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Stealing gigs from the pro's

Hamish 12 Nov 07 - 09:45 AM
Dave Hanson 12 Nov 07 - 09:47 AM
Hamish 12 Nov 07 - 09:49 AM
alanabit 12 Nov 07 - 09:55 AM
Banjiman 12 Nov 07 - 10:00 AM
Brendy 12 Nov 07 - 10:03 AM
Marje 12 Nov 07 - 10:15 AM
Dan Keding 12 Nov 07 - 10:24 AM
Banjiman 12 Nov 07 - 10:45 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 12 Nov 07 - 10:56 AM
Jim Lad 12 Nov 07 - 11:16 AM
treewind 12 Nov 07 - 11:22 AM
greg stephens 12 Nov 07 - 11:24 AM
Banjiman 12 Nov 07 - 11:42 AM
GUEST, Anon for professional reasons (sorry)! 12 Nov 07 - 11:44 AM
Jim Lad 12 Nov 07 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,perm 12 Nov 07 - 11:55 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 12 Nov 07 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,BobL 12 Nov 07 - 12:03 PM
Brendy 12 Nov 07 - 12:25 PM
PoppaGator 12 Nov 07 - 12:42 PM
Jim Lad 12 Nov 07 - 12:55 PM
JedMarum 12 Nov 07 - 02:00 PM
Hamish 12 Nov 07 - 02:04 PM
dick greenhaus 12 Nov 07 - 02:10 PM
GUEST 12 Nov 07 - 02:15 PM
JedMarum 12 Nov 07 - 02:19 PM
JedMarum 12 Nov 07 - 02:26 PM
redsnapper 12 Nov 07 - 02:48 PM
Hamish 12 Nov 07 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,Anon again 12 Nov 07 - 02:58 PM
Jim Lad 12 Nov 07 - 03:03 PM
GUEST, Anon 12 Nov 07 - 03:07 PM
GUEST, Anon 12 Nov 07 - 03:10 PM
JedMarum 12 Nov 07 - 03:24 PM
Stringsinger 12 Nov 07 - 03:28 PM
Folkiedave 12 Nov 07 - 03:39 PM
JedMarum 12 Nov 07 - 03:49 PM
oggie 12 Nov 07 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,Ex Club Organiser 12 Nov 07 - 06:23 PM
Linda Kelly 12 Nov 07 - 07:27 PM
Jim Lad 12 Nov 07 - 07:36 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 12 Nov 07 - 07:42 PM
GUEST, Anon FPR 13 Nov 07 - 03:55 AM
Folkiedave 13 Nov 07 - 04:08 AM
The Villan 13 Nov 07 - 05:49 AM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Nov 07 - 06:51 AM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 07:19 AM
Leadfingers 13 Nov 07 - 08:05 AM
GUEST, Anon FPR 13 Nov 07 - 08:39 AM
synbyn 13 Nov 07 - 08:41 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 13 Nov 07 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,pattyClink 13 Nov 07 - 10:59 AM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 11:04 AM
Peace 13 Nov 07 - 11:09 AM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 11:18 AM
IanC 13 Nov 07 - 11:51 AM
Banjiman 13 Nov 07 - 12:11 PM
M.Ted 13 Nov 07 - 12:55 PM
The Sandman 13 Nov 07 - 01:01 PM
synbyn 13 Nov 07 - 01:07 PM
greg stephens 13 Nov 07 - 01:11 PM
synbyn 13 Nov 07 - 02:38 PM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 03:18 PM
synbyn 13 Nov 07 - 03:25 PM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 03:30 PM
M.Ted 13 Nov 07 - 03:31 PM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 03:42 PM
greg stephens 13 Nov 07 - 04:04 PM
The Sandman 13 Nov 07 - 04:22 PM
The Sandman 13 Nov 07 - 04:27 PM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 04:34 PM
The Sandman 13 Nov 07 - 04:45 PM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 04:55 PM
autolycus 13 Nov 07 - 05:15 PM
The Sandman 13 Nov 07 - 05:23 PM
Peace 13 Nov 07 - 05:25 PM
The Sandman 13 Nov 07 - 05:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Nov 07 - 05:30 PM
Brendy 13 Nov 07 - 05:31 PM
greg stephens 13 Nov 07 - 05:39 PM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 05:41 PM
Banjiman 13 Nov 07 - 05:46 PM
Brendy 13 Nov 07 - 05:50 PM
oggie 13 Nov 07 - 05:54 PM
RTim 13 Nov 07 - 06:01 PM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 06:02 PM
Peace 13 Nov 07 - 06:04 PM
Brendy 13 Nov 07 - 06:05 PM
TheSnail 13 Nov 07 - 06:07 PM
Leadfingers 13 Nov 07 - 06:08 PM
RTim 13 Nov 07 - 06:13 PM
The Villan 13 Nov 07 - 06:24 PM
RTim 13 Nov 07 - 07:29 PM
Brendy 13 Nov 07 - 07:49 PM
Leadfingers 13 Nov 07 - 08:06 PM
M.Ted 13 Nov 07 - 10:14 PM
The Sandman 14 Nov 07 - 03:49 AM
joseph 14 Nov 07 - 03:59 AM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 04:44 AM
GUEST 14 Nov 07 - 07:23 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 14 Nov 07 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,matt m 14 Nov 07 - 07:41 AM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 07:47 AM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Nov 07 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,matt m 14 Nov 07 - 08:08 AM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 08:11 AM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 09:02 AM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 09:24 AM
M.Ted 14 Nov 07 - 09:43 AM
The Villan 14 Nov 07 - 09:53 AM
Midchuck 14 Nov 07 - 10:01 AM
The Sandman 14 Nov 07 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Santa 14 Nov 07 - 10:49 AM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 10:52 AM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 11:01 AM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 11:17 AM
The Villan 14 Nov 07 - 11:35 AM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 11:47 AM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 11:58 AM
The Villan 14 Nov 07 - 12:09 PM
The Sandman 14 Nov 07 - 12:32 PM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 12:39 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 12:39 PM
Santa 14 Nov 07 - 12:43 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 12:43 PM
The Villan 14 Nov 07 - 12:48 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 12:50 PM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 01:00 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 01:19 PM
The Sandman 14 Nov 07 - 01:23 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 01:35 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 02:02 PM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 02:10 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 02:11 PM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 02:17 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 02:37 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 02:47 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 02:52 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 03:01 PM
Maryrrf 14 Nov 07 - 03:02 PM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 03:02 PM
M.Ted 14 Nov 07 - 03:06 PM
Jim Lad 14 Nov 07 - 03:11 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 03:13 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 03:15 PM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 03:18 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 03:21 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 03:36 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 03:47 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 03:52 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 04:08 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 04:19 PM
The Sandman 14 Nov 07 - 04:22 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 04:26 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 04:29 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 04:30 PM
PoppaGator 14 Nov 07 - 04:46 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 04:48 PM
The Villan 14 Nov 07 - 04:48 PM
The Villan 14 Nov 07 - 04:51 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 04:55 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 05:02 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 05:06 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 05:09 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 05:10 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 05:15 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 05:19 PM
The Sandman 14 Nov 07 - 05:21 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 05:26 PM
oggie 14 Nov 07 - 05:31 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 05:33 PM
The Villan 14 Nov 07 - 05:35 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 05:48 PM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 05:53 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 05:57 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 06:03 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 06:08 PM
Banjiman 14 Nov 07 - 06:19 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 06:34 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 06:37 PM
GUEST, Anon 14 Nov 07 - 06:52 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 07:10 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 07:22 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 08:08 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 08:37 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 08:40 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 08:45 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 08:49 PM
TheSnail 14 Nov 07 - 08:59 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 09:00 PM
Brendy 14 Nov 07 - 11:05 PM
Jim Lad 14 Nov 07 - 11:13 PM
The Villan 15 Nov 07 - 02:30 AM
GUEST, Anon 15 Nov 07 - 03:51 AM
The Villan 15 Nov 07 - 04:26 AM
Jim Lad 15 Nov 07 - 04:31 AM
The Sandman 15 Nov 07 - 04:39 AM
The Villan 15 Nov 07 - 05:19 AM
GUEST,matt m 15 Nov 07 - 05:41 AM
GUEST,Santa 15 Nov 07 - 06:03 AM
TheSnail 15 Nov 07 - 06:56 AM
TheSnail 15 Nov 07 - 07:07 AM
TheSnail 15 Nov 07 - 07:15 AM
Green Man 15 Nov 07 - 07:20 AM
GUEST, Anon 15 Nov 07 - 07:34 AM
Brendy 15 Nov 07 - 07:59 AM
The Villan 15 Nov 07 - 08:18 AM
greg stephens 15 Nov 07 - 08:41 AM
TheSnail 15 Nov 07 - 09:12 AM
TheSnail 15 Nov 07 - 09:40 AM
greg stephens 15 Nov 07 - 09:42 AM
TheSnail 15 Nov 07 - 09:58 AM
Banjiman 15 Nov 07 - 10:59 AM
The Villan 15 Nov 07 - 12:16 PM
Banjiman 15 Nov 07 - 12:19 PM
The Sandman 15 Nov 07 - 12:23 PM
The Villan 15 Nov 07 - 12:29 PM
Banjiman 15 Nov 07 - 12:33 PM
The Villan 15 Nov 07 - 01:07 PM
Strider 04 Dec 09 - 04:27 PM
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Subject: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Hamish
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 09:45 AM

In the thread "folksingers who quit,and why?", GUEST,Anon for professional reasons (sorry)! said:

5) Not being able to fill your diary because there are simply not enough club gigs out there any more, and also way too many people wanting to play them (often for peanuts because they don't need the money).


This worries me. Because, Gafpr(s), you mean me and those like me. I have recently accepted a gig at an established club for the evening's door money - no guarantee. It's a reasonably local club, so I'll probably cover my petrol money. And it's no big deal to me if I don't - because, as you say, I don't need the money. And I can sell a few promo CDs and make money for the local hospice. And the club will get a good night's entertainment with no financial risk. And they'll keep the raffle profits :-)

But I can't help feeling a bit guilty because I'm taking a potential gig from Gafpr(s) and those like him/her, who are trying to pay the rent and feed the kids on gigs and CD sales. And I'd assume the club would get more people through the door, too.

On the other hand, how do people get to be pro's when they haven't yet got a big following if they don't get out there and play?

I don't know. Should I feel guilty? Would it be better if I turned down the peanuts and held out for a realistic "pro" fee?

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 09:47 AM

What the feck is Gafpr[s]

eric


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Hamish
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 09:49 AM

Gafpr(s) = GUEST,Anon for professional reasons (sorry)

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: alanabit
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 09:55 AM

I don't think you are "stealing work" from anyone. Live entertainment is a buyer's market, and the going rate is whatever the buyer is prepared to pay. When I was doing it full time, I often worked for less than the semi pros. That was because they could afford to turn down gigs, which I had to take. Now that I earn money from other sources, I have a choice. I can take gigs, which I don't care so much about - as long as the money is right. Or I can do gigs, which I love, which pay peanuts. What I never have to do is to take work because I desperately need it at any price. It's up to the pros to make a living - not to others to make it easy for them.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 10:00 AM

Hamish....duly noted that you don't need the money:-)!!!

Seriously:

Surely this is a simple supply and demand question...if the product is good enough (and "sold" properly) people will come out and see it.....the pros should be that much better than the semi's as they have more time to practice and/ or more talent......they should be able to get more people through the door.

If not...should they expect to be full time pros?

There are lots of very good semi-pros around who earn reasonable but not excessive fees in the folk clubs.....surely this should drive true excellence from the pros if they are to differentiate themselves?

Hamish...why should you feel guilty? If you provide an entertaining evening and some people are prepared to pay to see you that's great.....no one is owed a living!


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 10:03 AM

I think, from the venue's point of view, it has more got to do with the maxim of getting something as cheap as possible.

Agents and venue owners can spot the over-compromising artist, and some are ruthless enough to take advantage.
I wouldn't call it 'stealing gigs', though.

One should have confidence enough in one's own capabilities before one steps on to a stage. Musicians are not born publicists, but ultimately it is down to the individual's engagement in what they do, to further themselves.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Marje
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 10:15 AM

I don't see that you need feel guilty, Hamish.

Similar situations arise in other branches of the arts: there's amateur theatre, where people perform just for the love and the fun of it; amateur artists who sell their paintings at a rate that wouldn't equate to a decent hourly income; in classical music, the choirs are almost all unpaid while the orchestras do get paid for what is probably a lot fewer hours of rehearsal - it's simply a reflection of the supply-and-demand situation, and the level and scarcity of the skills they offer.

There are also other areas of employment where voluntary workers support (or undermine, depending on your point of view) the paid workers - conservation, CAB work, youth work, etc.

When someone chooses to try to make a living out of something they really enjoy doing, they have to accept that there will be others who want to do the same thing and don't mind doing it for little or no financial reward. If you're out to be a professional, you'll have to have something extra to offer. Many or most of the pros in the sorts of jobs I've mentioned - including the folk world - started out as amateurs doing it for free in order to get established and known, so I don't see how they can object to others trying to do the same, or simply enjoying themselves entertaining others.

I mean, what other options are there? Everyone insisting on MU rates before they'd do a floor spot? I can't think of a feasible alternative to the present system.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Dan Keding
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 10:24 AM

Stealing gigs is a delicate subject. I've been a full time performer (storyteller/folksinger) for over thirty years and I can only think of a handful of times I thought a gig was stolen from me. Everyone needs to learn their trade and learning the trade of being a performer means you have to perform and during that time you will most likely have another gig on the side. Also, many folks like to work where and when they want to, no argument there, so they also have a profession besides performing. The cream will rise to the top be it a full time performer or a part timer. There is work out there, during these more challenging financial times I'll admit there is less than normal, but you can also create work for yourself. We should be more supportive of each other and not relegate the arts as a competitive sport.

take care,

Dan


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 10:45 AM

Quote from Dan Keding: "We should be more supportive of each other and not relegate the arts as a competitive sport."

Dan, I don't argue at all with the sentiment of this..... ....but what does it mean in financial terms? When there is a small pot to pay people how should this be shared out?

I don't think folk music is at all competitive at the amateur level (quite rightly), but if you are asking people to part with money you have to entertain....and it is your job as the artiste to persuade promoters & club organisers that you can do just that....and then the market dictates that you have to be able to do it better than others if you want to make more money than they do, i.e. a living (professionals)rather than beer money (semi-pros)....


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 10:56 AM

You're giving good entertainment value for money. You're helping support a local club (an endangered species) by ensuring they can stay in profit on your night, or at least not lose out - which then means they can perhaps afford to book a professional sooner than they otherwise would. Folded clubs (for lack of funds) are no good to ANYone, least of all the professionals.

This nourishes the whole scene. What's to feel guilty about?

