Gorilla Music

uhtrinity

Senior Member
I've heard and seen plenty of negative things about these guys. Well a few weeks ago they contacted us about an end of month show for August, it was pretty easy to decline since we are booked every weekend through the end of the month. I also hate the idea of driving my truck and our equipment 60 miles (one way) to play for 30 minutes.

Well, our guitarist started talking to the guy and end up putting us on the bill for a Sunday show in September with 7 other bands. I am finding it really hard to take this show seriously. It's not like we are hurting for paid gigs, and we do a fair share of benefits and festivals. Has anyone else dealt with Gorilla or the "whole pay to play" thing? We had a bad experience a few years ago with a promoter doing similar things, sell x number of tickets and get some money. After handing him something like $300 he handed back zero. We have since steered clear of those types of shows.

The promoter is insisting that we don't even have to sell any tickets, but he is still sending them while constantly asking how sales are going. Our guitarist was at least honest and told him outright it is a Sunday evening in a Mormon town, turnout will be the bands and the friends they bring.

We have been spoiled with 60 - 90 minute mostly original sets and 4 hour bar shows with covers. On top of that we know their will be no money, not even for gas. Frustrating situation, but I hate to make waves.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I made the mistake of playing one of the Gorilla shows. I had read all of the negative press, but they had a great venue booked on a Saturday night so we rolled the dice. It worked out very well for us, but the bill was TERRIBLE and I actually felt bad for many of the bands. Long story below, but it may help in your final determination.

We got something like $2 a ticket for every ticket sold. The set times were determined by the amount of tickets sold. We draw pretty well, better than most, so I wasnt really worried about getting a good time so we went ahead and took the gig.

We sold somewhere in the range of 100 tickets. Which was cool, we made a couple of hundred bucks, but tracking people down and getting the money up front was a full time job for a couple of weeks. We showed up for load in and nobody was there from Gorilla. In fact the lady from Gorilla didnt show up until an hour before the show was scheduled to start. She then collected money and gave out set times. She then changed them 4 or 5 different times. One band actually left after having their set time change like 4 times. Our time stayed constant and we were pretty stoked, but many of the bands were downright pissed.

Here is the real problem. The bill had like 10 bands on it, each with a 30 minute set. And there was no connection between bands. There was a hardcore band followed by a pop-punk band followed by a metalcore band followed by a singer songwriter. It was a mess of different generes and nodody was really interested in checking out the bands after they played. After us was a cover band with a 50 year old female singer doing blues songs. Not bad, but definitely not what a crowd of mostly 20 year old wants to watch.

My advice is, know what you are getting in to and understand that EVERYTHING is based on ticket sales. If you just want to play and are cool with whatever comes then take the gig. I will personally never work with them again, but to each his own.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Haven't heard of Gorilla, but one of my bands does an occasional gig where we have to sell a minimum # of tickets (which we do, and then some.) But they're sorta cool gigs, opening for classic artists like Leon Russell, Ian Hunter, Dick Dale, John Mayall, and just a few months ago, Johnny Winter (wish I'd taken a pic with him...)

But that's the only band where the money can vary, or we can rationalize making less because that opening spot looks good on our resumé. Every other band gets paid something, whether the members are full-time players or not, because what we do has value. If the venue/promoter doesn't agree, they're free to find other bands that consider themselves less valuable.

The problem is with bands who do work for free, and help keep that precedent alive. The discussion about what musicians are worth will rage on forever it seems, and there is the danger of having regular employment rules applied to players who think they 'deserve' a certain amount, or that they can dictate to the venue what they can afford to pay (oh I love that argument!) Suppose a club owner says "I pay my people minimum wage, that's what I pay my bands when they're on the clock." I'll bet some players would jump at that, but take just a minute to figure it out. If the wage is $8/hr, and a band plays one set, they'll get paid basically for one hour. That's $8/player. Play 4 hours, that's only $32/each for the night! Sure, that's better than nothing, but still may not even cover gas. Travel time doesn't count (employees don't get paid for driving to & from work, do they?)

What I'm saying is, bands that complain about a club's personnel being paid for their work while they're not, have got to be careful not to get lumped-into that plan. I feel that if a band can help generate extra business for their employer that night, they have more value and should be paid accordingly. If the band doesn't draw business, then they shouldn't be there, paid or not. that band needs to rehearse, and/or choose their material more judiciously in order to give themselves the appropriate value when they ask for it.

Bermuda
 

uhtrinity

Senior Member
Yeah, we are more alt rock, some other bands listed range to x-metal. So it is a rather mixed bill. Some of the younger bands on the bill are treating this like it is their big break, which I guess keeps Gorilla in business.

We've had a general philosophy the last year, free is fine for parties, festivals, and benefits, but if the venue or promoters are making something the bands need to as well. This just seems like a backslide. And btw, it isn't that we don't like to promote, it is that we know Gorillas history and it is futile having a show in this area on a Sunday evening.


Here is some info on Gorilla:

http://www.neverpaytoplay.com/Gorilla/&GorillaBOTB02.htm
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Wow, never heard of them, and I guess I should be glad! I'm guessing they don't have a presence in L.A., maybe too many savvy musicians here. :)

Bermuda
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
So someone took the LA "pay to play" nation wide, huh?

Wacky.

I guess there are enough desperate bands out there.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
A band I was in years ago fell for that nonsense...they even sent us the tickets with our band's name on them to "sell". We decided to go ahead and do it until we found out it was nothing but a big ol' popularity contest and we'd have to drive from Fort Worth to Dallas and hang around all day and we'd get nothing for our efforts. So when we got smart about it, we declined and sent the tickets back. Pissed off their front office quite a bit, but we backed out anyway. Took it as a learning experience.

A couple of country radio stations down here kinda do the same thing. They host a "new" artist competition at a local pub every so often, which brings out some pretty good talent all the way down the line to the hacks who can't sing, can't play and generally embarass themselves.

I drove a friend to one of these to "compete". He'd just released a CD which he had produced down in Austin with some pretty good studio talent and he was excited to get it out there. Long story short it turned out to be nothing but a popularity contest with the winner being some young kid still in his teens. The way he won was his mommie brought all her friends there to watch and vote for her son. The kid wasn't bad but he wasn't the best there either.
 

uhtrinity

Senior Member
Update, I convinced the other members to drop a few weeks before the show for the reasons mentioned above. At least two other bands did the same thing, which still left 5 bands on the bill. Not a single band updated their pages afterwards, so we had no idea how the show went until last Friday. Turns out that the promoter never showed up and the show never happened. He stiffed not only the bands, but also the club owner. Not sure if ticket money ever changed hands, but Gorilla is not only unpopular, but dead here.
 
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