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Guarantees or Door?


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maybe some of you seasoned road warriors can help me out with something here... say you are a member in a very proficient, high energy specialty band that has had a fantastic response in a relatively local market. you decide to take the show on the road. armed with a slick demo package, you approach some reputable clubs and theaters on the regional circuit (3-400 miles or so) and the response is enthusiastic. you start talking terms, and universally, the booking managers will only discuss very small guarantees with a generous cut of the door. keep in mind, this is a specialty type show and tickets usually run in the $10-12 ballpark. what do you do in this situation? do you stick to your guns and say "no, you've seen the slick package, you know we're the real deal, we need $x," or do you say okay, here's the potential to make a lot more money playing for the door in a high end venue? and if you do, what do you do next time around? just wanting some feedback from some of you that have probably been in this boat before...thanks!
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Sounds like they're hoping you're going to do a lot of advertising for the event, so you get a good door (and they clean up on selling drinks). If you have the ad budget and connections and can draw lots of bodies in to the shows, you might do OK this way. If not, you need to drive a harder bargain. It's a pretty basic dollars and cents decision - you have do decide which gamble will pay off the best for you.
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[quote]Originally posted by GT3: [b]Always make sure that YOU have somebody at the door- someone you at least think you can trust;) And make sure it's real clear cut what the door policy is going to be, especially if there are multiple acts.[/b][/quote]Amen! We've been stiffed so many times by packed 300-seat clubs where the owner claims with a straight face that "only 50 people showed up" that I will not play for the door anymore. Sounds like you'll be playing nicer clubs, though, but do as GT3 suggests...

Botch

"Eccentric language often is symptomatic of peculiar thinking" - George Will

www.puddlestone.net

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First, decide what your bottom-dollar price is (we won't play for less than X) and then try to find out from some other musicians how well the place usually packs out (don't trust the owner's numbers). Do the math based on the estimated crowd and you precentage and see if it meets your expectations. "Lucky" scale pay for a house band in the joints around here is $75/musician/night. Based on some of the pathetic crowds I have seen, we were glad we weren't playing for a share of the door. (small crowds aren't the band's fault, of course...) :freak:

One of these days I'm gonna change my evil ways...

one of these days...

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More negotiations are needed. If he wants you to play for the door, then it shouldn't be a problem to have someone from your camp taking the money. (Also, make sure that the club owner doesn't have 30 or so 'regulars' on his own personal guestlist.) If he absolutely refuses to let someone you know handle the money, one way we did it years ago was to buy a roll of those ticket things and have someone hand them out to people who paid to get in. Then we were like, "We gave out 120 tickets and at $5 a pop, you owe us $600." Even with that there were complaints and haggling, but we came well prepared and left better paid than ever before at that club.
Andrew Mazzocchi
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We have a guarantee at Soho, our most regular club gig in Santa Barbara. Over a few years playing there, we have built a draw such that the place inevitably has a line out the door when we're playing. We play there for a guaranteed bottom PLUS a percentage of the bar sales, and its resulted in little or no increase in pay since we started there. An average night we make $100 per person. To be fair, we're big: an 8-piece (with additional horns and percussion, we go as high as 11 when there's a budget... it's nice to get a fat sound on all the Tower of Power tunes!) . Needless to say this is not a gig I do for the money. The thing is, they REFUSE to give us the door at this club. Probably because they know they do too well. I've talked to other groups who play during the week (we're always a Fri or Sat night act), who've related to me that the club won't give them anything BUT the door. And they advertise themselves as "committed to live music." For what they're making off us, we should be doing closer to $150 - $200 per member. So, to give my curmudgeonly $0.02 ... if you're known for a good draw, and they're even offering you the door, have someone looking over their shoulder. Or have an uncle who's with the liquor control board, and make sure they know it. We now return you to your regularly scheduled non-rant programming.

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Senior Editor, Music Player Network

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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