Thanks to Facebook and the internet bad word spreads fast and so does good word. No longer is it possible to fool bands and then hope nobody finds out. It just doesn’t work that way anymore!
In one of my earlier posts I mentioned how the unsigned music scene in London works and that there are some venues that do a “pay to play” system. My band experienced pay to play via Emergenza in a sham Battle of the Bands contest and I sure learnt my lesson after that, never ever again to get sucked in. Being given tickets to sell first so that you raise enough cash in order for your band to play a gig is just plain wrong and unethical.
There’s also the “bring your audience” system that is the norm in London where you are expected to bring your own audience who pay for tickets to see you. This system is ok but not good when venues start threatening/banning bands when they can’t bring large enough audiences. My experience with the Bull and Gate was terrible at this. They banned my band from ever playing there again. And Monto seem to be getting a lot of bad feedback in the last two days as well. There was a “Put a Stop to the Monto Bands Ripping Off Culture Facebook group”. And then there is the more generic people against play to play group.
So it is important to have a list of venues/promoters/institutions to avoid. Here’s a list from my experience and feedback from others.
- Surface Unsigned Festival
- Emergenza Festival
- Live and Unsigned
- Bull and Gate
If you have any more to add to this just post a comment here with your experience and I can add to this list.
Having said all this you certainly cannot expect to bring no fans at all to a gig and then expect to play to fans of other bands. That’s not fair on the bands who have done all the promotion work themselves and built a fanbase. In some ways until you have done the hard work yourselves you will always “pay to play”. It’s just the form of this payment has to be ethical. There are promoters who rip off bands and bands who rip off promoters. It goes both ways. But fear not, this group is precisely there to help the good promoters and good bands find themselves and along the way learn about working together and figuring out how marketing and promotion works.
As for good promoters. There’s a list on the contacts part of this blog. Life’s not all that bad, good word spreads just as bad as bad word 😉
(Update 12 June 2011: The Anti Monto Facebook group got shut down by Facebook so that link has been removed)