Anyway, I think the two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Sometimes people (or some people) just want to go for a fun night out, and will enjoy whatever's on the menu. But those who particularly want to see So And So The Star are going to turn up for that particular gig. It can be argued that you're helping to fuel the engine they run on.

Anyway, don't stop.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Jim Lad
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 11:16 AM

Do what you want, Hamish. I'm on Vancouver Island these days, where you'll find on any given night, some of the finest musicians playing for door money and tip jars. I can go into the same establishment or two doors down and get $200 for an evening's work.
I get upset at the businesses who take advantage of these folk but not the entertainers.
As for working for the "Door". I'm slowly accepting this as the being the way it's done and have found that it can be just as lucrative or better than a nominal fee.
Nobody is going hungry because of you and you are just as much a professional as anyone else.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: treewind
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 11:22 AM

Hamish: don't worry.
For one thing, some clubs operate on a door money policy anyway (Matt Armour's Song Loft in Stony Stratford for example) So do some very reputable performers.

For another: yes, there is a shortage of gigs and too many performers, but that's not your fault and you shouldn't feel guilty about it!

But having said that, don't undervalue yourself. A few years ago we got a lecture from Pete Coe about that - asking for low rates just to get the gig is devaluing the market for full time professional singers. You should charge the going rate for what you do. If a club wants to book you, hopefully they do so because they'd like to hear your songs, not because you're cheap. In fact clubs that work on the latter principle don't tend to last long...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 11:24 AM

Marje's theatre discussion doesn't really apply. Theatre pros don't compete with amateurs, it is a separate world, If you are working in the professional theatre, generally speaking people are paid Equity rates or better, and you are not working next to someone who likes doing it for the kudos alone. Those people go to the amateur company and act there. But in music, the two do perform on the same stage at the same events. Music is also radically different from most other professions precisely because of this odd fact about pros and amateurs competing. This does not apply in call centres or refuse collection, for example, because nobody is that keen to do these jobs for nothing.
    Personally, I am a professional muscian and have been for many years. Yes, it can be irritating when you hear that someone with a handsome day job salary has offered their services to a festival for nowt, but there you go. These things happen. The main point I would like to make in relation to Hamish's original post, where he contrasts his willingness to take the door money as opposed to a professional's fee. In most well run venues, the door money would be a perfect fee for a professional. I would always be happy to work a folk club for the door money(preferably with a guarantee, to keep the organisers on their toes). If you are profesasional, I should have thought the money people are willing to pay to see you ought to be enough for you!
    I think it is fair that people should be asked to think about these things. If you are good enough to hold the stage at a folk festival and entertain people, then I think you should charge a proper rate for it. Otherwise the scene cwould eventually become distorted, as it is only human nature for certain event organisers to cut financial corners and go for the cheapo acts, rather than the acts they feel would enhance the festival(or club). Too many of those acts, and the audiences will start to vote with their feet.
   Another thought: should amateur folksingers perform the "Blackleg Miner" at venues where professionals perform? Discuss.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 11:42 AM

"Another thought: should amateur folksingers perform the "Blackleg Miner" at venues where professionals perform? Discuss."

Greg...excellent question.......of course they should, if not it assumes that someone is getting fat off the earnings of the poor hard working professional folk singers....and who would that be exactly?

Anahata: Surely "the going rate" is something just less than the door money (i.e door money minus costs and promotional budget)? That is what the market in any particular area is telling you it can stand?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon for professional reasons (sorry)!
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 11:44 AM

Hamish you should indeed not feel guilty for one second - nor should anyone. It's a buyers market, and you get what both parties agree the gig's worth.

There's no law to say there must be so X club gigs at Y price to keep Z number of professionals in business.

And anyway, why should a club risk losing money on an unknown pro, when they can get a great local act that fills the room and costs half as much?

No, mate - you get what you need, or want, and enjoy!

But if you ARE that unknown pro, desperately chasing a dwindling supply of poorly paid gigs, and seeing the price for those gigs getting lower in real terms (while costs rise) because of the ready availibility of so many very good semi-pros - it can be desperately disheartening to hear the words 'oh we only book local acts and sure-fire big names these days'

see?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Jim Lad
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 11:50 AM

To those interested in making a living at it. If one in ten venues is not turning you down because of money, you're not charging enough.
Just thought I'd throw that in there.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,perm
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 11:55 AM

JimLad,

How many gigs do you have booked at the moment?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 11:58 AM

Guest, can we please not go there?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,BobL
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 12:03 PM

Isn't the essence of "folk" music that it's created by ordinary people (as opposed to trained musicians) for their own and each others' enjoyment (as opposed to commercial reasons)? So a "professional folk musician" would be a contradiction in terms.

Just thought I'd throw *that* in there.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 12:25 PM

You seem to equate 'trained', with 'professional'

Not a valid premise.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: PoppaGator
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 12:42 PM

It's great that so many folks are telling Hamish not to worry or feel guilty ~ and I suppose he really shouldn't. However, I share his feelings, because this problem is especially touchy in my town at this particular time.

Live music has always been a major factor in New Orleans' appeal as a tourist destination, and the tourism industry has been critical to the local economy for years. And, even in good times, musicians have always been underpaid ~ almost as severely underpaid as other workers critical to the tourism biz, like restaurant workers, hotel maids, cabbies, etc. It's historical fact that the tour-and-travel business provides a small number of well-placed individuals and corporations with big money, largely thanks to the efforts of a large number of thoroughly exploited wage-slaves.

Since the 2005 flood, tourism is off ~ even though the economy continues to rebound since being totally shut down immediately after Katrina, we are still hurting. A number of live music venues have not reopened, although there is still probably more live music in New Orleans than in any other US city. Most of the places that are open and offering music have to get by with reduced attendance and therefore smaller revenues. Many musicians who evacuated still cannot return to live in their hometown, especially those who were not homeowners prior to the storm, because rents have gone sky-high due to supply-and-demand.

The upshot is that plenty of opportunites in the local music industry are up for grabs. Many established players, and a few established venues, are now out of the picture. Those musicians who are here and available for gigs include talented and proven veterans who deserve to make a living wage, as well as wannabes of all ages and descriptions willing to take any opportunity for just about any level of compensation.

I think the right thing to do is to accept a gig ONLY if it pays well enough that a player more experienced and established than oneself would at least consider it. In other words, I would feel guilty to be, in effect, a "scab" serving to devalue performance of music and to deny fair payment to professional musicians who can do the job admirably ~ and who might not be particularly qualified to make their livings any other way.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Jim Lad
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 12:55 PM

GUEST,perm: I'm on a "Lay off" at the moment so I only have a couple lined up. Staying home with my daughter for a few years while Mum works. I took 5 years off for my sons when they were younger.
Until she was born, I played 6 or 7 nights a week for four months of the year and 2 or 3 nights per week for the rest of the year.
Popagator: I share your views but am slowly relenting, I'm afraid.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: JedMarum
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:00 PM

Interesting question and discussion. I couldn't agree more strongly with those comments above saying; "Go For It!" and "no worries about stealing gigs."

I know that many of the folks that play the same events and stages that I play have day jobs - and many can afford to work for less then me. But I never see that as competitors "stealing" work from me. If they are playing at that level they typically deserve it because they have some real quality to offer.

I have made a living at music since Jan 2000. I started out at the "part-time pro" level (if I can coin the phrase) and I still play some events at that level. I play at the next levels up too, often with a band ... but even there I come across folks with day-jobs.

Over the long run, every player or band earns his/her keep. If you are pleasing the crowd at a given event and that event is making ends meet, you'll be asked back; you've earned your keep.

I have not played places where the venue takes unfair advantage of the performers. Those places will not last. I know most of the performers making a living in the same venues I work. We talk to each other about venues and our experiences there. A crooked venue owner won't last long.

I take that back - I did play oe venue where I worked for the door and let the owner take tickets. He swore there only 95 - I had counted 140 (full house). I also found him and his staff unusually disinterested in being hospitable toward my band. I had no proof, and could only blame myself for not verifying the house count. SO - I never went back to that venue - and I passed the word on to my music friends.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Hamish
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:04 PM

Thanks for all the support on this. Just one concern raised, really, that those like me could be diluting the asking price for those who do need the money. However, having said that, I booked a couple of Nig Name acts when I was booking for the local club and they were happy to play for a percentage - no guarantee - because they knew they'd sell out the 350-seat theatre we were using for the gig. All they asked for was the merchandising, a simple meal, and that we charged a specified amount per ticket.

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:10 PM

The only way one can "steal a gig" is by charging less. That's what unions are for.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:15 PM

Unions? In the FOLK-performing world? Not a workable plan.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: JedMarum
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:19 PM

I typically get paid either a set fee or the lionshare (80% to 100%) of the door, and the cover charge is set to approximate my rate. I always count on CD sales to "sweeten" the deal - and I sometimes play for CD sales alone, if I can be very sure of a good crowd. Some venues have %of the door deal with a guaranteed minimum. These are good deals to get. The aim is to ensure the performer gets paid and if there is a loss, the venue takes it and a big crowd can mean a big performer pay check.

All of these arrangements can be good deals for both me and the venue. I really and truly want the venue to do well. I want them to be successful, so I can come back someday - and I want them to have fond memories of my gig there!

I don't do opening acts these days, but when I did I often did them for a small set fee ($100 to $150 usually paid from the venue's back account, NOT from the evening's proceeds) OR for free. Again CD sales were typically good.

Pubs typically pay a set fee. Some try to base their rate on band members up to a maximum. I don't buy that "per player" rate since I do the same work a band does, if I am working a Pub. If they don;t budge on that then I don't work the pub. Usually they don't care though.

Making a living at this as I have for a long time, I've seen lots of variety in the way these deals work. I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised at the few problems I've run into. I've had a very few cancellations over the years - and that's surprising in itself due to the number of outdoor events I play. And I can think only two times where I might have been cheated; one I told above, another was a bankrupt festival who gave me a bad check rather then tell they had gone belly up - they did eventually make a satisfactory partial payment, so I can't really count that as being cheated. Even on my few cancellations I've been paid! Maybe I'm just living right - but I really have been lucky.

... knock wood.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: JedMarum
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:26 PM

I just reread my comment above ... I don't mean to imply I am above playing an "opening act" - that comment sounded a bit too much. Sorry.

I mean that I simply haven't done any for a while. I certainly would not turn them down. I guess my main thrust in booking these days is finding paying gigs. It's a tough business. If you don't earn you don't last long - and you don;t make the mortgage!


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: redsnapper
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:48 PM

You should not feel guilty.

Also... being an "amateur" does not necessarily equate to having any less talent than a professional performer. I tend to agree fully with what Bonnie said.

RS


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Hamish
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:58 PM

Ah, now, Jed: pubs. I think I charge the going rate for pub gigs (when I get them!) and that's because I don't like them so much. A bit like Alanabit said "I have a choice. I can take gigs, which I don't care so much about - as long as the money is right. Or I can do gigs, which I love, which pay peanuts."

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,Anon again
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 02:58 PM

In the UK is the number of paying gigs has now dropped below a critical level* as more clubs become singers-only or have guests on fewer nights of the year, while the number of people keen to perform at a professional level (in terms of qulity even if not of price) is increasing rapidly.

(*If you assume you can only play a club once every three years, and that only 75% are going to like what you do, you can only get about 100 club gigs a year. At £80-180, given the other costs involved, that's just not sustainable - you have to look elsewhere, and do other things)

If we all demanded MU rates, even fewer clubs would have guests.

Actually I'm not sure that club rates are dramatically affected by semi-pro deals, but festival rates absolutely are. A festival day is long and tough, workshops drain you and main stage gigs are the hardest of all because multiple act concerts carry the highest risk of technical problems and challenges in terms of turning an audience in a limited time slot (against other, very different performers), but also carry the largest bum-count in the folk world. Yet pecause so many see a festival as a holiday with expenses you're sometimes expected to perform for LESS than a club fee. (and I'm usually in the big print at the top, by the way).

BobL has made the comment we usually hear at some point in this debate - forgetting that he probably wouldn't have a single folk song in his head to hum if it wasn't for the pros that have worked hard through the years to find, arrange or write brilliant songs, and then struggled to get them out there, for everyone else to call their own. That's folk, folks.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Jim Lad
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 03:03 PM

(*If you assume you can only play a club once every three years,)


Make that 18 months. It translate to 2 years because when you get there it was "The year before last" and to any audience that was 2 years ago.
See?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 03:07 PM

10% book me every year. 20% perhaps every two, for most it's three, and the rest it's four or even longer. I'd average that at three. Are you talking about the UK Jim?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 03:10 PM

by the way most UK clubs book guests less 12 or fewer times a year. The number who have a paid guest every week is tiny. Every other week is more common, but still a minority.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: JedMarum
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 03:24 PM

... festival and large venue rates are another issue. I have learned that I should never offer low rates to them, hoping to get the gig. It will NOT be worth it. It is probably human nature, but most of the time people will put you at the level you place yourself. A quick story to show you what I mean.

When I first started playing at big festivals as a headliner, one time I made a low offer to a festival that I really wanted to play (because it fit well with a tour I was planning). I made an offer that might be in range of a local band - thinking that a low price might get me the deal. It did - and I wound up playing in corner of the tent behind the lunch tables next to the beer booth, with a loud rock band blasting away 100 yards from me. I would have done better to stand on the corner at the bus station and busk.

I have learned that it is up to me to find out what the rates are for each of the venues I am seeking work from - and for the various levels of artists they are booking. Then I figure out where I want to be rated within that hierarchy and ask for that rate. It prices me out of some events, but that's better then playing a bad gig. It also gives me a good starting point if the venue really wants me and wishes to negoitate.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Stringsinger
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 03:28 PM

Quote from Pete Seeger, "I'd rather be a professional amateur than an amateur professional."

Frank


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Folkiedave
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 03:39 PM

I can think of one very well-known artist who had a highly paid day job and was highly paid as a professional musician too - still is!

He didn't do gigs for nothing any more than any other professional artist did.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: JedMarum
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 03:49 PM

... just a bit more into the thread creep, if I may.

In truth, I have nothing against having a day job but it gets in the way of music. I cannot do the music development, the booking and the promo activities if I work a day job - nor can I work all over the country as I need to, if I have a day job.

During these slow months of Dec/Jan I have developed a day job of sorts ... I play local sandwich shops and nursing homes several times a week during the day. I am mostly in-town during those months and these little gigs earn me a bit of money while I bide my time for the festival and concert series to begin. I work pubs at nights. Pubs kinda suck - but they earn and they force me to work on my "entertainer" chops - which I really just don;t have.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: oggie
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 05:05 PM

What Jed is describing so well is the mindset of the "professional" folksinger (also applies in the craft world where I work). You have to earn so much to live, you need so many gigs, you find your own niches as and when. You are in business. No business, no show.

