Bar owner double booked us!! RANT!!

braincramp

Gold Member
I just read KIS's post and had something very similar happen over the weekend....We were on our way to gig Sat. night when we got a text from the bar manager/owner that he didn't need us tonight, someone double booked the act for the night. The bar was an hour away from our "base" and we were 15 minutes away all equipment loaded when we got the text. We immediately called and text back telling him it was unacceptable and for him to drop the other band we were close by and already traveled 45 minutes, plus we confirmed the gig on Monday!!. His reply was it was out of his hands and he was just trying to defuse the situation.
I went on the bars website the next morning and saw a post from a solo act that he was playing at the bar sat night 9-1pm the post was from about the time we got the original text.We played this club before to a very light crowd and they said they were surprised it usually was filled with local patrons.. I personally believe the bar once again had a light crowd for a Sat. night and the owner decided to save some money on entertainment.. I really hate the bar scene sometimes.. and should disclose the name of the club just outside of Baltimore!! Has this ever happened to you? What would you do?
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
We were on our way to gig Sat. night when we got a text from the bar manager/owner that he didn't need us tonight, someone double booked the act for the night. The bar was an hour away from our "base" and we were 15 minutes away all equipment loaded when we got the text. We immediately called and text back telling him it was unacceptable and for him to drop the other band we were close by and already traveled 45 minutes, plus we confirmed the gig on Monday!!. His reply was it was out of his hands and he was just trying to defuse the situation.
I went on the bars website the next morning and saw a post from a solo act that he was playing at the bar sat night 9-1pm the post was from about the time we got the original text.We played this club before to a very light crowd and they said they were surprised it usually was filled with local patrons.. I personally believe the bar once again had a light crowd for a Sat. night and the owner decided to save some money on entertainment.. I really hate the bar scene sometimes.. and should disclose the name of the club just outside of Baltimore!! Has this ever happened to you? What would you do?
Do you think the solo act would reveal when he actually got booked to you? Either way, it's crappy. Did they offer you another slot soon? Did they offer to pay your expenses? Sounds like "no". I'd ask around and see if that particular club has pulled this sort of thing before and if so, naming and shaming is certainly fair.

I had a similar kind of experience just this past month. A club booked a rockabilly band I play in to play NYE 6 months ago. Prices were negotiated and agreements reached. The leader didn't get a deposit or written contract because we've played the club many times and believed we'd built up enough good will. Had it been my choice, I probably would've gotten a contract anyway, but that's neither here nor there. I pushed other work aside and confirmed the date and we were ready to rock when we get a call about 4-5 weeks ago saying that they'd changed their minds and were going with a DJ or something. No offer of recompense, etc.

We got burned for not getting a contract, but it's a crappy thing to do. We didn't find more work in the end so I'm out several hundred quid.
 

rtliquid

Senior Member
I've been bounced due to a double-booking a few times (always MY band - never the other guys). I also was cancelled from a street fair at the last the last minute due to impending bad weather, only to find out they went with a dj. Lastly, My band drove an hour from PA down to MD only to have the club tell us they stopped having live music - that's after we had a confirmed gig on the books. BTW - these were all Baltimore scenarios, too.
 

braincramp

Gold Member
I've been bounced due to a double-booking a few times (always MY band - never the other guys). I also was cancelled from a street fair at the last the last minute due to impending bad weather, only to find out they went with a dj. Lastly, My band drove an hour from PA down to MD only to have the club tell us they stopped having live music - that's after we had a confirmed gig on the books. BTW - these were all Baltimore scenarios, too.

This also happened to us a few months ago...but they told us when we called to confirm.. sounds like it may of been the same place..was it a Tex-Mex style restaurant/bar that quit having bands?
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Remind me not to play in Baltimore :(

A few weeks ago, we pulled a gig we had booked for tonight. We never usually play NYE, but agreed to on this occasion. It was a venue we've played at before, & will again. The bottom line is, the local management, who booked us 6 months ago, had apparently exceeded their remit in terms of fees. We negotiated an exit after their head office (a big bar chain) said they couldn't honour the agreed fee, as it would set a precedent.

