Is FaceNation the new improved MySpace for music?

Mylinks_facebook Mylinks_tunepak

Mylinks_join_mailing_list Mylinks_shows

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Put me on the Door?

Hi there,

I've said 'Put me on the door?' many times myself and it seems such a small ask, doesn't it? Please just write my name on that precious piece of paper - the one in possession of the door biatch - so that I don't have to pay to get in the club. There was one period of my life and career that I wore as a badge of honour the fact that I never paid to get into any gig I wanted to go to. It was my selfish 20-somethings and I felt that my industry somehow owed me that.

I'd like to think that passing years have made me wiser and less selfish but truthfully, it has been my experience on the 'other' side of the velvet rope that has really made me think differently. When you ask for free entry to a gig, who is really paying the price?

I am now often the promoter of the shows I perform in. The promoter is the person at whose feet the financial responsibility ultimately falls. Depending on the deal, too few tickets sold can directly hit the promoter in the hip pocket. Venues are less willing to take financial risk nowadays, so will often offer 'door deals'. That means a promoter gets paid only by receiving a percentage of the ticket prices and out of that, must pay the band, possibly the sound system and engineer, promotional costs and any other expenses. Obviously in this situation, any tickets given away are tickets that can't be sold to help the promoter make costs. 

When you're an indie artist putting on your own gig, you're a promoter whether you like it or not. If all your friends and family ask to be 'put on the door', what chance have you got to break even let alone actually get paid for your work? For an indie gig I promoted at The Basement a few years ago, I worked out that even with a house almost full of paying punters, if I included all the hours I had spent working towards this event, my hourly rate would make even a Nike factory worker blush! 

I once invited an agent to see a show I was in, and I offered to put him on the door. He said he would be happy to come and see my gig but insisted on paying his way. His belief was that it was our duty to support each other in this industry and always paying to see gigs was one way to stop live music being devalued. That was the first time I had heard this particular point of view, and I eventually adopted it as my own.

So, is all this to say that no smart businessperson would ever give away tickets? Not at all! Recently I was working with an international act in their first time to tour in Australia. One of the venues for this act was only half sold, two days out from the show date. In this case, the act's promoter had negotiated a guaranteed fee, so the financial risk lay with the venue itself this time. As part of the deal, the venue had offered the promoter a small number of 'comps' which they had duly given to various industry folk - but they found they needed more freebies than were offered. Obviously the venue would prefer to sell than give them away so they decided to cross their arms and refuse to give the promoters any additional free tickets. But in this case, that is exactly what the venue should have done. In fact, they should have been giving away tickets with gusto! A full room is in everybody's interest. A full house creates the illusion of success - it's more exciting for the artist and even audience members prefer the atmosphere of a well attended show. Giving away unsold tickets is such common practice (I was lucky enough to see Pink at the Entertainment Centre as a result of this strategy) that it has a name - it's called 'Papering the House', and it is an art. Don't do it too early and risk losing last minute sales - and when you do do it, be discreet so that paying audience, media and reviewers don't suspect!

The bottom line is that giving away tickets directly affects someone's bottom line one way or another. We all know there is no such thing as a free lunch - we need to also realise there is no such thing as a free gig!

All the best for Christmas and a safe and successful 2016,

No comments:

Post a Comment