If someone is trying to make their living (UK) just doing clubs and festivals, good luck and I don't envy you. The established (Carthy, Garbutt) crowd pullers can do it but very few others. Look at Pete Coe or Bob Pegg and how they have made their livings over the years. A bit of club work, some festivals, a bursary for this or that etc. That is the reality of being in the folk business.

Is Hamish stealing a gig? Don't think so, if he wasn't there would the club have bookes a pro? Doubt it. So he's helped either himself as a step along the way, or someone else to get a gig by keeping the club going.

All the best

Steve


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,Ex Club Organiser
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 06:23 PM

In my days running a club we booked as many professionals as we could afford and paid the going rate. They always cost us money.

The good local performers would bring in a crowd and we would always turn a profit on those nights, without them we could never have afforded a single "name".

With good publicity and some careful cash flow forecasting we were able to put on some decent shows which got new people into the scene and gave the regulars a chance to perform to a proper audience rather than just sit in a circle singing to each other.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 07:27 PM

How can you tell? I am a club organiser and I never think to ask an artist if they have a day job-I ask their fee and if we can afford it thats what we pay them. If we can't afford them but really want them we rely on our savings if we think we should have them anyway. We sometimes struggle to get regular singers night people to guest nights so we need to attract an audience outside the club to support the guest which is time consuming and difficult to predict unless they are well known despite extensive marleting which we always do. Frankly it is a nightmare so when we say we won't book an act because we havent heard them then the reasons are pretty clear-financial. There aren't many acts who will turn up and if there is no audience will forgo the fee and the money has to come from somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Jim Lad
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 07:36 PM

Hats off to the organizers. I never will know what you get out of it.
Cheers!
Jim


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 07:42 PM

Not fat, that's for sure. I share Jim's appreciation. Folk clubs gave me some of the best nights of my life.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon FPR
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:55 AM

Yes it's not really fair to blame organisers for not taking risks on mid-range pros. The problem is that audiences have become more choosy, less willing to put up with increasingly grim pubs, turn out on cold or wet nights, less willing (or able) to shell out decent money, more set in their tastes, less interested in listening to anyone else perform etc etc.

It's not really the audience's fault either. It's just what happens with age and the social changes we're seeing in the UK now.

But some people can be horribly snooty. Even when you can show you're 'successful' in most other clubs in the land they seem to say - ah but that doesn't mean you're good enough for US (and I'm not talking about big concert clubs, now - just ordinary every day ones).

Only the other day I heard an organiser ask, doubtfully, if Spiers and Bowden might be good enough to play their club!

I mean - where have they BEEN?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Folkiedave
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 04:08 AM

To at least answer in part why organisers do it - it means they can book the artists they like!! Incidentally the same goes for all but the largest festival organisers in my experience too!

On the subject of Spiers and Boden - there is no central folk club in Sheffield (in the traditional sense) - so with a gap in their latest tour and knowing at least one of them could get home to their partner and child - they put one on themselves. Got the room, set it all up themselves, chair PA etc sold tickets through an agency and got about 140 in at £8.00 per head.

Sold loads of CD's, and they had a portable credit card machine too. paid the sound man, and PA hire presumably and took the rest of the money themselves. No support act did 8.30pm - 9.15pm and 9.30ish to 10.45pm. And they were fantastic as always.

Speaking to the landlady, she said "I was a bit doubtful letting the room to a folk duo. I didn't know they were going to be that good!!"


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:49 AM

>>Only the other day I heard an organiser ask, doubtfully, if Spiers and Bowden might be good enough to play their club!<<

I can't beleive that an organiser would ask that sort of question.

My question is always "Does so and so have the capability of attracting an audience" If they can attract an audience, thats half the battle.

Irrespective, I always think the organiser should do everything in their power to publicise the event to ensure a good audience. They should never assume that the name itself will do that job for them.

At the end of the day though, it comes down to finance. The organiser should know their market and what they are able to acheive.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:51 AM

The fairest way for booked performers would seem to be door money, which would reflect the ability of the performer to pull in extra people, with "a guarantee, to keep the organisers on their toes" as greg said. And that latter should perhaps be a flat, and openly stated rate, to avoid a downward cost-cutting spiral.

I think there's a distinction between an evening with a booked performer whose the main act who people have come to see, with a couple of floor singers or whatever to warm up, on the one hand, and, on the other, a regulars' session in which there might be a few extra spots for some guest who maybe had come some distance, and is there for free or for beer money and to build up experience.

There are two ways to look at this - one is the one in which the bottom line is making the club pay, with performers and punters seen as the way to achieve this, and the other is the one in which the bottom line is keeping the music alive, and that includes keeping the performers alive and active. Two sides to the same coin.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 07:19 AM

Folkiedave

To at least answer in part why organisers do it - it means they can book the artists they like!!

Thank you, Dave. I was working towards saying something like that.

We book artists because we want to hear them and we hope our audiences do as well. We take no account of whether they are professors of sociology or refuse disposal operatives during the day or spend all their time practicing till their fingers turn green; it's what they do on stage that counts.

You can't steal the gigs from the pros because they don't belong to them. They belong to us and we provide them for free to whoever we choose.

As for "preferably with a guarantee, to keep the organisers on their toes"... Oh yes, it will do that. We'll lose money on you once if we like what you do or think you need some encouragement on the way up but if it happens twice, you can do it for the door or not at all.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 08:05 AM

Having been all three , Club organiser , Semi Pro local singer AND Full Pro , let me say that this is one of the more interesting threads i have read for a while ! A lot of very good sense , and very little nastiness . Prsonally , these days , IF I think I am going to enjoy myself , I will work VERY Cheap - as long as I am NOT Subsidising an organisers lifestyle ! IF Its going to be hard Work , or a long distance drive , the fee goes UP ! And a lot of clubs run singers nights at a good profit so that they CAN book expensive acts
which the door take will not cover .


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon FPR
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 08:39 AM

TheSnail says "You can't steal the gigs from the pros because they don't belong to them. They belong to us and we provide them for free to whoever we choose"

That's entirely your right, of course, TheSnail, you do all the work and take all the risk - so you call the shots and that's as it should be.

But I sometimes wonder to what extent you, and other organisers, feel you are perhaps custodians of Folk Music in your area (as the landed genry are merely custodians of their stately homes!), so feel some wider responsibility for the survial of the genre in your patch, and also even, to a certain extent, the survival of the touring muso as a species.

You see, because the market is so small, the distance between clubs tends to be set by geographic forces - rather as market towns developed across the countryside two day's walk apart (one day's march from any point between).

There are areas where clubs survive despide being close together, but normally if you are running a successful club, you are making it fairly unlikely that another club will be set up and flourish in your vicinity. And I doubt many clubs would welcome a new rival parking his tank on their lawn! So you are effectively a gatekeeper as well as a facilitator.

If you decide you don't like an artist for whatever reason, you are effectively closing that town to them for good - and making it harder for folk fans in that town to hear that artist.

Is this ever a factor in your deliberations I wonder?

There are areas of the country I'm unlikely ever to play - even though I may have fans there who have seen me at festivals or elsewhere, and who would love me to come - because the incumbant club does not want me, and there's no alternative in that patch.

This can be a very sore point for those of us who do it for a living. Is it a point of view you'd ever have any sympathy for?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: synbyn
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 08:41 AM

It ends up sometimes that local semi-pros who go out for expenses end up subsidising the club so they can book bigger names... and if it brings in a pro who otherwise wouldn't be seen in the area, well worth doing...


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 09:19 AM

It's an entirely reasonable viewpoint, AFPR. But at least some organisers are broad-minded enough to take it on board. I can remember one or two of them (who may well be reading this thread) saying to me that they were going to book So-&-So even though they personally didn't care much for what that artist did. But, they said, our club members do/would like them.

The organisers I am thinking of told me that their booking policies were not so much a matter of their own personal taste as what would go down in their clubs. Of course this carries a financial consideration, because "good for the club" has to also mean either profit or (more realistically) not too great a financial drain. But maybe these enlightened leaders are in the minority - my recollections are from a long time ago when everything in the scene was much healthier. And less expensive (thinking particularly of fuel).

It would be interesting to have further input from them -


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 10:59 AM

Seems like there is a continuum of what musicians get paid. It starts at unpaid, and goes up to "fills stadiums overnight". You jump in there at the Unpaid level and bounce around as far up the ladder as you choose to go, and whatever time, talent and circumstances allow.   Take whatever gigs fit into your plan.

Poppagator, you have taken the risk to your health of resettling in a tough place. This risk is being compensated, you can temporarily receive a premium for being there and available. Nothing wrong with that.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 11:04 AM

GUEST, Anon FPR

Complicated questions. I'm going to have to tread carefully.

But I sometimes wonder to what extent you, and other organisers, feel you are perhaps custodians of Folk Music in your area (as the landed genry are merely custodians of their stately homes!), so feel some wider responsibility for the survial of the genre in your patch,

In an unstated way, I suppose we do but that largely manifests itself in supporting and giving opportunities to the local semi-pros, enthusiastic amateurs and those who are happy enough to do the occasional floor spot. Isn't that what "folk" music is about?

and also even, to a certain extent, the survival of the touring muso as a species.

Well... The professionals are a valuable part of the scene, they give lesser mortals a standard to aspire to, we wish them well and will always try and give them the best deal we can. After all, we want them to come back. But... our priorities are the music and our audiences. It's not our job to provide the professionals with a way of making a living.

If you decide you don't like an artist for whatever reason, you are effectively closing that town to them for good

With the exception of one or two who failed to turn up and never even apologised, I don't think we exclude anybody but there are only 52 weeks in a year; we can't book everybody. We choose the ones we like and that we think our audience will like.

The nearest "rival" is actually 100yds away and we both seem to be doing all right. I think we complement each other. There is quite a lot of overlap between our guest lists (which takes a bit of co-operation) but quite a few names that only appear at one or the other. There are other clubs in the region so I don't think any performer is excluded.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Peace
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 11:09 AM

Why are guests once again allowed to post on Mudcat?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 11:18 AM

synbyn

It ends up sometimes that local semi-pros who go out for expenses end up subsidising the club so they can book bigger names...

Absolutely not! We do not steal from one performer to pay another. Club funds come from raffles and singers' nights.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: IanC
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 11:51 AM

I think I have a whole different take on this one. I only had anything to do with folk clubs and festivals during the 2nd half of the 1970s when I was a postgraduate student at Nottingham. Before that, I only went to folk clubs half a dozen times in Cambridge or Newcastle. I spent much more time in singsongs in pubs in my village and surrounding villages, carol singing and other rural activities (some urban ones too, in Newcastle).

During the 3 years I was at Nottingham, though, I went to folk clubs most evenings. These were pretty various and variable but, among the smaller ones, there was a clear 3-week cycle. Basically, this was:

Week 1 - guest night. Often a national figure. Packed but run at a loss
Week 2 - singers night. Packed, run at a profit
Week 3 - singers night. Low on numbers, usually run at a small profit.


The guest nights were often really great. Pet & Chris Coe, Martin Carthy etc. were regulars. We often had a great time at singers nights too. The club organisers weren't exactly breaking even, though. Not only were the singers nights subsidising the guest nights, the organisers were usually funding these things out of their own pockets or running fundraisers outside the scope of the folk club itself ... May Day events, Cailidhs and Barndances etc. They got to see people they wanted to see by doing it, so they felt it was worthwhile ... and probably it was.

I moved to Belfast in 1978, where things were a little different. When I came back in 1982, I moved back near to where I'd been brought up and so I came back to the tradition of pub singsongs and so on, though I did get involved with folk dancing locally.

That's where I am now. Occasionally, I'll go to a concert. I've been to folk clubs a dozen or so times in the past 25 years, usually when they've asked me or one of the groups I'm involved with to perform. I'm happier than anything singing and playing music with my friends in the local village pub, and that's what I think of as "folk" if I call it that.

If there's someone on I like at a folk club, I might go see them. There seldom seems to be enough time, though.

If somebody can make a living out of this precarious occupation, good luck to them. Conversely, I don't think you can exactly blame the organisers of folk clubs for putting on local people who cost less, or nothing at all. After all, they have a hard enough time keeping going anyway.

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 12:11 PM

Hmmm, this is interesting for me as I am just starting Kirkby Fleetham Folk Club in North Yorks, opening night on 24th November, we will run monthly (see KFFC thread for details)....I have booked acts through from November to May next year. The club is not for profit...but I may make a loss.

I have booked (some of) the cream of the local semi pros for the first couple of months, both acts have very good local profiles and will probably pull in more audience than all but the top division of full time pros....at the lower end of real market rates.

I have full time pros for months 3 & 5, at club start up rates from one and a gentlemans agreement that I will give him a gig later at "proper" market rates(thanks, you know who you are!). 80% of door for the other with a lowish minimum guarantee.

Month 6 sees 2 good semi-pros (with lowish local profile) sharing 80% of the door.

February is even more interesting as we are planning a mini fest, which means I can't balance my risks by offering a % of the door....I also can't afford to pay all the acts who want to appear and many are doing it for nothing or very low fees. I just had to set a budget (i.e what I could afford to lose without the children going too hungry). I had an idea who I wanted to put on, approached these, and let myself be persuaded by others I hadn't seen or heard.

Most of the acts have appreciated this and have understood that they need to help invest in a new venture by giving their time cheaply or for free. There were only one or two who didn't respond when I laid out the financial situation to them! Bad manners...they won't be getting gigs if we ever get on an even keel (even if they are good and REALLY famous)!!!

Hopefully this illustrates a range of options and flexibility from me....we will see if it is financially viable!!

In my spare (!) time I also try to get gigs for my other half (Wendy Arrowsmith).....it is REALLY annoying when club organisers don't respond to emails, phone messages etc even to say no!

I don't think any club organiser has ever asked me if she is full time or not....they are much more interested in if she can do the job, what she has done before etc.

Anyway Hamish, you know all this...and also that I do not think that you are (or can) stealing gigs from pro's!!!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 12:55 PM

Guest said "Unions? In the FOLK-performing world? Not a workable plan. You apparently don't know about Folk Musician's Local of Am Fed of Musicians


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 01:01 PM

a Pro is somebody who is available,Either internationally or nationally,they are often people who have worked many years at their craft and their repertoire.
most of them have sacrificed domestic life,to pursue their love of music for little financial reward.
Gigs do not belong to anybody:but without the professionals to provide a higher standard,the folk club /festival circuit would be poorer.
Eveery organiser has a perfect right to select their own guest list,and I am sure everyone agrees we need both pros, semi pros,and good floor singers,and dedicated organisers to keep the clubs going.
I believe ,that the folkscene has become poorer,because of all the pros who have jacked it in,we need to adress why they have jacked it in,because the scene will be poorer,if only local people are available for gigs.Dick Miles.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: synbyn
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 01:07 PM

TheSnail- Yes, this isn't something I'd do as a club policy myself, but I've performed at places where this has happened because a fee had been agreed- a fair price all round- and it might have been to the club's detriment had not so many people turned out. As it was, the club benefited, the performer benefited by the agreed expenses and the subsequent performers benefited because the club was able to afford them. No gripes. But I can see this not being a route for the fulltime pro- a hat is always a gamble on weather and other attractions, Reminded of Julie Ellison's story about a low turnout...:"oh yes," said the lanlord " they've got t' fake orgasm contest up t' rood..."


