***advice needed****

***advice needed****

Postby target » Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:51 pm

Hi board. I am hoping for some feedback on a band booking issue I recently experienced. I’m very upset about it, but I want to make sure my inexperience in the way the music industry works (it’s been a while since I’ve really been heavily involved in doing shows) isn’t skewing my reaction….

Here’s what happened:
My band was asked to open for a storied ska artist at a popular local venue. We are a ska band, so opening for some of the originators of the musical form really excited us.
The show is on Sept.13. On about August 20, we got an email alerting us to the fact that we were on the bill. The email included a long list of backline requirements. Because of how the list was worded, it was unclear to some of my bandmates whether we’d need to provide the equipment.

It was pretty clear to me, and I decided to look into renting or borrowing a drumkit, because mine is not really up to snuff for a professional touring act. I wanted to make sure they had what they needed. I emailed the club promoter on Aug. 23 to ask if the club had a house kit, or if he could suggest a company to rent a set from. That same day, our guitarist emailed to ask about the backline requirements and whether we needed to provide gear.

My email went unanswered and my guitarist’s email and subsequent follow up messages got non-commital responses like “I’m looking into it.”
Yesterday, less than a week before the show, after we had done a good deal of work promoting our appearance, we emailed him again, and he responded: “Unreal. Locals share gear with touring national and international acts. Never, ever vise versa”

So, we went about to make sure we had the equipment we needed. I emailed the promoter myself and asked him if he received my first email about the drums. He told me he had no house set, and gave me contact info for a local rental company. I told him we would provide backline. When I called the company, they told me the promoter had already reserved gear for the show.

Within a half hour, he sent us an email saying we were removed from the show. His email included an email chain he had with the headlining band’s management, that showed that he recommended we get the boot. The email correspondence further showed that on Aug. 23, the headlining band asked that he put us in touch with them directly to discuss gear and to get a contract to us regarding the backline. He never forwarded this to us!
So we were booted off the bill, even though we persistently asked him about equipment sharing, got no response, didn’t get put in touch with the headliner per their request and always maintained that we would do whatever was asked of us to do the show. Not only that, he slagged us to the headliner’s management, calling us embarrassing and saying that we had a total lack of experience.

I have played shows over the years off and on. I know that there are, indeed industry standards for gear sharing with a touring band. But I also know that each situation is different and clubs and bands need to negotiate and agree on how the show will be pulled off.

I guess my question is: what do you do in this situation? I am so bummed out! The promoter was dependent on us providing the backline, but he has no problem footing the bill now that we’re not playing the show. He insulted us behind our back, blaming is for our lack of professionalism, when in my opinion, he dropped the ball. I sent him a polite email detailing this, and he said that he was sorry and that he would make it up to us….but why should I trust that?

What I am grappling with is the balance between personal, professional and hobby areas of my life. I can see getting upset about my family or personal issues. Ditto things that happen on the job. But I never want to be upset about my musical hobby!

If you have read this far, congratulations---thanks for letting me vent. Did my band get what we deserve because we're novices, or did we get burned? can i do anything about it??
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby creature » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:06 pm

So sorry about that.
Sounds to me like you guys did all the right things and the promoter flaked. And totally uncool for him to dis you guys.
Move on-- things will happen when they're meant to be.
Cheers
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby the mean » Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:25 pm

This sort of miscommunication and shit talk happens at all levels of the music business. Just different details, depending on the level.
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby scannest » Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:27 am

It sounds like a big ol' mess of miscommunication combined with a not very nice promoter (most promoters I've dealt with fall into the not very nice category).
It's true that touring acts with frequently borrow some, if not all, amps and drums from local openers. But I guess my experiences have been with punk bands (ala the Dickies) who are gracious and responsive with e-mails, etc. For my money - if a band has a manager or booking agent, why the hell don't they have their own equipment? You Am I flies to the US form Australia - they only bring their guitars, but they rent their own backline and lug it from gig to gig. I don't get why a band with money to pay a manager wouldn't just go to freakin' S.I.R. and get their own stuff.
Now I'm more ticked off than when I started writing this!
"Maybe if Lewdd posts pics of barbecued salmon, you can post pictures of sushi?" -Jimmy Heartburn
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby SamDBL » Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:57 am