Our negotiations were amicable. We appropriated a reasonable cancellation fee, & we agreed two further dates in 2014 for an enhanced fee.

In an ideal world, this is how things should go when there's a screwup. Regrettably, it's rarely the case.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
That is a very good idea to get it in writing the band gets a cancellation fee if the venue cancels. I would not have thought of that but it makes perfect sense. Great suggestion!

Years ago the Texas rock band I was playing in were scheduled to play a small but nice venue in west Fort Worth. It was one of these things where they had an open mic night and our band showed up and we played for an hour. Afterwards the owner/manager invited us to play one Friday night but didn't have his calendar with him at the moment and for us to check back "tomorrow" when he did and he'd schedule us. Funny how things went because he never had his calendar with him, was never at the bar when he said he'd be, lost his calendar, found it again, lost our contact number, etc. The usual runaround.

We were persistant because we were a new band and eagar to play out for money. And it was a fairly good wage, all things considered.

The owner finally books us for a certain date. When our guitarist went to put up our flyers and do some advertising, he found the owner had double booked us that night because flyers were all over the place advertsing another band on that night we were supposed to play.

When we confronted the owner, all the d-bag said was "sorry fellas, I'll have to see where I can fit y'all in next time."

Few weeks after that , the bar failed and closed up.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I just read KIS's post and had something very similar happen over the weekend....We were on our way to gig Sat. night when we got a text from the bar manager/owner that he didn't need us tonight, someone double booked the act for the night. The bar was an hour away from our "base" and we were 15 minutes away all equipment loaded when we got the text. We immediately called and text back telling him it was unacceptable and for him to drop the other band we were close by and already traveled 45 minutes, plus we confirmed the gig on Monday!!. His reply was it was out of his hands and he was just trying to defuse the situation.
I went on the bars website the next morning and saw a post from a solo act that he was playing at the bar sat night 9-1pm the post was from about the time we got the original text.We played this club before to a very light crowd and they said they were surprised it usually was filled with local patrons.. I personally believe the bar once again had a light crowd for a Sat. night and the owner decided to save some money on entertainment.. I really hate the bar scene sometimes.. and should disclose the name of the club just outside of Baltimore!! Has this ever happened to you? What would you do?
It's doubtful that you're going to convince a club to sign a contract or cancellation agreement. Even if you do, good luck collecting it!

Agreed that it's lame to cancel last minute. But try not to be so offended that you can't have a conversation with the management about it. Try to think about the big picture: your band needs a venue, and they need a crowd big enough to justify paying you. Without a doubt, they cancelled on you because they didn't believe that your band would bring people out to their club, and they don't yet have a regular crowd of their own that's large enough to pay a full band. If you had convinced them that there would be many new faces in the bar to see your band, you would have kept the gig.

Of course, it probably shouldn't be up to the band to fill the bar, but what's the bar to do if it has no draw of its own? A bar has to first build a reputation of consistently providing quality live acts if it wants to be the place to go for live music. Otherwise, it's cheaper to hire solo acts or DJs.

Sit down with the management (in person) and talk about how many patrons it will take to get the band paid (the average patron spends about $20). Perhaps the band can agree to a reduced rate for one or two gigs, and the bar can offer some drink specials to further promote the night. After a few weeks, the rates can go up, and the specials can go away, but by this point, the bar will have created some buzz.

You should also consider the bar itself. Is it worth having this conversation with the management? Apart from this poor managerial decision to cancel your band, is the management decent? Is the wait staff friendly and/or attractive? Are the acoustics good? If there's a kitchen, how's the food? There isn't any point to going through all of this for a dive bar.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
It's doubtful that you're going to convince a club to sign a contract or cancellation agreement. Even if you do, good luck collecting it!
If a venue doesn't want to sign a contract about an upcoming gig, why play there? The only places in Portland that won't sign contracts are the types of places where this kind of stuff happens. Save yourself some heartache, or at least expect the unexpected when you don't have one...
 