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 01:11 PM

A lot of English folkies are in the Musician's Union, both fulltime and semi-pro.The union is very keen to organise in folk circles, and has officers dedicated to this area of music. I'm not sure that the MU gig rates are terribly relevant, they are probably lower than a travelling pro would need. The national minimum gig rate is I believe set to be appropriate for the sort of pub gig level, which is really for the semipro player with day job. I may be wrong on this, perhaps someone with a Musician mag to hand with the latest rates could write in? I haven't time to look this minute.
    I should have thought union rates etc are very relevant to the folk scene, hence my semi-facetious reference to singing the "Blackleg Miner". Folkies were all good lefties in the good old days. Working at below the national rate would have been very frowned on!
    There are still people writing to these and similar threads who think "unpaid" should be part of the definition of folk. But folk music has always had professionals. The pipers and fiddlers and so on who played for weddings, village dances, entertaining workers in the fields etc, were paid. That was a job. Always has been, I imagine.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: synbyn
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 02:38 PM

Thing is Greg, it's all about turnout and prices. You're a good fulltimer who earns every penny, no gripe there, but if performers insisted on MU rates there wouldn't be a circuit of smaller clubs, those that exist on 25 or so regulars who save up to afford a big guest every month or three months or so. I can only think of one in Kent which doesn't have to raise money via singers nights / raffle to stay afloat, and that's close to London catchment. So I see the benevolent semi as part of this: raising capital to afford pros. As to whether these small clubs should exist, that's another argument altogether, certainly the licensing act tried to cut them out. I think it's like Dr Beeching- if you cut off the branch lines, ultimately the main lines suffer. Pub takings may be augmented, but not to the extent that landlords will chip in much- in fact they often want to charge for the room. It's these small clubs who feed into the larger festivals and make an audience, I think.
Bob


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:18 PM

synbyn

So I see the benevolent semi as part of this: raising capital to afford pros.

You're doing it again. Why should money that the audience were prepared to pay to see one artist be taken away from them to subsidise another? The only justification for a professional to ask for more money is that more people are willing to pay higher ticket prices to see them.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: synbyn
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:25 PM

Yes I am- but that's my choice as a semipro who likes to see the best pros in action locally. That's why I suggested it's a personal choice and not one a fulltime pro could make. You're right, of course. I just like to have & give as many an enjoyable time as possible. It may be that others would come back through being included in this way to see the visiting pro.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:30 PM

We don't make any distinction. An artist is an artist. They get what is taken on the door. What they do in the day is their business. Super-star status is reflected in the ticket price.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:31 PM

If the wages were higher all around, some of the better entertainers and performers who have gone into the mainstream would be drawn into folk instead, and younger talents would be drawn in, as well--then maybe the crowds would start coming back to the folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:42 PM

M.Ted

If the wages were higher all around,...

So where do we get the money to pay them before the crowds start coming back?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 04:04 PM

My personal position is as I said earlier: we'll generally play for the lion's share of the door money, accompanied by a modest guarantee. The guarantee is useful, it ensures that the organisers actually do a bit of legwork, postering, press, mailouts etc. Believe me, I have encountered places that don't!
    What does irritate me, and this has happened often, is that a venue organiser will plead hard luck and low audiences, and talk us into accepting a low fixed fee. Then, we fund they make a profit, and tell us, without any shame, that they are going to use that profit to subsidise another performer they intend to pay a higher fee to. That is not the market operating, that is robbing the generous poor to help the greedy rich. Which is why I tend to go for the door split option generally, I don't like being pick-pocketed. And believe me, it is even more irritating if the performer who is going to get the higher fee in fact has a day-job as well, because I don't.
   I am more than happy if a venue uses a bit of profit to subsidise an up and coming artist to get a reasonable fee. I am more than happy if they use a bit of profit to help an interesting overseas act to make a tour economic.But I don't like people making a profit on our performance(ie paying us less than we are worth) in order to subsidise a higher fee for someone else(ie paying them more than they are worth) so that the other act ends up with more than we do. That is just cock-eyed, and yet a lot of people are prepared to do it.
   But I absolutely don't think professionals are worth more than semi-professionals, or any nonsense like that. Basically, performing comes down to bums on seats, and that's how it is. Unless of course, your cousin works for the Arts Council or is a philanthropophic millionaire, when different considerations apply, and the gravy train starts to chug out of the station.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 04:22 PM

Snail
Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail - PM
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:30 PM

We don't make any distinction. An artist is an artist. They get what is taken on the door. What they do in the day is their business. Super-star status is reflected in the ticket price.
so you as an organiser decide who is a superstar?,surely this depends on how good an agent,the performer has,if he can convince you that you have to pay x istead of y,you then pass the message on to the punter, that one performer is better than another.
So we have a situation at your club,where you tell the audience,that they have to pay more for one artist[the real reason is that one artist may have an agent and another doesnt]and the audience gets the impression that one is better than another,.
Then the organiser sells tickets for an artist[This is hypothetical,Iknow little about your club,as I havent played it for15 years] and tell the audience that if they dont buy tickets,thay may all be sold out,hyping up a particular artist,the system stinks and is geared in favour of those artists who have pushy management.
It reminds me of when I was a club organiser,and an agent made up a mythical nine month waiting list for two performers,imagine my surprise when one of them phoned me up for a gig,and when questioned about the waiting list,just explained it was an agents marketing device.in my opinion totally dishonest.
If there is one thing I detest its this sort of pricing,in my opinion folk clubs should charge the same price for whoever is the guest,regardless of the artists fee.how the folk club finds the fee is the organisers problem,but you should not be insulting guests[who may not need/or prefer not to use an agent]by implying their value is less,because the door price is less.Dick Miles
.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 04:27 PM

From: TheSnail - PM
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:42 PM

M.Ted

If the wages were higher all around,...

So where do we get the money to pay them before the crowds start coming back?
out of your day jobs wages,or fund raising events,scratch cards raffles etc[that is the organisers problem]
if you havent got the money you shouldnt be running a club.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 04:34 PM

Captain Birdseye

If there is one thing I detest its this sort of pricing,in my opinion folk clubs should charge the same price for whoever is the guest,regardless of the artists fee.how the folk club finds the fee is the organisers problem,but you should not be insulting guests[who may not need/or prefer not to use an agent]by implying their value is less,because the door price is less.

Dick, artists fees are paid for from ticket sales. Higher fee, higher ticket price. Simple.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 04:45 PM

Snail,[imo]as explained ,a bad system.
Festivals charge a weekend price[many of the artists are paid differing amounts]but it is not reflected in the ticket price,the audience is free then to make its own judgements,solely on the merit of the artists performance.Why should a /club be different?
what you are doing is similiar to handicapping in horse racing,and is totally unfair on the lesser priced guest artist.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 04:55 PM

Captain Birdseye

Why should a /club be different?

Because a club generally books only one paid guest at a time and the audience will pay what THEY judge that guest is worth. We can't force people to turn up regardless.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: autolycus
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:15 PM

Hope this hasn't been said already.

Thread correctly - stealing gigs from the pros.

Simple plural.

    Ivor


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:23 PM

No,please be honest, its what you the organiser ,[under pressure from an agents demands]decide ,what they are worth,not the audience.
Attendance at aclub can be affected by a number of other factors[whether there are any festivals on]television[world cup etc]etc ,it is not entirely down to the booked artist,
The best CLUBS ,are those where the organiser has nurtured a loyal following,and people will turn up every week regardless,TRUSTING THE ORGANISER.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Peace
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:25 PM

It was much like that at a certain folk club in Montreal at one time. However, even so, some people drew more than others despite the cost at the door remaining static.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:25 PM

stealing gigs from the professionals,the apostrophe denotes something has been left out[ofessional].


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:30 PM

No, Ivor - "pro's" is an abbreviation for "professionals" - and that is what the apostrophe means in this case, it indicates that letters have been missed out.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:31 PM

"The best Clubs are those where the organiser has nurtured a loyal following, and people will turn up every week regardless, trusting the Organiser".

That's about the height of it, really.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:39 PM

Cap'n Birdseye: you might like to live in a world where we all pay the same prices for all artists, irrespective of their allure. But this is the real world, and in the end I am always going to spend more to see the Stones than the Counterfeit Stones. It's the way it is. It's like wine, I'm afraid. Some is worth £2.99 to me, some is worth £9.99 to me. After that, I don't bother.
   To be fair, I rarely pay to see people, I can generally wangle myself in.But I just paid a lot(£25?? can't remember) to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo(sp?). Well worth it.But I wouldn't pay so much to see (OK no, names, no packdrill).


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:41 PM

Captain Birdseye

The best CLUBS ,are those where the organiser has nurtured a loyal following,and people will turn up every week regardless,TRUSTING THE ORGANISER.

Name those clubs Dick. I've never come across one that sells out every week. In the real world, we have to balance our books.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:46 PM

Captain Birdseye

The best CLUBS ,are those where the organiser has nurtured a loyal following,and people will turn up every week regardless,TRUSTING THE ORGANISER.


...even if that was a good situation...it takes time to get there, any suggestions what I do i the meantime with a new club?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:50 PM

With respect, TheSnail, it is not Dick's job to tell you yours...

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: oggie
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 05:54 PM

Sorry Captain but in the real world (as opposed to the one we may like to see) you can get more people to pay more money to see Vin Garbutt than to see (say) Pete Coe. That may change but in the here and now it's a fact and Vin's rate is higher and so is the door fee. The fact that I'd rather see Pete is irrelevant to the economics of keeping a club afloat.

I also don't see why (as implied) an organiser should use their own earned money to keep a club afloat. The folk business is a "business" if you don't like it get out of the kitchen but you can't change the reality by wishing it were different.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: RTim
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:01 PM

The Folk Society here in Woods Hole has the SAME charge every occasion (it is bi-weekly over the months excluding Summer, when it closes) - irrespective of the guest - and it is now in its 35th year - So it goes to show it does work.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:02 PM

Maybe we should let Dick argue it out with Greg with whom I largely agree except on the guaranteed minimum. We do our legwork. I don't see why we should guarantee an artist against their failure to bring in an audience (or to compete with the fake orgasm contest).


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Peace
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:04 PM

The place I referred to charged the same cash at the door regardless who the performer was. The performer was paid 50% of the gross gate receipts. The manager had such a good rep that (to my knowledge) no one ever asked to check the gate or did an independent count of the audience.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:05 PM

The 'folk business' has moved house to the 'service industry', and marketing is very important.

I see what the Captain says as the ideal, surely.
But there are those that are achieving it.

I'm not talking necessarily about England, here; nor Scandinavia, neither for that matter.

It's a frame of mind by the venue owner and those around him/her about providing that service. Geography has nothing to do with it.
If you present it properly, and nurture it, then your chances of building up a decent venue increase.

The tweed coat brigade have long left the building.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:07 PM

RTim, do you pay all your guests the same or are you effectively stealing from the cheaper ones to pay the more expensive?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:08 PM

Maidenhead , one of the better small clubs in Southern England , has Two ticket prices ! A Singers night is half the price of a Guest night , so the Guest gets the agreed fee , even if there is only The Committe there on the night ! And the quality on a singers night is 'Orrid High !

And Banjiman - All you can do is hope you've got it right , in so far as Residents , parking , beer , accessibility and acoustics are concerned !

And I wish you success !


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: RTim
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:13 PM

I don't run the club, but I believe each Guest is guaranteed a percentage of the door if their agreed fee is not reached as part of their contract, and they also get community accomodation as part of the contract. They are also fed before each concert in a resturant across the street from the venue. So some MAY? take a lower fee because of that. Certainly, many many guests have appeared many times at the club over it's life, Bill Staines has been every year!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 06:24 PM

>>...even if that was a good situation...it takes time to get there, any suggestions what I do i the meantime with a new club? <<

Make sure you give them value for money and you do your homework on the artists you are booking. Keep to middle of the road performers in the beginning. Your audience are coming to be entertained whether they pay £3 or £15 to get in.
A smile on the face of the person greeting people and genuiness of wanting to look after your customers and your performers.
Over time, hopefully your audience will begin to trust you and keep on coming.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: RTim
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 07:29 PM

The question has not really been addressed (I don't think?) about what sort of Folk Club we are talking about here?
Woods Hole is a Concert Club - ie. The guest(s) appears and NO ONE else! There is NO opportunity at that club for local performers, no matter how good they may be, to perform.
I was brought up in England where the clubs had Floor singers AND guests, so that local singers/musicians had a some sort of avenue to play - and in my old Southampton club, if you were a resident singer, once every year you got YOUR night with a budget to invite who you wanted and providing you didn't overstep the budget - it was OK.
I Like that sort of arrangement better than a Concert club - because I feel it is more in keeping with the idea of Folk Music.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 07:49 PM

I would think, on the face of it, that it might only need a little extra consideration of the local community and hinterland, and the scheduling of that to make it function like you would like.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 08:06 PM

Nettlebed (45 mile drive) is a concert club - but most UK Clubs have floor spots


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 10:14 PM

The question about how you get more money has had an answer, not the only one, perhaps--but a good answer. You must build up a reserve, so that you can grow and improve--every good employer knows that in the long run, the better wages you pay, the better, and more consistant the work that you get is.

Some of you performers here seem to think that the house must give you every penny that is taken in, or you are being robbed. The fact is that the house is entitled to its share, which it is entitled to spend as it wishes, including paying other performers for other engagements--when you operate a venue, you must plan for, and invest in the future. A performer who demands the seed, so to speak, to my mind, both greedy and short sighted.

For a lot of my performing career, my day job was in advertising and marketing--and the principles in both worlds are the same--though managing a folk music venue is more challenging because aesthetics, rather than profit is your guide--and in the business world, no one questions your right to a share of the till.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:49 AM

and in the business world, no one questions your right to a share of the till.quote
Except the income tax man.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: joseph
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:59 AM

I never read such bull**** in Ireland the cream of musicians come together and play for free. Just for the love of Traditional music and Irish songs. Its my opinion if your good enough and prepared to travel you'll get plenty of work. Always remember that demand controls the market and the price


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:44 AM

M.Ted, your original suggestion was "If the wages were higher all around". So you are saying I should build up a reserve to pay people more by paying them less?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 07:23 AM

As a promoter, I would recommend treating putting on gigs as taxable income. Even if it's not your main source of income (even if it's not a source of income at all – perhaps even especially so). Room hire charges and performer's fees are claimable expenses. Do it properly, and fill out a tax return every year. If you have to fill out a tax return already (eg for any kind of freelance work) and you promote gigs, then doubly so. And if you are a musician as well as a promoter, then even more so.

