How accommodating should a venue be to the band?

DrumDoug

Senior Member
I had a gig last Saturday and the way the venue treated us kind of annoyed me. I realize that we are being hired by the venue, and we work for them for the evening. I think there has to be some sort of mutual respect between the band's time and the bar's business of making money.
We arrived early to set up and there were still tables set up in the area where the band sets up. The manger said we had to wait until the hockey game on the tv was over before they would ask the patrons to move and we could set up. Ok, whatever, we're still getting paid. I went over to the bar and ordered a drink and sat down. The bartender told me I had to move, the band couldn't sit at the bar, or take up a table, they were for paying customers. Ok, kind of annoying but whatever. I stood in the corner and finished my drink and then went outside where the band was hanging around out front waiting to set up. The same bartender came up and said we couldn't loiter outside. I asked him where he wanted us to wait. He said we couldn't wait out there and he went back inside.
This was about 8:30. We were supposed to start at 9:30 The game didn't end until about 9:15. At that point we had been standing around the bar for about and hour and a half. They finally moved the tables and we brought our gear in and started setting up. The manager then came over to discuss how much he was going to dock our pay since we were going to start late. A somewhat heated discussion ensued and much to the annoyance of the manager we refused to take a pay cut since it wasn't our fault we were starting late.
I guess my question for you guys is where do you draw the line between the band being flexible to give the venue what they want, and the venue being inconsiderate to the needs of the band?
 

Sirraf

Member
Wow that seemed like a crappy gig. I can somewhat understand the hockey game deal, but not being able to sit at the bar is over the line.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Sometimes the people working the place are gonna be sticklers, not much you can do about that. I don't agree with docking the pay, unless that was discussed up front (It's going to be a short night for you guys due to the game, etc etc) but not to spring it on you right there.

If it's an uncomfortable place to deal with, don't go back. Gigs aren't that scarce... are they?

Bermuda
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
In answer to your question, a darned sight more accommodating than they were!
I've never had a situation quite so bad but I've had my share of turning up on time only to find that it's a bar that serves food and had to wait for the customers to finish, in fact that happened to us only last Sunday. The worst was a pub that not only wouldn't let us set up in the empty room, but insisted on waiting until 7.30pm just in case anyone came in to order a meal. So if someone had come in at 7.25pm and ordered then there's no way we'd have made a 9pm start as requested. The icing on the cake being that this happened a considerable distance from home in the middle of the countryside in the depths of winter.

There will come a point when rather than staying to have a pub take advantage of me I'll simply walk away instead. Pub gigs aren't that easy to come by nowadays, but then again they're not impossible to find either and my dignity and blood pressure are worth more to me than the £40 or £50 I'll get paid. And being honest, any pub manager either so clueless or so deliberately awkward will probably at some point consider whittling down the pay anyway. Finally, I wouldn't go looking for a gig there again so I may as well walk away from the first and only gig if I'm going to have my chain yanked by them.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
This was about 8:30. We were supposed to start at 9:30 The game didn't end until about 9:15. At that point we had been standing around the bar for about and hour and a half. They finally moved the tables and we brought our gear in and started setting up. The manager then came over to discuss how much he was going to dock our pay since we were going to start late.
You were treated like crap. Please tell us you will not be returning there.
 

SeeMore

Junior Member
Wow I was getting angry just reading that. I'm pretty sure once you bought a drink, you were also a paying customer, and can sit wherever the hell you want. I would've played the set, told him where to shove it, and never returned. That guy clearly has no respect for musicians.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I found it was rare to ever have a venue be accommodating.

It seems so many venue managers hate bands, hate live music and hate themselves for working where they are.

And yet, despite being treated like garbage, the line of bands willing to play said venues are usually a mile long.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Usually venues are cool with us but we have had notable exceptions.

If you get some trumped up little shit who thinks he's in charge that can be quite fun. We have a lot of fun with those guys.

The common one is when a wedding runs a couple hours over and they expect us to break our backs to get everything back on time....we've had people walk into our dressing room pestering us when we've been in our undies. It just means we work to rule.

Never had anyone ask me to take a pay cut before I've played. I think I'd pack up and go home.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
No, they clearly hate you. Hassling you about where you wait to play, forcing you to just stand around, is the bartender's CS way of telling you to drop dead. I'm sure the manager and staff all hate each other, too, and treat each other like crap-- all-around a real joy to be a part of the place, I'm sure. This manager is looking for opportunities to screw you on your money, and sooner or later he'll find one. If they're paying you real money ($75? $100? $150+? per player) you can risk that, and put up with a certain amount of abuse. Otherwise you can safely let them to go take a FFAARD. What exactly are you gaining from this relationship?

As far as handling the situation, if the venue tells you you have to wait, they need to give you a place to be. Where's the green room? Where's a table where we can sit and not be in the way? You're there to conduct business, and you can't let staff treat you like a bunch of vagrants.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I would have immediately turned it around and billed him for the extra time you stood around because they wouldn't let you setup.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
Wow, that sounds miserable. I've seen all of those things, but never at the same time.

