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Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters

Vic Smith 07 Apr 12 - 09:07 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Apr 12 - 09:18 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 07 Apr 12 - 09:21 AM
DebC 07 Apr 12 - 09:30 AM
Will Fly 07 Apr 12 - 09:38 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Apr 12 - 09:50 AM
Johnny J 07 Apr 12 - 09:53 AM
Johnny J 07 Apr 12 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,Confused 07 Apr 12 - 10:28 AM
Maryrrf 07 Apr 12 - 10:36 AM
Johnny J 07 Apr 12 - 10:51 AM
Leadfingers 07 Apr 12 - 11:53 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Apr 12 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Chord Chucker 07 Apr 12 - 09:04 PM
GUEST,Hookey Wole 07 Apr 12 - 09:24 PM
Phil Cooper 07 Apr 12 - 09:47 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 08 Apr 12 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,josepp 08 Apr 12 - 11:02 AM
doc.tom 08 Apr 12 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,Hookey Wole 08 Apr 12 - 11:46 AM
Will Fly 08 Apr 12 - 11:51 AM
Bert 08 Apr 12 - 02:13 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 09 Apr 12 - 08:55 AM
GUEST,Tony Rath aka Tonyteach 09 Apr 12 - 01:17 PM
Maryrrf 09 Apr 12 - 02:17 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 09 Apr 12 - 02:32 PM
doc.tom 10 Apr 12 - 05:25 AM
Mr Happy 10 Apr 12 - 05:55 AM
The Sandman 10 Apr 12 - 10:39 AM
alanabit 11 Apr 12 - 04:50 AM
Ross Campbell 11 Apr 12 - 08:42 AM
Will Fly 11 Apr 12 - 10:16 AM
alanabit 11 Apr 12 - 12:34 PM
Leadfingers 12 Apr 12 - 05:26 AM
Leadfingers 12 Apr 12 - 05:26 AM
Leadfingers 12 Apr 12 - 05:31 AM
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Subject: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:07 AM

[b]A message for you, Sir Paul McCartney. [/b]

http://youtu.be/aleiuZPkh6Q

Any comments about this brave statement?

Any examples from our field of music?


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:18 AM

It's happening in L.A. too. Just saw this today:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/78468650/La-Club-Owners


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:21 AM

The system certainly sucks and is nothing short of exploitation! I noticed that YouTube has blocked comments from the video and I wonder why?


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: DebC
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:30 AM

This is rampant in the US, mostly in nightclubs and bars where alcohol is sold. More traditional US folk venues (church coffeehouses, performing arts centers, house concerts, etc) do not employ these awful tactics.

I have encountered this occasionally when doing research for booking tours. When I see this kind of practice, I cross that venue off my list and move on.

My union, AFM Local 1000 has begun a campaign called "Fair Trade Music 1000". A FTM1000 venue signs a pledge that says that they will pay a minimum wage guarantee to all musicians they hire in their venue. The minimums are determined by Local 1000 and are very reasonable. So far, we have 15 venues signed up since we began the campaign last Autumn and are talking to more all the time.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:38 AM

I noticed that YouTube has blocked comments from the video and I wonder why?

It's more probable that the person who posted the video has disabled the comments section, rather than YouTube.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:50 AM

You beat me to it, Will - disabling of comments is one of the options when you upload content.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Johnny J
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:53 AM

Thankfully, this doesn't happen on the general folk scene here(Scotland) although it's not uncommon for singers or bands to "volunteer" and play a short support or opening spot on a guest night at a club.
There'll also be musicians who will be happy enough to participate in sessions without payment and, occasionally, even be happy enough to make a small contribution towards the cost of hiring a room in a venue.

Of course, singer songwriters like the young woman here(A lovely voice, by the way)will naturally seek out gigs in other venues as well as or as opposed to folk clubs.

I don't consider it wrong as such for an artist to be encouraged to assist in promoting their own gigs. It's in their own interests that it is well attended but it should be an excuse for the organisers not to bother.
Also, if they sell tickets, it's not necessarily wrong for the proceeds to be added to the total "pot" so to speak as long as a satifactory agreement has been reached. After all, it might be something like a 80%(artist) 20%(venue) split which would probably be quite reasonable.

Providing reasonable terms can be agreed, there is room for a bit of leeway and it's not uncommon for acts to assist in "punting" a few tickets to family and friends for certain events.

Obviously, such actions as described in the video are inexcusable and commercial organisations and promoters are a "different beast" from us friendly folk club organisers and clearly lack the same scruples and integrity.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Johnny J
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:56 AM

Oops, you probably realised I had meant to say

" it *shouldN'T* be an excuse for the organisers not to bother."


