Jump to content

Cover Charge Re-think


Dancebass

Recommended Posts

  • Members

Honestly, I have no idea if this issue affects any of the cover bands, but everyone's thoughts are certainly welcome. I'm not sure if you guys ever get paid off the door so this may generally apply to original bands.

 

Since the economy took a down turn things have started to tighten up a bit with clubs and the pressure is just continuing to increase. Everything has gone up or become more costly in other ways.

 

Bars are starting to increase their production costs and that's hitting us in the wallet, I've never understood why the soundman and door guys cut should come from the door money anyway to be perfectly honest! I've mentioned it before but their load-in times keep inching forward causing me time/money on the nights that we play.

 

Touring is harder than it has been in previous years too. Venues seem hesitant to book out of town bands, opting to rely on locals that they can count on for at least some small draw rather than taking any risk with an act from out of town. When I contact many of these places it seems like they don't actually employ anyone that knows how to book shows or has any knowledge of their own local scene. They always offer me a night but only if I supply two local acts to support the bill.

 

Everyone's claiming that gas should be climbing back up into the four dollar range this summer. Everyone's rehearsal space rent keep getting higher as well from what I hear.

 

Yet it seems like we're still charging $5 to $8 bucks at the door. I don't want to pass these costs on to our "customers", for fear of running folks off, however that is EXACTLY what every other business in the world is doing! It seems a bit ridiculous for everything in the world to increase in price and still charge 90's rates to see a band!

 

Is anybody else starting to feel heat this way?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Most of our venues quit charging cover altogether. Of course, we aren't a 4 band a night original band but rather play all our originals (currently about 13 or so ) in the course of an evening of covers. But we still run into the same things: increase costs to play (we don't pay a sound man, but I have a PA to haul and maintain). No cover means no pay increase for the band. One venue I've played for the past 16 years is talking about cutting pay for bands.

 

This really sucks, and unfortunately, I believe this economy is going to get much worse before it gets better, as the commercial real estate market implodes, interest rates rise as they inevitably have to, and hyper inflation kicks in, making dollars worth even less.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

We currently play 3 venues that operate free door and pay us an upfront guarantee plus perks. I'm sure it's because all three places are successful restaurant/pubs that turn music venue in the late weekend hours. They can afford to pay us out of the bar take.

 

These bars are a bit out of town in the burbs and it's a dead end for trying to increase your fan base. The hipster local press/bloggers wouldn't be caught dead out there so it's a no mans land. Plus, promoting in the burbs is virtually impossible, what am I going to do hang posters up at Applebee's!!

 

All the bands that we usually work with in-town have started taking trips out to these places once or twice a month just to get the rehearsal space covered.

 

I'm currently in the stage of building my band out to be a regional act. The touring aspect of it is hurting the worst so far. It wasn't that long ago that a decent package and some hometown press could get you a weekend night in neighboring states without too much difficulty. That is NOT the case currently.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

We currently play 3 venues that operate free door and pay us an upfront guarantee plus perks. I'm sure it's because all three places are successful restaurant/pubs that turn music venue in the late weekend hours. They can afford to pay us out of the bar take.


These bars are a bit out of town in the burbs and it's a dead end for trying to increase your fan base. The hipster local press/bloggers wouldn't be caught dead out there so it's a no mans land. Plus, promoting in the burbs is virtually impossible, what am I going to do hang posters up at Applebee's!!


All the bands that we usually work with in-town have started taking trips out to these places once or twice a month just to get the rehearsal space covered.


I'm currently in the stage of building my band out to be a regional act. The touring aspect of it is hurting the worst so far. It wasn't that long ago that a decent package and some hometown press could get you a weekend night in neighboring states without too much difficulty. That is NOT the case currently.

 

 

Yeah, for what you're trying to do, trips to the burbs are probably a dead end. For me, though, it isn't. I do mostly more modern blues/R&B/funk stuff, and building a following in the burbs and small towns has helped get me into the regional festival kind of gigs. There are blues festivals everywhere here, so that strategy works well for guys like me. Fortunately, they're still paying fairly well, because they just won't get a decent turnout with low end bands. While a mediocre band can fill a club around here with 50 or 60 friends, not so with a festival.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I have a band that's fairly new to Atlanta. We've been playing together about a year and a half. We started gigging at the Atlanta Summer Shades Festival last September. I can barely get people to pay for what we do. It's all about following. It's hard to get a following when they're not willing to pay you anything for a new band. I know it takes time, but damn it feels like all the clubs in Atlanta got together and decided to stick it to the entertainers. We got $3.00 at the door last Saturday night. Hell it wasn't enough to pay for dinner. Signed up a lot of new fans though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I regularly play shows here that are 10 dollar door, with the option to sell tickets. As long as I sell more than 10 tickets, the guy always will give me half of what I sell(so if I sell 30 tickets, I get 150 bucks) Not bad for a three piece indie band with a relatively small following(just started playing shows in december)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

No covers down here on the beach ,,, one club has them when a big name comes in like guitar shorty... or they have a special deal, but its not typical at all ,, a cover would be a club killer here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

No covers around here. Except in Boston, but in the suburbs no charge.

