It’s easy to blame promoters when musicians don’t get what they expected. But if you take a closer look at the stuff that the artists complain about, these often turn out to be less dubious than they were made out to be. Just this once, let’s try a change of perspective:
“The stage is way too small for a 5-person band like ours. There’s no way we’ll play there”
We often get feedback like that at gigmit, and we wonder - why avoid small stages? Isn’t it a lot better to play gigs and put yourself out there than to complain about the lack of two square meters of stage space and refuse to play? In such cases, we recommend flexibility and creativity rather than a flat-out refusal. You can’t change the size of the stage - nobody can do anything about that. One thing’s for sure: there is a solution for every problem. So why don’t you just play a shorter set, or get the guitarist to play in front of the stage, or even just have everyone stand closer together? Think about possible solutions, and discuss their technical execution with the promoter. He knows his venue and he’ll know what’s possible. He’ll surely tell you about that time when he got 20 people on that stage. Anything is possible - except giving up on a gig!
Who will promote the gig?
“The organiser is not doing any promo for my gig”
This is also a common occurrence, but even so it’s not the end of the world. All you need is some elbow grease, and you can do it yourself. Good marketing can help, but some venues are even struggling to find the manpower to create a facebook event. It’s sad but true. But what’s worse: a club with poor marketing, or no club at all? In cases like that, you make your own luck. Tap into your network, spend some dough on facebook ads, and fill up the joint for your own sake. The best thing to do is ask the promoter, right after the booking, how he plans to promote your concert, and get involved. It’s after all your audience, your current and future fans. They’ll follow you wherever you play. They buy your records and they’re the reason why you have a career and can make more money from live gigs. Make the most of it! There’s no point in getting annoyed.
“It’s up to me to bring people, and I have to sell tickets for the gig myself? That’s ridiculous!”
It’s true that it sounds a bit weird. It gets to the point where you gotta ask yourself, is a musician supposed to do everything? As if it weren’t difficult enough to get a gig, then you need to worry about marketing and ticket sales as well? No wonder you feel this is going too far. But hold on a sec: what kind of a deal have you got? Is it a door deal? Does every ticket sold affect your fee?
This is very common with up-and-coming bands or newcomers with a smaller fanbase. Fixed fees are rare when the promoter is not sure that the band he’s booked will fill up the place. No promoter is willing to take the risk - that’s why they turn to deals that can work for both sides, such as the classic door deal (where the band gets a part, or even all, of the door takings). Additional ticket sales by the band itself are an add-on, helping musicians earn a little bit more through their door deal. So it’s a chance to increase your own fee. Sure, it means you gotta do more work, but it will pay off, and not only financially. It will also help you get closer to the people who come to your gigs, and get you more actively involved in building up your fanbase. Two birds with one stone. You gotta go for it!
Many problems are easy to avoid
“Despite our catering rider, there’s only tin soup and bockwurst. Never again! Unprofessional promoter!”
“Nom nom nom” - that’s what it should sound like when you eat before or after the gig. Good food is not only delicious, it also helps improve your mood - which can significantly affect your performance on stage. We can all agree on that one. There’s one way to avoid this (bock-)worst case scenario: not all promoters respect the catering rider, even if it is part of your contractual agreement. Ask if and what there will be to eat, or negotiate a catering buy-out beforehand (so you’ll get money or food coupons instead of a spread). Most of the time, a few euros will be enough for you to get some good eats around the corner. That’s much less stressful for promoters, and much more enjoyable for musicians. An absolute win-win situation.
It is incredibly draining and stressful to get constantly annoyed whenever something doesn’t go to plan at a gig. It always helps to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, in order to understand why they do what they do. When in doubt, you can always ask. It doesn’t cost anything, and it can often help avoid unnecessary problems, when miscommunication leads to misunderstandings. And the best thing about it is: the live music sector is a very small scene. Club promoters know clubs and festivals in their region. You’ll be their first choice, and you’ll easily get booked again directly if you react in a measured and calm way, and even happily do your own promo.
To sum up: if you have questions, just ask (and be nice about it). That way you can clear up most problems without any stress.