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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Dreadnought Performers fees (% or flat fee?) (328* d) RE: Performers fees (% or flat fee?) 19 Feb 07

I know I'll probably regret sticking my nose into this particular bun fight but I do think the discussion has overlooked a few things that seem quite obvious to me.

When booking for or club my thinking is as follows:

We aren't in this to make money and out venue doesn't charge so all we need to do is cover the artists costs plus a few extra quid to cover additional costs like publicity and making sure we have at least some liquidity to cover unexpected problems.

So when negotiating with an artist I'll try to guarantee them about what I judge the door will cover for their fans plus our regulars. I absolutely reject the notion that it's the promoters job to get the punters in. That may well be the case in a commercial setting but absolutely not in the context of a folk club.

I reckon that even a semi-pro or amateur artist has much more time and motivation to do additional publicity than I do as an amateur club booker with a day job so if the artist is more popular than I realised or does extra work publicising themselves then it's only right and fair that they should reap the benefits so they get the 80% or 90% extra. We get more too so everyone is happy. But unless they are really big names there are some days when for whatever reason the punters just don't want to know and we end up taking a hit. Nothing wrong with that but that's why we need to be realistic about pricing so we have the funds to cover it when it happens.

I really detest the fact that I have to haggle over a few quid with people who have dedicated their lives to making such wonderful music when often their starting price is less than I would get out of bed for but unless there is a dramatic upsurge of interest in the music I don't have an alternative. At least they have a minimum idea of what they can budget towards. And if they want more they have every opportunity to generate it themselves.

There has to be some level of risk on the clubs side but if the club is viable it should be easy enough to offset this over the medium term. If interest drops you can always pitch in a few big names to stoke up interest and generate some funds if necessary. People like Martin Carthy and Martin Simpson are godsends in this situation since they appreciate the cultural value of the club scene and will cut a deal accordingly. I agree with the comments earlier that it would be good if some of the new generation big names would take a leaf from their books.

We actually only have a very few regulars who will come every week and week in and week out and we can have problems when a less well known artist wants to use the club to get exposure for themselves where I am thinking in terms of how many people they think they will bring. In these cases we may well agree on a straight 90% deal and it's then the artists responsibility to drum up as much interest as they can beyond the usual channels we provide.

Nobody has perfect knowledge big names can draw unexpectedly small gates and a local newbie can fill the place out (we've had both instances this year) It's not great but this side of the revolution I think it's a reasonably strong model from the artists point of view.

One point that I think should be made is that in my experience folk club audiences are very sensitive to admissions fees. I'm afraid I think this is largely to do with the aging profile of most club audiences. Fifty pence is neither here nor there to me but a price rise by that amount will put our prices (currently 6) out of some of our audiences reach.

Do folk clubs have a future? George, we could relocate to the Albert Hall every week if I could only find a way to convert the vast amounts of hot air expanded on the subject on forums like this into people who actually get off their arses and come to support the resource.

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