_Moo, hintz, DJ Bebop and 1 other person like this.
  3. Last Rebel

    Last Rebel Lone Wolf - No Club Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2011
    Ontario Canada
    "Pay to play "

    Definition -- another step in the downward spiral which could lead to playing free for exposure

    IMO- unless you are sure of a big gate draw which will cover your expenses plus a profit ,I personally would pass that .

    The only time I play for free is a good charity event,no problem
  4. Garret Graves

    Garret Graves website- ggravesmusic.com Gold Supporting Member

    May 20, 2010
    Arcadia, Ca
    Sounds like a potentially bad deal for you guys- the only one getting paid for sure is the sound guy. Technically Pay to Play goes- you get a chunk of stage time, but have to pay the promoter for a minimum number of tickets (promoter gets paid by you, you can then play- pay-to-play)- then you and your bandmates go out and sell the tickets to recoup the money plus a bit for profit- maybe, however many really get nothing or loose money or sell to their family. In your case, the guy is making you pay a sound guy (not an employee of his it seems), then you get to keep the money taken at the door- similar to Pay to Play for sure. Its a venue that wants live music, but won't pay a dime for it, including a sound tech- I'd pass
    hintz, Spectrum, soulman969 and 7 others like this.
  5. saabfender

    saabfender SUSPENDED

    Jan 10, 2018
    Yes, harder.

    You know this is a poor idea. They don't. That's quite a spot to be in. All pay-for-play deals are scams. Maybe try that line of reasoning.
    Jimmy4string, hintz, Spectrum and 8 others like this.
  6. I only remember having to do this once; it was about nine months post-breakup. I was feeling a little lonely.
    I remember this being said during the "play" section.
  7. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    IMO, Pay for Play is the modern version of sharecropping for musicians
  8. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    If you are putting out money or have to sell tickets in order to gig, it's pay to play. The only exception is if you are booking a hall yourself, so you get to keep all potential profits. It may or may not be a rip-off (but it often is).

    Look at it this way. Each band is paying $175. How many bands are there? Do you think the sound guy is getting paid that much? Also, are they doing this on a slow night, where it otherwise would not be profitable for them?
    design, Mr_Moo, Spectrum and 6 others like this.
  9. baileyboy


    Aug 12, 2010
    The reason we don't do these types of gigs is more often than not the bouncers will let their friends, good looking women, etc. enter without paying the cover. In the end, the band(s) get screwed if their pay is contingent on door receipts.

    Same here.
    Mr_Moo, Charlzm, TheBear and 4 others like this.
  10. Skillet

    Skillet Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2011
    The bar gets the benefit of all those drink buying customers. For free? Sounds like they're expecting a lot for nothing.
    Ellery and The Owl like this.
  11. WardEarth

    WardEarth Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    Anchormanville, CA
    It’s not clear if each band is paying the $175 or if they pay it together. If it’s the latter, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a bad deal. Might even say it’s a totally fair deal. The bands get the door so...i’d Say a few business minded good bands could make this their home.

    Very few bands score the good shows, the rest of us have to make the best out of what’s left. And if you want to play out you’ve gotta start somewhere.

    And ya I doubt this is going to happen on a Friday or Saturday night.
    Waltsdog and buldog5151bass like this.
  12. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    It all comes down to the degree of risk sharing involved.

    If you are partnering with a venue through mandatory ticket sales quotas, non-negotiable “service charges”, copaying for advertising, etc. then it’s pay-to-play no matter how you want to rationalize it. You’re sharing expenses and risk with the venue. That’s no different than the shelving fees food distributors pay (by the inch btw) to supermarkets for providing the shelf space their products are put on.

    Contrast that with being hired by (not partnering with) the venue. Under that arrangement your only risk is nobody showing and you simply don’t make any money. But on a positive note, that’s your only risk. There’s no way you’ll end up owing the venue money if you don’t make any.
    Mr_Moo and Ellery like this.
  13. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Pay to play is like your dog crapping in the house.

    Once it starts, its difficult to stop.

    And every other dog will do the same unless you totally eliminate all traces.
    Thumpr, Mr_Moo, hintz and 12 others like this.
  14. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003

    $175 for a sound person is good - $1050 ($175 x 6) is a definite rip off.
    City, Mr_Moo, Ellery and 1 other person like this.
  15. Dana R Gregory

    Dana R Gregory Supporting Member

    May 12, 2014
    Deland, Florida
    Tell the venue that "Homey don't play that game".:rollno:
  16. Ostie


    Aug 1, 2018
    Lansing, MI
    $175 for the sound guy? That’s it, I’m quitting the bass and becoming a sound man.
  17. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    Yeah i wouldn't do it. I stay away from pay to play shows unless its a national act. If its all locals you wont make your money back...
    Charlzm likes this.
  18. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    Then you have to consider whether the bands will split the door evenly, or if it’s a “tell the door you’re there to see ______” situation. I do not miss those days. Venues need to decide whether they want to book acts or not. If they do crap like this, they don’t.
    Mr_Moo, hintz, Charlzm and 3 others like this.
  19. Pay to play around here is usually a promoter giving the band 20-30 tickets to sell at £5 each (whilst the "promoter" appears to do nothing except threaten to refuse to work with them again if they don't sell AT LEAST 20 of them...) then take all the ticket money off the band and pay them nothing whatsoever UNLESS they've been able to sell the tickets for more than £5 each...in which case the band splits the difference between them (so, say they sell 20 tickets at £6 rather than the advised £5...the promoter gets £100 of that and the band gets 20 quid to split between 5 of them).

    It's not paying money, but even more time and energy outside of rehearsing and travelling than you can be bothered spending on music nowadays...
    Mr_Moo and knumbskull like this.
  20. wolfkeller

    wolfkeller Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2013
    Ah the bs door nonsense. Lets put 10 bands on a bill, 8 suck and draw noone and 9 of them do nothing to promote the show their playing. Promoter takes 0 risk, makes the bands do his job and collects the profits for the privilege of you playing on his stage.

    I new band that wants to play out MUST build a fanbase. If you can't draw a crowd you have noting. Until you CAN regularly draw a crowd and show it, you have no leverage to get a guarantee pay. Youll have to eo crap like this, or similar to help build that fan base. Everyone in the band shoud be promoting and paid FB adds are a grest way to buid fans. Pro video and photography is a must as well as a presskit

    All this is assuming you want to get paid for what you do. Alot of guys are happy just to be able to play. Promoters know this a d leach on to this. There is never a shortage of bands willing to get whored out. That soundman, light guy, dj arent doing that.

    We play for guaranteed (contract) money only. Iffff we do a door show (very rare) its only of its to our advantage. Example, venue will only pay $1500. We know we can pull 300 people so we take the door at $10 a person and we are NOT paying doorman, soundman or opening bands. The inflated drink prices cover that. We put OUR guy (a menacing looking guy) at the door with the little clicker to count the people. We double the pay but assume all the risk. We spend about $150 to promo the show, create our own events and push them everyday.
    getbent, Jimmy4string, Mr_Moo and 4 others like this.

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