Here at MondoTunes, we are always looking for ways to help the musician community! One issue that we hear about on a regular basis is the difficulties in booking shows. In order to combat the stress, we have decided to create a series of blog entries regarding the different ways to book a show. This week’s entry is about Pre-Sale.
Before airwaves and the digital age, the stage was the first home to artists. Whether reciting Shakespeare to a playhouse or painting on a street corner, artists have always had the stage to present their artistic expression. In fact, many would argue that performing live is the most pure and honest medium of artistic expression. Every time an artist takes the stage, there is a degree of unpredictability that strikes fear and joy into the souls of the audience as well as the performers themselves. Doesn’t that sound beautiful? Well, if it is so beautiful, then why is it such a pain in the arse to book a show in today’s music scenes?
A very popular way to book shows these days, is to have the group/artist sell a designated amount of tickets prior to the show. Venues and booking agents are very fond of the pre-sale format because it guarantees an agreed amount of money made before the show has even begun. Although musicians typically frown upon this approach, there are positives and negatives to the method.
1.) Many venues/booking agents will require a reasonable amount of tickets to be sold. Most groups/artists prefer to play in front of a large audience. If the pre-sale amount can comfortably be achieved, this may be a win-win for all parties involved. The crowd will be full and the venue/booking agent will have guaranteed compensation for putting the show together.
2.) There are instances where the venue/booking agent will split the money of ticket sales with performers. It is important to note that the venue/booking agent will keep a majority of the ticket profits. Then again, selling tickets packs the house and increases exposure. Why not earn a few dollars in the process if the pre-sale amount is manageable?
1.) These types of arrangements usually do not favor the artist/group. Musicians must understand that venues/booking agents are ultimately a business. Although they may be music lovers, they need to make a living and money can sometimes complicate booking.
2.) There are instances where the venue/booking agent may present unrealistic terms. I personally have played shows in the past where the venue has required a pre-sale figure that could never be reached. Furthermore, if the obligations were not met, a requirement to pay the difference out-of-pocket would be imposed.
1.) It is imperative to always come to mutually beneficial terms with whoever is booking / hosting the event.
2.) Make sure the requirements of performing at the show are manageable. Do not commit to anything that isn’t realistic.
3.) Always document, in writing, the terms of the agreement and have both parties sign it. This will guarantee the awareness of expectations on either end. Many people develop concerns when the word “contract” is thrown around, however it is essential to ensure everyone involved is protected.
4.) It is always ok to negotiate the terms of a show. If there is agreement with only a majority of what the venue/booking agent is presenting, counter with requests for a lower pre-sale amount or a guaranteed amount of shared profits.
Stay tuned for the next installment…
Blog by James Gubersky, Conductor of Artist Support and ferocious frontman with over a decade of concert playing experience.