rtliquid

Senior Member
No, but we had had a situation with a Tex-Mex on the outskirts of Balto. We had 4 gigs on the books. They double-booked the 2nd one, then said they were canceling the remainder unless we reduced our fee.
-----------------------------------
This also happened to us a few months ago...but they told us when we called to confirm.. sounds like it may of been the same place..was it a Tex-Mex style restaurant/bar that quit having bands?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
If a venue doesn't want to sign a contract about an upcoming gig, why play there? The only places in Portland that won't sign contracts are the types of places where this kind of stuff happens. Save yourself some heartache, or at least expect the unexpected when you don't have one...
That may well be true of Portland and other places. But usually, you start from where you are, not from where you want to be.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
This is disgraceful behaviour on the part of the venue.

My band would have turned up anyway out of spite and caused a scene.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
What would you do?

I'd refer to my contract :)

With today's technology, you can easily record and store a phone conversation and get an easy settlement in small claims court.

Bottom line, it's a business and a business decision.

A contract can and should be very simple. When, where, how much and when do we get paid. Now you know to add a simple cancellation clause anywhere from 30 days to 24 hours, depending on the venue and your clout.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
That may well be true of Portland and other places. But usually, you start from where you are, not from where you want to be.
I don't understand the point you're trying to make...???

Any time you play a gig, you write up a contract, plain and simple. If you're playing for a million dollars or playing for your aunt's backyard barbeque, you write up a contract with all of the details (time and date, pay (if any), when the venue can be accessed, load in instructions, gig instructions, sound reinforcement requirements, etc...). It keeps things organized and on the same page as the booker. It's really easy to fill one out, have them look it over, and have them sign it or "approve" it via e-mail. If details of the gig change, write up a new one, and have them sign THAT one, along with the date of the amendment. This does a few things:

1. CYA - it shows that you both (band and venue) agree on the terms of the gig. This can protect you if something goes wrong, like they don't pay or they claim you were late or any number of claims that could hurt your band's reputation or your pocketbook.
2. It helps keep you organized. Musicians are notoriously unorganized. Make your life easier and put it in writing so you can reference it later.
3. It helps you keep records. Two years down the road, you're not going to remember the address of the venue, the promoter's name, or how much you charged last time. It's really nice to be able to name-drop the name of the soundguy from last time, and to not undercut your last bid--it shows the venue you are conscientious. Also, write down things from the gig like attendance, anything that stood out as good or bad (stinky green room, or delightful snacks set out for your group?).

...just to name a few. Contracts/records are a key thing in performing music, especially in a day and age where flakey musicians is a stereotype. Make yourself stand out as being a thoughtful, responsible musician. People will clamor to book you in time...
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
This is exactly the type of situation that The American Federation of Musicians helps musicians avoid. I guess those days are long gone though.

The AFM also can provide a legally binding contract for any type of engagement, and when properly executed and filed with the local union, they allow the local officer to help collect payments in the case of a default.
http://afm.org/why-join
 

taiko

Senior Member
I've been bounced due to a double-booking a few times (always MY band - never the other guys). I also was cancelled from a street fair at the last the last minute due to impending bad weather, only to find out they went with a dj. Lastly, My band drove an hour from PA down to MD only to have the club tell us they stopped having live music - that's after we had a confirmed gig on the books. BTW - these were all Baltimore scenarios, too.
I've had two occasions at a coffee shop where we were double booked. I took out my iPhone and showed them the email that had us booked and in both cases they ended up having both bands play in two different areas. The coffee shop has a large outside area, so one was inside and the other outside. What really sucked was when we were outside and it was cold. Our evening turned into a paid rehearsal--no audience at all.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
I don't understand the point you're trying to make...???

