Advice needed from gigging/signed musicians.

\o/

Senior Member
I'm in a band that's starting to receive some decent play on radio and whatnot, but we're still unsigned.

Anyway, we've been asked to play a festival by one of the people organising it. There is also a competition being run nationally to find a band to play a slot on the bill, but we've bypassed that and been asked to play directly.

Now i've been getting a bit wound up lately at getting ripped off financially by 'headline' bands that we play with and promotors keeping every penny at gigs that we play.

I've asked the other band members to ask for every gig we are booked for, to ask (before we confirm) what the situation with money split percentages will be between promotor/headliner or headliners/support bands. I think this is only fair as if we had management this is the first thing they would ask.

For this 2 day festival (which is being headlined by two platinum-selling bands) we've been told we have no rider, aren't getting paid, get no complementary tickets and if we want to stay for the rest of the weekend after we've played we have to BUY OUR OWN TICKETS.

Now i know this is an awesome opportunity, but i'm living on the bread line as it is and any other band would be getting all these things. I resent being treated like Jim'll Fix It winners when actually we've been asked to play the festival, not the other way round. I'd get more by playing weddings every weekend.

Has anyone who's been in a band that've played these big gigs/festivals/tours got any advice for me? IE, is this common practice and should i bite the bullet and accept this is how we'll be treated unless signed or am i being reasonable to expect to get what every single other band on the bill will be getting? Over 100 of my friends were planning on attending which would have made the promotor £8000...yet i'm on the bill and still have to pay to stick around after we've finished...

Cheers.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
There's a thread on here about how people shouldn't play for peanuts. I have a lot of sympathy with that. It sounds like the promoter wants a free lunch and I would refuse to play on principle and kick up a storm over it. I'm sure another band would play but I wouldn't. I don't think it's fair on you. If the promoter is a professional, he should be treating you like a professional and a professional would get paid. Simple.
 

Xero Talent

Silver Member
For this 2 day festival (which is being headlined by two platinum-selling bands) we've been told we have no rider, aren't getting paid, get no complementary tickets and if we want to stay for the rest of the weekend after we've played we have to BUY OUR OWN TICKETS.
That's not a very good deal for your band. Since you won't be making any money, it will cost your band to play.

It will have to come down to whether you think the exposure you'll receive is worth the cost for your band to play.

Do you know any of the other bands? Are they getting paid/ free tickets/ etc, or is it just your band because you're unsigned?

Sounds like you're getting taken advantage of because you're being under-represented.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
don't worry about money ...just play

I've been in "signed" bands (which means nothing by the way) who have been supporting acts on major tours....played on festival summer tours....done our own DIY tours bla bla bla bla bla on and on and on ........ never saw a penny

even when our records moved units....still never saw a penny

and any money that did come went directly back into the band anyway

the minute you start worrying about money the band is doomed

if you are a hired gun its a different story....but if you guys are an all for one and damn the torpedoes band.....dont worry about money

the way they look at it is...who the hell are you?...and why do we need to pay you?

in a way they are right.... unfortunately

as for having to pay to stay after you play...that seems very unrealistic to me

if your band starts moving units and starts doing headline tours and masses of people are paying to specifically see YOU....the money will come...dont worry

just play and be thankful for the position you are in

ask Bermuda how it is....he will tell you
 

\o/

Senior Member
don't worry about money ...just play

I've been in "signed" bands (which means nothing by the way) who have been supporting acts on major tours....played on festival summer tours....done our own DIY tours bla bla bla bla bla on and on and on ........ never saw a penny

even when our records moved units....still never saw a penny

and any money that did come went directly back into the band anyway

the minute you start worrying about money the band is doomed

if you are a hired gun its a different story....but if you guys are and all for one and damn the torpedoes band.....dont worry about money

the way they look at it is...who the hell are you?...and why do we need to pay you?

in a way they are right.... unfortunately

if your band starts moving units and starts doing headline tours and masses of people are paying to specifically see YOU....the money will come...dont worry

just play and be thankful for the position you are in

ask Bermuda how it is....he will tell you
I appreciate this but without the bands they have no festival. And it's not about being paid, i'm not worried about being paid and i would do it for free, but it's the fact that we play, then we get out unless we pay ourselves to stay there? My girlfriend wanted to come but she has to pay to get in? We get no complimentary anything?