There are a couple of bars/clubs that I play fairly regularly, and if there is a home game on (seems like there always is in MA), then we have to wait to set up.

Most places don't want the band hanging around the bar either. It takes up seats/space for paying customers, and you're just "the help".

I've never heard anything about not loitering outside though, isn't that where people have to go to smoke?


I don't think you did anything wrong, but it sounds like you need to come to terms with that manager. Your band is a vendor that the bar is hiring to provide entertainment, but that doesn't mean they can treat you like crap.

I'd maybe write an email out to him, or go in and have a chat, and bring up some of your concerns. Based on what you described, I can't imagine there's going to be a second gig. Do you know any other bands that play there? Maybe ask around and see if that's the norm.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Wow I was getting angry just reading that.
Me too. I would have bailed straight from the bar BS = BIG RED FLAG!

I'm lucky enough not to encounter this kind of superiority crap, but I recognise the zero preparation for the band setup deal - as do most of us. As for any form of televised sports events - we don't play venues where we're competing for audience attention.
 

DPTrainor

Senior Member
I think I would bailed too and said to manager on the way out: "I am sorry you feel this way, but we don't allow ourselves to be treated in this manner". This could be a bar manager that doesn't like music or want bands there. I would put the word out to others to avoid this venue. The really best places to play are the ones where the bar owner and manager appreciate good music and are supportive and treat you with respect. They are advocates for you. And you for them. They help you help them. They provide a venue that is not competing with another event, in your case a hockey game. They schedule the start and end times to accommodate both you, the people eating dinner and the bar staff. If your playing while folks are still eating dinner that would be agreed upon upfront and manager may ask that you play an acoustic set to start. They respect your time and efforts and pay you fair compensation, commensurate with the local going rate (which unfortunately is low). But, that is even more reason to appreciate you especially if your drawing in people after dinner hour that buy drinks which is where many of these smaller bars/restaurants make or break their profit. There are places like this, but unfortunately not as many as we would like. And the well run places that set up the conditions for a win-win are much harder to get a gig at because the other bands know over time which those places are and competition to get a gig is high. In fact, many of these good places develop such a good relationship with the bands they hire, the bands naturally become "regulars". i.e Play every other Fri night, for example. Which sets up another advantage of running an operation well...which is if your music gels with the patrons, those people will return. Just like having a good chef, people remember how good the food was and return again and again. It's return customers that make a business sustainable. Personally these days I prefer to play in small bar/resturants with acoustic trio: Guitar, Bass and me playing Cajon with small PA to set volume levels to just the right level at just the right times. It makes an easy win-win-win for all. But that is just me....
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I feel like I'm in the minority here...

The bar owner/manager in the OP is dead on right, though it seems he lacked social grace. It's entirely more likely he's just jaded after dealing with countless performers.

The last thing I want to see a contractor(s) do is show up and start drinking 'before' they go to work. In a couple jurisdictions, I am not even allowed to serve someone alcohol if I'm paying them.

Doug, I'm sorry this happened to you. Expectations should have been laid down in advance.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I feel like I'm in the minority here...
The bar owner/manager in the OP is dead on right, though it seems he lacked social grace. It's entirely more likely he's just jaded after dealing with countless performers.
We must not have read the same thing. The post I read, the manager refused to let them setup so that they could start at the time he told them they would be starting. He then had the gall to try and dock their pay because he didn't let them setup and start playing at the time he told them they should start. The band was there with plenty of time to setup, and there is absolutely nothing unusual about having a drink before, or even while you play.

How on earth does that equal "dead on right" in your world?
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I feel like I'm in the minority here...

The bar owner/manager in the OP is dead on right, though it seems he lacked social grace. It's entirely more likely he's just jaded after dealing with countless performers.

The last thing I want to see a contractor(s) do is show up and start drinking 'before' they go to work. In a couple jurisdictions, I am not even allowed to serve someone alcohol if I'm paying them.

Doug, I'm sorry this happened to you. Expectations should have been laid down in advance.
I'm sorry that there are people in the world that see this bar manager as anything other than needing fired. You don't tell the band they can't wait outside. You thank them for showing up early enough to set up. You definitely don't try to dock their pay because you wouldn't let them set up on time. How don't you know that? Why does that even have to be explained to you? What's unclear about it? No seriously, I'm actually wondering about the life experiences that would make you see that differently. Tell me about that, because you're not looking real good right now.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I'm actually wondering about the life experiences that would make you see that differently. Tell me about that, because you're not looking real good right now.
I think that the only point we agree on is that the contractor should be paid the agreed-upon amount, regardless of how long they play. Even if the venue cancels the band last second. Doug's band didn't start late, they started exactly on-time.

Outside of that... Is it really OK that an employee shows up before work and starts drinking?

*No loitering after load in - I'm cool with that. Not every club has a green room.
*Music starts after the game - I'm cool with that.
 
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