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What to tell people who ask why you don't play a venue anymore...


wheresgrant3

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Over the years if we've parted with a venue it's usually over two things money or management. Sometimes we make the call, sometimes the venue does, but inevitably we always get a bunch of requests to return from patrons or people who inquire why we don't play there anymore. It would be easy to put this in the bar's court ("Contact them and ask?") but I don't like to get fans/friends involved with business reasons why we aren't rebooked.

 

What's a good way to play off inquiring minds why X or Y Club or won't rebook because of business related reasons?

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That's happened over the years. I really don't know what to say, except to mention the venue closest to the one no longer played. Push what's current and forget about the ones gone. One of our venues closed because they couldn't come to an agreement on a new lease and the club owner hasn't opened elsewhere yet. We're sure when he does, we'll be welcome back but in the meantime, we lost two gigs over the next quarter. Sad for all of us. (And he had a nice stage and those are pretty rare around here.)

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This is another "it depends" question. For me it all depends on exactly who is asking the question - and whether or not they're somebody I care to share any significant details with. If it's the typical casual "how come you guys don't play at XXXX any more" - I usually shrug it off with an "I remember that place - it was a nice joint and we had alot of fun playing there. But it was getting stale for both them and us ....so it it was just time to move on" sort of comment and let it go at that. I avoid bad mouthing venues - even if there was a bit of drama involved - and especially if I'm talking to casual acquaintenances. No good ever comes from doing that.

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This may or may not be applicable to your situation....but in the past couple years, we've had a couple venues that tweaked their format, and we just weren't a good fit for the new format. Nobody got mad or fired anyone; one club decided to go with more of a blues/R&B format, while the other club went with more acoustic-oriented rock. And whenever anyone asked why we weren't there, that's pretty much how I explained it. "They tweaked their music format a bit, and we were a bit more rock n' roll than what they're wanting."

 

You could also fudge things just a bit: "We just can't get our calendars together. Every time they have an opening, we've got something booked....and then when we're available, they're all booked up. We just keep missin each other."

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The safe, easy approach is to say "It was a bad fit" and basically repeat variations on the same thing until the person loses interest.


The same process comes in handy for job candidates you turn down, relationships that don't work out, etc. etc.

 

 

Personally, I think that comes across as negative ... for bands, for job candidates and for relationships. I'd play the we found something better angle. "Our calendar filled with rooms that we felt were a better fit for us" ... "we selected a candidate who's skills and experiences better fit our requirements" .... convey the same thing, without the negativity of either party being a bad fit.

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Personally, I think that comes across as negative ... for bands, for job candidates and for relationships. I'd play the we found something
better
angle. "Our calendar filled with rooms that we felt were a
better
fit for us" ... "we selected a candidate who's skills and experiences
better
fit our requirements" .... convey the same thing, without the negativity of either party being a
bad
fit.

 

 

Sounds fine to me. The exact wording doesn't matter too much, really. The main point is to gloss over the details, to avoid misunderstandings and/or bad feelings.

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Sounds fine to me. The exact wording doesn't matter too much, really. The main point is to gloss over the details, to avoid misunderstandings and/or bad feelings.

 

I'm not trying to be a dick Range but it does matter. Nobody gives a {censored},but I'm a PR guy-at least that's what I'm going to school for. The exact wording has a huge impact on communicating the correct message. People hear what they want to hear and in order to avoid misunderstandings or bad feelings it's important to chose our words wisely.

 

OK..I'll go back o being a 43 year old student now ;)

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Great question, Grant, and one that is best answered in the truth. My cover band has probaly played a dozen rooms in the past we don't play anymore, and there's a legit reason for each one, but it always comes down to:

 

1.) Money, 2.) the right fit, or 3.) Management, which is normally tied to #1.

 

We're a business, and people understand that, so we're straight up.

 

"Hey, why don't you play XXXX anymore?"

