Another thing to think about, I believe, is the potential for competition between bands when none should really exist. It's not a matter of competing for who is better, which a pay-to-play can make happen through its very nature.
And then it really doesn't come down to the main thing: your music and getting people to hear it. It comes down to how many tickets you sold, how confident you were in selling them, how ruthless you were to your friends by making them purchase tickets from you [suffering through every type of "get me on the list" argument they have], the ultimate disappointment when some crappy band outsells you and gets the prime spot....
So I'd guess you'd have to put me on the side of Not Fair.
Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum
Pay to play lead to the 3 biggest clubs in the San Francisco Bay area shutting down.
I remember The Omni in Oakland had a pay-to-play structure, and it was terrible. Bands would work their butts off, and people wouldn't be interested in it because of it's very nature: it was a mish-mash group of bands that didn't go well together, so the "event" of the thing was lost. Bands suffered for a long time during the 80's when pay-to-play was hot. Some got good at it. Some had no choice. It was their only option. Lots of unhealthy competition happened between bands that weren't prepared to deal with it.
I hated that period.