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  • A bar manager just asked me TWO red flag questions

    So a manager of a bar called me a few minutes ago and wants to book us for next week. LOL

    After I explained we book out 4-6 months in advance and she asked me how much we charge She then asked 2 red flag questions

    " What about if we have a bad night?"

    and

    "How many people will you bring?"

    uggh... I explained that there will probably be people there when we play a show and we will promote on our end, just like you will on yours- but I can never guarentee a single person will walk through the door. The people that are there we will entertain the hell out of but we don't make guarentees. 

    The conversation ended nicely and she said that's a good way of looking at it. She's call me back for summer dates when they r ready. 

    I will have to do digging on this place. Not really sure we even want to play there. 

    www.ostrichhat.com

  • #2

    At this point, I want to play any place that offers a flat-rate in our range.  I don't even care about "bad nights" anymore (I DO care, but that's promotions, not bookings).. I'm sorely missing the extra income we got when solidly booked vs. the lack of bookings we have for 2013

    Sig Fail

    Comment


    • #3

      I understand it sounds like Red flag questions for you but most of the serious club owners only want to make sure they will make money out of a concert. If no one comes in, they lose money as they still have to pay you. You don't want to play for free and they don't want to open their bar to lose money either.

      The only way for you to insure good gigs well paid is to create a very strong fan base, only then you will be able to reassure club owners and get better paid gigs.

      Good luck.

       

      StageMasters

      Comment


      • jeff42
        jeff42 commented
        Editing a comment

        StageMasters wrote:

        I understand it sounds like Red flag questions for you but most of the serious club owners only want to make sure they will make money out of a concert. If no one comes in, they lose money as they still have to pay you. You don't want to play for free and they don't want to open their bar to lose money either.

        The only way for you to insure good gigs well paid is to create a very strong fan base, only then you will be able to reassure club owners and get better paid gigs.

        Good luck.

         

        StageMasters




        The thing is at some bars/clubs in my little part of PA if the band doesn't bring in what a bar considers a "good draw" they will try not to pay you. Not all of them operate like this but some do and I avoid places like this like the plague.

        We have had discussions like this on the board before- its part of what its there for. Sometimes to discuss, sometimes to ask for advice, sometimes to vent and sometimes just to share experience.. Many forumites (including me) have told stories about how we got shafted at the end of a night. I try my best anymore to stop it before it starts.

        Those 2 questions posed IMO are big red flags and tell me this place for whatever reason does NOT have a built in crowd. The people that will be there will ONLY be there because of my band not cuz its a great place for live music.  

        Personally I would rather play to entertain the people that are already there, not worry about getting all my fam and friends together to support us. I also don't have to worry about getting myself ready for inevitable end of the night fight about only 50 people showing up and they don't have the $$$ to cover the band. 

        As far as reassuring a club about a crowd. How can you 100% guarantee that ANYONE is going to walk through the door? IMO where I am and where I play you can't. Bad nights happen to all of us. Even the more successful people on here have bad nights... Many who post on here 99.9% of the time pull 10X the amout of people we do on our best night... and they STILL have bad nights. If a bar hires you to provide a service and you do that should be it. In a perfect world thats how it would be... HA! 

        BTW I posted this as a point of discussion. (not doing much work at my job today. LOL)


      • Potts
        Potts commented
        Editing a comment

        StageMasters wrote:

        The only way for you to insure good gigs well paid is to create a very strong fan base, only then you will be able to reassure club owners and get better paid gigs. 


        Not true..I've made a complete full-time career by playing places and events that only have built-in crowds.  Considering most of us play locally, I think going this route is the smarter business practice than attempting to build a huge fan base that you have to rely on. Don't get me wrong, I have a decent fan base but I'm OK if nobody shows up.


      • Blackbird 13
        Blackbird 13 commented
        Editing a comment

        StageMasters wrote:

        I understand it sounds like Red flag questions for you but most of the serious club owners only want to make sure they will make money out of a concert. If no one comes in, they lose money as they still have to pay you. You don't want to play for free and they don't want to open their bar to lose money either.



        That isn't the way hiring someone for a job works. The chef doesn't go "oh, well.. no one bought anything to eat tonight, so I just won't get a paycheck from you. Nevermind my bills and my family.. I don't want your business to lose money".




        chemikool wrote:

        "What about if we have a bad night?"

        ----My responses:  

        1)  Who makes this call...you?  Are you going to open up your books to me so that I can judge that myself?  If you'd like, we can work out a percentage of sales arrangement instead of a flat fee.

