OK so here's the story...
We've been playing a certain venue every other month for a while now. These are gigs (the only gigs) that we get paid based on the door. Lately, the past 2-3 maybe 4 shows, the crowds have been getting smaller and smaller. Last weekend was HORRIBLE. We've gone from regularly making $1k down to taking home a whopping $240 last weekend.
Now, this club has typically had a good built in crowd, and we're not generally a good/consistent drawing band. Even when we made great money our draw wasn't a huge part of it. So, the change is coming by way of the regular crowd at the club diminishing more and more. To make it worse, the club fired their crew that was running sound and booking the venue, only to have the DJ take over the sound duties and the owner take over the booking. The booking side of things have been seamless. The sound however, is another story. Our full time sound man said it sounded like total ass last weekend. Additionally, the previous sound crew would help a lot in the way of promotion for these gigs...which we're now starting to think had a lot of impact on the built in crowd there.
I'm not sure how the club does on other band nights, but I'd guess they do better becuase most of their other bands seem like they draw well. So perhaps the decline in the regular crowd hasn't been noticed as much with other better drawing bands. I know the club still does VERY well on DJ nights, which is every night except Fridays.
To make matters even worse, the manager really pissed me off last week. We're done at 1230am and they always demand that we pack up and unload our gear immediately so the stage can be used as an extension of the dance floor. No problem. So after we're all loaded up, she gets pissed because I came looking to get paid so we could leave. "Why would you want to leave your own show? As soon as you guys packed up you're right over here staring me down..." Uh...bitch...we're done and loaded out. I want to go home and go to sleep! I politely said we're used to packing up and finishing gigs when the venue is closing at 130-2am, and most places appreciate the fact that we load out quickly so their staff doesn't get stuck hanging around longer than they want to. I'm guessing other bands hang around and do 10 shots and whatever else. NOT our style. When we're done working, we wanna f'n leave. Period.
Then she commented on the draw and how slow it was. I said we did the best we could, dropped off posters to the bar in advance, did the Facebook thing, etc. We've always done the same prep for each show and we did nothing different this time around. She proceded to go on and on snobishly about how she has a degree in marketing (and yet you work at a bar...) and we need to start thinking more outside of the box for our marketing. Maybe she has a point because we could stand to do better with our draw...but she said it so condecendingly that it really rubbed me the wrong way.
We have 3 more gigs booked there this year, the next being on Labor Day Friday...which is probably going to suck ass again. I'm wondering what course we should take...if any. I genuinely don't want them to be pissed at us for slow nights if these other bands really are doing much better filling the place. I also don't want to play for $200...it's not worth our time. I don't just want to call and cancel either though. I dunno. I just don't think it's working well for either side. Perhaps a call to talk to the owner and saying exactly that is the right course. Then I can let him decide whether or not he wants to keep us around.
What I don't want to happen is we keep the gigs, play the next one at the end of August and have yet another **** night (which I expect will happen), and then have the owner say it's not working out and cancel our last 2. Then we probably lose the opportunity to book elsewhere for Oct and Dec.
The real behind the scenes fact is that the place is going to hell without a good sound crew. The regulars are going elsewhere, and if the other bands are drawing well maybe it's not quite as evident on those nights. For the ones like us that were relying on the built in crowd...it's going down the toilet.