 

This one venue we just played that was recently remodeled and bought out from the previous owner started to charge a cover.

 

Its kinda weak, the place really can't hold more than 100 people, and half of that space is filled with a slightly raised stage/PA rig that takes up a good amount of room. There ends up being no room for a dance floor, and the tables are all on the sides of the band, so you can't really get a good look of the band. I must say I do enjoy playing on a decent stage, but its just not in the right area of the club.

 

Also the band gets 0% of the cover charge, and a very LOW guarantee. The owner was telling a story that I overheard about another band being banned because they complained when he shorted them due to low turn out. While charging a cover at the door? I dunno about this place...

 

dk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

No covers around here. Except in Boston, but in the suburbs no charge.


This one venue we just played that was recently remodeled and bought out from the previous owner started to charge a cover.


Its kinda weak, the place really can't hold more than 100 people, and half of that space is filled with a slightly raised stage/PA rig that takes up a good amount of room. There ends up being no room for a dance floor, and the tables are all on the sides of the band, so you can't really get a good look of the band. I must say I do enjoy playing on a decent stage, but its just not in the right area of the club.


Also the band gets 0% of the cover charge, and a very LOW guarantee. The owner was telling a story that I overheard about another band being banned because they complained when he shorted them due to low turn out. While charging a cover at the door? I dunno about this place...


dk

 

 

 

One of the dumbest moves a small bar can do is put in a stage. It cramps the band , and cuts into the floor space. Its far better for a band to cram in on the floor in a small bar than have to deal with the micro stage. When you are out of stage you are screwed ,, at least on the floor you can cram in and end up with more space for the band.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

We don't play for the door but for a guarantee. Our bar shows locally charge at the door $5 for my Maiden tribute and $7 or $8 for my mix band. Some smaller towns around here will charge $9 at the door to be sure to cover our guarantee.

 

$10 seems to be magic threshold around here though, asking for a ten at the door turns a lot of people away for coming into see a cover band. Unless you've got a major label album under your belt, that $10 level is the mental trigger around here that makes people say "nah, I can drink at home cheaper". But $8 or $9 you can get away with for the right band

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

No covers around here. Except in Boston, but in the suburbs no charge.


This one venue we just played that was recently remodeled and bought out from the previous owner started to charge a cover.


Its kinda weak, the place really can't hold more than 100 people, and half of that space is filled with a slightly raised stage/PA rig that takes up a good amount of room. There ends up being no room for a dance floor, and the tables are all on the sides of the band, so you can't really get a good look of the band. I must say I do enjoy playing on a decent stage, but its just not in the right area of the club.


Also the band gets 0% of the cover charge, and a very LOW guarantee. The owner was telling a story that I overheard about another band being banned because they complained when he shorted them due to low turn out. While charging a cover at the door? I dunno about this place...


dk

 

 

Lazy Dog out in Marlborough charges covers. But other than that, yeah I haven't seen covers out in the MA burbs either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Serious regional touring is stupidly tough to make money at. Especially if they are skimming the door to pay for the non musical help. And as this is becoming more prevalent, if the door/security mook pulls an unrequited KO on somebody, and the victim's lawyer gets involved, there might be some bands getting hit...

 

I've been handed the cash from door person, and then the owner asks for the security cut in cash. Doesn't that mean I'm employing the security? Aren't I liable if bouncer mook acts the ass and I'm the one paying him?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

I've been handed the cash from door person, and then the owner asks for the security cut in cash. Doesn't that mean I'm employing the security? Aren't I liable if bouncer mook acts the ass and I'm the one paying him?

 

 

Plus, you can bet he's already skimmed 25% plus of that cash into his pocket before he gave it to you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I really think the venue has the least to gain and the most to be hurt in these situations. Especially if the band is providing the draw.

 

Again we're doing the three set, hired entertainment, cover thing. Although the pressure is definately on... bar owners around here are cutting bands that don't draw (or worse... drive out crowds) and they're more in tune to pay an expensive band like ours with little pressure to draw more than we usually do. In fact we have more new venues calling us willing to pony up the cash to pay us our gaurantee. However many places (especially the smaller bars) want to make as much as they can on the door by charge riduculous covers. When bar owners ask us what to charge we advise no more than $7 or $8 at the door, and even then it's pushing things. If anything we'd love to see the cover remain at $5... then everyone is happy. When a bar starts charging a higher cover it's really the venue that gets hurt not us. We've had comments back from followers that at bars that charge a higher cover, it wasn't worth it to return to that venue to see us. But they'd happily see us play at other venues. More than likely the service was slow (hard to get drinks) or the staff was rude, or the drinks too expensive. All of that makes a big impact with people that follow your band.

