This thread may not interest many people but I found a part of an article on dealing with club owners to be right on the money. So many times when you are looking to find work for your band a club owner will say "How big is your following?" before even knowing if your band is any good. I think this about sums up my feelings. I wish I had written it.

"Running a restaurant, a club, a bar, is really hard. There is a lot at stake for the owner. You are trying to get loyal customers that will return on a regular basis because you are offering them something special. If you want great food, you hire a great chef. If you want great décor,you hire a great interior decorator. As an owner you expect these professionals to do their best at what you are hiring them to do. It needs to be the same with the band. If you hire a great band you should expect great music and that should be the end of your expectations. The music is another product for the venue to offer its customers, no different from food or beverages. This is where the club owner needs to take responsibility.

It is the venues success or failure that is on the line, not the musicians. The musicians can just move on to another venue. I’ve played places where for whatever reason only a few people have walked in the door on a Saturday night. The club owner got mad at me, asking where are the people. I turned it around on him asking the same thing? Where are all the people? It’s Saturday night and your venue is empty. Doesn’t that concern you? What are you going to do about it? Usually their answer is to find another band with a larger following. This means the good sounding bands get run out of the joint in favor of whoever can bring in the most people whether or not they are any good at all and here’s where the club owner doesn’t get it. A bad band that brings it's own crowd is only bringing people who follow that band…, not the venue. The next night you will have to start all over again with another band and the people that were actually starting to come there regularly are now turned off because you just made them listen to a bad band. The goal should be to build a fan base for your venue by having consistently good entertainment so people will trust that your venue has good music all the time not just sometimes. Instead, you’ve soiled your reputation for a quick fix with an inferior band that actually lost you part of your regular crowd and chances are they may not come back.
If you asked a club owner “Who is your target demographic?” I doubt they would answer “friends and families of the bands” yet clubs operate like somehow this is their target customer base."

So well said.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Aug 11, 2015,
Yep, that is the indication of a dead venue. When they ask "how big is your following?" or "Can you presell tickets for the gig?" They have no regular customers. This is not a club we wish to book a gig. Move on.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Why don't you give credit to the person who wrote that article? You're a musician, you should know better than to rip an article off the web with no mention of the person who wrote it.

What you posted is non-sense. A club or bar does does not "offer" entertainment in the same way that they offer food and beverage. They may offer their space as a venue for a band or a DJ in exchange for increased alcohol sales. Their main goal is to sell alcohol. That's how they make their money. Most everying else can be seen as revolving around that idea. A live band in a bar serves the exact same purpose as a stripper serves in a strip club: get people into the place and buy alcohol.

As far as a bar or club is concerned, having a large following is what makes a band good. The more people come in the door, pay cover charge then buy drinks to see the band, they'll be more keen to invite that band back because it makes them money.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^

"To know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity." Everything is made up and the facts don't matter.

Here is the original article: http://www.grassrootsy.com/2012/02/22/an-open-letter-to-venues-that-exploit-their-musicians/comment-page-4/

Just before I raise a couple of points, I'd like to sort out some preliminary issues.

The question of whether you bring a crowd or not is relevant ONLY for originals bands. Cover bands function only to keep the people present in the venue. They don't have 'fans' as such, they just provide a form of entertainment that is going to go down well with everyone. That is, they're playing songs that the audience already knows and loves.

And in case anyone asks, jazz bands are cover bands. So are classical bands. If your band also plays 4 hours of covers with an original chucked in here and there, you are a cover band.

Original bands, on the other hand, can provide two functions. Firstly they draw a crowd, they have fans. Secondly, with some venues (originals venues), people will go out to a venue simply to see original, unknown bands play. In these cases, the originals band also serves the function of keeping those people in the venue.

On the reasoning above, the owner/promoter/whoever has no place asking a cover band how many people they can draw - that's not the band's job.

But here's the kicker - if they need to ask an originals band how many people they draw, they have no place booking originals bands. They should already know which bands draw and those that don't. If they are not aware of the market, they're pretty much a failure at doing their own job, and you should not take a gig with them - it'll be crap.

In short, if anyone ever asks "how many people can you draw?", don't take the gig.

As the crowd draw only applies to original bands, all of my following argument is relevant only for originals gigs.

I don't want anyone to read my comments above (or the linked article) and then immediately assume that they should put no effort into bringing people to your gigs. If nobody shows, it's a shared failure between the band and the venue, and past that, when you have a dead gig, everyone loses.

The venue makes no cash, you make no fans. You spent hours at a gig and you could have been playing Playstation instead. It's no fun and you don't feel great about your band. So you owe a responsibility to yourself, and your band, to make a firm effort to bring people to a gig.

