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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pay to Play

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So you’ve formed a band, practice regularly, cut a basic demo, and are finally ready to take that next step… Performing. Your friends and family are excited to see you play, the only question is, “where”? If you’ve done any bit of research, you’ll find that most establishments these days are on a pay-to-play basis, or otherwise known as pre-sale. So what is pay-to-play?

Pay-to-play is essentially a push for the venue to  garner more profits and reduce their responsibility. Here’s how it works.  You submit your demos to the powers that be at different venues, and get some interested replies. In fact, most of the clubs are interested in what you do, only thing is, they want you to buy approximately $200-$300 worth of tickets to ensure their profits. Doing so  now passes ticket sales and promotion responsibility onto you and you band. This is where things get interesting. If you happen to be lucky enough to sell your tickets (usually about  30-50 tickets per band), then you and your band will make a profit. However, if you don’t sell them all, you might just end up breaking even, or even worse, actually paying to play a show.

Most bands are so eager to get out and play, they will take just about any deal they can, and unfortunately this is often pay-to-play.  Often bands will start off making money off their ticket sales, but as friends and family tire of watching you play, you’ll start losing sales one by one, until playing becomes ultimately, unprofitable.

There is however, a solution. Many new venues see pay-to-play as a music crime, and thus are opening their doors to new bands, so long as they draw people. The key here, is learning to play a few gigs for free to prove both the quality of your music, as well as how many people you can draw. If you are willing to do this, you will actually open up many new doors, with venues paying YOU to play! This might take a bit longer, and require some patience, but believe me, your friends, family, and co-workers will love the fact you’re not trying to hawk tickets at them every week. Everybody wins!

So get out and play!

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