25 Venue & Promoter Commandments
At the Show Blog #8
A while back I wrote a blog that was 25 commandments that every band should follow. So, I thought it only fair that there should be one that discusses some of the things that venues and promoters should follow. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I have not broken a few of these over the years. However, whenever it was within my control, I did my best to uphold them.
- Thou Shall Have Staff On Site at Load In: When a venue or promoter sets a time for load in they should allow access to the venue at the set time and have the proper staff there to ensure that load in and sound check happens on a timely base. This means to schedule your staff properly.
- Thou Shall Be There at Payout: In other words when the show is over and the bands are loaded, a promoter or talent buyer should be there to total up ticket sales, go over the numbers with the bands and pay them. This doesn't mean that you leave 20 minutes before the show is over and leave it to the venue staff or whoever is stuck there to try to figure it out. If you set up the show you need to be there or have a representative there that is versed in the deal and authorized to make payment.
- Thou Shall Promote All Events: This varies from venue to venue and show to show but the basics should be covered on all shows. This should include at the bare minimum: With Lefty's, this includes; posting to the venue website, if there is tickets, the ticketing website, Facebook Page, Social Media Pages, Newsletter, printed calendar and the day of the show added to the Marque. Additionally, a poster and handbills should be printed and distributed locally.
- Thou Shall Provide a Professional Sound Engineer: Surprisingly this isn't always the case. You would be amazed how many venues do not have a sound engineer or hire whoever is available. If the venue doesn't have FOH sound or an engineer to mix the sound, this should be brought up before the show is booked.
- Thou Shall Treat the Band Members and Crew with Respect: This involves simple things like greeting them at load-in, directing them to where it is best to set up merch, providing some hospitality and general information about the venue and the area. Remember you both have the same goal, a show that is a success and sometimes that involves giving the band some direction in a professional manner.
- Thou Shall Provide Hospitality Based on the Budget: If there is agreed upon hospitality than it should be one hand and presented to the artist at load in. If it is not on hand, you should provide a runner to get what is needed. You as a promoter and/or venue should have a basic hospitality package for all bands and stick to it.
- Thou Shall Not Let Everyone in For Free: This should be a given but you would be surprised. There should be a standard guestlist for all shows. With most venues employees are allowed free entry to all shows. However, if an artist's payment for the night is based on attendance there should be a threshold. Nothing is worse or causes distrust like a band performing to 100 people and then being told that only 70 paid and the other 30 were staff. If they are working it is one thing but if they are not there should be a limit. Most contracted event have a comp ticket limit, stick to it.
- Thou Shall Not Change the Ticket Price without Permission: Believe it or not, I've watched this happen at a number of shows. When the show was negotiated there was a ticket price that was agreed to. Then the day of the show, either turn out is lower than expected or a band dropped off the show and the venue or promoter just lowered or increased the ticket price. This can be done in some cases but there should be a discussion between all parties involved. Meaning speaking with a representative of the bands or their management or booking agent before changing the ticket price.
- Thou Shall Be Straight Forward about Ticket Sales and Expenses: The venue or promoter should provide a sheet with a count of the number of tickets sold, the total of GBOS, total of the cost of the show and the agreed upon payment. There should be a sober and responsible person available to go over the numbers with the band or artist's representative at the time of payment.
- Thou Shall Make Timely Payment: Payment should always be made within 30 minutes of the end of the event. Payment should be in cash or in a method agreed upon beforehand. This should be made in person and at the venue.
- Thou Shall Treat Band's Property with Respect: Those employed by the venue or promoter should treat the artist's equipment with respect and also do their best to ensure there is some level of security for the equipment.
- Thou Shall Create an Event Schedule: Either the promoter, sound engineer or showrunner should present the band with a detailed schedule of the event including load in time, sound check, doors, set times, changeovers and any curfews at load in.
- Thou Shall Advance the Show: The promoter or venue representative should make themselves available to advance the details of the event and answer emails or phone calls regarding advances on a timely base.
- Thou Shall Answer Emails and Phone Calls: Being a promoter or booking a venue can be overwhelming at times but all emails and calls should be answered. Even if it is simply a reply that says that you are not interested.
- Thou Shall Attend Every Event: We all have scheduling issues but whenever possible, you should attend the events that you are booking.
- Thou Shall Not Misrepresent Yourself: If you are employed by the venue, all communications should clearly state that. If you are an independent promoter you should clearly state that you are not employed by the venue.
- Thou Shall Book Support for Touring Bands: This often the hardest part of booking any event. There might not be a local that matches the touring band or there might be conflicts in scheduling but you should put for as much effort to ensure that there is a band with a local following on the Event.
- Thou Shall Treat Every Show as an Event: There is a huge difference between just another show and an event. It is often very hard to keep up that level of excitement the more shows you do.
- Thou Shall Not Ask Support to Pay to Play: I know first hand just how hard it is to often just break even on an event. This is especially true with larger acts. However, you shouldn't turn to small local and regional bands to make up the difference by buying tickets to resell or any other form of Pay to Play. I've found it is either a way for promoters and venues to make extra income, laziness or shows that maybe shouldn't be done in the first place.
- Thou Should Always Be Pitching Your Shows: Every single chance you get you should be talking about events that you are excited about or feel the person you are talking to would be interested in. I don't know how many times I've been standing next to a poster for an event and the person standing right next to me either didn't know the band or didn't notice it. Then by the end of the conversation, I had sold them on the show.
- Thou Shall Not Cancel a Show: Never cancel a show regardless of ticket sales or turn out unless you have no choice in the matter. I've had shows where at door time there were maybe 5 people there and by the end of the show, there was well over 200. You never know what the night will bring. Plus you have made a commitment to a band to allow them to play. For a touring band, this could be life or death.
- Thou Shall Not Promote Shows at Competing Venues: If you have a show at venue y and you are at venue x, don't pass out, hang or leave flyers and handbills around venue x. Some venues this isn't an issue but it comes down to respect. Ask if it is OK beforehand and if you must hand them out, outside of the venue.
- Thou Shall Not Steel Shows From the Competition: This is a touchy one. Often venues in the same market are offered many of the same tours. It's one thing to put in an offer for the same show that a band or agent has offered you and another thing to go through a venue's calendar and try to steal bands that are scheduled at the venue or have played there.
- Thou Shall Always Professionally Represent Yourself, The Venue or Promotion Company: This one is a hard one. Regardless of how much you try to keep in the background, as a promoter you are a public figure. Attendance can be affected by your interaction on a social level both in real life and in social media. Which means that you need to represent yourself in a professional manner when in a public or social situation.
- Thou Shall Promote Shows Not Yourself: The events that you promote are more important than your own public image. Promoting shows or talent buying is not a way to improve your social status. If you take this approach you are going to fail or burn out quickly. If you are looking for self gratification, there are better paths to take.Though I will admit there is a lot of satifcation that comes when you stand in a crowded venue, watching those in the crowd enjoying themselves and knowing in some small way you had something to do with making it happen.