Okay, I'm sure your band is awesome. We are all here to support and encourage each other to get up on that stage/platform/plywood and rock the shit out of a crowd. However, when does a clubs burnt-out reputation make it okay for a band to front up hundreds of dollars to play at 5pm on a Tuesday night?
I got a phone call last week from a girl who books bands at a high-profile club in Los Angeles that offers many opportunities to boost your fan base and get recognized by industry leaders. Just kidding. It was the shit hole known as the Whisky A Go-Go in West Hollywood. Getting off track here... She tried to offer us a night at the Whisky with "some ticket sales required."
Now, I remain strict in my beliefs that we will never play at a pay-to-play venue unless we make some kind of deal with the club to not sell tickets and our fans don't get raped in the ass to come out to a show. This didn't stop me from digging a little bit to try and see what the hell she was trying to sell.
Here's the offer we got;
Wednesday Night - 6pm, 7pm, 10pm or 1135pm.
The ticket sales going with each time are as follows;
6pm - 30 tickets @ $10 a piece
7pm - 40 tickets @ $10 a piece
10pm - 60 tickets @ $10 a piece
11:35pm - 35 tickets @ $10 a piece.
She said - "This is a really good opportunity for All Hail The Crimson Kings to play at the Whisky!"
"All Hail The Crimson King. Singular."
"Oh, my mistake!"
I then asked her - "By any chance, do you know who the headliner is for this show? I mean, for $600 on a Wednesday night, we had better be opening up for Metallica."
"No, sorry, we don't know yet at this time!"
Here is the deal - The Whisky, The Roxy (Oh God, The Roxy...), The Key Club, House of Blues... All of these clubs on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood have a hair up their ass. This hair is covered in glitter, glam and bleach of the 1980's when it was actually worth a damn to play on the strip. The old burnt out rock stars still sit around at the Rainbow talking about the glory days and how awesome it used to be. These clubs think that because The Doors, Van Halen or any other Rock and Roll icon played on their stages that they can charge US, the musicians, an arm and a leg (and some gear) to play at these clubs.
600 fucking dollars to play at the Whisky on a Wednesday night? No thanks.
By the way, when you're done playing - do you know what the stage crew does? They "help" you load off the stage. The definition of "help you move off stage" at the Whisky is as follows;
"Help - Adj. - To grab all musicians and performers gear from the stage, throw it on the sidewalk, and slam the door on your ass."
It's true. As soon as you finish playing at this "legendary" club, they grab all of your shit, chuck it out the door and throw you out there with it too. You want back in the club to buy $9 beers? Of course you can come back in! After you move all of your gear back to the van/trailer that might not exactly be very close. Might be up that bitch of a hill actually.
I hate pay-to-play as much as the next musician but why do these bands keep subjecting themselves to it? Okay - if you can sell 60 tickets and then make a ton of money off of 300 other tickets then AWESOME! Bring those people into the club, give the club what you owe them and then pocket the rest. But why do these up and coming bands subject them selves to this? As much as I love my friends' music, I can't always bring myself to come see them at the Roxy for $20 on a Tuesday night. You're killin' me, Sunset!
Look- playing a gig on the strip is fun, exciting and definitely a cool experience... But I would rather pay $9 or $10 to see you at some run down bar in some dank alleyway at a club that smells a little funny and has overpriced PBR. That's what rock and roll is all about right? Right.