Any time you play a gig, you write up a contract, plain and simple. If you're playing for a million dollars or playing for your aunt's backyard barbeque, you write up a contract with all of the details (time and date, pay (if any), when the venue can be accessed, load in instructions, gig instructions, sound reinforcement requirements, etc...). It keeps things organized and on the same page as the booker. It's really easy to fill one out, have them look it over, and have them sign it or "approve" it via e-mail. If details of the gig change, write up a new one, and have them sign THAT one, along with the date of the amendment. This does a few things:

1. CYA - it shows that you both (band and venue) agree on the terms of the gig. This can protect you if something goes wrong, like they don't pay or they claim you were late or any number of claims that could hurt your band's reputation or your pocketbook.
2. It helps keep you organized. Musicians are notoriously unorganized. Make your life easier and put it in writing so you can reference it later.
3. It helps you keep records. Two years down the road, you're not going to remember the address of the venue, the promoter's name, or how much you charged last time. It's really nice to be able to name-drop the name of the soundguy from last time, and to not undercut your last bid--it shows the venue you are conscientious. Also, write down things from the gig like attendance, anything that stood out as good or bad (stinky green room, or delightful snacks set out for your group?).

...just to name a few. Contracts/records are a key thing in performing music, especially in a day and age where flakey musicians is a stereotype. Make yourself stand out as being a thoughtful, responsible musician. People will clamor to book you in time...
+1.The only hard and fast rule that the bands that I played in had...was,getting a signed contract,reguardless of where we played.

The contract detailed all of what Caddy mentioned,as well as meals,how many pieces,who played the gig,every detail.

If a venue refused to sign a contract,then we just told then ..cash in advance.That always settled things.No contract....no band,and no surprises.

It's just business.Don't give me that art crap.it's a business.......plain and simple.If you want to go on playing for free,and getting screwed,then by all means,continue to do so.

I'll be the guy in the audience,not in the band.

Steve B
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I don't understand the point you're trying to make...???
First, I definitely understand the point of having a contract, and would prefer to do business this way in all cases. I agree with you that this is the way it ought to be, and often is.

I also agree that it's terrible to be treated like the OP's band. I hope the OP can find out if this behavior has come from the manager, or perhaps the owner, on multiple occasions. If so, address it directly in your conversation with the club.

However, there are many acts that will work without a contract, and make agreements based on a handshake or a phone call, and work for less money than a full band: solo/acoustic acts and DJs. If a club is used to this behavior, then you're not likely to get the contract signed if your reputation doesn't precede you. If I were the club manager and had hired the OP's band, I wouldn't have signed a contract either, since the band made no promises to bring sufficient people into the club, and cost more money up front. Why would any club manager sign a contract guaranteeing the band's pay, without first having some expectation about the attendance?

So, in order to compete with cheaper, contract-less acts, the band will have to change its expectation of a signed contract, and probably its fee (initially, at least).

My point is this: you can talk all day long about having signed contracts, but if the club won't sign it, you can either find a new club, or work with what you've got. Furthermore, if your band can't make any promises about the attendance, and the club doesn't have a great crowd on its own, it will be difficult to convince the club to take a chance on your band.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
The other thing is to show up early and get the PA and drums set up. Nine times out of ten squatters rights prevail and the band that is already set up on stage keeps the gig. The guys that blow in at the last minute claiming they were also booked usually have to take the night off. It's an unfortunate reality of today's market but it holds true. I've also been double booked as a sideman and found the same thing to hold. Whoever gets there first and sets up gets the gig.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
However, there are many acts that will work without a contract, and make agreements based on a handshake or a phone call, and work for less money than a full band: solo/acoustic acts and DJs. If a club is used to this behavior, then you're not likely to get the contract signed if your reputation doesn't precede you. If I were the club manager and had hired the OP's band, I wouldn't have signed a contract either, since the band made no promises to bring sufficient people into the club, and cost more money up front. Why would any club manager sign a contract guaranteeing the band's pay, without first having some expectation about the attendance?
Acts that work without a contract are doing so at their own risk.

A contract doesn't necessarily have to involve pay, just the details of the gig. Also, pay sometimes involves the door or a cut of the bar. If a bar or venue won't simply verify the plans you have agreed upon by signing a contract, that's a MAJOR red flag.

And, yes, in the event that two bands show up, the one with the contract in hand will *probably* win out. Just sayin'...
 
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