Heads Up, Venue Owners in South Africa

Hi there, I play in a band, and I have a large, ugly bone to pick with venue owners in South Africa. Before I get started, let me clarify: this isn’t directed at any one venue owner in particular, but rather as a general warning to the state of the industry in SA – sparked by a number of incidents that I have heard of in the past. Okay, so lets get started.

  • First things first: if you want a DJ, hire a DJ. If you want a band, hire a band. If you want both, hire both; but don’t – for the love of God – hire a band and expect them to supply in-between set  ambience. That’s the venue’s issue. Do you hire a DJ and ask them to play in a band as well?  No. If you’re confused as to the difference between a band and a DJ, then you shouldn’t be running a venue in the first place. Go back to fishing.
  • Don’t try underpay us. We don’t care if the bar didn’t make enough money; that isn’t our problem. The bar is yours, the band is ours. If you hire a band at a fixed rate, be prepared to pay it. If you’re going to tell us afterwards that we are only getting half-pay, you are being completely unreasonable. If you tell us during our set, know that we will only play half a set.
  • Following from the previous point, if you are going to undercut us at the end of the night, we’d rather have a door deal, where we get paid according to money made from entrance charges. That way, if we don’t attract enough people to your venue, we don’t get paid. But don’t negotiate a set fee, and then tell us that there weren’t enough people attending. That’s not our problem.
  • Yes, playing music is a passion and a hobby, but for some/most of us it’s a job too. Don’t act like you’re doing us a favour by “letting” us play at your venue. We are like any other working professional; maybe we don’t have degrees or qualifications (some of us do) to prove it, but what we do requires dedication, hard work and, possibly the most tedious job in the world: dealing with you.
  • Don’t hire two acoustic guitarists if you’re expecting a trance party. It’s Tuesday night for God’s sake.
  • No matter how many times you tell us I don’t want to be unfair / I’m not using you guys / I’m not trying to be a bad guy, the bottom line is, if you are not upholding the initial agreement – YOU ARE BEING A BASTARD.
  • Contrary to popular belief, we are not stupid. We may not be rocket scientists but we can perform basic addition, multiplication, subtraction and division. Translation: we know if you’re undercutting us.
  • Don’t be skimp; we have expenses. We don’t just evaporate out of your venue when we’ve finished, only to apparate back a week later, all smiles and pansies. We carry large, heavy equipment, deal with advanced electronics and are kept awake until all hours of the night in an effort to entertain YOU and YOUR guests.

To the bands out there. Don’t be fools. Use a contract. A simple booking agreement contract will prevent these things from ever happening to you. Without one, you will be left enraged, powerless… and broke. If you want a booking agreement template and don’t know where to find one, you can download the template I use HERE. Go well, and thanks for listening.



Filed under Ramblings, The Chronicles

13 responses to “Heads Up, Venue Owners in South Africa

  1. I pity the fool who undercuts bands!

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  3. Erick

    Amen Brother Preach it !
    Bands need to stand up for themselves, as long as there is a mindset among a minority of bands that its ok to be fucked around they fucking it up for all other bands!
    Stand your ground even if it’s a hobby, don’t fuck it up for other bands, the industry needs professionalism !
    I am taking this rant is coming from the Akelian Circus set yesterday ?

  4. Thank you Nick, that was brilliant and reflective of the shit state of affairs we as musicians have to deal with. Music promoters can be absolute criminals when they get the chance. They just shrug their shoulders once they don’t honour the initial contract. In the past 3 years I can probably count 5 ‘honest’ promoters as opposed to the bazillion ‘dishonest’ ones I’ve had to tolerate. We need to address this issue as it’s rearing it’s vile head much too often and leaving misled musicians in it’s wake.

  5. Coming from both sides…well I work at a venue and have good friends who are working muso’s…this was very educational…going to tweet and re-facbook it mister Frost.
    And have studied Events Management I agree with you, don’t expect more from a band other than the music they make. Hire a DJ is you need a DJ. Hopefully I will be able to introduce you to Mr. Anthony Bumbstead, co-owner of the Blue Moon venue, at UTC. You too will hit it right off…

  6. Hi Nick, we will make sure you meet Anthony at UTC. At Blue Moon we know how to treat our visiting bands and that is why they all love playing here. Maybe we must start a training session for music venues:-)

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  8. Laura-Jane Airey

    Came across this post and while I’m not a musician, I am a performer and I recently had the same problems with a venue I danced at in Durban. Manager told me to start at 9pm but to arrive at 7:30 to set up. I was only supposed to dance for an hour and then leave. After an hour and a half I pack up and went to him for payment only to be told that I should have waited for him to tell me when to start and that because not all the confirmed VIP’s had pitched yet I was not going to be paid as much etc etc. And when I eventually gave up arguing and left, they wouldn’t let me physically leave the venue and I had to call the cops to get them to let me leave.

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