Recently, Metalsucks’ Vince wrote a very informative blog for young musicians aspiring to “make it” as a band. Well, I’m sure it was informative, I didn’t actually read the whole thing because, hey, I mean, come on…. right guys? Yeah! High five! It did however make me think of some other groups of people I deal with regularly who could use a written set of guidelines, like sound guys, or my roommates in regards to the kitchen sink. However, I think the group of people most due for a friendly verbal check are typically the lowest scum of the earth – promoters.

Being in a band who has toured quite often for the better part of two years with very minimal label support, I’ve felt the effects of dealing with shit promoters. As a touring band, there is no greater slap in the face than a promoter who stiffs you on money, a little simple hospitality, and, oh yeah, that word that’s actually in the job description, “promoting.” I’ve decided to break this down into an easy read for both veteran and aspiring underground show promoters.
Food – Nothing gets my blood boiling more than when we show up to a show and the promoter ignores the part of the contract stating that the band needs to be fed dinner. This is something that shouldn’t even come into question, regardless of whether a show was booked by a booking agent or the band themselves without any contract involved. Providing food for a group of people who are far from their homes, driving an average of 5-6 hours to get to the show, and sick half the time should be an assumed courtesy. Somehow, in North America it isn’t, and that’s fucking bullshit. In Europe, lunch, dinner, and even breakfast (along with a place to sleep) are often provided (to be fair, I think in a lot of countries, the government might be helping out with this). I’m not even talking about the ten dollar per person buyout. That is obviously a huge expense, especially when dealing with a multi-band tour package. For just a fraction of that, you could cook up a bunch of beans and rice, or pasta, or potatoes, salad, whatever. Simple food like this provides the basic nutrition needed for the grueling touring lifestyle. Lastly, it should be ready upon arrival, or at least three hours before a band is scheduled to play. Bands who have been traveling all day are hungry the minute they step out of the van, and there is nothing worse than wolfing down hot food right before you go on stage, when you should be worrying about tuning and setting up.

Beer/Alcohol – Completely necessary to most touring musicians to dull the discomfort and anxiety experienced while on tour. Imagine living shoulder to shoulder with three other stinky ass guys for a month. I know there are some technicalities involved with this (all ages venue, expensive bar tab), but think of ways to work around it. If a bar serves Budweiser for example, go buy a case of it at the grocery store ($20, maximum), or from the bar itself at wholesale (still cheap) and stick it in the backstage area or in the van if there isn’t one. Bands will love you forever. And if a case of beer is in the contract, trying to get out of it will earn you four new worst enemies.

Money – First off, if an amount was agreed upon in advance, pay it. I’ve definitely escorted more people to the ATM after a show than I ever wanted to. Don’t complain to the bands that it’s not your fault that no one came and you can’t pay the guarantee. These agreements are there for a reason. Your average tour van probably gets 12 miles to the gallon, with a 30 gallon tank. If your town is 300 miles from the last one we played, that’s 25 gallons of gas, which at the average gas price of the past year costs about $87. And when it’s a door deal agreement (percentage of ticket sales) and you have $20 to split between three bands (this has happened), we’re still going to be pissed, which brings me to the next point.

Promotion – If no one shows up to the show, it’s your fault. Straight up. You agreed to take this show on, and if you are not doing your part to bring in people and provide for the touring bands, then you shouldn’t be doing this at all. If you agree to take on a tour package and you are unsure if it will bring in enough people, get some local bands who you know will be excited to play the show and help you promote. If you don’t know any bands who will bring in people, then again, you are the wrong person for this job. Booking the show knowing it will fail is a waste of everyone’s time.

If you got into booking shows for touring bands, its probable that you are a fan of underground music, and not in it for the money – of which there is very little to be made anyway. By showing little interest in providing a little hospitality to bands who are struggling as it is, you are essentially insulting your own people. Show some respect.


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