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Graham Smith-White

The Fair Trade Music initiative in Portland, OR (http://www.fairtrademusicpdx.org). was started to deal with exactly these issues and let the public know which venues don't engage in these practices. Artists here were continually upset with what they thought was unfair arrangements. Many were similar to this list and many venues have multiple of these as their "standard" arrangement. One venue has such a lopsided standard arrangement that the best you can earn if you pack the house is about half of the income from the door. Another obvious sign is that the venue makes you pay their staff to sell your merch and keeps part of the sales but is unwilling to share part of their food and drink sales with you. Obviously, CDBaby is located here as well but the initiative has been taken up in other locales. San Francisco as well as the traveling musicians of Local 1000 of the AFM.


Forget about trying to make money in NYC if you're a new band. Most places require you already have a minimum fanbase and/or they take the first varying percent of ticket sales that you'll never see any revenue. :(

David Trau

The first 3 yes, 4 & 6....it's all good if your band regularly draws 50 people. At that point yeah, book your own night, get some friends bands and enjoy your double scoup of ice cream.

As a promoter I have to guarantee that people who will generate revenue for the venue show up and that it was worth the "30 minutes of phone calls" it takes to organize and promote the show. I regularly have my bands sell tickets and only pay them for tickets they sold (people that came to see them). They earn 1/2 the door after a number of tickets sold. They don't have to pay for the tickets up front, or any unsold tickets, but if they miss the mark twice they won't get booked again. I can't afford to loose my overhead or worse my night because a band doesn't draw.
In LA there are only a few of us that aren't pay to play and to keep the venue, the band and myself happy this is the medium. It's not ideal, but its fair. I'm talking 50 - 150 capacity, I'm working on booking some 250 - 400 seaters for the end of the year. I'll let you know what we work out for those.

Saying that put one of your friends at the door to take his own count on your sales. Do a quick head count yourself and do what ever you need to to make sure your not getting ripped off, which is usually just being on top of them and letting the promoter/venue know your watching.


Even simpler... ASK FOR RECEIPTS FOR EVERY DOLLAR SPENT!!!!! Know what you're looking at, a very limited knowledge of accounting will suffice.


What the hell are you gonna do about any of these scenarios as a struggling musician...?


Hire a tour manager that knows how to settle a show... Need one? www.jaronsound.com


We Charge either 100% of the door or 15% of the bar. One or the other..So far so good. Although we've had a few run-ins with greedy promoters, that take all the cash and blame us for drinking the 12pack of (free?) beer. But you learn your lessons, and we now typically rent the venue out and keep it all between the bands.


Here's a story about how B.B. King handles those types of guys.

Randy Bachman (BTO, Guess Who) tells the story of when they were just starting out in the U.S., they got to play in a club where they were opening for B.B. King. At the end of the night, Randy and Burtan Cummings went to the club owner's office to get paid. The club owner says, "Sorry, but it wasn't a good night, I'm not going to be able to pay you. If you don't like it, you can just F.O." Randy and Burton were just about to leave, when B. B. walks in, sits down and asks for his money. When the guy starts to give him the same storey, B.B. reaches into his jacket, pulls out a .45 and puts it on the desk in front of him. The guy turns grey, starts sweatin' and almost breaks his fingers divin' into his desk to get B.B.'s money. B.B. says, "While your at it, pay these boys their money too." "Yes Sir, Mr. King" the guy says and B.B., Randy and Burton all walk out with all their money.

Money talks. Some things talk louder.

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