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: GUEST,Confused
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 10:28 AM

Do musicians need to play these venues if they don't like the terms?

(A genuine question)


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Maryrrf
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 10:36 AM

The audio was very low on that You Tube video so I couldn't quite catch everything she said, but I think I got the gist of it and I've read the article about LA clubs. I'm not quite sure how Paul McCartney fits into this - is there something he can do about it?


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Johnny J
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 10:51 AM

"Do musicians need to play these venues if they don't like the terms?"

Short answer is "No" but if there's nowhere else available and they need to gain exposure it leaves them in a bit of a predicament.

"Paul McCartney........is there something he can do about it?"

I wasn't sure where he fitted in either but I think it's just because he's such a high profile musician. His support could add a great deal of "clout" to the campaign. Also, The Beatles cut their teeth playing in small venues.

I'm not sure why he hasn't been contacted directly. There must be some way and I don't think he'll be that elusive.

Of course, other arists could also be approached.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 11:53 AM

Playing free as a Floor Singer is very common in Folk , and I would expect to provide some kind of publicity if I was booked to play any
Where , but that Glasgow scene is pure Rip Off , as is the L A story .
And , of course ANY Muso with a Web Site would publicise Gigs , and maintain a Data Base for fans 6to keep them informed .


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 12:30 PM

Sir Paul has the world's attention, and if he spoke out about it, it would raise a lot more awareness of this issue and perhaps shame a few promoters into cleaning up their act. Not on moral grounds but out of preserving their image - which they might need to increasingly do if more people start pointing fingers of blame at them. Nobody likes to be embarrassed. (Asking hungry musicians to refuse gigs is living in cloud cuckoo land. There'll always be somebody...)

Though this is a common and much-lamented problem among working musicians, how many non-musos are alerted to it? People can't condemn practices they know nothing about. Paul was once scrabbling around for gigs too, and he knows what it's like. Now he's a major voice in the music scene. If he took this on board, I think people would pay attention, and it's these things that make him a good choice. I would love for this video to go viral. Maybe it will. Maybe it has.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: GUEST,Chord Chucker
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:04 PM

The music business being what it is, it is often hard to tell the difference between a scam gig and a legitimate gig. As to the young woman--she is attractive, talented, and determined. I am not sure how this effort will work out, but I have a feeling we will hear more of her.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: GUEST,Hookey Wole
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:24 PM

It's a harsh fact of life that, unless there is ever a sudden drastic mass cull of emerging young talent,
demand for gigs will always vastly exceed supply.

Unscrupulous club managers & scam promoters will continue to thrive
like vultures hovering over newborn lambs in a summer drought.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 09:47 PM

Like Mary said above, What is Paul McCartney supposed to do about this. As Emily Friedman said in Come for to Sing magazine once, this is a voluntary profession.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 05:33 AM

The answer is simple, do not to partake in appearances at any such venue. Whingeing on about it and hoping that a very rich pop singer is going to be of any help shows a great naivite about life in the real world musically or otherwise.

Making a living from music is for the very,very few. There are many very gifted/very able musicians working out in the real world in non musical jobs. The fact is there are not enough musical jobs to go around.
If you really enjoy playing music try and find some like minded friends and do it for the enjoyment. If someone offers you financial reward and it is fair then treat it as a bonus.

Aye, it's a sair fecht

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 11:02 AM

Don't play any place that you're expected to pay for the honor. It's that simple. Boycott the places that do this and they'll come around sooner or later. If you're paying then you're part of the problem and should blame yourself. If you have to take a regular job to make ends meet--welcome to that very exclusive club!


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: doc.tom
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 11:20 AM

The practice is widespread for bands wanting to get ahead - it's known as Pay-To-Play and the U.K.'s Musicians Union has been fighting it for a long time. As long as aspiring groups want 'exposure', in an effort to, as they see it, build a fan-base, it will continue.

It's not common - not even rare as far as I know in the folk scene, although booking acts because they're cheap RATHER THAN because they're good quality/value is somewhat more common - and has lead to the demise of many an otherwise good club when the audience loses trust.

With Pay-To-Play the promoter can't lose - and when one band gives up, there's always plenty more!

TomB


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: GUEST,Hookey Wole
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 11:46 AM

The reality is that struggling venues will exploit any opportunity to survive and stay open.

It's more or less the norm now for club gigs to stage up to 4 or 5 cheap / free local bands per night
where the only audience is members of all the other bands and their personal entourage.

On a quiet week-night that's at least 20 young fame deluded 'rockers' paying for inflated price drinks up until closing time.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 11:51 AM

There's an alternative way to get a paying gig - if you've got a bit of energy and are prepared to take a punt on the process: DIY.

