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Playing for the Door

Ok, by now you've read my rant on pay to play scam clubs. There is some reality here to deal with, outside of the pay to play world, of getting paid to perform but not getting a set fee, and that's the door gig.

First and foremost, always and I mean always, try to get a guaranteed fee for your work. Its usually best to just get a set fee for the performance. However, sometimes it is to your advantage to get a piece of the door as well, or have your fee based on a minimum you're certain to make for showing up and playing, and a bonus from the number of people coming into the place when you play. If by all accounts 100 people should come through the door and pay a $5 cover charge, then get the club to guarantee you $250-300, against 75% of the cover collected. This both covers your nut for a local gig and also rewards you more if you're creating a nice following for your act. Remember, you don't get a piece of the register, you get a piece of the door.

The club owner makes a lot of money selling that booze. A lot of money. Yeah, he's got hard costs, but entertainment has to be a part of that business model or else he can't sell booze to begin with, right? Let's remember, nobody wants to sit in a bar with no sound in it. Not for long. That's why jukeboxes are licensed, why BMI and ASCAP charge a license fee to bars, etc. Why? Because if it were not for people being entertained by music, they won't sit in a bar and drink for very long. Unless its some sports bar (and even many of them have music playing part of the day or hire live music), or a neighborhood dive where the all-day drunks hang out watching daytime television while they drink PBR with their disability checks, these clubs need music to sell booze.

And what do YOU sell? You sell music. You sell entertainment that should make people want to stick around and drink more. And if you don't do that? You're not supposed to play bars. If your band performing in a bar doesn't get people to buy drinks and food, you shouldn't be playing bars. Got it?

So, first, go for a fee for the night. Then, if the club charges a cover charge, go for a fee (even if its slightly reduced) and a percentage of the bar. Some clubs will require that the first $150 that comes in from the door goes to pay the sound company if a real sound company is providing sound that night. If you bring your own, then don't accept a first amount coming in stipulation, go for a straight split after the guarantee. 

If your band is certain to bring in 300 people at $5 a head, you might be better off offering to play for the door only if you're 100% certain you're going to really rake it in, otherwise, get that guarantee and go for the 75/25 split in your favor.

If you have to work on a door percentage, have somebody working the door with their person to count heads. Yes, believe it or not, some club owners will skim a ten for every ten that comes in. Having your guy officially or unofficially by that door counting heads should help you make sure you get your pay.

Posted: 2/4/2009 1:30:06 AM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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