would you walk out on this gig?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by nothumb, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. nothumb


    Sep 20, 2006
    because we did. decide for yourself.

    the scenario: friday night gig at a smallish bar in a pretty up-and-coming section of town. we're supposed to have a prime slot at 11 with a bunch of other bands pretty similar to us, the place has a good built in crowd and we expect some friends as well.

    we get there at 8:30 as instructed. the promoter's not there and neither are any of the bands on the bill. apparently some guy at the bar booked another band to play a 'pre-show' at 8 but they are still setting up and haven't started yet. so they go on at 8:40 and finish at 9:15 or so.

    9 o'clock band doesn't show till 9:30 and none of the other bands have shown yet either. however, during this time we are told that we are supposed to play after the 9 o'clock band and 2 or possibly 3 other bands, none of whom have even shown up yet. we say no way are we waiting for a bunch of bands that aren't even here for load-in, she says fine, since they're not here you get their slot.

    now between 9:30 and 10, the 9 o'clock band spends the entire time just setting up a drum kit and still isn't ready to play. two other bands arrive and both assert that they are playing at 11 and that they're sharing a kit so they have to keep their times. (huh?) apparently the promoter told all five bands that they could play whenever they wanted and didn't bother to coordinate the time slots, so she told us to figure it out between us.

    we did, we told the other bands we're playing at 11 and we were here for load-in as instructed. they say fine. then they must have complained to the promoter because she stepped back in and told us we were playing last. meanwhile there's nobody in the bar except the bands, nobody to work sound and nobody encouraging the four mopes standing around on stage to remove their thumbs from their hindparts and play the ****** set already.

    so since it was obvious we wouldn't get anywhere near the stage until 1 or 2 in the morning, we were dealing with a bunch of amateurs who would probably clear the room by then anyway and any of our people who stayed would be miserable and hate us for it, we called our friends, told them not to come, and we walked.

    obviously you don't expect every show to run exactly as planned and you have to be flexible sometimes, but this was clearly not worth the abuse. we spoke with the people from the bar as we were loading out and explained the situation and they offered to book us again in the future on a bill with a competent promoter. we said sure.
  2. Sounds like you did the smart thing. If the other bands and promoter weren't able to figure out what was going on and wouldn't work out the situation you might as well walk. Especially if there's no one at the gig.
  3. I would have done the same in your case...
  4. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Flossin'? I thought your name was Munson!

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    I don't understand "promoters" some times.

    I remember we played a show for one of these guys, but he seemed kinda competent, in that he actually had set times scheduled and everything. A couple days before the gig, we get a message that even though this show has been booked for like a month, one of the drummers from one of the other bands wasn't able to get off of work in time for their scheduled slot, so they would go on after us, instead of before us, as scheduled. We relented, as arguing would've been pointless. Wouldn't you know it, the day of the show, the drummer that was supposed to be late was there before us. I was a bit miffed to say the least, but whatever. We never did figure out if the band lied or the promoter lied, but either way, we got screwed (albeit minorly), even though the last show we playd for the promoter, we brought the most people AND money (yes, it was a stupid ticket-selling show :scowl:).

    Oh, and OP, I woulda done the same thing. Why do people think it's okay to screw bands any which way?
  5. warwick.hoy


    Aug 20, 2006
    Spokane, WA.
    Beta Tester: Source Audio.
    I'd say you did the right thing.
  6. I don't understand how anyone can expect to be respected by a "promoter" in any way in a pay-to-play situation. I don't see any way someone who respects musicians could even entertain the thought of setting up a pay-to-play gig.

    The basic foundation of pay-to-play requires disrespect for musicians.
  7. Fustercluck. You did the right thing.
  8. Lemoore-on


    May 11, 2008
    I recently talked with a promoter because our cover band wanted to venture out of our small town (where we have steady gigs paying between $300 & 600) I was amazed when she said we would have to sell "tickets" then split the $ with her and the other bands along with what they sell. When I told her that we play 3 sets and get paid a flat rate here (30 miles away) She practically called me a lyer!

    So we are self promoting and sticking to the small towns around here.

    I had no idea that kind of stuff went on.

  9. She almost called you a liar for giving an accurate description of prevailing market conditions? Spread the word about her. Perhaps most politely done by asking bars & other bands if they've had any experiences with her.

    There ARE decent & reputable promoters out there. Ones who take good care of their customers in both directions.
  10. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    Until recently I didn't either ... the whole pay to play scene is just totally alien to me. :meh:

    I understand it's the norm in a lot of places and correct me if I'm wrong but among certain age groups and genres of music?

    When I was coming up in the music biz you learned some three hours worth of music usually a mix of covers and any originals you cared to throw in, and then booked gigs.

