Think Tank : pay to play – time to end this practise?Think Tank : pay to play
It seems unbelievable now that after all these years that there are still promoters out there preying on young and naive bands and charging them to play gigs. Th dreaded pay to play seems to have been making a comeback recently and young bands better be aware.

You know the scenario – it’s usually billed as a showcase gig with spurious claims that loads of A an R would be coming down with other assorted music biz types and that fame and fortune are just around the corner. What it turns out to be is a local bands night were the young band gets to play to handful of people and the other bands hoping they are not as good as they are after paying the dodgy promoter for the privilege of playing in the corner of a manky pub,

Whilst there is no law against this kind of thing and a spurious argument that the band should share the burden of putting the gig on it seems to us that it is a highly parasitical operation preying on young bands naivety. The only way to defeat it is for bands not to play these gigs or to use the money they would have spent and hire there own venue and pool together with other bands and put their own gigs on in the great old spirit of DIY.

Pay to play should not be confused with been given a bunch of tickets to sell to get your fee- that seems like a fairer system to us and a good compromise with both promoter and band taking a cut from the money towards the cost of playing a gig. We do appreciate that it is not easy putting gigs on – especially for new band nights- a notorious minefield for a promoter but there has to be a better system for everybody than just fleecing green behind the ears young bands and pocketing their money.

Of course getting a break when you start is tricky but don’t let these people use you- try to be more independent- put your own gigs on and learn the ropes the hard way.

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  1. We got sick of being told by one promoter we would be paid on the basis of how many tickets we could run round and sell for them rather than being paid for playing. Lazy promoters wanting the bands to do all the promotional work whilst they get paid for phoning a venue and responding to an email from a booking agent. I could get all class war on your arse but no need. Simple solution: stop playing for them and start organising the bands you want to see yourself. Cut out the middle man and the door price is cheaper for other punters cos there’s no promoter’s cut plus you can make sure all bands are paid something, even if it’s just travel costs & a beer.


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