There's being pleased about the position you're in and then there's being treated like a complete mug surely?

I appreciate the advice though but it just defies logic being treated like this.

I've also worked at venues and seen bands supporting semi-big bands and although they don't get paid a lot they still get a small rider and a dozen comp. tickets.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I appreciate this but without the bands they have no festival. And it's not about being paid, i'm not worried about being paid and i would do it for free, but it's the fact that we play, then we get out unless we pay ourselves to stay there? My girlfriend wanted to come but she has to pay to get in? We get no complimentary anything?

There's being pleased about the position you're in and then there's being treated like a complete mug surely?

I appreciate the advice though but it just defies logic being treated like this.

I've also worked at venues and seen bands supporting semi-big bands and although they don't get paid a lot they still get a small rider and a dozen comp. tickets.
sucks

but the music industry is not know for its warm and fuzzy perks

don't expect to be catered to and things will go much more smoothly

sure you will get your riders sometimes.....but not all the time

Im speaking from years of touring experience.....I hope you dont take my being frank the wrong way

just trying to help

keep your nose to the grind stone brother
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I think that you should ask for what you want. I would be highly insulted and offended if I was asked to pay at a function that I was performing. Like you're kidding right? Are you serious? Are you really that cheap? I'm playing for free and you want me to pay you? Would you do that? Turn it around on him and question him. Questions are a great offensive maneuver. I would try and make that person feel just as stupid as possible. He is treating you like chump.

Of course I've never been at that level, but if you let people walk all over you, they will.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I think that you should ask for what you want. I would act highly insulted and offended if I was asked to pay at a function that I was performing. Like you're kidding right? Are you serious? Are you that seriously cheap? I would try and make that person feel as stupid as I was capable.

Of course I've never been at that level, but if you let people walk all over you, they will.
I hear you Larry but in these situations it's not like you can get to "the guy" to talk to him

you are mostly dealing with a company of folks who frankly dont really care very much about what YOU want .... generally in festival situations they are dealing with up to a hundred bands and their representation

its a priority system...and if you are not a priority ....well....you get what you get ... hopefully thats something that covers gas and food

its just the harsh reality of the business
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
It doesn't hurt to get a little exposure, have a free rehearsal, and add something to your resume. But absolutely, under no circumstances should you go out of pocket on the gig (apart from petrol to get to & from, and only if it's not a long distance.) Of course the promoter wants to keep things on the cheap, but the bands should not be paying him for that.

Also, don't make it a habit of playing for free, petrol does add up fast.

If you do this festival, and the promoter likes you well enough to call you for another one, that's when you let him know you did your free audition, and now the band wants to be paid.

It's a tough business with a ton of competition. But bands that routinely play for free aren't helping themselves, or anyone else. It's a race to zero.

Bermuda
 

larryz

Platinum Member
If you're playing for no compensation I'd rather do it on my own terms. Do a busking type, unplugged gig in the parking lot or something similar. I wouldn't give the promoter the satisfaction. The annals of music history are filled with stories of promoters making money at the expense of the bands they promote. Do it on your terms if you can.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I just read back my posts and realized I made it sound like we were not getting paid....

just wanted to clarify...we were absolutely getting paid ...every night

just nothing really for our own pockets....everything pretty much went right back into keeping things going

gas, gear, gear repairs we may have needed, the occasional hotel, some food, oil changes (which are absolutely necessary when driving 6000 to 8000 miles in under 2 months)

the gas is the killer

some of the smaller gigs on some tours...maybe a VFW hall gig...they may pay us in a half dozen pizzas ...which was fine for some starving guys far from home

:)

but festivals are tough if you dont have a contractual agreement with the company running it
 

bigiainw

Gold Member
It doesn't hurt to get a little exposure, have a free rehearsal, and add something to your resume. But absolutely, under no circumstances should you go out of pocket on the gig (apart from petrol to get to & from, and only if it's not a long distance.) Of course the promoter wants to keep things on the cheap, but the bands should not be paying him for that.

