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Scottish and Celtic Music Discussion
Should a band get a booking if they can't match their fee with takings?
Simon T
Posts: 8666
Posted: 13-Apr-2010 08:31
Obviously there are a lot of circumstances where audiences don't turn up but on a good night when folks do turn out should this be the case?
Posts: 14820
Posted: 13-Apr-2010 09:11
The short answer is "Yes".

Surely, that's the whole "raison d'etre" behind folk clubs, festivals, even "tune up tours" and so on? To promote the music. Otherwise, artists and bands would be just as well promoting their own concerts. Although many do from time to time, they don't all have the necessary skills and experience, let alone the time to do this.

Of course, a decision usually has to be made whether or not a club or promotor should take a risk on booking an artist(s) if they don't believe them to have enough "pulling power" to cover the fee and overheads. So, negotiations have to be made. Most folk clubs will offer a minimum guarantee versus a door percentage and sometimes the entry charges may be varied too either at the insistence of the artist/agent or by the club/venue itself.

However, there are also times for "artistic" reasons that performances will be staged where it is fairly obvious that the costs will not be covered by door takings. Also, most folk clubs can and should give young or up and coming artists a chance from time to time and there's also the odd occasion where a very popular act can be subsidised if there is a great demand from the membership. These extra costs have to come from club funds, however, or sponsorship etc in the case of festivals. So such decisions should be justifiable and it shouldn't be a policy to continually subsidise gigs by artists who generally mediocre.

Simon T
Posts: 8666
Posted: 13-Apr-2010 11:35
I think the difficulty comes when booking bands rather than solo artists or duos. Is that why you see more of these types of acts in folk clubs - more affordable.
Posts: 14820
Posted: 13-Apr-2010 11:47
Generally this is the case although some of our largest fees have been commanded by and paid to solo and duo acts over the years.

Obviously, there are more people in a band but it's their own choice to be part of a bigger lineup. So, the individuals should expect that they may be less well off until such times as a band is established. Most clubs and venues only have a limited amount of money to spend and are obliged to think in terms of paying for "an act" regardless of whether it happens to be a solo performer or a band.

Of course, a popular or respected band can have the choice of playing in larger venues or the gig organisers can safely set a realistic door charge to cover the fee but establishing a reputation doesn't come overnight.

Posts: 14820
Posted: 13-Apr-2010 12:02
I should also add that "more" or "bigger" isn't necessarily better which seems to be the dominant view these days.

I've enjoyed many performances by solo artists including unaccompanied song or fiddle(or other instrument) equally as much as those from "big bands". Both are equally valid options.

blues x man
Posts: 982
Posted: 13-Apr-2010 14:07
A stupid question for a topic. No brainer.
Simon T
Posts: 8666
Posted: 13-Apr-2010 16:37
What bxm - a band shouldn't get a gig?
Posts: 1670
Posted: 13-Apr-2010 23:32
I think you can turn this on its head by counting the number of empty green seats in Paradise tonight- bad gig.bad gig ,worse gig,hellish gig ,nae crowd ,nae monash,nae joy,nae investment,nae future.nae talent,nae crowd..its a universal
Loch Shin John
Posts: 299
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 10:27
When you book an act, you sign a contract. Are you seriously suggesting that this contract should be broken, due to unspecified circumstances?
Apart from anything else, it may reflect just as badly on the club organiser who booked an act that their punters don't want to see/hear, as it does on the act themselves.
Then there are the imponderables, like weather, footy on TV, a bigger draw nearby, etc.
When I ran a club, the singers nights were to subsidise the guest nights, and I have paid artistes more than was taken on the night they actually appeared.
Only one singer offered to take less, and he is an old friend of long standing.
Anyway, it's a business, and for some their sole income. Perhaps you'd like to tell the coalman his coal wasn't as warm as you expected, so you're going to pay him less!
Posts: 14820
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 10:42

I don't think Simon meant that we should pay the artist less if not enough people come along on the night. That would be unacceptable, of course.

However, in most instances, clubs should consider whether or not they are likely to break even at the time they are making the booking. This would include overheads such as PA and room hire (where one or other or both applied) as well as the fee.

Generally, a club shouldn't book an artist they can't afford but there may and (arguably) should be occasional exceptions as I mentioned above.

Posts: 1591
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 10:56
I am not sure what Simon T's question actually means. But I do agree with several points that JAJ makes - e.g. sometimes expect a loss on the night because there are other reasons for booking a performer, gambling with weather/other attractions, not booking acts you cannot afford, etc.

I also agree that clubs may subsidise an act with surpluses from other nights - we certainly try to do that at Glenfarg by slightly increasing the number of sessions per year as we make some income on these nights for no cost; and this helps build up our reserves in case of losses at other times. We also made a conscious decision this year to use some of our reserves (accumulated after a successful couple of years) to push the boat out a bit at the recent 2010 Folk Feast. We have budgeted for a small loss but we were able to bring in a dazzling array of top performers!

One trend that we found unacceptable was acts who wanted 100% of the door, as well as a minimum guaranteed fee. There has to be something in it for the club otherwise we won't survive. So we have stopped booking performers who insist on 100% however good / popular they may be.

Posts: 14820
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 11:03
Asking 100% is a bit of a cheek although on quiet nights that might be the cheaper option. :-)
Even if there is no room hire or PA involved, a club usually has admin, secretarial and publicity expenses.

Of course, there's also our old friend "the raffle" which can be a life saver for many clubs.

Posts: 14820
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 11:15
"I am not sure what Simon T's question actually means"

Simon belongs to the "texting generation" and sometimes clarity is sacrificed for the sake of brevity.
However, I usually understand what he means although I often pretend not to... just out of mischief.

Tattie Bogle
Posts: 3849
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 11:19
Could I venture to say that "on the other side" (the pop and rock band circuit) there are many struggling unsigned bands who do not get paid at all unless the gate rises above a certain threshold, and then they only get the amount above the threshold. They do it in the hope of getting some exposure and/or some talent spotter being in the audience, and often at considerable expense to themselves.
I'm NOT suggesting that folk clubs go down this route, by the way!
Posts: 1022
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 12:49
Times are getting harder though. One venue I know which has always booked three musicians for an evening has recently announced they will sometimes be looking for a duo as they can't always afford any more.

You've just got to make the best of it.

Posts: 2596
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 14:08
Reminds me that the Gaelic man from Portree is very quiet on the 'Blas' front this year as yet.

Less funding = mortgage busting door charges? Yes/No

Posts: 14820
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 14:13
I wouldn't say that would or should necessarily be the case but it would probably be better for this topic to have its own thread as there are many "ponderables" and it could make a good discussion.
Posts: 2596
Posted: 14-Apr-2010 14:19
OK - above point moved to -

Posts: 1670
Posted: 15-Apr-2010 00:15
Given the above I reckon that the task of reconciling takings to the contracted fees for the current Glastonbury Festival lineup would require a few soothing malts .....some folk do it year after year and survive!!
Posts: 57
Posted: 15-Apr-2010 15:52
Some people also think that because it is for a charity, the band should also tailor their fee.
The band should be offered their proper fee, and it should be the bands choice, whether they take a reduced fee (or make a donation). It is the bands choice which charities a band might support, and it shouldn't necessarily be the smae charities every year.
I always feel in an awkward situation with charities, when I have played for peanuts for 20 years, then have to put the fee up to something realistic.

Even charities have to put a bit of money up front in order to raise some funds.

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