 

 

The one room we play that does charge a $10 cover offers generous 2 for 1 drink specials from 8pm until 11pm... they have two large bars in a single room, friendly staff and an occupancy of 450. When we play there's a line around the corner. There are no complaints there... people love going to this place because of the atmosphere and the experience. There's never a long wait for drinks and the security runs a tight ship ejecting those who cause trouble (we call them the 'secret service'). They frequently run theme parties when we perform (Halfway to St. Pat's Day, Mardi Gras, Winter Beach Parties). The bar manager personally thanks us everytime we play there. As a result it's one of our highest paying and favorite local rooms to play. The bar owner gets it, we get it, and the patrons get their money's worth. Contrast that with the small bar owner, who has stale beer on tap, grumpy, slow bar staff, cramped quarters near the bar area, and hardly able to accomodate a full band providiong their own lights and sound let alone 100-150 people that are 20-30 beyond occpancy. And he wants to charge $10 at the door. We usually decline those venues.

 

Here's a recent email exchange from a room we literally talked ourselves out of:

 

Hey Grant,

 

$XXXX is very high for our budget. I know you guys are very popular and put on a great show. Can you tell me approximately how many people you avg at a how? Our capacity is appx 175. Also what sort of self promotions do you do? And when you do play what is the average cover? If I can cover your cost at the door I would be able to do it.

 

Thanks

 

-Mark

 

Our reply:

Hi Mark,

Although we're always looking for new rooms and would love to play your venue again, our calendar dates for 2010 are very tight. We really can't add new rooms at this time any less than $XXXX. Although we can never guarantee full capacity for any gig our shows, we can average anywhere from 125-200 for smaller rooms and over 400 for a room like the XXXXXX. The only thing we can promise is that your regulars will never experience another band like us. We've played your venue a few years ago (under differen't ownership) and always had successful turnouts. Now the band is even more popular, sponsored by WRRV and Budweiser... however we fully understand the risk on your end. We would promote the show as an event... plenty of advance promotion, posters and we would include a promo video.

 

Some promo samples:

Mardi Gras Promo

Back To School Promo

Thanksgiving Eve Promo

 

And we can always do a followup gig report:

http://www.vimeo.com/9176009

http://www.vimeo.com/8684151

http://www.vimeo.com/8189034

 

Booking NUTS as an event for a venue your size is advantageous only if you want the increase exposure. Lots of local bands have respectable followings however we draw large crowds from all over the Tri-state region. It's not just about the money you make on the night we're booked, it's about the exposure your venue will have to new crowds that may not consider traveling to your venue in the first place.

 

A cover charge of $3 to $5 ideal, i wouldn't go any higher then $7

 

 

Of course we fully understand and respect if this still puts us out of your budget.

 

Best,

Grant

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

In a small town in northern Italy in 1981, I went with an Italian friend to an outdoor concert. the band was playing some heavy fusion, and killing it. My friend said it was time to go as the crowd outside was likely to riot any moment. They wanted in. I said "Riot, WTF, it's 5.00 to get in!" He said they think music should be free. I thought the whole idea was nuts. Showed what I knew. In 2010, they have a lot of company.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

If you're going out to drink, party etc, and $5 or $10 for a cover is going to break you, stay home. You have more pressing issues.

It's 2010. $10 is barely lunch money.

 

 

Except that 10 dollars is just the beginning.

 

I live near Spokane, hardly a metropolis. Median income around here is about $34k a year. For the wife and I to go out to a downtown club, it's 5-7 bucks to park, 14-20 dollars for cover, and $12 for the first round. We're out 35-40 bucks before we even sit down. Gee, I wonder why downtown clubs can't stay open?

 

I don't mind a venue charging a cover, but I hate it when they then jack up their drink prices too. I thought a cover charge was to cover the cost of the band(s). Fair enough. But I'll be damned if I want to pay it twice. This is one reason clubs in the burbs and other areas of town are so popular here and the downtown 'scene' is struggling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members



Booking NUTS as an event for a venue your size is advantageous only if you want the increase exposure. Lots of local bands have respectable followings however we draw large crowds from all over the Tri-state region. It's not just about the money you make on the night we're booked, it's about the exposure your venue will have to new crowds that may not consider traveling to your venue in the first place.


 

I love this part! Finally, someone figured out how to take the exposure paradigm and turn it around. Nicely done. :thu:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

in my area the venue sets the cover charge. some places you're LUCKY if you can place your own guy at the door so that everyone pays and only hot chicks get in free.

 

i haven't talked to anyone about raising cover rates yet, but it's a supply/demand thing - and one that can potentially shoot you in the foot if you're playing in an area with a string of bars with less or zero cover at the door.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

in my area the venue sets the cover charge. some places you're LUCKY if you can place your own guy at the door so that everyone pays and only hot chicks get in free.

 

 

Sorry,....how exactly is 'everyone' paying, if YOUR door guy is letting 'hot chicks' in for free? I don't think your bandmates would have a problem with YOU covering all the hot chicks you want, but at the end of the gig, when no money is comming in, and it's due your door guys behavior....!?! :rolleyes:

Other bands should get pissed about it as well, as that will be less money for them at the end of the night too. (assuming there are multiple bands with equal splits.)

Hot chicks tend to ride through most nights pretty cheap anyway with all the suckers trying to make their play and get some.

 

Ever go to a comedy club? They usually have 2 drink minimums that are not included with your ticket entry.

 

I know that inflation is taking its toll everywhere around us, but its never gonna get cheaper for anything. It's just the way things are.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...