Pay-to-play - yay or nay?

Discussion in 'Playing' started by cat-the-odd, Aug 30, 2017.

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  1. cat-the-odd

    cat-the-odd On the other side of your screen

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    Ahoi folks!

    Over at my favorite German bass forum there is a really interesting discussion on gigs and payment.

    Basically some pub owners start to charge bands to play a show. Or they force them to buy tickets (which they have to re-sell). The trend is: many bands and fewer venues as well as less general interest in live (band) music.

    What's common in the UK and US?

    Cheers!
     
  2. Wade Garrett

    Wade Garrett I am the projectionist.

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    I never paid to play, but it wasn't as common when I was gigging a lot. I've hired halls to put on gigs but I've never paid a promoter and had to buy tickets to sell etc. I don't like it at all.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
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  3. AdiHughes

    AdiHughes Sessions, Lessons & Shred

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    In principle I'm against it, and emotion to the thought says it's lazy events management, no way would I pay, but...

    - Last week I paid a £10 match fee for a game of cricket (as I do every game, on top of my annual membership fee). Is it any different?

    - If the gig is industry arranged, ie there will be several labels there so you have a targeted audience, it's probably worth paying for.

    If it's a pro-gig - no way, you pay me.
     
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  4. doctorpaul

    doctorpaul Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full. Staff Member

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    I've hired venues before, and been responsible for selling tickets, and it generally worked out just fine.
    Perhaps us amateurs are the problem, given that many of us are (or WERE in my case) keen to get out and gig a lot.
    If that enthusiasm becomes a desire, then I guess we should tolerate paying for what we desire ...
    That is likely to change the playing field for the folks who try to make a living from playing though.
    All part of the game. Nothing stays the same for long; shit evolves.
     
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  5. DrKarnivore

    DrKarnivore Browsing your web and SMS history Staff Member

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    Pay-to-play was common in the early 90`s. Nirvana wrote a song about it!
     
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  6. everfreetree

    everfreetree I... I like trees.

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    Honestly, a lot of places around here use it as an excuse to say "Well, if you're confident enough that you're willing to pay to play the venue, then you're probably good enough that you'll draw a decent crowd and we'll make enough money to justify paying you back the fee."
    There are still places that are like "If we sell X-amount of food/drink covers, you will play for free/make a tiny bit of profit (usually based on a tip jar labeled "For the band", heh), but not as many that ya know... still get enough business that you'd want to play there.
    A local (well... it's an hour away, but nothing truly "local" is worth playing at anyways) pub gets more people in for comedians and drag bingo night (like regular bingo, but with a drag queen caller and more bad jokes) than for most random bands coming in, and both of those "events" are cheaper and easier to set up, so if you can't promise at least a small crowd, they generally don't want you (their food has gone to crap, since they changed owners, and the place hasn't been cleaned since that change either, by the looks, so it's going downhill anyways).

    You are genuinely better off with an acoustic on the street corner than with a band in a pub.
    Unless you've got a crowd of 50+ dying to see you and willing to pay, perhaps.
     
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  7. Strigidae

    Strigidae I like owls.

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    Most common thing around here is band signing up for gigs with the responsibility of selling X amount of tickets to be allowed to play.
     
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  8. EMM

    EMM I am the cat who walks by himself

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    Seems a bit draconian if you ask me.
     
  9. Chu

    Chu Well-Known Member

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    Around here pay to play is common for any of the alternative bands. You can earn a bit by being a top class function band, although you have to travel around a bit for those type of gigs.

    I used to think the promoter should do the work and be grateful for my band for playing and giving them something to promote. Why should i be responsible for ticket sales? We've spent months writing and practicing this, it's now time to get paid to play!

    I feel differently now. I do this for my pleasure and feel the need to put on a gig or two to justify our existence. All of my other hobbies come at an expense and I'm willing to pay a few quid in the hope I'm playing to more than a few friends. I'll pay for those tickets myself and give them to friends and family of the band free; I can't justify asking my brother to drive for an hour, barely get to talk to me, watch my band and then give me £3. It's not as if the promoter is making a living out of the type of gigs i play either....

    If this is more than a folly, then one should consider it as a business and put in equal effort/time into the marketing/business side and accept that you should be working your arse off to promote and sell tickets. And i don't mean sharing a poster on Facebook..... Sadly, most musicians (myself included) lack this drive to actually do enough.
     
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  10. doctorpaul

    doctorpaul Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full. Staff Member

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    You win the 'sensible post of the day' award.
     
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  11. Felix

    Felix Addicted to Grunge

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    Which one please Dr K?

    With regards to the original post, I think it's fair to be asked to "pay for the use of the "stage" and facilities of a venue" At the end of the day, the profit margin that pubs have on food and drink is fucking tight. I worked in the Pub trade from the late 90's through to the late "00's" and you needed to have a big fucking draw to be paid for performing. We did pay for popular bands and entertainment, but for up and coming acts, you are a risk and you should be willing to take on the financial responsibility for the use of the stage etc.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
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  12. Strigidae

    Strigidae I like owls.

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  13. Felix

    Felix Addicted to Grunge

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    Thanks a lot Strigddy dude.

    Never realised "Stay Away" was about this originally.
     
  14. ed lespaul

    ed lespaul Well-Known Member

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    From a business standpoint, I understand the allure of pay for play, and certainly works for owner of the venue. But from a player perspective, I have never paid to play. I paid my dues playing to several drunks, and eventually built up a following.

    I guess the pay to play aspect is a security net for the venue, in case you suck. That way they don't write it off as a total loss.
     

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