The Guide To Scamming Musicians

Full disclaimer, this is not about my usual topic of writing. This page is called Writing &  Art so I will be covering an issue within the other side of art called MUSIC.

So starts my: Pay to play rant.

Any musician in a band knows that so many times,  if you want to play a show you have to pay to play. It’s not just as simple as “here’s fifty bucks”  and then you take the stage.
Anyone who doesn’t know what this is,  please read the next few words because it will enlighten you as to what musicians have to do JUST to play in front of a few people.

A local band will get booked to play at a show with a regional/national headlining band that can’t bring in enough people to make the venue profit. This is the beginning of why this is killing the music industry.
So in order for promoters and venues to make money,  they book 4 local bands,  give them fifty tickets and tell them sell 20. After…. Or if they sell 20, when the day of the show comes,  they hand over $200 (20 tix @ 10 each)  and then the remaining 30 tickets left over.

But many times, a band will not be able to sell 20. It may not have to do with how bad or good they are. It’s that bands play many shows,  and if you were family or a friend of one of the members,  would you want to be bothered to buy a ticket every time they play a show?

So what happens when a band can’t sell enough? What if they sold 15? They hand over the $150 they sold,  the 35 tickets left over, and $50 out of pocket.
In either event  the band DOES NOT GET PAID. And they play their 30 minute set,  sell a cd and a t shirt,  and lose money for said show.

This makes me pose one simple question.

The headliner is the headliner for a reason! You know why the biggest bands play last at shows? It’s so all the people that go out and see the Chevelle or the Foo Fighters have to listen to lesser known bands. It’s the way bands get bigger.

Do you want to know why bands in your town seem to play the same few hole-in-the-wall venues for 2 years and then quit with no real following? It’s because they had to bug the hell out of everyone just to come out.

The end result here is for musicians to stop catering to this style of promotion that is so sleazy it might as well be a scam.
And for promoters to get headliners that can actually fill a venue. They’re called PROMOTER because they PROMOTE. Making the kids who just worked their asses off for years learning their instrument and finding 4 other guys who share the same passion to do your dirty work is a scam.

We all understand that venues need to make profit just as much or even more than a band does.  But there are much better ways to go about it than killing your local music scene.

So if you are in the audience,  take a little time, check out that local music scene of yours. I promise that it is not all loud metal. Rock,  acoustic, rap,  it ALL exists in each town. Maybe you have a Friday night open,  spend $5 and go support a band. Have a beer at the bar down the street and support local music. Don’t like this post. Go do it.

If your a musician like myself,  I know it’s hard not to cater to this style of promotion because it’s everywhere. Resist,  resist, and have productive conversations with people and “promoters”  about this topic. No throwing of feces as I’ve seen too many times online.

Thanks for reading my rant,

3 thoughts on “The Guide To Scamming Musicians

  1. I am NOT a musician.

    In fact, I make most music sound about as pleasant as a rusty soup can full of broken glass and dirty rocks, shook hard during a thunderstorm.


    I have been a performer for way too many years – performing my stories in venues right across the country and I am WAY too familiar with all of the many ways that a gig can be profitable – or NOT!

    Nice rant.

  2. Interesting and well put! What’s really scary is that it applies to so many other fields. People want a free download of a book that took a writer a year and more to create, or to buy hand made items for less than the cost of the materials because ‘you enjoy making it’.

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