"Honestly, they couldn't afford us anymore. Great room, but we got a much better offer from YYYY down the street. Still dig the place, though."

 

OR

 

"Why no more gigs at XXXX?"

"Ya know, we just never pulled a good night there, so we got into YYYY instead."

 

As usual, honesty is the best policy. We've only had 2 venues we stopped working with because of management, and we're pretty honest about our feelings on those places as well. "Oh yeah, that's the place where Ben was so angry at the owner he p*ssed on the wall before he left." :D

 

I'm glad I had a sub that night...

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I've played in a lot of places that I no longer work. Sometimes you just aren't a great fit, and both sides know that. Some places are just hard to deal with. Some places may not think I'm any good.

 

I typically just throw something out about how it's difficult to work any room for a long time, blah, blah, blah. In one case where the place screwed me over and lied to me, I'm pretty open with people about that.

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Great question, Grant, and one that is best answered in the truth. My cover band has probaly played a dozen rooms in the past we don't play anymore, and there's a legit reason for each one, but it always comes down to:


1.) Money, 2.) the right fit, or 3.) Management, which is normally tied to #1.


We're a business, and people understand that, so we're straight up.

 

Agreed on all counts.

 

We've dropped/ avoided a few clubs here and there and it almost always revolves around one of those three things.

 

Examples:

 

Place #1: very close to home, always a good turnout, but a smokers' hangout. They gave us a raise and then pulled it b/c 'times are tough' (though we always made them a ton of $$$) :rolleyes:

We finished out our scheduled bookings there and pulled the plug; told our fans the truth. At least I don't come home smelling like an ashtray any more :thu:

 

Place #2: Owner started a facebook war with another band; threatened their (female) lead singer via fb & phone b/c they were double-booked. It turned into a HUGE mess with lots of bands refusing to play there/ customers not coming in the door as a result. We took the high road & finished out our bookings there before dropping them.

He ended up skipping town on Christmas Day without paying his employees or creditors. The bar has been up for sale ever since.

 

Places #3 & #4: We don't completely avoid these places, but try not to book there during the hot/ wet seasons as they are both outdoors and don't offer much protection from the elements.

 

Other logistical problems:

- We try to avoid smoking venues

- Bar owners don't want to cough up enough $$$

- You just can't fit a 7-piece group onto a stage the size of a postage stamp.

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Personally, I think that comes across as negative ... for bands, for job candidates and for relationships. I'd play the we found something
better
angle. "Our calendar filled with rooms that we felt were a
better
fit for us" ... "we selected a candidate who's skills and experiences
better
fit our requirements" .... convey the same thing, without the negativity of either party being a
bad
fit.

 

 

This is also what we do. "Yeah, it's too bad we're not playing there anymore, but we are playing at **** now and it's been great!"

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Again... ours mostly involve us leaving over money. One local venue refused to pay more than $xxxx for any band, as we raised our guarantee with other venues in the area. We thanked him for his business, wished him luck and moved on. He continues to call us wanting to work things out but still seems unwilling to move beyond that budget. The place is popular so we get frequent questions as to why we don't play there anymore. We'll usually answer "Great room, we just couldn't come to an agreement" and left it at that.

 

These answers are great. Just curious what other bands do in these types of situations.

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For me it depends. If it's some random face that I don't recognize, I may say something like "Our schedules don't align." or "It's just not a good fit anymore." But I do strive to never mention money.

 

Since there are cases where the patron is a musician, a bit more truthyness may come out, as in if the manager is a snake in the grass prick, I will let the musician know.

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Again... ours mostly involve us leaving over money. One local venue refused to pay more than $xxxx for any band, as we raised our guarantee with other venues in the area. We thanked him for his business, wished him luck and moved on. He continues to call us wanting to work things out but still seems unwilling to move beyond that budget. The place is popular so we get frequent questions as to why we don't play there anymore. We'll usually answer "Great room, we just couldn't come to an agreement" and left it at that.


