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The Swellers Have Never Had To Sell Tickets To Play A Show; You Don't...

Posted by - 10:56 AM on 06/11/14
The Swellers are taking a stand against bands having to sell tickets to play shows.
We've been a band for almost twelve years, played on five continents and never had to sell tickets to play a show. You don't either.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 42
10:57 AM on 06/11/14
#2
avarice14
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!GOOD!
10:58 AM on 06/11/14
#3
davidarechiga
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I remember having to sell tickets to play. It was a great way to approach girls in the mall.
10:59 AM on 06/11/14
#4
ChaseTx
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I remember having to sell tickets to play. It was a great way to approach girls in the mall.
I like your priorities
11:00 AM on 06/11/14
#5
CluckyB
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What is the context here? Making bands physically sell tickets like they are candy bars for your kid's soccer team?
11:03 AM on 06/11/14
#6
ChaseTx
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What is the context here? Making bands physically sell tickets like they are candy bars for your kid's soccer team?
Agreeing to sell tickets in exchange for a spot in the lineup. I believe they have to buy the remaining tickets if they don't sell them all.

Is there a better system for startup bands to get shows with bigger bands?
11:05 AM on 06/11/14
#7
LouderThanBombs
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What is the context here? Making bands physically sell tickets like they are candy bars for your kid's soccer team?
http://www.neverpaytoplay.com/
11:09 AM on 06/11/14
#8
PirateSkater182
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This band consistently speaks the truth. Nothing less.
11:10 AM on 06/11/14
#9
zachff
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I guess I can see both sides of the argument here.

The venue is trying to pass along some of the risk they take on small(er) bands. The counterargument is that as long as this type of thing happens in the minority and not majority, those bands can just find somewhere else to play.
11:14 AM on 06/11/14
incognitojones
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I did a lot of pay for play when I was in a band. Did not really do much to help us at all, but it was fun playing bigger shows I guess.

Wouldn't do that ever again tho.
11:16 AM on 06/11/14
LouderThanBombs
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I guess I can see both sides of the argument here.

The venue is trying to pass along some of the risk they take on small(er) bands. The counterargument is that as long as this type of thing happens in the minority and not majority, those bands can just find somewhere else to play.
The problem, though, is that it's not as much in the minority as you may think. It's especially prevalent in "the scene," specifically. Bands (usually younger, less experienced ones) are lured in by the prospect of opening for a biggish band, and thus don't think through the agreement with as much speculation as they should. In many cases, the band "must" agree to sell a certain amount of tickets, leading bands to either: a) figure out a way to just buy up all the tickets themselves, or b) come up short on the day of the show, in which case they potentially "owe" the promoter money. It's also worth noting that the venue rarely accepts responsibility or has any wide knowledge of these practices, as they hand off certain shows to a promoter or "production company" who then scours Facebook for local bands who appear not-awful and naive enough to essentially sign up to be bewildered salesmen.
11:22 AM on 06/11/14
zachff
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The problem, though, is that it's not as much in the minority as you may think. It's especially prevalent in "the scene," specifically. Bands (usually younger, less experienced ones) are lured in by the prospect of opening for a biggish band, and thus don't think through the agreement with as much speculation as they should. In many cases, the band "must" agree to sell a certain amount of tickets, leading bands to either: a) figure out a way to just buy up all the tickets themselves, or b) come up short on the day of the show, in which case they potentially "owe" the promoter money. It's also worth noting that the venue rarely accepts responsibility or has any wide knowledge of these practices, as they hand off certain shows to a promoter or "production company" who then scours Facebook for local bands who appear not-awful and naive enough to essentially sign up to be bewildered salesmen.
You make a good point, I was making a leap between venue and promoter that perhaps was too far a bridge to span.

As for the prevalence of the practice I honestly have no idea. If it's a strictly predatory practice like you described above then that's a different story. If both parties understand what they're getting in to, and as a band you figure out that the expected value of playing that show even though you have to pay for it outweighs the cost of buying that block of tickets, it's more a choice of morals/values/whatever term you want to call it.

[Note, everyone, I'm just playing devil's advocate here.]
11:25 AM on 06/11/14
circletheworld
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strange this is "newsworthy"

it is just a tweet, not like they are actually doing anything
11:26 AM on 06/11/14
LouderThanBombs
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You make a good point, I was making a leap between venue and promoter that perhaps was too far a bridge to span.

As for the prevalence of the practice I honestly have no idea. If it's a strictly predatory practice like you described above then that's a different story. If both parties understand what they're getting in to, and as a band you figure out that the expected value of playing that show even though you have to pay for it outweighs the cost of buying that block of tickets, it's more a choice of morals/values/whatever term you want to call it.

[Note, everyone, I'm just playing devil's advocate here.]
My experience, in my own bands in the past and in friends' bands today, is that it can certainly tend to be a predatory practice, at least here in the southern region of the United States. The devil's advocate argument is worth exploring, for sure; and I am sure there are bands who have enough money to throw around on these types of things. The reality, though, is that those "in the know" will never take a band seriously if they only open for bigger bands based purely on pay-to-play "accomplishments." There are other, better ways to figure out a way to open for someone and get that big break...these other, better ways take much more time and hard work, but are ultimately worth it. Integrity first!
11:39 AM on 06/11/14
bradsonemanband
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strange this is "newsworthy"

it is just a tweet, not like they are actually doing anything
i think AP posted about it to start a site-wide discussion on the topic.

for me, i've been in local bands for 12+ years and "pay to play" shows are hard...

on one hand, it's generally for shows where you're opening for bigger/national/touring bands. the band needs to at least meet their minimum requirement for them to carry on on the tour, and i assume that most of the pre-sale tickets that opening bands sell actually goes to the touring band and not the venue, although i wouldn't be surprised at all if they didn't take a percentage of pre-sales.

on the other hand, it's hard enough to be a local band and get your friends/family to care enough about your band to pay to watch you play, especially when tickets are 10+ dollars more than just a straight up local show. they most likely don't care about the bigger band you're opening for. my band rarely meets the pre-sale quota. we usually end up buying a couple tickets out of pocket just so we don't look really bad... but the venue is getting the money but not seeing the bodies in the room, so i'm sure they notice that.

on the third hand though, it's so hard to be a local band and build a fanbase when 1. you're not a band that is playing the genres of music that are big in your town's scene. 2. you're not opening for bigger bands who pull a decent crowd in hopes that you might be able to steal some of their fans.

a few weeks ago, my band thought opening for Powerman 5000 would be a good/funny idea. it was Powerman, one other touring band, and then 4 or 5 local bands. the locals each had to sell 20 tickets at 15 dollars a piece. we didn't get a cut of that, of course, and i saw hardly any promotion from either of the touring bands. yet, the majority of the money went straight to them. seems a bit unfair to me.

another venue asked us to sell tickets for a show we're playing, opening for D.I. an oldschool punk rock band who isn't popular at all anymore. why would people want to buy a pre-sale ticket to see them when no one knows them? luckily, i got us out of having to sell tickets to that show.

and when your fans/friends/family say they will "totally buy a ticket!" the majority usually pull out in the last second leaving you stressed out and angry/bummed.

is it worth it in the end to sell pre-sale tickets just to play a show? no.

it should be the venue/promoter/touring band/their manager/booking agent who is doing the majority of the promo for a specific band's show. it should not all be on the poor little local bands who are trying to make money rather than lose money.

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