1. You find a venue of size, location and price to suit your outlay.
2. You determine the optimum number and price of your tickets.
3. You print off flyers, posters and tickets.
4. You pepper the locality with your flyers and posters.
5. You place a small ad or two in suitable local publications and websites.
6. You sell tickets in advance by phone, post, email or in person.
7. You do the gig, you count the cash and see whether you've won or lost a buck...

If you're a solo artist, you can team up with other local artists as a temporary co-operative - share the costs and loss or profit. It takes a lot of energy and you can't guarantee success. But:

1. You're in control.
2. Even if you only break even you've got some good publicity.
3. You're paying to play, of course - but on your terms.

The experience is excellent and - a bonus - you'll get some idea of whether you can pull an audience or not. You'll get feedback. I've done this several times over the years with different people and it's always paid off in some way or another. The ceilidh band I play in gets plenty of function bookings, mainly by word of mouth, but last year we decided we'd do our own thing for a bit of fun and some publicity. All we wanted to do was break even - just to get our name around in a different locality.

We booked a local village hall - £125 hire including bar and help from the caretaker. £16 to advertise in the local "Folk Diary". £30 on posters, tickets and flyers. £30 on several raffle prizes. Lots of walking to shops, halls, notice boards, libraries, driving to clubs with flyers. Result: 120 punters at £6 a time and over £100 on the raffle - well over £70 each as our profit. Lots of publicity - and the 4th gig in the series comes up in September this year.

Moral: Don't let the system run by these so-called 'promoters' screw you. Take some positive action. The experience alone is worth it. (I believe that Phil Beer and Steve Knightley did just this sort of thing in their "Village Halls" project some years ago).


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Bert
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 02:13 PM

Then there are the good promoters like The Stargazers Theater here in Colorado Springs.

It costs the owner $500 or more to open the doors, that goes for overhead, staff heating and lighting.

He has sponsored several show for local songwriters where he had so few people attend that it cost him a lot of money.

He then started a monthly open mike, where we go and sing without getting paid. He does this out of the kindness of his heart. Now, after several months, the audience has just started getting big enough that he might soon start breaking even.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 08:55 AM

Another good article here:

http://www.vidwarren.com/should-the-artist-bring-the-audience/

We all know that
(a) this is a bad practice
(b) there's very little musicians can do about it except
(c) boycott such venues

But I do think that's why raising awareness of this issue is so important. It's an injustice, and injustices should be fought, not merely shrugged off with well-what-can-you-do. The powerless stay powerless otherwise.

That's what the Paul McCartney angle is undoubtedly all about: he does get the public's attention - all he has to do is speak out and a whole lot of people will hear him. If the message gets through to enough non-musicians, it could begin to bite exploitative promoters in the bum. It's one thing for musicians to avoid a venue, but there will always be others to fill in the blanks. However if audiences boycott places with this policy in sufficient numbers, it would grab some attention. They're not as replaceable as performers.

That could start to happen if all the promoter can get are second-rate artists who don't draw a crowd or keep them coming back for more. But in order to do this, the non-musos need to know about it.

The McCartney video is at least an attempt at achieving this.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: GUEST,Tony Rath aka Tonyteach
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 01:17 PM

When I first started singing in public I did it for nothing for the experience and because I wanted to. Then I began to get small jobs and better paid ones as I became better known I never paid to play and I never would

There are more opportunities these days to get better known quickly if you organise yourself Sorry but nobody owes you a living If you are good enough people will pay you if your not then tough Sounds callous but thats performing This kind of rip off has always gone on ever since the early days of rock and roll

Anyone remember Gilbert O'Sullevan suing for his song rights - or have a look at the Britains Got Talent contract Promote your own stuff if you believe in yourself Also join the MU


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Maryrrf
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 02:17 PM

I'd like to think that raising awareness of the practice would cause non musos to boycott music venues that were identified as doing this, but I'm not sure it would. It's for the musicians to draw the line - probably a certain amount of playing for free is necessary when you are getting started - paying to play is a bit much. I know some venue owners and their experience is that it can be very difficult to get people to come out and see performers they've never heard of. That's why they may not offer guarantees, but will pay the performer "the door".   But this can also be a double edged sword for the venue - when they put a cover charge on it can keep out people who would come in, eat, drink, etc. There are difficulties on both sides.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 02:32 PM

She says musicians are "having" to pay to play. They don't have to. They're choosing to, presumably in order to promote themselves. If they don't like the deal that's being offered, they don't have to do it. There are alternatives, such as promoting your own gigs.