    What I'm hearing now is you do maybe 30 minutes sets and then another band plays? We have jam nights around here and the "host" band provides the backline and that is what everyone uses so change over is minimal and the night flows.

    I would like to hear more about this whole multi-band sell tickets thing ... there are a whole bunch of us that really know nothing about this scene?

    :rollno: ... Oh and I would have left long before 11pm what a cluster youknow what!
  11. von buck

    von buck

    Feb 22, 2008
    wolcott ct.
    she sounds like an idiot who doesn't realize cover bands and origional bands are two different things.
    I can't image a cover band selling tickets any more than 3 or 4 cover bands sharing the same bill.

  12. von buck

    von buck

    Feb 22, 2008
    wolcott ct.
    It's not really something new, origional bands have doing that for years.
    The only time in my life I was involved in the "origional sceen" was in 88-90.All our shows were with 3 or 4 other bands. We refused to go the sell tickets poute and always demanded a preset pay and usually got it.
    i haven't really followed the history, so it's probably gone on since clubs were booking bands.
    I only really noticerd it in the early days of punk rock.
    what do i know. I'm old and don't even leave the house with my bass unless there's money involved.

  13. Jesus, that sounds horrible. You did right in bailing when you did. It seems the only real amateur on the night was the promoter. What kind of idiot promoter expects you to figure out your own set times on the night of the gig? That tops my list of bad promoters by far and I'm sorry you had to put up with such insolence. Didn't sound like the other bands knew much better by the looks of things.

    Personally, I would have walked as soon as she said "figure it out amongst yourselves". I'm not the kind to deal with lazy promoters trying to make my life hell.
  14. DW1969


    Feb 24, 2008
    The whole thing is a scam and I'll have nothing to do with it. Why on earth sould a band be forced to sell tickets to friends, beg them to come and then split $ with other bands and a promoter?
    At this point I'd rather play for free up front as I'm tired of all the BS that goes on. My last gig I did we drew 120 people at the door $600 yea! The door guy helped himself to $100 and so did the sound guy, ***! Never mind that they must have done at least 6-7 K at the bar.
    I know the bars are having a hard time now but after doing this for 27 years I think I deserve more than gas money to play.
    To the OP, you did the right thing.
  15. warwick.hoy


    Aug 20, 2006
    Spokane, WA.
    Beta Tester: Source Audio.
  16. thejrace


    Oct 3, 2008
    Yea bro, that sounds like a drag. If you dont mind me asking what bar did this happen in? Just out of curiousity. Was it in manhattan or brooklyn? or elsewhere, lol. Sorry again bro, sucks to be put in that position,but you did what I would have done and didn't make your friends have to sit around and deal with it too.
  17. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    what they said...........

    but yeah you did the right thing.
  18. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
    I wouldn't participate in these multi-band gigs.

    The scam: The more bands they book = The more friends and family of band-members that pay/buy.
  19. Ozonbass

    Ozonbass Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    "Pay-to-Plays" have been around forever in one form or another. They seem to be most common with younger bands at all-ages shows.

    I remember in the 70's playing for 10% of the bar. I guess in a way, it's sort of the same...you bring in people, you get more money...of course, even then, we were sure the owners were ripping us off.

    A few times, at multi-band shows, we would jockey to play as early as possible (before the cops shut us down) not one of the later prime spots.

    Now, I play for 3 hours for nice pay, but it's over cocktails or dinner, so I'm not sure anyone even cares. I sort of miss those crazy underpaid bar shows some times. :)
  20. nothumb


    Sep 20, 2006
    yeah, to be clear, this wasn't pay to play, but it was basically almost as bad. here in NYC we get offers for pay-to-play stuff sent to us unsolicited on our myspace all the time, but the much more common scenario is lazy or bad promoters who just want to slap together a bill and will take any band that claims to draw 10-15 people and only pay out if you draw. you end up with a lot of gigs where none of the bands match up in terms of sound or fan base, everybody shows up just to see their friends (if they show up at all) and there's very little camaraderie or cooperation between groups.

    i know it's hard for bars to make money on original bands, which is why it sort of sucks there aren't any all ages venues to play around here. we are trying to focus more on bars (mostly in brooklyn) that tend to have more of a built-in crowd of people who come out for new music, and otherwise to book mostly gigs outside of NYC.

    jrace, i'd rather not say the name of the bar because i know it's totally not their fault... it's a good bar in w'burg that has a lot of good original bands. this promoter is just a hack, i know she's been kicked out of a bunch of venues in manhattan and brooklyn for booking shows that basically always go like this one did: empty, sloppy, and full of stupid drama.

    thanks for all the replies guys. good to hear others' input and have a chance to vent a bit.
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