I often think it's a shame that private companies/investors don't put on free concerts as a tax loss. It'd be brilliant for the live music scene.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 07:27 AM

Guest, quick, type in some sort of name for yourself and repost! Totally anonymous messages have been getting zapped lately - I was sorry to see a lot of them go - and yours is too good to lose.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,matt m
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 07:41 AM

OK then, with a few additions too:

As a promoter, I would recommend other promoters treat putting on gigs as taxable income. Even if it's not your main source of income (even if it's not a source of income at all – perhaps even especially so in this instance). Room hire charges and performer's fees are claimable expenses. Do it properly, and fill out a tax return every year. If you have to fill out a tax return already (eg for any kind of freelance work) and you promote gigs, then doubly so. And if you are a musician as well as a promoter, then even more so (as the amount of claimable expenses can include musical instruments, travel etc).

I often think it's a shame that private companies/investors don't put on concerts as a tax loss. It'd be brilliant for the live music scene.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 07:47 AM

Carlsberg and Tuborg fund quite a lot of free, live music in Denmark, especially during the summer.

We have a fairly good relationship with themselves, and Guinness, whose Head Office for the Nordics is based in Stockholm.
The Drinks companies set up these concerts each weekend in one of the major towns in Denmark, and the line-up consists of 4 or 5 up and coming Danish bands, and one headliner.
These are free concerts.

When we put on the Festival in Marstal every year (next year's will be our 6th), Carlsberg & Guinness are normally fairly generous.
Money is one thing, but product is quite another. We have a few outside bars scattered around the main venue.

Cultural activities in Scandinavia are Tax-Free, and every year Bórd Fáilte (Tourism Ireland), and The Embassy of Ireland in København give us their full support.
Certainly parts of the festival are liable to tax (alcohol sales, etc), but the main income isn't, and this means we have a small amount to put into the following year.

So far the festival has paid for itself, with a little spare every year for the budget for the next. None of us, however are 'taking a wage' or anything like that.

I have noticed over the years Festivals and venues falling on their arses purely due to the greed of people who want to take every spare penny (and the rest) out of the kitty.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:02 AM

I don't see why we should guarantee an artist against their failure to bring in an audience

If sufficient people don't turn up, that's not the failure of the performer, but rather of the club organiser who made the booking in the first place, and who was in a better position to know who might draw in people, and to do the things that might help in ensuring that.

Personally I'd hate to run a club, especially these days.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,matt m
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:08 AM

Corporate sponsorship is all well and good, and certainly merits discussion. I almost regret referring to it though because I want to make sure my main point doesn't get lost here: that on the cottage-industry level, the self-assessment income tax form can actually be unexpectedly useful.

I have to fill one out once a year anyway because of earnings for freelance writing and (music) journalism. But I play gigs as a musician. I also put on gigs for myself and others. So I gave myself a company name and description that covered all these interests. Any losses in one activity are expenses absorbed by the tax I pay on profits from a different one. I would recommend any other 'multi-taskers' do the same.

Maybe if you just put on gigs as a 'serious hobby' one evening a month alongside your PAYE day job you might not think it worth the hassle of getting on the self-assessment form treadmill – but if you were serious enough to be planning on doing so for longer than a year I'd still recommend it.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:11 AM

I'm self-employed over here, matt m.
I have have my own company, and the tax (although a higher %) is worked out in much the same way.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 09:02 AM

This is THE most important point yet raised in this or the other thread:

"I don't see why we should guarantee an artist against their failure to bring in an audience"

countered by

"If sufficient people don't turn up, that's not the failure of the performer, but rather of the club organiser who made the booking in the first place, and who was in a better position to know who might draw in people, and to do the things that might help in ensuring that."

If there is one single factor in the decline of the professional folk circuit through the past ten years, it's this belief by organisers that it's down to the artist to draw a crowd. Yes, many artists will and that's great, but if everyone only relies on the draw of reputations that were built elsewhere, who is ever going acquire a reputation?

This over-reliance on draw, by people who - in fairness probably don't have the time, skills nor inclination actively to Promote (a dark art in itself) - has led to the current situation, where only well known names and local heroes can guarantee a full house in many - perhaps a majority of clubs.

It's entirely understandable, given that the average club organiser is an enthusiast for music, not a skilled promoter, that this situation has arisen, but it's still a terrifying prospect for the future of this wonderful institution.

For if it continues, where are the draws of tomorrow to come from?

Yes, some youngsters who've been (briefly) media darlings will bring in a few curious people, but everyone else - between local star and big name - will wither and die like so many have before.

I'm not saying that organisers don't promote. Most do - and some do it very well, but some don't relise quite how much effort is involved to do it properly.

Ok, if they did they might just close the club (eek), but they might also get stuck in, get their team motivated, and find that in itself promotion can be really rewarding.

You need three types of audience to make sure every club gig will work (apart from booking good guests, of course).


1) You need ALL your regulars to turn out every time. That will only happen for a new name if they trust the organiser's judgement and are willing to try something new (which far too many seem not to be).

2) You need your atists' local fans to come. That IS down to the artist, but even top qulity full time pros may not yet have as many fans in your area as you assume, and there may be other reasons why the fans they do have may decide to give your club a miss and see that artist somewhere else another time.

3) You need floating folk fans in your area to give it a try. For that you need a great website with links from places where these people surf. You need a presence in the folk mags and local papers, and if possible local radio, and you need a reciprocal leafleting arrangement withh all the other like venues in the area - including libraries etc.

It has to be a team effort - and if a good team is properly motivated and managed they can achieve terriffic results - there are plenty of places where all this happens all the time - God bless them!


FInally you need to make sure the environment is right - to make sure that 2) and 3) come again. You need comfortable seats, pleasant lighting (how many clubs have bare bulbs just above the stage? - people may not notice but they won't come back), a safe environment where they don't have to run the gauntlet of drunks or grim, dead pubs, a REALLY welcoming smile at the door, the right ticket price, and floor spots that are appropriate for that act. (Oh and good beer - and a snack in the break, a really easy way to create instant welcome)

It can be done, it often is, and when it is, you can book anyone you like - and get a full house. Every time


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 09:24 AM

So which club do you run, GUEST, Anon?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 09:43 AM

Snail--I am sure that your performers receive the best compensation that you can give them--and I don't mean to be critical of the way that you handle your affairs. My initial comment was really an observation, not a suggestion.

I will rephrase my point--If there were a lot of opportunities to earn a solid, steady wage by performing folk music, more would enter the arena, more would stay with it, and the music would be enhanced.

The $64,000 Question, of course, is, "How do you make that happen?".   There certainly are a lot of ways to do it, but the real question is, "Who wants to?"


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 09:53 AM

>>If sufficient people don't turn up, that's not the failure of the performer, but rather of the club organiser who made the booking in the first place, and who was in a better position to know who might draw in people, and to do the things that might help in ensuring that.
<<

Couldn't agree with you more MoH

I must say though, its bloody difficult turning a performer down when you know they are very good, but doubt they will attract enough bums on seats for the style of club that you run.
This is where honesty comes in. If the performer is not what you are looking for - tell them and tell them why. You are not being rude to them. I think theer is nothing worse than a performer playing at a club, that is not suitable for what they do. That is the organisers job to explain the style of club and if you think no, then say no.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Midchuck
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 10:01 AM

If sufficient people don't turn up, that's not the failure of the performer, but rather of the club organiser who made the booking in the first place, and who was in a better position to know who might draw in people, and to do the things that might help in ensuring that.

IMO, it's both.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 10:15 AM

It has actually been down to the professionals to promote themselves,[e. g.Jez Lowe amongst others, sending out a monthly circular to his fans as to where he will be playing].when it should actually be the organisers responsibility.
other pros,pay for space with adverts in folk magazines,some like myself use the internet to promote ourselves.
when I first started going to folk clubs they were all full,regardless of the guest,most clubs had a membership system which encouraged,people to come back regularly, once they had joined,the organiser had a list of names and adresses.
So the organiser, knew, who in his locality was interested,and could contact them to find out why they were NOT coming any more,or to keep them informed of future events etc.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 10:49 AM

I don't agree that it is the folk club organiser's job to contact all the known fans of a particular artist within some specified radius in order to advertise the gig. I rather doubt that most organisers have that kind of level of information - and wonder if it would breach the Data Protection Act if he/she did!

If not enough people turn up to pay for the guest, organisers just have to live and learn. I suspect that most leave some leeway for experimentation: I don't know this act but it's worth giving it a try. I know ours does this.

There also seems to be an attitude amongst some here that totally neglects the audience. Different people like different things, and will or will not show up according to their likes and dislikes. An organiser should be prepared to vary the style and range of guests at a club. This guarantees that all "members" will NOT turn up every week, and they should not be expected to. Tonight is Gracenotes, and I wouldn't miss them. Next week is a guitarist, and I'm a bit iffy. I wouldn't suggest the club restricted its bookings to my tastes, and I would object being expected to turn up regardless.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 10:52 AM

Collect the e-mail addresses of every person that comes through the door ... ask nicely, of course..., and send the ever increasing throng a bi monthly newsletter.

That way you not only get bums on seats, you get the right kind of bums...

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 11:01 AM

I don't run a club TheSnail - but I do make my living in them (as you should have seen from my posts above) and am actively and fully involved in the promotion of folk music in the UK by other means (and not just my own career).

We touring musos see it all. It's sometimes blindingly obvious why some clubs thrive and some don't - it's just that as guests we're in the wrong role to advise the failing ones where they may be going astray (though I try to give tactful advice whenever it seems appropriate), specially when we're staying with the organisers who are almost always really nice people (and often good freinds now) - specially if we've just had a bad night with a poor turn-out and we're all a bit raw about it.

Which club do you run then?

Incidentally it's mainly because I don't know who you all are that I won't use my name. I may need to ring you tonight for a gig, or even be playing your club tomorrow.

But I'm not Anon just to protect my ability to blag gigs off you and the others here. If you knew my name the debate might soon become personal, and so would loose much of its value to us all. (And I do think it's being very valuable, even if you think we're wasting our breath).

Also I have band members and colleagues to think of. They might not approve of me making such comments, as it could impact on their careers too if my name was known - but I do believe this discussion is vital, and that people like me, who have day-to-day experience of the root problems right across the country (which few club organisers do), should be able to speak freely.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 11:17 AM

"If not enough people turn up to pay for the guest, organisers just have to live and learn."

'Learn' being the operative word.

That business model went into the recycle bin years ago, Santa.

People want to go out to be entertained.
You have to make them want to come to you.
Get the local heads around you, and explain to the people that it is our club.

Create that sense of community, and the community come to you.
It's just like E=mc2
It is a proven formula.

B.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 11:35 AM

For what its worth

I publicise in local newspapers, put posters up in various places, post on various websites, use local radio, run my own website with all the info, hand out diaries at each event of future gigs, as well as word of mouth and flyers put through doors in the local village where the events are held.

I consider that is all part of what an organiser should do. Whats the point of booking somebody and not letting the world know.

On top of that, It also helps if the performer lets their fans know etc.

We had 80 last week, sold out for Flossie in December, already selling tickets for January and February.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 11:47 AM

There you go...

If more clubs thought a bit more like that, maybe they could afford the Martin Carthy's and Vin Garbutt's of this World a little more often.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 11:58 AM

Hi Vilan - yes I know, and you do a grand job!

Not all clubs are as 'concert orientated' as yours though, and I should have added that some don't actually need to do all that because they do have a loyal core, or just because the personality of the organiser is enough to make it all work (that's quite common too).

It's the clubs where it doesn't, or where they're constrained to only booking sure-fire names, or only local acts, to the detriment of the long-term viability of the existing guest/foorspot system that I was addressing.

Just to be even more topical...

A friend once said to me that quite a few organsiers are keen performers, so are actually only interesed in booking people who'll pull a big crowd for them to play to.

There may be some truth in that and I'd not be the one to cast the first stone. If I was ever to run a club (and I think about doing so often, specially when the gigs are not going so well!) that would be my motivation too.

But it begs the question I raised earlier.

What happens when the big names retire?

PS Hi Santa - point taken, but if you'd been assured that the guitarist was going to give you a great evening because they're a great performer, and maybe had some proof in the form of a review read out at the previous night or endorsements from people you respect, you'd give it go, wouldn't you? I do hope so!


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 12:09 PM

>>What happens when the big names retire?<<

Most of us will probably be dead by then LOL

Bring on the Kerfuffles and Mawkin:Causleys !!!


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 12:32 PM

well everyone knows who I am,and I hope that being above board about my identity is respected ,I am hoping that out of this dialogue,some improvements can be made,while I have strong opinions,I do accept that every folkclub is different and that what I advocate may not work for everyone.
I do stand by everything I have said about guest admission pricing,and about membership and keeping records of people adresses[with their permission],so that they can be informed of future events [that is sensible business practice,and any suggestion it might contravene some data act is laughable].Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 12:39 PM

But they're not interested in doing clubs. Not many of the youngsters are - or not for long anyway.

If there is to be a pool of good performers willing to do all the things that touring club pros have to do, then the clubs have to play their part in the bargain and do what you advocate Villan, not what TheSnail advocates: Leave it all up to the artist to build his reputation in outer space somehow and then ride on his coat-tails.

I repeat, the artist may be visiting that area for the first time, and he hasn't got a clue how your club operates, where the promotion outlets are and whether it's a nice room etc. (and he can't do anything about it if it's not).

And what's he supposed to do when his fans say they don't think much of the club, but its the only one they can get to?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 12:39 PM

GUEST, Anon

All you Anons look the same to me. It's hard to know which said what.

I don't run a club TheSnail

I rather thought you didn't. My question was meant to be somewhat ironic. You seemed to be very confident about how to do it.

On the points in your earlier post -
1) What are we supposed to do? Fine them for non-attendance? Write a stroppy letter to their parents? Send out the truancy officer?
2) Not sure what the club organisers are supposed to do about that.
3) Yes, of course we have a website and do all of that and everything else that The Villan said but still you want a guarantee if people would rather stay in and watch Eastenders than come out and hear you?

I'm Bryan Creer one of, at the last count, ten residents at the Lewes Arms Folk Club but I should make clear that all opinions expressed here are my own.

Sorry Brendy but Santa has it right. What other business model do you want?

As I see it, the club organisers' priority is to put entertainment in front of an audience, not to provide an audience for professional folkies. If you think otherwise, just remember how much you pay us.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Santa
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 12:43 PM

Brendy: I'll mention to the organiser of our moderately-successful club that the business model went out years ago. Oh, dear.

Anon: I hope so, but my interests lie more in song than guitar instrumentals, however well played. I did go to a Martin Simpson concert once, some years ago, and enjoyed it, but he did sing a few songs as well. (OK, not as well as he played guitar....) I have other things I like doing apart from listening to folk song/music, if I'm pretty sure I won't enjoy an evening then I'll do them instead. I go most weeks - it would take wild horses to drag me to an Irish pub playing mad diddley-diddley all night....but each to their own.