Also, don't make it a habit of playing for free, petrol does add up fast.

If you do this festival, and the promoter likes you well enough to call you for another one, that's when you let him know you did your free audition, and now the band wants to be paid.

It's a tough business with a ton of competition. But bands that routinely play for free aren't helping themselves, or anyone else. It's a race to zero.

Bermuda
I would write what I'd tell the promoter to do with his gig, but it would make his eyes water and i would be chucked off the forum.

But I'm not you. Only you and the rest of your band can decide what's best in your situation. And not even getting to stay for the rest of the day is taking the p*ss! As Bermuda says, its a race to zero.
 

pieplaysdrums

Senior Member
Bermuda and Gvd... are right on the money. This is the state of the business we've chosen. If it's not worth doing, then there's no need to make a fuss. Just politely and professionally tell the promoter that you can't make the offer work on your end, and thank them for the offer. If you want to continue to progress, you MUST remain professional.
"Be nice.....til it's time to not be nice." Partick Swayze in Road House....lol

p.s. I would personally just suck it up if it means getting in front of a festival sized crowd. Local/college radio play and big opening slots really are just a drop in the ocean even though they feel great when they come along. Stay positive!
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
This one irks me a bit. We've played plenty of "free" shows, but we're always treated well for being nice enough to do it that way. I don't see what it hurts them to offer you some tickets, or at least let you stay and hit the buffet table for the bands and crew.

Are you at least allowed to hock your merch and CD's? That might help.

You have to decide if the festival is big enough and has an audience for your kind of music to actually get you some word of mouth exposure with potential fans. Throw promo cards and disks around every which way, staple flyers up that highlight your band all over the city. Work it any way you can if you really end up doing this at all your cost.

The nerve of that guy... Grrr.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Part of me wants to say do the gig, and tell everyone in the audience, over the mic, how the promoters want to treat you, and try and incite a riot. That'll teach them to mess with a bunch of guys with a PA system lol.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
If it were me I'd see what the other guys in the band think about it. Me personally other than gas to get to the gig if it's close I'm NOT paying someone to play and help them make money. If they can't afford to let me stay after I play and comp me a few tickets then they evidently don't want me to play.

I think too many bands are willing to bow/get bullied by a promoter and do freebies for the "exposure" aspect. Hoping it someone else there has an event they will want you for, or that the promoter will ask you back. However this is a business and you have rent, insurance and bills to pay as well. Not to mention you are helping them put money in their pockets.

If it's me and those are their terms I'm walking....no wait .....I'm running away quickly from that promoter
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I agree with Konaboy. This is akin to bullying in my book. These guys are offering literally nothing in return for your efforts, and not only that, they've said up-front that you'll be kicked outta the joint when you're done playing for them. Where I come from this is called disrespect.

Something seems off to me about this. I'm almost wondering now if this awesome promoter simply gave away your share of the tickets to the other bands or something. I really hate it when people get treated like this. Like it hurts them to let you watch the other bands and hang out?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
For an original band with no "name" and limited profile, some exposure is just too good to knock back. I recall doing gigs for nothing other than the opportunity to play with some big names in front of large crowds on a few occasions. To us, at that time, it was worth it. It did often lead us to better things....whether they be other gigs or an introduction to people who were then able to help us down the track. Only the band can decide if the exposure and potential benefits are worth doing it for nothing.

However, I've never been asked to pay an entrance fee to remain at a festival I've just played at. Nor would I consider it acceptable at all.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I've played a couple gigs where we had to guarantee the sale of so many tickets. It was no problem at the Roxy. We played for free and saw our band name on the marquee, but then there's places like the Pressbox where it was nearly impossible to get anybody to buy a ticket for that place and you're stuck buying 10 tickets to your own gig.

I learned quickly that playing for free sucks unless it's a cool party at some rich person's house. Usually the cops don't show up at those parties.
 
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