Advice needed from gigging/signed musicians.

dale w miller

Silver Member
Ask yourself, would people come to this show whether your band plays or not? If the answer is yes, then you know you do not have any leverage.

Now ask yourself, is the experience worth being treated this poorly? Only you know the answer to that.

As much as I would like to say musicians should respect and join the or a union to stop being treated like this, we all know that is a failure at this point.
 

Bull

Gold Member
This is pretty standard ,with the exception of paying to stay and watch the rest of the gig. That's ridiculous. Support slots are about getting you in front of new people. It can be worth it. It should increase your own draw when you headline.

Where are you from? No "pay to play" there ,yet?


Most opening spots on national tours are "buy-ons"
 

Randydrummer

Junior Member
All of the responses have been the painful truth. I agree that your band should not have to purchase tickets.

Question, Is your band going to playing on the main stage(s)? Having been on both ends of the food chain, some festivals have "local" bands playing on the outside of the festival grounds and have the festival bands playing at another area on the main stage. Usually there is a ticket gate that separates the stages. If this is the case, I could see the promoter's idea of you paying for tickets (although i DO NOT agree).

I remember (a now platinum selling band) opening for my band on an outside of the arena stage and not getting catering, water, towels, rider.... nothing! I used to sneak them into catering and give them to-go boxes of food because I felt that was wrong.

At the end of the day, support acts PAY TO PLAY.

Keep your head up and your band smiling!
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
Festivals are GREAT for unsigned acts! You move a LOT of merch. One of my bands decided to play some small, tucked-out-of-the-way music festival, on our way between a couple of anchor gigs on a tour. We played in front of, roughly, 3,000 people, and within an hour had sold all 500 CDs and 100 shirts we had brought with us...
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
What "festival" is this? Promotion is just like any other business. Regrettably, "unrecognised" bands are viewed as free fillers. If you don't want the gig, there's a line of bands behind yours just waiting to jump on that stage. It sucks, but there it is. Promoters know this. Some will be decent & offer you basic expenses, catering, & maybe some family & friends tickets, others will screw you right to the floor. It seems you've encountered the latter. If we're talking one of the big UK festivals, then suck it up & take the gig. It's no different to a tour "buy on", only cheaper from your POV, because it's a one shot without significant tour expenses. If it's a minor festival with minimal national exposure, you might want to think about the balance of what's on offer, although smaller festivals can help with your gig resume, & that helps getting other paying gigs.

There's a cost of building momentum & achieving critical mass. You're promoting & selling a product, your band. no different to someone selling a new brand of baked beans. I know, it should be different, but it isn't. By playing for free, you're effectively advertising yourself. Think of the gig in terms of advertising, & appraise the outreach potential of the media in the same way you would appraise a magazine or similar if you were placing a 1/4 page advertisement. Remember, you would be paying for that 1/4 page advertisement. I hope you're getting the connection :)

The only way to change this situation for your band is to acquire leverage, & the only way to do that is via exposure. We all pay to play at some stage. Even if it's taking a series of low paying gigs that don't even cover our gear costs, it's still paying to play in one form or another.
 

TNA

Senior Member
My band isn't at the level of yours yet but I have been doing all of our bookings and have been the acting manager the entire time. The first piece of advice I can give is to not be afraid to take a hard stance. You sound like your band has some local notoriety and that you can draw a crowd. This should give you some pull with venues and promoters. Know what you want and don't be afraid to ask for it. It's not in bad taste to negotiate with these promoters. Tell them that you want free passes for the band for the festival, plus one additional pass for each member. That seems more than fair. If you want you can tell them the number of people you are expecting, but for this kind of event it shouldn't even matter what your personal draw would be. Just know that there is the possibility that the promoter may drop you from the bill. However, I have found that most promoters are spineless cowards who think they are all high and mighty because they are allowing bands to play for them. Just be professional and act like a manager.

Personally if you are getting radio play and are able to get a crowd of 100 people to your show then you shouldn't need this festival to help get you signed. You are not going to get signed to some big label, even if you kill it at this festival, sorry its just not gonna happen. Get a good press kit and shop it to some local labels, I'm sure many of them would be happy to have you.
 

Kg_lee

Senior Member
I wouldn't play. I was just though an issue with a club owner this week. I can play anywhere on a hope and a dream but unfortunately that's not how things work. Your band is a business just like their business. When you call someone to do something whatever it is you usually have to pay for the service and you don't get to name the price. I would tell this promoter if you need free entertainment you know a couple garage bands in the area that will play for free. Stand your ground and give him a price of what you think your worth for the show if they want you to play so bad. Personally I'm getting fed up with people who think us musicians play for free. Set your price in a contract and see if they agree to it.