If you think you can only bring 10 or so people to a gig, that's fine. We all have to start somewhere. Hopefully you've teamed up with some other bands who can also bring 10 people. Hopefully you've also booked an appropriate sized venue (like 30/40 capacity) so it can seem kinda full. And then you and the other bands put in the show of your lives, and entertain the crap out of everyone. If you've accomplished this, they'll show up next time, and they'll bring their friends.

Past drawing people to a gig, this strategy, in short, is how you build a fanbase. All the social media/advertising is just a way to connect with those people that already like your band, to let them know you have something on. It's then up to them to bring extra people.

That's not to say the venue doesn't also have a responsibility to promote the gig - they certainly do! But often when a dead gig happens, there's a whole heap of finger pointing at the other guy (as described in the article).

What is often missed by bands (less so by venues) is that an originals gig is not a situation where one party "works" for the other. It's actually a joint business venture, where both parties try their hardest to put on an event which benefits them both. Even in the case where both parties try their hardest, and the event still fails, there is no finger pointing involved, because there is a general recognition between the parties that they both tried their hardest.

So tying the above back to the subject at hand, do I hate it when people ask how many people I can draw? Yes, because it means they haven't done their homework. However, this does not excuse me from trying to draw people to a gig, because that is going to help my band.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Last edited by AlanHB at Aug 13, 2015,
I agree with Alan. My focus and the point of the original article was not bands or singers that do original music or shows featuring original music. That's a whole different aspect of the business that requires a completely different interaction with a venue and it's manager/owner or promoter. In those cases it is almost completely the bands responsibility to either bring in their own following or a band that will draw an audience based on it's reputation alone.

I was referring to the full time/part time bands and musicians that do cover material that most club/pub/bar patrons are very familiar with. In this type of situation you are selling your services to provide good music/entertainment that will make the regular customers stay for another drink or come back the next time your band is playing there.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Aug 13, 2015,
No one knows who we are. But we play anyways and they love us.

That's my band anyways. The band I work for is blowing up right now.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
^^^ Yeah man. Sometimes clueless venue owners want a cover band that also draws people.

You can see their reasoning - the band plays music that will entertain their regulars, and they will also bring extra people. It's a theoretical win-win.

Unfortunately the real world doesn't work this way. Cover bands don't have fans, at least not in the way originals bands do.

If confronted with this question, I explain that we can do a covers gig for $X amount, not drawing people in, or we can do 3 originals bands for that same $X amount, or a door charge/cut of the bar deal, and those bands will try their best to draw their fans to the gig, with zero garuntees.

Usually when confronted with this counter-offer the manager runs for the hills and I never hear of them again.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
^It's not even that, it's an insane business practice.

Flip the scenario, and imagine a band throwing a house party and inviting a bar to come to their studio to provide food and drink. The band demands that the bar bring X amount of people or they don't get paid. And besides, the bar should just be doing it for the exposure anyways.

For some reason it's a normal request to club owners, but if you flip it, you sound like a total psychopath.

Besides, even if the band does bring people, those people aren't going to be staying for the venue, they are only there for the band. It's the owner's responsibility to bring most of a crowd, it's the band's responsibility to make them stay and drink.

Alan, I like your idea. When people ask me where my crowd is, I ask them "It's Saturday night. Where's YOUR crowd?" That usually solves that problem here, although I live in the rudest city on earth.

Artists and venue owners need to get on the same team.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
^^^ Yeah honestly I'm not a fan of the "flipping" scenarios when arguing for musicians wages. For some reason plumbers come up a lot.

The reason I don't like the "flipping" scenario is because it usually goes "try to get a plumber to work for 2 hours on a Saturday night and see how much they charge".

It's kinda missing the point, because the plumber is performing an essential service, whilst a pub can get along perfectly fine without you.

There's also the "what you think you're paying for" argument, which outlines the expenses that a musician incurs, somehow justifying their pay. Flipping that one, would you pay more for a plumber because he uses a gold plated spanner and drives a ferarri? Pretty silly.

I don't really want to encourage the whole "venues are bad because they don't pay" thing because it's adopted by lazy original bands as a reason as to why they shouldn't promo themselves. Just know that there are musicians out there who are getting a decent wage, and they're not the guys whinging about venues on the internet.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Last edited by AlanHB at Aug 17, 2015,
^^^Very true.

I'm not saying all venues are the devil, I'm just saying that people (and by people I mean mostly bands) need to understand that it's a 50/50 partnership, getting people in the damn door.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
That being said, I've grown addicted to guerrilla gigging and enjoy it greatly. Cutting out the middleman can be quite nice.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
^^^ Guerilla gigging, like flashmob stuff? How do you derive cash from it? (Honest question)
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Tip Jar. I play in a free improv duo on the side with my drummer, and he and I just set up in public and RIP for a while and then vanish.

We take requests of extra musical scenarios and titles and then use that as a springboard. People are pretty good with tipping when they feel like they're participating.

That being said, we do it as a side project/for fun. The bands I make most of my band money with are much more "traditional".
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp