Every time you turn around online there’s a new 27 or 32 ways blog article on reasons to hate either bands, venues or anyone associated in the game of music. What always amazes me in these articles is the lack of understanding on what it takes to be a cog in the wheel and the misinformation that exists between these necessary allies. These two entities need to coexist to make local live music a reality.
People that complain about a venue’s booze prices fail to realize that the place has a shitload of fixed expenses. You pay rent, they pay rent. They also pay for staff salaries, insurance, hydro, all levels of government taxes and licensing, or to fix damage to the premises caused by asshole patrons. How about that $10 roll of toilet paper or soap dispenser refill you snuck home in your bag. That barely scratches the surface.
Say a beer at the venue costs $4. First off, we subtract the cost of the beer itself, which is approximately $1.50. So that leaves us at $2.50. Yes, venues pay the same price you do at the liquor merchants for a beer. The only difference is that venues don’t pay the P.S.T. on the beer. That is recouped by the Government in the taxation on what price the venue sells the beer for. So now we’ll subtract another 50 cents for only the provincial tax. We are down to $2 for that same beer. Let’s get to the expenses we now need to subtract on that $4 beer. As you can see, you would need to sling a copious number of beers to add up the whopping 50 cents of profit per beer.
I read somewhere that a band guy assumed that a 50 person local show made 10k in bar sales . Are people really that naive? Possibly, if it cost a hundred dollars per beer. In my experience, the bar would be lucky to make 10% of that, to the tune of maybe a thousand bucks on the night.
So let’s take that same 50 person attendance at a local show and apply it to cover charge. Between the band members and their guests we are now down to potentially 30 paid people through the door. Most venues cover the sound, posters and gatekeeper out of the door and the rest goes to the bands. At that number, we’re looking at approximately $50 per band, which is then usually going to a band fund or divvied between members. Hardly a bonanza payday in any case.
People that complain about cover charge are not thinking about the sacrifice and cost to be in a band. With jam space rentals that equal your average monthly rent, let alone the money invested in musical equipment, even a dollar per band member is barely a drop in the bucket. How about the time it takes to hone a set or the transportation costs to get to the gig. What if the band vehicle breaks down on tour? These peeps also have to take time off their day jobs and still pay for the home fires expenses.
I’m not even going to go there from a promoter’s perspective of bringing in major label touring acts. Let’s just say when you factor hotels and extensive riders into the equation, you would not balk at how much a ticket to a show costs.
Everyone involved in the process of creating a local scene is an unsung hero. From the promoters paying out of their pocket on dead nights, to the much maligned venue operators. From the struggling musicians, to the fans that are willing to pay for the experience of live music. We’ve made a lot of strides in getting the word out about shows through the hard work of people that maintain free music listings sites online, and the unfairly slagged poster guys in Vancouver.
So a hearty “fuck yeah” to everyone. It takes all of our community to make this work!