Falling into the Autumn Music Scene – GigGab 82

guitar laying in autumn leavesAutumn is almost here for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, and the gigs change right along with the New England leaves. Even though Paul’s not in New England (or, well, not usually), he’s experiencing the end-of-summer effect with his west coast gigs, too. Listen to what your two favorite working musicians have to say about this different time of year, and also about booking new gigs and supporting other acts. Name checks this time around include Paul Costley, Little Feat, JAM PATROL, Pitch Slap Percussion and Two Cheers!

Chapters:

00:00:00 GigGab 82
00:00:57 Playing a gig exhausted
00:04:19 Booking agents that work for the club vs. the band
00:06:27 The ethics of booking
00:09:02 The Houserockers back to the clubs
00:13:18 Ahh, drummers.
00:16:42 Blending harmonies … “Seven Bridges Road”
00:18:49 Little Feat – Let’s talk about grace and longevity!
00:25:22 Jam Patrol’s Acoustic Set (including a discussion about Skye using Dave’s wearable Pitch Slap cajon… and its new microphone!)
00:33:27 Shout out to/from Two Cheers Podcast

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3 comments

  1. Alex says:

    I want to hear more about booking agents and what is normal and acceptable. I haven’t had great experiences with booking agents in San Antonio, TX. I’ve had one based in Austin contact me several times to try to fill bookings, but then wants to charge me a percentage. In that case it seems like I’m helping her out, so why would I pay her? I told her repeatedly, “if you can get me a gig where I net X amount after your fee, let me know. I’ll gladly pay the fee since you’re finding me a good gig, I just need to make X amount.” But that never happens.

    I’m curious about what others think about this other situation. Sometimes, the only way to break into a club is by booking with an agent that books ALL of the acts for that venue. Is it common that the agent charges the bands a percentage for gigs? In this case, I feel that the agent is working for the venue, handling all of their bookings more than working for the band. I feel that the venue should be paying the agent. I did a gig or two per month for about a year and a half with this situation. The pay wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like the feeling of knowing that the agent was running their calendar, charging the bands 10% of the pay, while I’m guessing the venue didn’t pay him anything for his services to them. The venue passes on that cost to the bands to pay for the services (and it’s an overpayment, in my opinion). When we added a dedicated sound and lights guy, our show got better, so I asked for better pay. Again, I said, “we need to be at X amount after your fee.” I think we ended up only $50 from where I wanted to be, but I just said “no thank you” partly because of that booking agent situation. If there was no agent in place and it was the venue saying “this is all we can do, please work with us” I probably would have taken the deal. But it was a situation where the venue was doing very well, we were doing well with attendance and sales and they should have been able to pay us that amount easily. I wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable, but only what I thought was appropriate. So now we don’t play there, and that’s sad because it was a good gig and I even had a fan tell us just this week that we should be playing there. We’re doing alright without that gig, just booking directly with other clubs. But my question is: is this a common thing with venues and booking agents and what’s your attitude about it?

    • dave says:

      Hey, Alex! This seems to be pretty standard operating procedure for most agents. Perhaps it’s better to think about it this way: the agent is offering the club a service, mainly to take the club’s headaches away when it comes to filling their calendar and dealing with bands. If the club has to cut two checks – one to the band and one to the agent – that’s double the workload of cutting just one check to the band and letting the band deal and agent deal with it directly. Less headache for the club.

      As a bandleader, this can be viewed two ways, but I like to think of it as an extra opportunity to cement a good relationship with a booking agent. Now I’m paying them, so I have some control in this scenario. I can make sure to pay them quickly, I can send a nice note along with the payment, and I can even use it as a touch point in the future when I follow-up to make sure the payment was received. Of course, when I make that phone call, it’s an opportunity to ask, “and have you got anything more for us?”

      Certainly it’s also good to maintain a relationship with the powers-that-be at the club, too. Not only do they tell the agent which acts they like and want back, they also might move to a different agent next year or start booking directly. Having that relationship (at an appropriate level) is very important.

      We’ll discuss on the show!

      • Alex says:

        Thanks for the reply, Dave. The convenience aspect of one check makes sense…but I just go back to: if the agent is working for the club, why don’t they pay him directly? Maybe one check a month? Maybe that makes too much sense, ha!

        I always did have a good relationship with that booking agent I worked with. I paid quickly and he always had another gig or two for us. It just came down to a business decision for me not to take less than I think we’re worth (and plenty of other places have no problem paying that amount and more). When we couldn’t agree on the pay, it wasn’t some ugly breakup. He offered me another gig later, but I couldn’t take it only due to availability.

        Look forward to hearing more about this topic on the show! Thanks a lot!

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