Also since they won't provide you with anything for the week see if you can hirer this promoter to work for you for free...just saying.......I doubt he'd be interested. You might be able to put him on the spot if he won't work for free.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Here's another angle. In my experience playing live, and I hope I'm not being too harsh, most original bands stink. I do a lot of lying to people (none of you guys of course) telling them that their music is good, etc. When I go to auditions, most of the bands really suck and I don't like their music. I hear links from Craigslist and most of it I really don't care for. Lang plays to some of the lousiest music I can ever imagine. Sorry.

So it's no wonder bands get treated like they do. If you're putting out amazing music, it will get noticed and people will follow just by word of mouth.
 

dale w miller

Silver Member
Here's another angle. In my experience playing live, and I hope I'm not being too harsh, most original bands stink. I do a lot of lying to people (none of you guys of course) telling them that their music is good, etc. When I go to auditions, most of the bands really suck and I don't like their music. I hear links from Craigslist and most of it I really don't care for. Lang plays to some of the lousiest music I can ever imagine. Sorry.

So it's no wonder bands get treated like they do. If you're putting out amazing music, it will get noticed and people will follow just by word of mouth.
Maybe if enough people were honest, most of these terrible bands would stop clogging up the system. ;)
 

Florian

Gold Member
When our band was relatively new, we played as opening acts for national bands - for free. Now, the venue fed us, gave us free booze and other sundry items . As we got bigger and hit more cities, we got paid and paid pretty well and we had a rider to boot. BUT, our band is a corporation, we get 1099s every year from all over and it is a pain in the ass sometimes. So, the reality is, if you want to get paid, youre gonna get taxed and you will be expected to claim that on your taxes. Playing for free was easier.


F
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
I would see if tickets for the band can be negotiated, because that's the very least they can do. But other than that, you have to do what you have to do for the exposure. If it's a bigger opportunity than you're used to, then do it on their terms. If it's the sort of thing that comes along more regularly, then that's a different matter.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Not signed or gigging...but...

Think of it as cheap advertising.

Your project will get great exposure.

When to stop that practice and enforce ethical business deals?...

...once you are popular enough that you must decide between playing opportunities...or the cost of performing for the advertisement is greater than your own advertising campaign per unit.(potential listener)

Always watch your bottom line and contract accordingly(that is, know your finacial bottom line and dont push it down to far to get the deal).

Sometimes you cant afford advertisement of any form.
 

jonescrusher

Pioneer Member
When you're in, you're in surely? Just stick around and melt in to the audience. The thought of being made to buy tickets to see the rest of the festival is appalling. The originals circuit has always been tough, but that's a piss-take.

Try and find out where you are on the bill, the conditions, probable size of the audience etc. It would be heartbreaking to end up paying to play to 4 people at 10.30 am.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Wow, not exactly promo opportunity of the year award :) but it does look like a nice relaxing way to spend an afternoon.


A stipend is a one off payment, usually used to describe a fee to defer expenses.
Yeah, I think a stipend would do it for me. Especially if it involves gas money, a free meal and a couple beverages. Too bad my band is not ready. We're gonna do a Cinco de Mayo party though, but that's just jamming with a bunch of other musicians. And I have another gig with another band to play a wedding in mid-June. Free food and beverages? That's good enough for me. I'm in!
 

Bull

Gold Member
Does the promoter do a lot of national shows? Keep in mind that you might not be asked to do another ,if you refuse this one. Support slots are good things to get.

Original bands should be prepared to lose money.It's an entirely different business model from a covers/sideman gig. You are building a brand and pushing a product,not providing a service. It can take years for a small any business owner to break even and longer to profit.
 

Bad Tempered Clavier

Silver Member
Try and find out where you are on the bill, the conditions, probable size of the audience etc. It would be heartbreaking to end up paying to play to 4 people at 10.30 am.
My feeling exactly: the "exposure" you'll get from being the band on just before Metallica is one thing. Being the opening act in the Skronk FM Undiscovered Tent on the first morning before any one else has actually shown up is another.

Play, don't play - seems to me it will do little to further your career in the long run because your band is viewed by such "promoters" as the same as any other act without a decent booking agent - i.e disposable. I suggest you try your best to get on the books of a proper booking agency. These are the people the promoters and festival managers go to in order to do real business.

I think the F-word gets people excited too easily because it conjures up images of Woodstock and the Isle of Wight etc. The reality for most bands - especially as there are so many bands these days - is more like what you've experienced. I knew a UK act that got booked to play the SXSW festival in Texas. All very exciting on paper, but then you find out that this "festival" is really a couple of weeks of loads of venues having separate gigs all over Austin - much like the Edinburgh "festival" of comedy. Yes there will be thousands of people in town at that time, but if you're still playing in a club that holds 40 people at 2 o'clock in the morning then how does that help make you a rock star?
 

edvia

Senior Member
Original bands should be prepared to lose money.It's an entirely different business model from a covers/sideman gig. You are building a brand and pushing a product,not providing a service. It can take years for a small any business owner to break even and longer to profit.
That's a great way of looking at it. Well said. Though I'm sure you could at least negotiate some free passes for the band.
 
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