How Not to Make a First Impression

ETGB with a NO symbol across the band

No Band Allowed

One of the things I wanted to do in the New Year was take in more live shows. Just like I need air to breathe, I need music to live; and just like the best beer is at a bar fresh out of a tap, the best music is performed live. I don’t care where – big arenas, large concert halls, bars, dives, someone’s back yard, doesn’t matter – there’s an alchemy that happens when you put musicians together that when done well and good just can’t be matched by anything off the radio, CD or TV. Checking out new venues and helping support other bands is just gravy.

Went out to see one of my favorite bands, the night was over, and I’d had a great time – I’d also got a look at the venue and the clientele, thought it might be a good place for my band. Made my way over to who I thought was the owner and gave her my one and only business card – the lovely lady took it and promised to give it to the booking manager. That’s when the hot blonde at the bar started interrogating about my band – either she was the actual owner or she had a vested interest in the bar. Whatever the case, she was asking very pointed questions about my band and what we charge; when she didn’t hear what she wanted to hear, she started asking me about assurances:

“What if I book you and you don’t bring people? What if you don’t advertise the show? Am I still expected to pay you even if you play an empty house? And why should I have to pay your going rate if I’ve never heard of you? What if I don’t want to book a cheaper opening show, then another at your full rate? What if you can’t get your people to the opening show and I’m still on the hook for the second show?”

2 am on what was now a Sunday morning, and I’ve got who I think is the bar owner of a venue my crew is absolutely perfect for doing her level best to convince me I don’t ever want my band to grace her damn stage. She hadn’t seen the band or our website, hadn’t watched any of our videos or listened to our mp3’s – all I’d done was handed over our business card, and she was already low-balling me.

I know owning and running a bar is rough work; I know the profit margins are slim with not a lot of money left over to hire entertainment. I know a good band with a strong following on a Saturday night can mean the difference between making payroll and chaining up the front doors come Monday. I also know if the band plays for cheap, venues think we’re a cheap band – you get only as much respect as your fee dictates. Business people respect money – the more money you have or the more money you charge, the more respect you get. You also lose gigs, so it’s a god damn balancing act, that’s for sure. I’m willing to compromise, the band is willing to compromise, but if the bar is essentially trying to get something for nothing… ? Sorry. We’re not interested in your venue, after all.

I drove home in the wee hours of the morning pissed off, one sour-ass taste in my mouth after having a great time all night. If I’m going to go to these live shows with business cards in hand, I’m going to have to develop a thicker skin.


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