These answers are great. Just curious what other bands do in these types of situations.

 

 

We're still at the point where we have to play the "this is what I pay, take it or leave it" club in town, but we aren't playing there as much and I'm not trying to play there every month either. Meanwhile, more places are receptive to trying out the 'new' band (we've been around for 1.5 years now) and are also willing to pay more than what some bands have been asking. We *are* a really good band, so I personally feel that going the lowball route is counter-productive. We're not charging $1000/night like some of the more established bands do. We're not there yet, but I'm confident we will be in a few years.

 

I think that people will pay what they think you are worth and if you come across as desperate and think you're only worth $250-300 a night, then it will be difficult to try to get a raise in the future. It would be a mistake to play a place that can barely afford us or for us to take a steep dip in pay. It would probably drop the pay for us everywhere else too. What we are doing is working for us. The next step is to phase out the 'cheap' rooms and move onto the more lucrative rooms exclusively. It's all about perception I believe. If people think you are that 'good' that you will play those rooms and make that kind of dough, then of course they will expect to do the same. If you're playing for peanuts, why should they pay more? Makes sense.

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We're still at the point where we have to play the "this is what I pay, take it or leave it" club in town, but we aren't playing there as much and I'm not trying to play there every month either. Meanwhile, more places are receptive to trying out the 'new' band (we've been around for 1.5 years now) and are also willing to pay more than what some bands have been asking. We *are* a really good band, so I personally feel that going the lowball route is counter-productive. We're not charging $1000/night like some of the more established bands do. We're not there yet, but I'm confident we will be in a few years.


I think that people will pay what they think you are worth and if you come across as desperate and think you're only worth $250-300 a night, then it will be difficult to try to get a raise in the future. It would be a mistake to play a place that can barely afford us or take a steep dip in pay. It would probably drop the pay for us everywhere else too. What we are doing is working for us. The next step is to phase out the 'cheap' rooms and move onto the more lucrative rooms exclusively.

 

 

Stick to your guns and DON'T make exceptions unless it makes sense for your business. We're an expensive band however we are willing to make exceptions IF it makes sense for our business. The room I described in particular has no reason not to pay us the same going rate that we earn in competing rooms. They feel they have a budget and that budget won't change even if Led Zepplin walked through their doors. We understand, but having that business attitude will also mean their choices for quality acts will be limited. It also signals to us that entertainment to them is not a priority. We haven't played there in 2 years but we still get inquiries why we left.

 

The funny thing is, in most cases we never know what other bands are earning, however we know the ceiling and policy of this room So now we know the maximum $ that every band playing there is earning. A year ago an area bar owner called us up and tried to lowball us by $500. He then mentioned that a competing band literally jumped at that price to play his room. Quality info. We still declined and now we knew the pay range of the competing band. :thu:

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I usually tell the truth, which is usually something like "They don't promote their own club, my name wasn't out front, it wasn't listed on their FB page, and they asked me where my crowd was, all the while refusing to pay any band more than 300 bucks a night." Since I'm never playing there again, what do I care if it gets back to them? I hope it does. I'm not going to lie about it, and I'm not going to be their bitch by protecting them from their bad business practices. When the guy who books this particular place called me to rebook it, that's exactly what I told him.

 

I don't recommend this approach for anyone trying to maintain a band. I just reached a point where I don't give a crap anymore, and I'm pretty much over the band thing, so I have nothing to lose, really.

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Odds are, if we stopped playing a local venue then other bands probably have, too. One thing about a smaller fishbowl - people seem to notice those things and also seem to be able to put the pieces together. "Hey, you guys and XXXXX aren't playing at Venue Crapola any more - boy are they gonna miss you guys! Glad you're still playing at Venue Goodrep. We'll see you there!"

 

When one particular venue tried to cut our fee in half, we stopped playing there as did a couple of other bands that charge amounts similar to ours. Of course, people stopped going there and their competition across town got stronger.

