Questionable Music – What is a Fair Deal for a Band?

By Rob Hunns


So here we are, my first column…

The idea behind this is to go into more depth about what was asked in the relating episode of questionable music .  So if you haven’t already, please check out the podcast ( I will love you forever xxx).

In the first episode of questionable music , I asked the question; when does a band deserve to be paid?

In the first questionable music column, I will ask, what is a fair deal for a band?

What I mean by deal, is how would you expect to be treated as an artist or band?  Most bands these days seem to accept that because they are not on a major label, or that they aren’t performing for a living, that a crate of beer or “exposure” is an acceptable payment for their service to a promoter or venue.  Not too many bands these days are bold enough or even have the know how to get themselves a good deal for playing a gig.

Could it be that this is the norm?  I’ve found in my 15 years of small time gigs that promoters and venues are all too quick to get themselves hooked up with a free act for the night, throwing out terms like “you don’t have enough likes on Facebook” or “because its your first gig” as excuses to not pay you, o favourite “next time we’ll have you back for a paid gig”.  The latter of these boils my blood the most.  Very rarely have I heard this and then been asked back for this coveted prize.

Are promoters that worried about their own pay cheque?  If so, then why can’t they see their way to helping bands as best they can?  There is a little thing called mutual respect!  Promoters are very quick to forget that.  Could it be that there is some kind of higher power above club owners?  Some evil record label executive leaning on all clubs through out the world? Some crazy conspiracy that hasn’t been uncovered yet?


It’s just greed.

Greed that wants its finger in every pie, greed that wants it’s iron in every fire.

If all of this is true, then what is a good deal for a band or artist?  To be fair to clubs and bars, I understand that attracting the numbers is important when hiring the entertainment for an evening.  I also understand that a covers band will play for three hours, but on a typical three band bill consisting of an opener, a main support and a headliner, I think all bands should be paid regardless of how many people they attract And how long they play for.

Could it not just be expenses? I don’t see why not.

A strange standard has been set in recent years, where a band will be asked “what’s a realistic number of tickets you could sell”.  I see why this is fair as a venue would want to book bands that bring crowds, but when they say if you sell ten tickets you can have a pound a ticket…

A POUND A TICKET!  Some bands have ten members. That’s a pound each! How the hell is that a fair deal?  It’s fair to the venue because your making them money.  How is a band supposed to do well when they get treated like this? Could they even get home? How can they build an audience by selling tickets if they can’t get to and from a gig in the first place?

This my friends is not a good deal.

The fair deal for this scenario would be…

“If you sell ten tickets at five pounds a ticket then you keep the money”. That’s what promoters should be saying.

However this could only work for an opening band, because they will more often than not bring no one. (Then it’s time for the complementary 20-30 pounds).

For the main support though, I would like to think a venue would have asked them there, so a deal would have been reached through previous contact, or upon knowing that they have an audience there so they are guaranteed a payment.  I’m sure it wouldn’t be much, but payment none the less.  This is what I mean when I say “contract of employment”.

This is what we could call “a good deal” for a main support.

I also wouldn’t find it strange if a strong main support band had a booking agent or management of some kind that would be the contact for the band.  At this point a venue would take you more than seriously.

I digress…

We don’t have management at this point of the scenario…

If however you are the headliner, would it not be safe to assume that you are guaranteed a payment any way?

No.  No it wouldn’t…

Again, some promoters still may not offer your band payment even if you are the headline act.  These are what I like to call “THE FUCKING CHEAPSKATES”. These are few and far between.

Having never been in a bigger headlining band, I’ve never had the privilege of getting a good deal in this situation, but having been able to see how headliners have been treated I can only imagine how it would go.

I would suggest that they of course get paid, as their management has organised this and the venue has sought them out, expecting to have to pay them.

From the side lines of course, it would appear that their highnesses have their own dressing room, (which they never appear from until they grace the room with their presence).  They would have a rider consisting of dinner, drinks, fruit, drugs, a blowjob and as many hoes as they can handle, as the promoter gives their manager a rim job and thanks him over and over for giving him the chance to spend all his budget on the band, so that there is no way any of the opening or support bands can get paid.

And the circle is complete.

I feel we have reached this weeks answer.  From the podcast, we concluded that all bands deserve to get paid, providing they follow strict guidelines.  However, today we conclude that the real answer is that you probably won’t get paid unless you have an ass licking shyster of a manager!

Let me know what your feelings are on the matter.

Am I right? Am I wrong? You decide…