Talk about timing - just had a call that Gracenotes have cancelled. The very short notice replacement is a guitarist......... (not Martin Simpson).


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 12:43 PM

GUEST, Anon

TheSnail advocates: Leave it all up to the artist to build his reputation in outer space somehow and then ride on his coat-tails.

I have never said anything remotely resembling that and, frankly, find it offensive.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 12:48 PM

>>As I see it, the club organisers' priority is to put entertainment in front of an audience, not to provide an audience for professional folkies.<<

Surely its both. Of course you want to entertain the public and thats what you expect the performer to acheive.

If you get a low turnout after all the publicity or the performer doesn't come up to expectation, you don't book them again.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 12:50 PM

Captain Birdseye

I do stand by everything I have said about guest admission pricing

I'm still not sure what you mean by this, Captain. Are you advocating paying all artists the same fee or using the cheaper artists to subsidise the more expensive?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 01:00 PM

Sorry - but some people do seem to think we just somehow acquire a following from nowhere by magic, and so believe that merely announcing that the guest next week is XX is enough, and that seemed to be what you were endorsing with your comment "I don't see why we should guarantee an artist against their failure to bring in an audience."

I've not been to your club yet but I do know you're not like that there (I'd understood it was run by someone else). My apologies.

I'm used to playing to full club rooms and festival main stages, but I've had my share of disasters, and witnessed other good acts playing to two men and a dog that deserved better.

Of course no-one pays you, but as my old Dad used to say all the time - 'if a job's worth doing it's worth doing properly,' and 'the more you put in the more you get out.'

I spend all my time trying to ensure full rooms - for my benefit mainly, but also the club's, and I know a lot about it because it's in my interests to do so.

Yes, I'll always accept a percentage even with no guarantee if that's what clubs prefer - but if so I MUST be confident they're also doing their bit to get people to come - otherwise what would be the point? I have a family to feed.

Those clubs that have a similar approach, and are willing to see the bigger picture are the real stars.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 01:19 PM

GUEST, Anon

What I meant was that if we have built the website, paid for the advertising, sent out the fliers, put up the posters and told the local papers (who will get it wrong) and still get an audience of three men and a parrot I don't see why we should guarantee a minimum fee, especially if the guest is claiming to be a star of stage, screen and festival.

There are two clubs in Lewes so you may be confusing us with the Royal Oak, an equally conscientious and successful club.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 01:23 PM

Snail,I am advocating that guest admission prices should be always the same,as they always used to be in the days when all folk clubs were full.
I think your system sends out all the wrong messages to the public,Do you charge the same amounts for all your workshops?.
If you dont why should one workshop be more expensive,if you do why should workshops be different from folk clubs.Check Mate.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 01:35 PM

Captain....The first 2 nights at
Kirkby Fleetham Folk Club are free....thanks to the commitment of the Pub Landlord to helping make this a success (he's paying the acts fees). My preferred arrangements following this honeymoon period will be to agree 80% of the door to guests with a lowish minimum guarantee....but I WILL do the promotional legwork...you might have already noticed that!.....the price on the door is therefore somewhat dependent on how much the act wants.

I am keeping 20% to allow me not only to do decent promotion, I am also keen to ensure that the support acts (there will generally be 2) at least have their expenses covered......where possible the support acts will include 1 "young/ new" performer(s) it is important that they feel that they are also getting a "proper" gig to.

That's the theory anyway, Ill report back when I have been running 6 months!!!!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 02:02 PM

Captain, if you just answer my question, I will be able to give you a considered response. Are you advocating paying all artists the same fee or are you suggesting we subsidise the more expensive ones from the takings on the nights when we have cheaper ones?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 02:10 PM

Thankyou for clarifying that Bryan. Yes I'm well aware of both clubs and know the key people involved (I shold have guessed when you mentioned how close there are).

There are clubs, however, who operate as I describe, and rely entirely on the artists pulling power. That delivers poor results on a first booking uet when they don't get enough people on the first visit they're never invited back (it's even happend to me).

A few people here have endorsed that approach, but I think that's horribly unfair and ciminally short-sighted.

If they the performance was weak, of course no one would expect them to be re-booked, but if they were good, and went down very well with that small audience, then surely the sensible thing would be to assume that two to three years later their pulling power will have improved, but, more importantly, the people who DID come last time will act as advocates and persuade the doubters to be there this time.

With that attitude everyone wins - but not everyone is willing to take the broad view.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 02:11 PM

"If not enough people turn up to pay for the guest, organisers just have to live and learn"

I took that statement as being relative to your Folk Club.
It's a fairly laissez faire attitude, and if the club is only 'moderately successful', then there is room for improvement.

It's in everyone's interest to have a vibrant, living, scene.

"What I meant was that if we have built the website, paid for the advertising, sent out the fliers, put up the posters and told the local papers (who will get it wrong) and still get an audience of three men and a parrot..."

Very negative outlook, really...

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 02:17 PM

Re fees and door prices... Yes I hate to see my and my other performing friends' abilities pre-judged by someone's idea of a fair door price, but I do understand why it's done and I guess it's only reasonable.

But the question you ask the Captain misses a point.

The higher-feed artists will bring in more people, thus earning his higher fee, while the lower-feed artist pulls in fewer, so expects to get less, that's reasonable. And if they're all on a percentage against a low guarantee - which is fine IF the club is doing everything right, then that's fair too. The maths only works your way if you have a completely full room for both acts, which would be unlikely.

No-one would surely suggest that all artists should get the same fee - execept the few marxist moles left in the MU (we know who you are!)


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 02:37 PM

Brendy

Very negative outlook, really...

Brendy, we pay our guests from the money we take on the door. E=mc2.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 02:47 PM

GUEST, Anon

Can't quarrel with your post of 14 Nov 07 - 02:10 PM but, in the end, all that the organiser can sell is the artist's pulling power.

it's even happend to me

Even YOU! I wonder if I'll ever find out who you are.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 02:52 PM

"we pay our guests from the money we take on the door".

Excellent!

The more money you take on the door, from increased numbers due to placement advertising = mc2

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:01 PM

Brendy, the three men don't cover the fee and the parrot gets in free.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Maryrrf
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:02 PM

I can't help but feel here that the folk club organizers are taking a beating and being subjected to a lot of criticisn - could somebody please give them credit for doing a whole lot of work for no pay and very little reward, except the hope that their efforts will keep folk music alive at a grassroots level??? Reading this thread they must be feeling that they are 'damned if they do and damned if they don't'. I've been in both positions - performer and concert organizer. Of course it is incumbent upon both to drum up as much of an audience as they can. The best scenario is if the club organizer can do as much local promotion as possible, and the artist can e-mail or otherwise inform his/her fans of upcoming gigs. I only do a monthly concert series and between the website, making sure I get notices out to appropriate publications, flyers, bookings, etc. it takes up a LOT of time. We try to keep our ticket prices the same but IF we have a bigger name guest who charges a bit more, we do slightly increase the ticket price, and I make no apologies for that. We try to have a mix of well known and unknown performers, and book based on what we like, what we think our audience will like, and also try to achieve a 'balance' in our acts - i.e. instrumental acts, singers, etc. We only want traditional performers - we make no bones about it and state it clearly on our website. Again, no apologies - that was why we started the series. Yes there are things you can do to ensure a good, steady attendance, but there are times when no matter what - people just don't seem to show up and it's hard to predict. A couple of times when that has happened and the artist had agreed upon a percentage of the door, we dipped into the kitty and paid them a reasonable sum even though they didn't 'draw' an audience. Anyway, I really think we should give these folk club organizers a break and thank them for their efforts. They do a lot of work, make no money from it and I would wager that at times they have reached into their own pockets to subsidize the clubs from time to time. Not only that, they have to deal with venue problems, landlord issues, etc. It's very often a thankless task, and I doubt anybody would choose to do it unless they truly loved folk music.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:02 PM

"in the end, all that the organiser can sell is the artist's pulling power"

No no no - that's excatly where I'm disagreeing with you.

All the organiser can sell is the artist's ABILITY!


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:06 PM

I have gone to The Snail's link, and found that, in addition to his folk club, the Lewes Arms seems to be a nexus of Dwyle Flonging (which seems a laudable and noble endeavor). It brings to mind a question-which I hope will not be interpreted as being critical of this cultural institution.

Many folk clubs, and folk music related activities seem to take place in pubs. Is this typical in the UK?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Jim Lad
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:11 PM

"could somebody please give them credit for doing a whole lot of work for no pay" Damn right. I'll say it again.....
Hats off to the club organizers & volunteers. I will never understand what you get out of it yourselves but I am certainly beholding to you.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:13 PM

The organiser should be selling the folk-club first and foremost, in my opinion.

Musicians have websites; they often have their own mailing lists as well. If the artist is prepared to go to those lengths to promote him/herself, and associate themselves with the venues they play at, then it behoves the organiser to keep up his end of the bargain.

Badly run places are 2 a penny, and any self-respecting musician will stay away from them. It can be bad for their image, self and other aspects of it.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:15 PM

MTed....oh yes, folky activities in pubs is completely traditional and they are still the mainstay venues of Folk Clubs in the UK......I'm very pleased to say.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:18 PM

Maryrrf, we all know that, and if you look above there are been plenty of comments to that effect in amongst (and I'm for ever championing folk club organisers elsewhere) - but not all organisers are as effective as you, some actually don't make much effort if truth be told, and, sadly, working very hard, loving the music, and being a nice person etc may not be enough to save a club. It also does not guarantee fair terms for artists - who are professionals and deserve a proper deal. These issues do need to be raised, and if no-one ever does just because of the reasons you mention, things will not improve.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:21 PM

Brendy....there are also some pretty shoddy musicians as well who don't do much to help promote their gigs. But like shoddy venues, they will not survive.

Do you not think that generally there is a good partnership between act & venue?....that is my experience as part of an act and I will strive to make it the case now I have set up a venue.

Most "folk" venues in the UK will certainly have their own websites and mailing lists....and often many other marketing tools as well....you are starting to annoy me now!!!!


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:36 PM

"But like shoddy venues, they will not survive"

Exactly.
Shoddy musicians should be avoided at all costs.

Look, Banjiman, I'm watching complaints given by musicians about the system they work within.
I would sincerely hope that this kind of attitude isn't endemic within the Folk scene.

I'm not criticising those who actually do get their finger out, and judging by the language of your second paragraph, you are not one of those.

But there is a problem out there.
Get annoyed if you must...

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:47 PM

GUEST, Anon

All the organiser can sell is the artist's ABILITY!

No we can't because we can't put that up on a website or leaflet or poster. All we can sell is your track record. Only YOU can sell your ability.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 03:52 PM

Brendy...

"I'm not criticising those who actually do get their finger out, and judging by the language of your second paragraph, you are not one of those. "

Can I just check...you do not think I'm getting my finger out?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:08 PM

Yes.... sorry about that; I spotted it, but thought ......

.... anyway...., I believe the attitude by the organiser (venue owner) is vital. An open, forward-looking, energetic person is needed, because at the bottom line is the human being, and communication is important.

Robbie Robertson famously said in 'The Last Waltz' that "...the musician is the low man on the totem-pole".
It's too often true with less than scrupulous venues.

I spend quite a lot of my time 'organising' as well; keeping together a scene over two countries, where before 'our' arrival there was nothing, except the overwhelming belief among the natives that Mike Scott and The Waterboys, The Pogues, and U2 was what one called 'Irish Music'.

No, Banjiman, I'm not criticising you.
I'm criticising the complacency in general.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:19 PM

M.Ted

Many folk clubs, and folk music related activities seem to take place in pubs. Is this typical in the UK?

Yes.

Dwyle Flunking. I'm the one with the shotgun. The one with the chicken on her head is Valmai Goodyear.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:22 PM

folk club organisers ,put in a lot of hard work,which I appreciate,and some of them notably Ted and Ivy Poole[Swindon]have done it for nearly fifty years,fair play to them.
Snail,I am not advocating paying artists the same fee,I am advocating that doorprices should be the same for all guests. after that,
How you raise the money, to pay for guests is up to the organiser,he can subsidise guest nights by having singers nights,or even fundraising events like ceilidhs/ garden fetes,it has been tried and proved successful,so it doesnt have to be as: you are trying to say robbing one artist to pay for another.
I remember Alex Campbell,handing back part of his fee[the percentage part of the door]and taking his guaranteed fee only ,saying to the organiser,keep that for the club.
and more recently Tony Wilson giving his fee from Stockton folk club,back so that the club could get something to help Ron Angel with his post hospitalisation.
I have just visted Lowestoft folk clubs website,where Tom Mconville and David Wood are priced at 4 pounds,and Cockersdale are priced at 5 pounds, in my opinion both these groups are extremely good,highly professional, both have to come a long way ,and both of whom I would enjoy equally,so why the difference in price,what it says subconsciously is that one is better than the other[which is not so].
now every organiser has a right to run things their way,but if it was me[in Tom Mconville or any of the other 4 pound artists], Iwould be extremely pissed off.
I have played this club several times and had good evenings[on one occasion I sold 14 recordings]Their website is very good,and am sure in every other way the club is still very well run,and is a good club.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:26 PM

Brendy,

I think the attributes you ask of a club organiser are the same as are required by a successful musician, a successful salesman, a successful ....well anything really....it's funny your (quoted) comment regarding the musician being a low man on the totem pole....I really cannot see things like this, the whole point of folk clubs is to provide a theatre for the musician (pro, semi-pro or amateur).

How can that put the musician at the bottom of the pole?

Probably a different argument in a more commercial setting, where the aim of the venue is to make money not music. Looking at your website, this seems to be more of your experience?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:29 PM

GUEST, Anon

It also does not guarantee fair terms for artists - who are professionals and deserve a proper deal.

I'm sorry, but why does calling yourself professional entitle you to any special treatment? Surely it puts you under an even greater obligation to deliver the goods.

Thanks Maryrrf and Jim Lad. It's nice to know that someone doesn't see us as unscrupulous and complacent.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:30 PM


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: PoppaGator
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:46 PM

Dwyle Flunking?

I don't think we have that in the US, and would appreciate more info. I looked at some of the pictures (not all), and have absolutely no idea what's going on, except that everyone seems to be having a good time, most likely due to their high degree of intoxication.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:48 PM

"the whole point of folk clubs is to provide a theatre for the musician"

If only that were the case all the time, Banjiman.

"Looking at your website, this seems to be more of your experience?"
No, it is not my experience, actually.

If I wanted to get rich at this game, I would have done so a long time ago.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:48 PM

We now offer a guarantee and 80% of the door, I now ask/negotiate with the performer what would be an acceptable ticket price that they would be happy with.
There are a number of performers who say immediately what the door price must be.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:51 PM

If I wanted to get rich at this game, I wouldn't do it.
Most organisers including myself do it for nowt.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:55 PM

If I were to have charged venues the 15% over the years, instead of just putting people in contact with each other, well, the villa in the Caribbean would be where I would be sitting now.