The promoter is taking the bigger share, but he's also taking the bigger risk. As Bert points out, the promoter has overheads to cover whether or not the band brings in an audience. If the band flops, they don't really stand to lose much financially. It's also likely that an unknown band will have a fairly small core of fans, and the band is likely to do a better job of selling tickets to these people than the venue could. Setting a minimum quota ensures the band will make an effort to sell tickets.

The folk world doesn't (so far as I know) go in for "pay to play" but the notion of the unpaid floor spot is so well established that no one even thinks of it as exploitation. I'd go so far as to say that the opportunity to perform is part of what folk clubs are for. Nevertheless, the advice to aspiring performers is to do a lot of unpaid floor spots in the hope that they will lead to paid gigs. Is that so very different?


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: doc.tom
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 05:25 AM

Yes, I think it is VERY different. In pay-to-play a promoter is setting up an event to make money and using aspiring musicians supposed need for 'exposure' to line their own pockets. Doing floor spots at a folk club was always an apprenticeship - the performer is in control, they gained experience, thiers are the decisions - and I never found a folk club yet where the organisers made personal money (Festivals are another matter!).
TomB


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 05:55 AM

I mostly concur with what Howard et al have said above, if you don't like the deal, no one is forcing you to accept.

I don't really know about Scotland's arrangements on this issue, but have some knowledge of northern England and Wales.

Hereabouts, there's plenty pubs etc which because've the smoking ban & other reasons aren't doing well & if their management's got any nous will do paid gigs – that is they'll pay bands direct without any 3rd parties taking a cut.

There's at least 6 local bands I know of who're versatile enough to be able to offer a broad spectrum of kinds of music ranging from Rock, Country & W, Pop, Folk-like stuff etc & some also able to be dance/ ceilidh bands.

With the help of the internet, it's much easier to self-publicise both on your own page, on music orientated sites like this one & via general notices on Facebook & similar.

Desktop- designed flyers/ posters photocopied cost next to nothing, so its easy-peasy to spread 'em round your area.

All these groups seem to have no probs such as have been mentioned, so why not all?

My advice is, don't play their games, play your game!


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Apr 12 - 10:39 AM

thanks Vic, it is a disgraceful rip off


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: alanabit
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 04:50 AM

Great post Will. In principle you are fighting bent "business" with honest business. This is the way to fight back.
The SOH business model is fascinating. I know Diane has described them here as playing "dodgy eighties pub rock", but even if one accepts that unkind description, the business strategy has been brilliant. Phil would no doubt have been able to continue playing sessions and gigging with the few top folk/bands, who could still pull an audience. However, with the folk club scene of the sixties and seventies on its last legs, there was no real perspective for SOH to be able to get enough work to survive.
Their answer was to build up a new following in pubs where the old fashioned folk clubs were not established. By persistently building up their gigs there, they created their own scene and a following. By working on the principle that the pubs must not lose money on their gigs, they were always welcome back. This meant that after a couple of gigs in any one place, both they and the pub were making money. It was not just honest business - which effectively means making money together - but it was realistic long term strategy. They have worked long and hard for their success. Like or dislike their music, they have earned it too. It's a good example of how to go about it: Years of hard work, adaptability and a sustainable business model.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 08:42 AM

The Show of Hands business model is very much how the Corries made themselves a career in the pre-internet era. Television did give them a high profile, but even back then the folk club circuit would have had a limited potential for a full-time occupation. Booking halls around the country, providing their own advertising material, advertising in local papers and using local record-shops or music shops (presumably on commission) to sell advance tickets, they built up a regular circuit of concerts. New material, new instruments and a great rapport with their audience meant you wouldn't be bored seeing them every year.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 10:16 AM

I suppose we started to do our own thing as a positive - rather than just sit wait for gigs to come in of their own volition. Not that we've been short of gigs - we were just curious to see if it would work and what the outcome would be - and we were pleasantly surprised.


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: alanabit
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 12:34 PM

Quite simply Will, it is taking control back from the unscrupulous, who do not earn it. Good for you!


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Apr 12 - 05:26 AM

The 'Other' other side of the coin is trhe number of (Particularly) Pub 'entertainers' who have the attitude that pubs ONLY exist to give them an easy ride !


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Apr 12 - 05:26 AM

The 'Other' other side of the coin is trhe number of (Particularly) Pub 'entertainers' who have the attitude that pubs ONLY exist to give them an easy ride !


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Subject: RE: Exploitation of Musicians by Promoters
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Apr 12 - 05:31 AM

Oooops ! That shouldnt have happened !

I know a LOT of people who wont go near some 'Live Music' pubs because it is impossible to have a conversation without having to shout because the music is so loud , and a lot of Pub Entertainers dont seem to have any interest in their audience either .


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