        2)  What if you have a great night?  Seems like if you want us to take less if you make less, then we should get more if you make more - also - see number 1)  

        3)  Skip it - don't even answer it - the manager is fishing to see how cheaply they can get you, or get out from under you if the night tanks.    Or...see 4)

        4)  Our contract stipulates that you are purchasing our services.  Payment IN FULL for services rendered will be expected according to the terms of the contract.  I'll email/fax you a copy - what is your fax/email addy?

        "How many people will you bring?"

        ----My responses:

        1)  All of the venues that have my act perform all have drink and food specials to entice my crowd to come.  Why should my "crowd" come here - are you offering any discounts or specials?  Lets remember - who called who here...and with only a week's notice you aren't giving much to work with here.

        2)  Including myself?  One - My car will be filled to the rim with gear so I can't bring anyone with me.  ***I know this isn't the question she MEANT to ask...but that is her fault not mine.***  Kinda cheeky, but so is the question to begin with...Assuming she means how many people can "the band" bring my response would be similar to 1) - however I might play the game, calling her bluff and say 20 people; simply to see what she says.  Any variation of "that's not enough" is all the red flag I need.

        Sorta related to the OP:

        I'm relatively hardline/assholish about booking though.  I've lost venues over the years because I don't put up with BS.  I've got a job (2 actually) and I don't have the time or inclination to put up with crap anymore.  I have a venue I've been playign for years that was just taken over by new management.  First thing they said was every solo/duo/group had to "re-audition" and they would use the January numbers for the February dates. 

        I called up the owner and said "hey man, I'm already booked there twice in Feb, are you taking those off the calendar?" Owner said "maybe" --- I said when will you know? --- Owner said "end of Jan" --- I said I'm booked there the second weekend in Feb --- He said "maybe not" --- So I booked that night somewhere else; I don't live in maybe land.

         

        Most of the time, if I get either of the OP's questions, I'll politely end the conversation, as the venue owner probably doesn't know what they're getting into.. or likely even the point of HIRING live entertainment in the first place.... but on the RARE occasion that I do entertain the conversation further, I would say something very similar. If you want me to take a cut when the night is slow, that also means you are giving me a bonus when the night is good. You want to transfer some of the cost of doing business onto MY business... and I may agree to that, if there's a financial reason to so. 20% of bar sales for the night is what's generally accepted as what you should be paying your band/DJ/poker guy/KJ/dancer/comedian/whatever. So there's a starting point.

        Regarding the venue you're talking about.. unless there was some outstanding circumstance with this place (i.e. it's a top room... the only room in an area we want to get into... something like that), I would have politely told the new owner that we don't do business that way, and we would be pulling the dates. I'd wish him the best, POSSIBLY insinuate that his doing business like that isn't the best foot to start on... but either way, I'd politely pull the dates the second he begins talking about breaking agreements. If he wanted to rebook.. we could do that, but it would be a new set of contracts, and on agreeable terms for us both.


        A local venue here often books national acts.. (1500-ish capacity). They called me once to open for a country artist. The woman on the phone was very excited.. talking about what a great opportunity it would be for us, blah, blah, blah. She then told me how we would have to sell X number of tickets, and then buy back the ones we didn't sell. I cut her off, and told her that my band makes $XXX to $XXXX every Friday and Saturday night (this was a Friday show I think), and she not only wanted us to book one of those nights for free, but she also wanted us to pay for tickets. I told her that we aren't Ticketmaster, and aren't in the business of selling tickets. She protested, again, that it was "good exposure". I told her that what she wanted would be akin to us saying we were going to hold a wedding or an event there, and that her venue could pay us for the privilage of having us there, and the "exposure" they'd get from our guests. I'm running a business, and that if she can name one way where it makes any BUSINESS sense, I'd play the show. I'll never forget this chick, who is used to this slick sales talk, going "uh... uh.. uh..." and then finally saying something along the lines of "I guess this just won't work out".

         

         

        I don't know where this notion was born that just because our tools are guitars, drums, and microphones that our businesses are somehow less important or worth less.


    • #4

      I wonder if this bar owners' beer distributor is willing to discount the product based on crowd size? Probably not.

      We've all heard "how many people will you bring", but I agree - the first question would be a huge red flag for me. I've never been asked that question quite that way.

       

      no signature required

      Comment


      • #5
        In the big scheme of things the band is an expense. If the venue had a slow night the payment for the band is ultimately a deduction. It's much better when there is a big draw.

        If a venue is bringing in live music, it should work on booking great bands, not focusing on the draw of each band, but focus on being a great venue to hear great music

        That way no matter what weekend it is you can go to club XYZ and even if you haven't hear of the band, you know the place only books great bands.
        NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

        Comment


        • #6

          "What about if we have a bad night?"