 

The bar manager of this particular place asked us just this past weekend if we would want to start playing there again - for the same amount that caused us to stop playing there in the first place - but "if we did well, then we would get more money the next time".:thu:

 

Ummmm... thank you, but were gonna stick to playing in regular rotation at their competition across town for our normal fee. And we'll keep our crowd there, too.:idea:

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Depends who's doing the asking, but I'm usually just pretty straight up.

 

If it was a money issue I'll say "they couldn't afford us anymore". If it was over some sort of disagreement I'll usually explain it. We had a beach-bar gig we played for years that we enjoyed playing but the management became less and less happy with us as we became more of a "party" band because we'd get the crowd too rowdy. They'd ask us to tone it down, but even though we tried we just couldn't. The place never paid very well and we only ever did it in the first place because it was fun. But to tone the show down took away all the fun for us. So they essentially fired us. When people ask why we don't play there anymore the usual response is "we outgrew that gig. They just want bands to provide some nice background music and we don't do that anymore."

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this happened to us last year after playing every Friday night at one club for the entire Summer. It was time to move on by mutual agreement. I am still running into people who ask why we're not there any more and after I thank them for their support I tell them we're concentrating more on college crowds on the East side of town where the money is a little better but still have some special events lined up for their favorite sports bar. Funny, we're going back there Saturday for the first time this year and it will have a homecoming feel I'm sure.

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I would just slip the question off and say yea we havent played there for a while ,we have had a great summer, then move on to where you are playing and start listing some dates and rooms you have booked. band biz should stay inside the band. Sluff the question off and then sell the gigs you have booked. Nothing can ever come back to bite you later if you sluff and sell your band.

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Stick to your guns and DON'T make exceptions unless it makes sense for your business. We're an expensive band however we are willing to make exceptions IF it makes sense for our business.

 

It makes sense for us right now to keep the lower-paying room, because it still fills in the gaps between the higher-paying gigs. The bar owner was the only one booking us for the longest time when we were starting out. Today I looked back at the gigs in 2011 and noticed that we basically played there every month for the first few months that the band existed. It wasn't like I didn't call other rooms. I did. They weren't interested because they had never heard of us. I didn't have much in the way of business contacts back then. Our reputation is slowly growing now and we're getting people calling US now, which is very cool. :cool:

 

The funny thing is, in most cases we never know what other bands are earning, however we know the ceiling and policy of this room So now we know the maximum $ that every band playing there is earning. A year ago an area bar owner called us up and tried to lowball us by $500. He then mentioned that a competing band literally jumped at that price to play his room. Quality info. We still declined and now we knew the pay range of the competing band.
:thu:

 

Quality info indeed. I called one bar a few months ago. I had played there two years ago when it was owned by a different person. I asked him if he had bands there like the previous owner. He said yes, but not that often. He asked about our band and I told him our price. He balked and said that was a bit high. I laughed and said, "Well, what are you looking at?"

 

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

 

He mentioned another three piece had played there for $300 on Friday and $400 on Saturday. I told him that there was no way that we would play for $300 anywhere, so maybe he could hire us on a Saturday for $500. Still too high. I told him I'd have to get back to him, but I said $450 would be the absolute minimum and it would be an introductory, one-time price only. We would not play for $400 or less. I called him a couple other times later and he acted like he was too busy to talk. He probably was, but I think the writing was on the wall.

 

I wrote them off. There are a lot of places to play around here. No need to get hung up on one specific place.

 

Anyway, it was quality info for me too, because I never expected a bar owner to reveal what he paid another band. Now I know for sure that my suspicions were well-founded: that the band in question was low-balling everywhere just to get a gig somewhere, ANYWHERE and burning bridges along the way. Whenever I called those same places, they were adamant about not having live entertainment anymore. Nice job, guys. :rolleyes:

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