"... but do you want those people? Those... punch and pie people?"
Last night I saw something that's all too familiar if you frequent local shows. A group of people arguing the band had told them there would be guest list, or a lower cover than expected. In this case, they'd been told cover was going to be $5, but upon arrival, it was in fact $10.
So what happens?
GET THE BAND! They'll sort it out… they'll be able to explain the situation so that the bands FANS can avoid overpaying (or whatever the hell the problem is) and they can get in to see who I guess is most likely their boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, and/or family on stage.
I bit my tongue and walked past them as they pleaded their case… honestly though… if you think about this far too common occurrence, maybe the fans would realize a couple things.
1) What really is the difference between $5 and $10? Yes it's double, and yes we can't assume to know everyone's financial situation but considering how much most people I know piss away money daily on stuff like coffee, smokes, alcohol, pot, clothes, their pets, gas station food items… you know… typical "cost of living" stuff. What really is the difference between $5 and $10 though?
Chances are you're going to spend it at the bar anyway… at least if you spend it on admission/cover, there's a slightly higher chance it'll get back to the bands.
2) "Getting the band"
This is a no-brainer when you think about it. Imagine you're friends with Bono and Edge… or the… other guys in U2. Imagine you show up to the Enormodome to see them play. You tell security you're on the list… but they say you're not on the list… "well screw that!" you say… GET THE BAND! You're friends after all and they've invited YOU down to see THEM play… they told you you'd be on the list… they'll sort it out!
Now… if you are in fact good friends, you'd for sure be on the list and/or would have been given tickets probably in advance or to pick up at the venue. You're a guest of theirs. If by chance all these other options failed, you'd probably text them, they'd be super embarrassed and send someone down to sort it out asap.
The thing is… a band, even at a moderately higher level, is calling some shots... they've been given some leeway for it. When you boil it down, people are their to see THEM. The band/artist name & performance sold the tickets… not the merch, not the venue, not the bar sales. The promoter who booked them knows this... that's what they gambled on and where the profit is. The band is the product… and if you know anything about people who are product… happy people = better product… well, enough of the time to say "all the time".
When a band or artists name ISN'T selling the ticket… where does that leave them?
Well, they're really no different then anybody else attending the venue EXCEPT they've been giving the privilege to play for a certain amount of time. The bar is making money off alcohol sales, maybe a bit off door cover (to combat non/rare drinkers such as myself) but really… if your friends band is barely able to charge $5-$10 for a show… and honestly, it's friggin' sad bands get excited if they leave that night with and additional $50 in their merch box… what makes you think they can snap their fingers and get the venue staff to give them special treatment... to pass along to you? The venue has a business to run. They need to make their money first!
… and if the money from the door goes to the bands… the bands are only hurting themselves by further devaluing their product. People vote with their dollars in this case.
Think about that for a second. It's not a charity, but in a way your "fans" are saying their appearance is somewhat more important than supporting/paying for what their friends and family are doing.
I've been trying my best to not cuss in this post but seriously… if your friends and family don't think attending your show is worth $10… but an arguable $5… fuck them! Don't invite them. Either you suck that bad they seriously have a problem parting with an amount of money that barely gets you the entry level combo at McDonalds OR they suck that bad at seeing the value of people they care about past their value of a dollar.
… or maybe they're just broke… still, it's their choice how to react to the situation.
3) I'm going to end this here because I have to get back to work… but I was close to snapping on some cheapskates last night. Bands work really hard… yes it's a hobby for most, but a lot work really, really, really hard to create and share some fun and entertainment for everyone to enjoy. These things do come at a cost, and believe me the bands/artists shoulder the lion's share of it, but is it really that hard to pay a $10 or less cover while we have no trouble doing our share bringing a tuna casserole to a potluck or chipping in for a birthday gift for someone around the office?
I've argued both sides of the fence on whether shows should be free or not… I see both sides… and this year I've paid cover every time I've been asked… even if I'm on guest list... I believe it helps in the big picture. For now though, at the amateur (not an insult, look it up) level, you either play by the rules the venue has OR someone/something else does.
It's simple. It's their house so it's their rules… and it's quite affordable unless someone else wants to offer up their space… install a stage, PA, sound tech, fully stocked bar, eye candy barstaff, parking, bathrooms that wish they were born broom closets, etc.
So in closing… the next time you see someone arguing over guest list or a minor difference in cover… lean over and say "hey man… quit being so damn cheap." It's their option to pay or leave.
P.S. I know who the other guys in U2 are… Aaron Clayhorn and Lloyd Muleson Jr. are one of my favourite rhythm sections of all time.
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!