          ----My responses:  

          1)  Who makes this call...you?  Are you going to open up your books to me so that I can judge that myself?  If you'd like, we can work out a percentage of sales arrangement instead of a flat fee.

          2)  What if you have a great night?  Seems like if you want us to take less if you make less, then we should get more if you make more - also - see number 1)  

          3)  Skip it - don't even answer it - the manager is fishing to see how cheaply they can get you, or get out from under you if the night tanks.    Or...see 4)

          4)  Our contract stipulates that you are purchasing our services.  Payment IN FULL for services rendered will be expected according to the terms of the contract.  I'll email/fax you a copy - what is your fax/email addy?

          "How many people will you bring?"

          ----My responses:

          1)  All of the venues that have my act perform all have drink and food specials to entice my crowd to come.  Why should my "crowd" come here - are you offering any discounts or specials?  Lets remember - who called who here...and with only a week's notice you aren't giving much to work with here.

          2)  Including myself?  One - My car will be filled to the rim with gear so I can't bring anyone with me.  ***I know this isn't the question she MEANT to ask...but that is her fault not mine.***  Kinda cheeky, but so is the question to begin with...Assuming she means how many people can "the band" bring my response would be similar to 1) - however I might play the game, calling her bluff and say 20 people; simply to see what she says.  Any variation of "that's not enough" is all the red flag I need.

          Sorta related to the OP:

          I'm relatively hardline/assholish about booking though.  I've lost venues over the years because I don't put up with BS.  I've got a job (2 actually) and I don't have the time or inclination to put up with crap anymore.  I have a venue I've been playign for years that was just taken over by new management.  First thing they said was every solo/duo/group had to "re-audition" and they would use the January numbers for the February dates. 

          I called up the owner and said "hey man, I'm already booked there twice in Feb, are you taking those off the calendar?" Owner said "maybe" --- I said when will you know? --- Owner said "end of Jan" --- I said I'm booked there the second weekend in Feb --- He said "maybe not" --- So I booked that night somewhere else; I don't live in maybe land.

          If you don't sing, don't expect to call the shots....
          ---Tele-vania65000
          Life is too short to waste it on douchebags...
          ---BlueStrat
          Sometimes I have this fear... that years from now, being able to play an instrument live will be looked at the same way we look at juggling now... as in "Well, I can see where that is difficult to do, but who cares?
          ---RichardMac
          As a youngster, I was told that money was all that mattered.
          And I didn't believe it.
          ---Rasputin1963

          Comment


          • StageMasters
            StageMasters commented
            Editing a comment

            I don't make it into lessons, I make it into advises, or at least that is my intention, and you do what you want with them! If you feel good with your career and satisfied, please stop reading them. I write for the ones who are interested in progressing with their career. I have learned from more experienced artists than me and better musicians than me. Of course I was eager to learn as I was not satisfied with my career but if you are exactly where you wanted to be, then respect man because it's not everybody's case.
            Besides, I don't think that sharing knowledge is vain. Many people pay to get knowledge including me. I'm sorry if I give you a wrong feeling about my intentions but I write and comment based on my personal experience as well as based on the experience of the people I have met on the road. Is it that bad?
            Should I feel guilty to have some experience and share what I have learned? So what is a forum about then? Some other people on this forum give very valuable info and I don't see them as vain. On the contrary, I love different insights and way to see things. It opens discussion. Maybe my way to write is too passionate and this is what you interpret as vain. But I'm very passionate for my job and feel blessed for the chance I have had to receive from so many others. I hope this explanation gives you a better understanding about the way I write and no hard feelings from my side. No one is forced to read my posts. It is really out of a will to share and engage discussion that I write any post.

            I understand that many of you play bars and it is a hard circuit. What I wish for you all (if it is your goal) is to make it to a higher level. What I write is from that perspective and I don't wish anyone to take my posts personally. It is really to be taken by who feels concerned by them and want to use them.

            As for the comment about me being the new kid on the block, it at least had the effect to make me smile " id="smiley" src="https://guitarcenter.i.lithium.com/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-.png" alt=":smiley:" title="Smiley Very Happy" /> I may be new here but I come with good intentions and some knowledge. I am fine with people allergic to knowledge and like to remain with their certitudes " id="smiley" src="https://guitarcenter.i.lithium.com/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-.png" alt=":smiley:" title="Smiley Very Happy" /> I am personally constantly learning from others everyday and am ready to share what I learn everyday with who wants " id="smiley" src="https://guitarcenter.i.lithium.com/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-.png" alt=":smiley:" title="Smiley Very Happy" />


        • #7
          Yup. My band has a set rate, if its too much, no problem at all, here's a couple DJ's I can recommend.