Bummer. The whole sharing of equipment thing sucks ass, and should be avoided at all costs. We did it on the last DBL stretch of dates because it was just a few dates and we were traveling in a rented SUV. And every show was a nightmare of miscommunication and scrambling for practice amps and cracked cymbals an hour before the show, no matter how many emails and confirmations were sent to third and fourth party 'organizers' beforehand with rare exception. I've made a commitment that if the tour doesn't make enough money to somehow get equipment carried with us from now on, then we're not doing it. Except for drums (because it's barely and instrument and, let's be honest, no one cares if they play a set of pots and pans with breadsticks). And it's typical of lousy promoters to drop the ball and then throw the local band under the bus to save face with the touring band. I'd write the show off, unfortunately. But maybe email the band or management directly and quickly sum up the explanation so at least your reputation won't be sullied with a band that you respect. At the very least, it might feel better to get off your chest.
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby Welly » Sun Sep 11, 2016 11:49 am

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Last edited by Welly on Sat Sep 30, 2017 2:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby JoeR » Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:25 am

Target,

First and Foremost, STOP PLAYING SKA!!! just kidding man. Seriously though, I am sorry that this occurred. that sucks.

As Sam suggested, I would most certainly email the Band Manager/Agent...who ever it was that was on that email you got forwarded to you.

IMO, Touring acts need to know about the seedy promoters in the towns that they are going to. Because there could be other things going on that they are getting shorted on that you may not know about but if they were aware that the Promoter is seedy they'd be extra careful to make sure they get all that they were supposed to get. And the more he word gets out, the quicker that promoter will no longer be a promoter.

I've seen bands take that kind of information and use it, for example, NOFX would send Timmy out front at Doors Opening and sit off to the side with a clicker to ensure that they knew how many people came in, because they were getting paid a percentage of attendance, and the promoters that they heard were shaddy would, without fail, low ball the attendance and try to pay them less then what they were supposed to get.
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby SamDBL » Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:23 am

Welly wrote:See I always took it at given that the touring band carried a back line as standard, as the er... touring band.


That's assuming that the headlining band is making good money on the tour. As we know in punk, a 'headlining' band could be some guys taking off work for a few days, renting a car, playing dive bars and making barely enough money to cover expenses of the road. If you're in that position, you cut costs where you can. And lugging a drum set and speaker cabs becomes quite an expensive liability with either renting a trailer (which is a huge hassle or forbidden with most car rental companies) or renting equipment locally for each show (which can become a big clusterfuck), or a combination of the two (very expensive). Since the opening bands are already there with equipment set up, it seems like it would be easy to simply say it's a requirement to make the show happen/happen smoothly that they will leave their back line up for the last band. However, it seems like that's just too much organizing to ask from local organizers. So yeah... it's not such a good idea, after all.
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby Welly » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:54 am

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Last edited by Welly on Sat Sep 30, 2017 2:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby target » Tue Sep 13, 2016 4:12 pm

Thanks for the feedback-- much appreciated
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby danny » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:08 pm

Most 'big' bands carry their own gear, roadies and soundmen.
Even second tier bands do this.
But bands that are playing shows 30 years after they were originally popular and who are touring on the cheap often will get a local support or touring support who can provide some backline. We've seen this a few times - but the bands and clubs have always been pretty good about letting you know what is required.

My rule of thumb is this: if you find yourself in a situation where your gear isn't good enough to do the show - best to just walk away - or upgrade your gear altogether (for your own sake).

Sucks that this happened to you. I'm guessing it wasn't the Specials - who are on tour right now. I saw them in DC and they had their own backline and an opening act with their own gear as well.
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Re: ***advice needed****

Postby jaybird » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:32 pm

danny wrote:Most 'big' bands carry their own gear, roadies and soundmen.
Even second tier bands do this.
But bands that are playing shows 30 years after they were originally popular and who are touring on the cheap often will get a local support or touring support who can provide some backline. We've seen this a few times - but the bands and clubs have always been pretty good about letting you know what is required.

My rule of thumb is this: if you find yourself in a situation where your gear isn't good enough to do the show - best to just walk away - or upgrade your gear altogether (for your own sake).



All of this^. I've never been a "professional" musician, but I have played and toured for almost 30 years, and have done plenty of gigs opening for "national" bands. I've never heard of national acts touring with the expectation that openers provide the backline... Borrow a snare or extra amp or whatever now and then, sure, but my experience has always been that touring bands have their own gear, and are pretty particular about it. Usually, it was more of a hassle determining how/if the openers would get to set up their own gear in the 4 or 5 feet of allotted space in front of the headliner's gear, which would usually be set up on stage hours before they would play.

Anyway, yeah, the promoter in this case sounds like he fucked up, and then passed the blame on to target's band. Lame, but flaky shit like that is pretty par for the course in the world of indie-concert promoters, as others have said.
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