Brilliant, Villan!
We're all philanthropists

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:02 PM

Captain Birdseye

Snail,I am not advocating paying artists the same fee,I am advocating that doorprices should be the same for all guests.

I'm really struggling to get my head round this. Do you actually believe that punters should be expected to pay the same to see, for instance, me as they should to see, for instance, Martin Carthy? Or are you saying that, because I'm not as good as Martin Carthy, I shouldn't be allowed to perform at all? If we set a fixed ticket price between the two extremes, we lose on MC because we don't cover his fee and we lose on me because nobody turns up at all.
Alternatively, if we sell out both nights, part of what people paid to see me goes to pay MC. Is that fair?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:06 PM

PoppaGator

I looked at some of the pictures (not all), and have absolutely no idea what's going on,

That's all right, neither have most of the participants.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:09 PM

Banjiman

the whole point of folk clubs is to provide a theatre for the musician

Have to disagree with you there Banjiman, I think the whole point of folk clubs is to provide entertainment for the paying public from whoever is able to provide it.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:10 PM

Bryan....yes, absolutely.....and how do we do that?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:15 PM

without a venue, audience and musician (doesn't have to be that order)we don't have a club....we are all dependent on each other and we all get something out of it or we wouldn't do it.....if one part of this equation is wrong it doesn't work.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:19 PM

Captain Birdseye

How you raise the money, to pay for guests is up to the organiser,he can subsidise guest nights by having singers nights,or even fundraising events like ceilidhs/ garden fetes,

I must be getting tired, I'd slipped past that bit. You call yourself a professional and you want us to hold charity fund raisers to pay your fee? Stuff that for a game of soldiers.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:21 PM

Well Snail,this system was used for years,and still is used and works well.
Iam saying punters should pay the same for every guest,in those clubs that operate membership,the members[once they have paid membership get in cheaper]a sort of loyalty payment,the more times they come and support the club,the more value they get.
YES I do believe,that if you Bryan Creer,are good enough to do a gig,thenThe punters should pay the same price as for any other guest.
I did my first gig in 1976,at TheKingston upon ThamesFolkClub,[JimMageean and AnniFentiman were in the audience and did floor spots],the place was packed[as it was at that time every week],regardless of guests,a month later Tony Rose[an established artist]was on,it cost the SAME to get in.
Snail,you had better get your head round it because that was how it was: in the days when folkclubs were packed,I dont know how long yoyuhave been involved,but I have been going to clubs since 1965.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:26 PM

KFFC jumble sale coming up!

Captain Birdseye...are you serious? You must be on the wind up?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: oggie
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:31 PM

I know I keep going on about "business" but that's what it boils down to. Clubs/venues that lose money close, acts that don't make a living find something else to do, large groups don't play many clubs because few clubs can afford the fee a three or four person group needs to keep going. A lot of the young groups are playing festivals because they can afford the fees, ditto Arts Centres who have enough seats to generate the revenue.

Paul's point (Banjiman) is subtle but I agree, clubs provide the building/enviroment (ie "the theatre") in which the artist can work. No organisers, no "theatres" equals no gigs.

It is also business that some acts command higher fees than others, the public will pay more to see some acts than others, sorry Capn but unless you are advocating that organisers pay more expensive acts from their own pocket (why should they?) or that somehow people will pay over the odds for less expensive acts it won't work in the long term.

Banjiman is doing a superb job of trying to set up his club but also bear in mind that his landlord has also taken a hard headed business decision. Paul has sold him the proposition and he's said to himself "Down the road this is good business and I'll make money from it".

All the best

Steve


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:33 PM

I've been going to clubs since 1969 Dick and I've noticed that things have changed. The clubs aren't full every week anymore, punters are more selective. If we charged the same every time, for my night the room would be empty and we'd lose money; on Carthy's night the room would be full and we'd lose money because we couldn't cover his fee. That may not be how you'd like it to be but it is the reality and, as organisers, we have to live in the real world.

(and I wouldn't be in the least offended if a differential pricing system implied that I wasn't quite as good as Carthy.)


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:35 PM

Brendy
>>We're all philanthropists<<

Is somebody who makes a donation to the sperm bank a philanthropist?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:48 PM

Could be called a lot of things, Villan ;-)

As long as he's not in it for the bobs, I don't mind.

The scene is more important than the individual.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:53 PM

I said:

"All the organiser can sell is the artist's ABILITY!"

Snail said:

"No we can't because we can't put that up on a website or leaflet or poster. All we can sell is your track record. Only YOU can sell your ability."

I say

But we can't sell our ability until we get there - by which time it's too late!

Only YOU can do that - and you CAN sell our ability. You can put our tracks up on your website - or on your myspace site if you have one (which perhaps you should). You can quote our reviews (from our sites) on yours, and in your leaflets (if you bother to print them - which many don't). You can take the time to sell the night, properly, in your parish notices, instead of just saying, err next week we've got xxx. You can speak to the more influential regulars and give us a good old beef-up. You can create a buzz. We're doing a gig in Newcastle or somewhere, for goodness sake, and we don't even know what your place looks like, how it runs or what sort of people go!

Now you may do all these things (we'll see if/when I play there).

I'm not attacking your club. I'm telling those who don't know that many clubs don't.

Look, YOU believe we're good enough, or you shouldn't have booked us in the first place. Now you have somehow to transfer that belief to your audience. Your punters may have never heard of us - or perhaps they only have the vaguest notion of what we do. They're not going to go looking at our websites unless you tell them to, and tell them in a way that makes them want to. You have to build a sense of anticipation. They won't come to the gig unless you've sold us - properly, using all the tools that we provide. (Some clubs don't even bother to put up the posters we send - just lay them out on the table on the night of the gig).

By the time we arrive to 'sell our ability' - if the punters are not there, IT IS WAY TOO LATE!!!

And - as I have taken huge pains to explain, if you only rely on booking already-famous artists on track-record only you are missing out on a lot of great music, condemning newer artists to the graveyard, and doing the folk scene as a whole no favours - but maybe you don't care about that.




Then again

I said

"It also does not guarantee fair terms for artists - who are professionals and deserve a proper deal."

You said

"I'm sorry, but why does calling yourself professional entitle you to any special treatment? Surely it puts you under an even greater obligation to deliver the goods."

I say

Of course it means we need to deliver the goods - I think you'll find most of us do, in spades. But we'd prefer to deliver them to a full-ish house most of the time, thankyou.

And of course calling ourselves professional does not entitle us to any special treatment, because every guest who plays your club is entitled to a fair deal. But you'll usualy find that professionals are professional - interms of income, attitude and method - and they expect, nay assume, a certain level of competance by the other party. They set high standards for themselves, and hope - repeat, hope - to find those matched by their clients - the clubs, but they don't always. It's a sad fact but true.


Again, caveat: lots of clubs ARE great, and many thanks for all the hard work everyone does. This only applies to the few clubs who are not - though we should all strive to improve in every way we can, should we not?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:57 PM

Oggie,

Absolutely agree about the Landlord....he has to make money out of this or at some point he will want rent for the room which makes a smaller pot to pay the acts or higher prices for the audience.....

or he goes under like a lot of other pubs around here.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 06:03 PM

Guest ANON....you are over playing your hand and I suspect preaching to the converted on this thread.

Yes there are bad clubs.....so don't play 'em!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 06:08 PM

That would still leave the problem, Paul, of lack of decent venues.
It's much easier, I think, to rectify a situation, than to have to start from scratch.

Good luck with the club, by the way.
Just keep telling the landlord to keep the faith.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 06:19 PM

Brendy,

I do spend rather a lot of time getting gigs for and attending gigs (and playing a bit too...yes even banjo players occasionally get paid gigs!) with my other half.

I am fully aware of the problems associated with some clubs and other venues....however if it was that terrible, and we weren't getting a lot of pleasure from it, we would find another way of making that part of our income.

Part of my motivation for starting
KFFC
was to try and do things differently in terms of marketing and to try and attract additional audience to "folk". Time will tell if this will work.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 06:34 PM

GUEST, Anon

If you want us to sell you to our audience, you need to sell yourself to us. I'm not sure that you're going the best way about it.

As amateurs, we do our best. If that isn't good enough, find alternative outlets or organise your own gigs. It can be done. As Folkiedave described, Spiers and Boden did it in Sheffield a while ago. It can also fail. Last year a national name did a gig at an arts centre about fifteen miles away. With hardly any ticket sales, the organisers contacted the local folk scene about a week before the gig. We did what we could but it was really too late; there was an audience of about 20. Around the same time, a group we had booked a while before played another arts centre about 30 miles away. In a theatre that could probably have seated 150, they had a smaller audience than we gave them. This coming Saturday, a famous and long standing band are playing a venue about fifty yards away. We found out by chance a few days ago because they haven't done any perceptible local advertising. I would recommend you come and see Too Many Strings (including BBC Young Folk Awards finalist Dogan Mehmet) at the Lewes Arms instead.

Folk club organisers may not be perfect but we get the job done and we're bloody good value for money.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 06:37 PM

I'll link to it on my webpage.

I do passionately believe that the audiences are out there.

Over here, we had to change people's perceptions (Riverdance, for all it's faults helped a lot here).
But where 'Irish Pubs' abroad have put the majority of their focus on 'Come all ye bold heroes' kind of stuff, I, and others like me have been pushing the music of East Clare and Donegal, and proving that 'Matty Groves' is a hell of a lot more powerful a song than, for instance, Whiskey in the Jar.

English pubs, abroad, generally are football/sports places with absolutely no lip-service paid to your rich folk tradition.

You know Paul, I'm sure, that if the audience isn't immediately evident, you have to go out there and canvass them. That's what you seem to be doing, and more power to you.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 06:52 PM

I'm very sorry that you see this as some kind of attack on you or your club Bryan. I explained that I don't know what you do, but I do know your club is successful. Organisers differ enormously in their approaches. Your stance comes over as defending the less motivated. I was hoping you might stand back and see the wider picture. But never mind.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 07:10 PM

GUEST, Anon

Just try and remember that our duty as organisers is more towards our audience than it is towards providing you with making a living. We want you there, but we'd get by without you far better than you'd get by without us.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 07:22 PM

.... moderately successful ...

I see.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:08 PM

I sat at home one night a few years ago staring at the box.
Unbeknownst to me, three blocks away, Richard Thompson was starting up his set.

Now, I'm not an avid follower of Richard's website, neither am I on his mailing list, but I've always wanted to see him live.
The venue that put him on never even put up a poster.

Now, when I think of all the ex-pat community over in Oslo; the Irish, English, Scottish, and Welsh, I could nearly have guaranteed a full house if it was me that was putting the gig on.

I brought Sharon Shannon and her 4 piece to Norway for the first time, a few years ago, and people came from Sweden and Denmark for the gig.
PLUS: We didn't charge a penny at the door.

It's called 'providing a service', Snail.
Some do it, some don't.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:37 PM

Your point, with reference to UK folk club organisers, Brendy?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:40 PM

That part of our duty as organisers is to provide a service to the public.

That thinking works no matter where you are.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:45 PM

I quite agree. What's your problem?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:49 PM

Seems like you're not doing that...

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:59 PM

What grounds do you have for saying that?

Tell me in the morning. It's past my bedtime.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 09:00 PM

Goodnight... :-)

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 11:05 PM

Good morning, Bryan!

... Well, using your venue as a blackmailing weapon to get musicians to accept your terms, was never a vote winner for me.

Too often in your posts I read the words "It's not my/our job to ..."

What exactly is your job, then?
What are the aims of your club?

I'll get back to you once I have a look at the website.

B.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Jim Lad
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 11:13 PM

Serious thread drift here.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 02:30 AM

You are quite right Jim Lad.

It has become more of a "What the organsier should do for the pro"

Basically, if a pro is good enough or liked enough, they shouldn't have problems getting gigs.

Have a look at the gig lists of the more popular performers. They look as though they have enough work.

So if you as a performer think that people are nicking your gigs, then I seriously suggest you look at yourself and find out why. Are you not as good as you think you are (there are a lot out there who think that way). Are you promoting yourself in the best way possible.

Even if you get a gig at a club, you are unlikely to get another one for a couple of years after that, unless you have that certain something that have the audience gagging for you.

Remember, nobody owes anybody a living, its up to you to go out and get it.

I'll get me coat.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 03:51 AM

It's a shame I'm not in a position to say who I am. Because if I could, and was also able to tell you some specific stories about what has happened to me, and others like me, at specific clubs up and down the land I don't think any of you would be suggesting for one moment that my posts are only about "What the organsier should do for the pro."

I really don't think you understand how bad the situation is in some places, where I presume you never go.

I'm talking about what organisers should try to do - PERIOD. For themselves, for their clubs, for the music, AND for the pro. It's only coming across as though I'm making demands that because TheSnail has been so dismissive of my points, and I've been trying to get him to see beyond his current attitude. I'm sorry if I've seemed cross at times but it's really really frustrating trying to open up debate about this, and to see good, well-meaning, hard-working people (performers and organisers) fail because these issues are not as well understood across the board as they should be.

Villan - you know me well and your post above is addressed to a very different type of performer, ok? I don't think people are nicking my club gigs for one minute. I've addressed that above. I think you'd agree that I AM good enough and liked enough (for your club at least :-) - but I still can no longer get enough gigs to make a proper living in the clubs and festivals only - because there are just not enough out there. Only a score or so of artists can.

Why? Because so many clubs have stopped booking guests, or reduced their guest bookings. Why? Because they've had too many half-full nights for supposedly 'good enough / liked enough' guests. Why? becuase they didn't understand that even 'good enough / liked enough' guests need to be marketed properly - specially on their first visit. Does this matter? I think so. Can anything be done? Yes. Should I suggest some solutions?

Err, no - you say.

Now you Villan do it right - no worries. I believe TheSnail's club does do - we shall see, but a lot of clubs don't - for lots of good reasons of course that we all know and understand well. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try. Yes it's hard work - but most of the people who do it well have a team to spread the load. It's not easy building up a team - but there are ways and means. There is support available - but some people are not interested in recognising they have a problem until it's too late. Seems you can't force even a singing horse to drink.

I could list dozens of people that play both your clubs, who are damn good, famous within the folk world, who play big festivals every year - yet STILL find themselves playing to rooms that are only a quarter full - fairly frequently. I know because we talk about these things, and I go see them and witness it.

The suggestions I've made are in good faith - for the benefit of all.

If people choose to see them otherwise - well, that just underlines the problem.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 04:26 AM

Anon
My comments were global and not aimed at anybody in particular.

I think festivals are a different kettle of fish. People pay good money to see a variety of performers. Some they like, some they don't. These people are music lovers and enjoy what the festival offers. It is unusual to see a performer do more than 1 hour as a gig, more likely 40/45 mins.

