Bad Promoters in London

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

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
  • Monto
  • 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)

  1. Michelle Bray says:

    Hi Atul – I think Live and Unsigned is similar – we did it one year and its a bit like you with surface unsigned – its a learning experience but that guy must be raking it in – its like an X factor but all the bands/artists have to sell the tickets and then there’s the phone voting – by the time you’ve paid all of that, you could have recorded an EP !

    rgds Michelle

  2. Francesca says:

    Maybe I’m completely naive, but I had always imagined that the way we (It’s All Happening) put on gigs is the normal…surely if you’re doing this you like live music, want to hang out with like minded people, and have a good night?!

  3. Atul Rana says:

    Hi Michelle, thanks for that. I can see that Live and Unsigned have a bad review amongst musicians as well from that anti Monto group so thanks for pointing that out. I’ll add that to the list. Yup, sad isn’t it that the phone voting revenue is enough to record an EP, hope that more bands can recognise that!

    Francesca, most of the time both promoters and musicians are like minded rock loving people who want to hear great new live music. But promoters need to make money at the end of the day as it’s their living and venue overheads have to be covered. So it is sad that because of money people get exploited. The open mic seen in London is good though, no ticket charges and free for all. So all is not that bad yet!

  4. Michelle Bray says:

    Francesca you are in a different league. You have nothing to worry about. Bands/artists will do everything to support you because you support them but if I look at 35 gigs Lawrence played so far this year, I could count to 7 those who are good / the rest weren’t needed / they could have paid their barstaff – and, I bet proactive music loving ambitious barstaff would do a better job than some out there. I can give loads of examples which you live and learn by but seriously you and Dan have absolutely nothing to worry about

  5. Ben Hillyard says:

    The “Stop The Monto Culture” page obviously got someone upset, as it’s disappeared from Facebook! Some like-minded people are setting up a new group here:

  6. Michelle Bray says:

    Having kept an eye on Live and Unsigned through FB, I have been removed (not that I’m overly bothered) as last week they posted an offer 2 tickets for the price of 1 at their final and yesterday, advised everyone that the headline group performing for everyone whilst judging took place had apparently cancelled. I posted that I believed that any artist should be complaining as they have, (over the past few months) paid or sold full face value ticket prices to take part in their events including the final for those chosen to get through, only for L&S to send out a 2 for 1 offer because they are not filling the venue. I also believe the headline act cancelled because they are not raising enough money to pay for them to appear. The whole thing is such a money focused machine. I received loads of ‘likes’ and today, am off their site which says something !! Visiting their wall, they say I am incredibly cynical – well, maybe I’m just too straight talking for them. No mention of a replacement if N-Dubz pulled out for genuine reasons though….

  7. Atul Rana says:

    Such a bunch of cowboys Michelle, you are better off without the whole shenanigans. Do keep letting everyone know what they are up to. Thankfully I have never been tempted by any of these schemes since my band’s sham with the Emergenza festival.

  8. Michelle Bray says:

    I will do Atul but I think you, like my sons band, make errors in judgement early on in music careers that is a live and learn process – unfortunately, we won’t ever be able to stop this happening

  9. We are culture group..And we need a promoter who will help us or togethher as one..we have find Africa..if you want to see our programs or website @ page will see our details..or you can contact us on 00233273565191

  10. Kate Dale says:

    I would very much like to know what if any one has experience of Emergenza Festival has to say… best of … kate dale.

  11. […] of musicians to play music in some sort of order and not kill anyone. As such, the infamous “Monto Culture,” of shady pay-to-play promoters, bedazzling, “think of the exposure!” rehashes, “bring an […]

  12. Mr Glass says:

    Micky Pallant (AKA Micky P), who operates at The Cuckoo Club in the West End and The Forge in Camden.

    He booked my band for 10.30pm headline slot but on the night SEVEN acts played and my band didn’t get on stage til midnight by which time most of our crowd had left. He then LEFT THE VENUE WITHOUT PAYING OUR FEE. We had brought full backline which we shared with the rest of the lineup. He has since deleted me off Facebook and won’t return calls.


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