          Same with doing sound. Here's my price. If its good, cool ill send over 2 copies of a signed contract, sign them both and return one with a $500 non-refundable deposit, and that date is written in stone.

          NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

          Comment


          • #8
            It's up to the venue to provide great bands, so no matter when you go, you can count on it being good, even if you've never heard the band before.
            NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

            Comment


            • GtrGeorge!
              GtrGeorge! commented
              Editing a comment
              AGAIN, ...... If the Bar owner is serious about their own success they would already know what you do GtrGeorge

            • jeff42
              jeff42 commented
              Editing a comment

              StratGuy22 wrote:
              It's up to the venue to provide great bands, so no matter when you go, you can count on it being good, even if you've never heard the band before.

              I agree. There are really only 2 places we play on a regular basis in my hometown, usually once every month to month and a half between shows. 

              BAR A: Has a small roster of bands that the built in crowd loves. The owner is very picky about who he lets play at the bar. We always have a good crowd there and it is mostly regulars mixing with our small loyal  following. 

               

              BAR B: Used to be like Bar A until about a year and a 1/2 ago when the new bar manager just started hiring any band that would play for door money. Sure they still hire bands at a flat fee like mine and other "established acts" but the crowd isn't as constant because there is not much left to the "regular crowd." No one goes there every weekend because the quality of the live music fluctuates immensely. No one wants to listen to an awful live band.

               

              Even though both places pay us the same, treat us well and the staff is very nice- Guess what place I like playing more?


          • #9

            jeff42 wrote:

            After I explained we book out 4-6 months in advance and she asked me how much we charge She then asked 2 red flag questions

            " What about if we have a bad night?"

            and

            "How many people will you bring?"

             

            You are right, they are red flag questions.

            To me good promoter's questions are:

            "- Hello, I do the programmation for Club A. We would like to book your band. The capacity of the the venue is xxx and we can offer you yyy. Do you agree?"

            or

            "- Hello, I do the programmation for Club B. We would like to book your band. The capacity of the the venue is xxx. How much do you ask for playing?

            - We ask $$$

            - Sorry, this would be too much for us. Would you agree to take $$?" (eventually "and a percentage of the door/bar revenue")

            Put it in another way, it's okay to discuss the asked price knowing the risk taken to not recoup but, it's stupid to ask you to draw the crowd to THEIR venue. (well it has been said by others). In other words, I stay away to any pay-to-play/bring your own crowd kind of business...

            http://keiki666.blogspot.be

            Comment


            • #10

              I recently had a similar scenario w/ a weekday gig at a restaraunt-bar w/ a new name/new management/new theme.

              The owner was concerned about draw and I was very clear that it was my job to entertain the crowd that normally comes to the venue. He was excited to book it and move forward.

              I loaded in at 3:30pm (deadest  quietest time ~ and most considerate time to soundcheck).... was told (by the shift manager..... the owner wasn't there and didn't come) there was Bingo that night and that I could set-up after they were done. Which is what I did. Of course everyone left before I was able to play. I managed to keep one table of straglers there 2 hours longer than they normally stayed.... which is my job.

              So if all gajillion of my middle aged fan base had come to my week night 8:30 set that didn't start until 9:30, how many drinks could they buy before they have to be back to relieve the baby sitter at 100? Attendance numbers are not the goal for a local bar gig (alcohol sales IS)..... asking how many people I'm gonna bring to a middle of the week gig that I don't get a soundcheck for doesn't cut it when I'm playing four hours of other people's music ~ otherwise I would :

              A) be playing originals instead of covers

              B) only be playing an hour instead of four hours and

              C NOT be playing in Murfreesboro (but be playing dowtown Nashville)

               

              The set was killer BTW. The bartender (and the leftover table of bingoers) loved me....

              I'm gonna check back in the fall if the place is still standing.

              SELLING
              $40 Washburn Lyon wah
              $50 Korg EXP2 expression pedal
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              $60 Electro Harmonix Octave Multiplexer
              $600 Rivera TBR1 2 channel preamp stereo power amp
              $150 Roland GP100 preamp/multi effects/ speaker emulator
              $140 Carvin DCM 150-150 watt stereo power amp

              www.jpaulmusic.com
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              Comment


              • FitchFY
                FitchFY commented
                Editing a comment

                J.Paul wrote:

                asking how many people I'm gonna bring to a middle of the week gig that I don't get a soundcheck for doesn't cut it when I'm playing four hours of other people's music ~ otherwise I would :

                A) be playing originals instead of covers

                B) only be playing an hour instead of four hours and

                C NOT be playing in Murfreesboro (but be playing dowtown Nashville)

                Amen to this!



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