That is a lot different to listening to one artist do 90 minutes at a folk club or venue. That is where the organiser has to decide if a performer can entertain his/her audience sufficiently to make them want to come back. The target audience is not your festival goers, rather sit at home and watch the telly audience.If you can get them off the bums, they want to be entertained. I can see the reason why many clubs run at a quarter full.

I have many performers I love to see personally, but when I put my organiser hat on, I am a different person. I have to think of what the audience will like.

If I do book a pro, I have already decided that I think the audience will enjoy them.
However, i can't sit back and think that is enough. I need to let as many people know so that hopefully people who know and like that performer will come along too.
I also hope that the people who come along who trust my judgement but have never seen the performer before enjoy it enough to want to see them again.

Does all that make sense? I'll go and charge my battery up.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Jim Lad
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 04:31 AM

Things are changing, Anon. Not just in the Club scene but in other areas too. Folk is shifting over to other venues. The music industry is taking a serious hit with regards to sales (for some reason I'm enjoying that) and it's up to us to recognize the changes and take advantage of them.
The gap between the amateur and the pro is a whole lot narrower when it comes to making contact with the larger audience.
The Internet now has a serious role to play in our business and we all have equal access to this medium.
How/where you find your gigs today is not the same as it was ten years ago.
Change means opportunity. Take stock, change direction and go for it.
There is plenty of room for all of us.
Although one particular Football Club has possibly outlived its usefulness.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 04:39 AM

In response to anons post,my wholepoint about GUEST admission pricing,relates to Guest Anons marketing points.
By charging 4 pounds for Tom Mcconville and David Wood ,AND 5 pounds for Cockersdale your saying to your audience one group is better than another.[in this case quite untrue]
what an organiser should be doing is promoting all his guests equally,this system of pricing is totally unfair,and does not reflect the quality of the guests,but only how much the organiser has had to pay,including agents commission. the problem is that the more a venue has to pay for an artist,the more promotion the organiser will do.
if an organiser only has to pay an artist 50 pounds,he wont put the same effort into promotion as if he has to pay 400 pounds.
DickMiles


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 05:19 AM

Thats not true Dick

I would say that we need to promote even more for a not so well known performer.

just using Vin as an example. If I ever get to put him on, I am absolutely sure that a lot of people who haven't been before will snap the tickets up. Vin would be a sell out. Providing you do your normal promotion.

However a performer of lesser fame if any, needs a lot more publicity and a way that convices people they actually want to see this performer or at least find out what all the fuss is.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,matt m
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 05:41 AM

"if an organiser only has to pay an artist 50 pounds,he wont put the same effort into promotion as if he has to pay 400 pounds"

Very true. But in London, the most expensive place to live in the whole world ever, the idea of regularly paying any musician anything even approaching £400 is simply a non-starter. (In my experience anyway. I'd be happy to be hear otherwise...)

You can find a room in the middle of nowhere for free – sometimes – but usually the lowest you can get away with paying for room hire is £50. (You may or may not have a PA and a soundman to pay for too.) I don't like charging more than £6 a ticket, I prefer £5, and I like to offer a concessions rate of, say, £4 or £3. You can cover your room hire cost, if it's as cheap as £50, quite easily on those terms: after 10 people come in, you can start paying the musician(s). That's the kind of model I vastly prefer.

But if you have to factor in a £200+ fee to a musician then that model is simply unworkable. You have to start doing things like paying that musician but not anyone else on the bill. Or electing to just have that one musician for the night and noone else. Or upping the ticket price. None of which I feel comfortable doing. Which I feel is my prerogative.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 06:03 AM

Brendy. That's twice you've sneered at the term "moderately successful", the second time apparently out of context.   You seem to interpret the term as equal to failure.   I chose the term "moderately" to avoid overclaiming – noting that I'm aware of more successful clubs in the country. There is a spectrum in these things, as in everything.   However, the club I attend runs about one third "big" names, one third "lesser" names or new acts, and one third local interest or singers nights. It isn't always full to the gills, but it is some distance from failure. It appears to be fulfilling the need to provide a platform for established professionals and rising newcomers: though there are always more potential guests than evenings.

More generally, although a professional artist or a concert promoter has to be businesslike, a club (folk, dance, model railways or whatever) is essentially an amateur organisation run for the benefit of its members/attendees. If the finances are not run sensibly, then the club will fail, but it is not the purpose of its existence. A club is not a business. Its health is not judged by its growth rate or profit margin. Clubs can be stable for many years at a "moderate" level, if that satisfies the members/attendees.

Captain; I went to Kingston club a few years before you. Sadly, the only acts I remember are the club residents Dunedain (what happened to them?) and a visit from Martin Wyndham Reed, complete with bush-hat.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 06:56 AM

The Villan

It has become more of a "What the organsier should do for the pro"

I suppose that's my fault for pointing out that the gigs don't belong to the pros in the first place, they belong to the organisers who are free to give them to whoever they choose.
The only other point I've really tried to make is that, if you've done the website and the poster and the leaflets and the press hand outs, it's a bit much for the professionals to demand a guaranteed minimum to "keep us on our toes".

GUEST, Anon

I really don't think you understand how bad the situation is in some places, where I presume you never go.

Correct, I don't. There are clubs I have done floor spots at that I'll never go back to. I suggest you adopt the same policy.

I'm talking about what organisers should try to do - PERIOD. For themselves, for their clubs, for the music, AND for the pro.

I'm glad you got those in the right order except it's "for the guest" not "for the pro". Pros have no special status as far as we are concerned.

TheSnail has been so dismissive of my points, and I've been trying to get him to see beyond his current attitude.

I'm sorry, but what do you see as my current attitude and what are your objections to it? All you seem to have done so far is whinge and whine and moan about how awful club organisers are.
"what TheSnail advocates: Leave it all up to the artist to build his reputation in outer space somehow and then ride on his coat-tails." didn't do a lot to win me over to your point of view.

You're posting of 14 Nov 07 - 09:02 was amazingly patronising and showed that you have very little idea of what is involved in running a club. Try and remember that we are open at least fifty nights a year (plus other events) and your gig is just one of those.

Anyone reading your posts would be lead to believe that all clubs are awful. Only under pressure have you conceded that The Villan gets it right and that it's just possible that The Lewes Arms does as well.

Back to The Villan -

Remember, nobody owes anybody a living, its up to you to go out and get it.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 07:07 AM

Captain Birdseye

By charging 4 pounds for Tom Mcconville and David Wood ,AND 5 pounds for Cockersdale

So, by my calculations, one Cockersdale is worth 5/12 of a Tom McConville.

If I played in front of fifty people at £5 a head and was given £50 and the next week the guest played in front of fifty people at £5 a head and got payed £400 I think I would feel pretty pissed off.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 07:15 AM

Brendy

I will answer just two of your points -

What exactly is your job, then?

I'm a computer programmer.

What are the aims of your club?

From the Lewes Arms Folk Club's constitution:

LEWES ARMS FOLK CLUB RESIDENTS' COMMITTEE: Booking policy

Programming objectives

1.       To provide a programme which reflects the club's long-established interest in traditional music and song and contemporary folk music/song derived from the tradition;

2.       To provide a programme reflecting the major interests of the residents and those attending regularly in unaccompanied song, accompanied song and tunes;

3.       To provide a programme with a mix of local performers who perform bookings regularly, regional and national performers;

4.       To provide periodic opportunities for competent local performers who are not regularly booked at other clubs to perform;

5.       To provide opportunities for in-depth musical development via workshops;

6.       To apportion bookings equitably between performers as far as is possible in a situation where there are far more performers than opportunities to offer bookings;

7.       To vary formats from time to time, e.g. theme evenings, longer guest spots, while retaining a policy of offering floor singers at least one item;

8.       Where necessary to ensure that new members/visitors are able to perform floor spots by asking the residents to stand down.


From now on, I am not failing to respond, I am ignoring you.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Green Man
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 07:20 AM

Hi Hamish,

I look forward to hearing / seeing you. People like you bring a breath of fresh air in. We are not locked into paying for the services of people who are well known, we employ people who entertain and from another standpoint maintain standards.

As for stealing gigs, you can't steal something that was never owned. If there is ever a union for folk performers that makes it bad to bid for a gig then I certainly won't subscribe. Anyway most 'professionals' start out singing around clubs for nothing, just to get the exposure. It is an evolutionary thing. You take your knocks and build your repertoire and confidence, only then can you charge extortionate money for a performance :-) providing of course you can find someone who is willing to pay.

See you soon.

GM


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: GUEST, Anon
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 07:34 AM

"Anyone reading your posts would be lead to believe that all clubs are awful."

On the contrary. Please read my post at 09:02 again. I'm sorry if it came over as partonising - I had a lot to say and may not have chosen my words as carefully as I might. But I have made it clear all along that I'm only talking some clubs. You agree there are some you'd avoid - these are the places I'm talkikng about - that's obvious surely. The difference is that I don't write them off. I had hoped to encourage a debate which might help them to improve, but you taking my thoughts personally and becoming affronted, when obviously these problems don't apply at your club has taken the discussion off beam. I stand corrected re 'guests' and 'pros' - but I'd made that point myself at 05:53. "Only under pressure have you conceded that The Villan gets it right and that it's just possible that The Lewes Arms does as well." Again - not so. I cleared that up just as soon as it was raised. I also apologised at once for misunderstanding your comment, but I was not the only person to do so. It did seem as though you were supporting the attitude held by SOME organisers that it is entirely down to the artist to bring in an audience - which you have since agreed should not be the case. Enough.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Brendy
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 07:59 AM

"....but we'd get by without you far better than you'd get by without us"

That is what is commonly known as blackmail, TheSnail. (my way or the highway...)
It's also bad-heartedness.

B


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 08:18 AM

>>Although one particular Football Club has possibly outlived its usefulness<<

Hey Jim, I hope you don't mean mine :-)


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 08:41 AM

The Snail seems to have a bit of a down on guests at folk clubs asking for a guarantee against a door percentage. As there is a lot of mutual misunderstanding on this thread, I will quote exactly what he said:

'The only other point I've really tried to make is that, if you've done the website and the poster and the leaflets and the press hand outs, it's a bit much for the professionals to demand a guaranteed minimum to "keep us on our toes"'.

I would like to point out that I am going to play in January at the Lewes folk club that the Snail has mentioned he is involved in the running of. And, curiously, the organiser offered me a guarantee of £150 against 80% of the door money , an offer which I gladly accepted. So I am glad the Snail isn't actually the guy who does the bookings! And, by the way, I didn't "demand" a guarantee. What guests might do is "ask" for a guarantee: I think using that word "demand" shows an underlying hostility which is unhelpful. In my own case, I think I neither demanded nor asked, as far as I recall: the guarantee and percentage were offered to me!


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 09:12 AM

GUEST, Anon

When I said "I don't see why we should guarantee an artist against their failure to bring in an audience", the previous sentence was "We do our legwork. "
I was taking it for granted that organisers do all they can with limited time and resources to promote their club and their guests. You appeared to take it for granted that they do not.

Yes, I did take your "coat-tails" remark personally since it was explicitly made at me and based on your own assumptions, not anything I'd said.

In your 09:02 posting you held forth at considerable length and with great confidence about how folk clubs should be run despite admitting that you had no experience of doing so. Try running one if you think you can do it better. Several professional performers do.

Even this morning you are saying "TheSnail has been so dismissive of my points, and I've been trying to get him to see beyond his current attitude." What is it about my current attitude that you wish to change?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 09:40 AM

greg stephens

I would like to point out that I am going to play in January at the Lewes folk club that the Snail has mentioned he is involved in the running of.

Actually Greg, you aren't. Your performing at the Royal Oak not the Lewes Arms. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Not sure where I got the "keep us on our toes" line from. My interpretation. Sorry about that, it's been a long thread.

What you actually said -

My personal position is as I said earlier: we'll generally play for the lion's share of the door money, accompanied by a modest guarantee. The guarantee is useful, it ensures that the organisers actually do a bit of legwork, postering, press, mailouts etc. Believe me, I have encountered places that don't!

We are not one of those places. We do the work. We do not offer guarantees, at least not to long established professionals. To newbies such as Newcastle students who may have travelled a long way for an uncertain return, maybe.

We were negotiating with a National Name for one of our workshop deals. He asked for a gauranteed minimum and we said no but pointed out to him that our guests almost invariably made more than that. He turned us down. His loss and ours but if, after we had done everything we could (and our past record showed that we are pretty good at it), he had failed to draw the crowds why should we take the loss?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 09:42 AM

Sorry, Snail. Thought it was your club. You are very blessed in Lewes to have two!


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 09:58 AM

Indeed we are, both running very successfully.
I should have added that The Royal Oak isn't one of those places that fail to do their legwork either. I'm sure you will find that guaranteed minimum irrelevant.


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 10:59 AM

Are you lot still arguing? I've been to sleep and out to see a client.....personally I blame the others, you know the ones who aren't taking part in this discussion.

Seriously. isn't there a bigger discussion...another thread probably around how we attract more (and heaven forbid, younger) audiences to watch & play folk music?


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 12:16 PM

Now then Banjiman, get back to selling your tickets :-)


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 12:19 PM

Les,

Would you like one (or several)?

Paul


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 12:23 PM

please excuse my absence,Ihave had to spend the day mending fences,to stop my sheep escaping to the neighbours,and this evening I intend to play my concertina.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 12:29 PM

Have a nice evening Dick

Would you like loads of mine Paul LOL


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Banjiman
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 12:33 PM

Hey Les....I've promised to come to at least one of yours.

I think you should show the same commitment to "The Cause"!! :-)

If we don't see you in the Spring, we'll see you in the summer (that could almost be a song!)

Cheers

Paul


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 01:07 PM

You never know Paul
I am keeping an eye on who you put on
Les


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Subject: RE: Stealing gigs from the pro's
From: Strider
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 04:27 PM

Hi Santa,
"Whatever happened to the Dundedain?"
Well we went our various ways on 7th October 1972, our final farewell performance at the Fighting Cocks.
John Rodd, Mike Huxley and his to be wife Hermionne formed Antic Hey, doing far more "music" and John went on to scale new heights with the Albion Dance Band, and various albums.
Nigel Hall and myself performed sporadically, but in '76 I moved to Belgium, which pretty much put an end to any serious folk music on my side. We reformed for a one off gig in 1996 to mark 25 years (more or less), which we did in Whitby.
Mike Huxley died last year, and as part of the grieving process we decided to put together an archive of the group. It is in place in the form of a wiki, to which anyone can contribute, and later I hope to put it up as full site.
I occasionally meet up with Nigel, and John, but not as threesome. The last couple of times we sang a few songs, it didn't sound bad, but our hearing is going too!
Link to wiki - http://dunedain.wik.is/
Cheers
Ian Culpin


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