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A Lesson in Professionalism and Booking: A Booking Agent Laments

Back in February I got an email from this dude in NYC looking to book his tribute band. I checked out their live videos and they sounded pretty good. Not amazing, but pretty good. I offered them our standard door deal, but that wasn’t good enough. Hilarity ensues.

And if you work with musicians, you’re obligated to share this link with your friends.

February 17, 2011: A tribute band contacts me for booking:
Hello. I represent the NYC-based tribute band _____. We are the world’s first tribute to – [that band] -. A national touring act since 2001, International since 2006.  We are routing the band down your way sometime in May or June. Think we could put something together? Our good friends from – [ a different tribute band] – highly recommended you. We would love the headliner slot. Any assistance would be GREATLY appreciated. We regularly tour in PA, i know we will fill the venue to capacity. Thank you for your time, proposed date is Sat May 5th. will that work for you?

March 12, 2011: I finally get around to responding:
How is June looking for the band? Pay is (100% of your draw x $7) -$35. Our capacity is 150. Total gross potential: $1,015.00. Thanks!

Notes: This is our standard door policy for weekend shows. It’s an extremely fair and profitable deal for the bands if they draw well.

March 12, 2011: Tribute band responds:
The weekend of June 10th i have open…lets do it! i’ve heard good things about the room. We have a pretty decent following in Philly too, should do really well. I like the terms too….however if we could agree on $600 flat guarantee vs 100% of door at $7 (minus $35) …which ever is more we keep, that would totally work… and we will need two non smoking rooms (lodging and basic hospitality), …that my friend would solidify this deal, thank you for the offer. Let me know, thanks for reaching out to us. In return we will provide a 2-3 hour non stop show with visuals, projections and a multimedia show that syncs up with the setlist. We come equipped with our own production crew. I assure you the show will be legendary (we havent been around for over a decade cause we suck). 🙂

Note: He likes the terms, but not really. He also forgot that he contacted us, not the other way around. And as for their tour schedule – just a few regional shows on various weekend. No signs of international domination.

March 13, 2011: I respond
June 10th will work, but I can’t do any guarantee. Our policy for any new band to the club is a door deal. You can discuss that with [the other tribute band that recently played]. Also, in addition to the non stop show, I’ll also need confirmation that the band will do its part with promotion. Keep me posted. Thanks!

March 14, 2011: Tribute band responds
June 10th works for us as well. I’ll entertain your door deal, however basic hospitality (drinks, food, lodging-2 non smoking rooms) will be provided by purchaser. Agreed? We are ten year vets, i assure you, we know what we’re doing in the realm of promotions and performances. – [The singer from other tribute band] – will tell you, i have incredible work ethic and professionalism, we work very hard keeping this band going. We will easily draw 100-150 in your market. Statistically in ten years there hasn’t been a venue who hasn’t asked us back after a performance. You will not be disappointed, thanks for this opportunity.
I really actually liked your informative “what you should do” for bands on the website…very informative for those who have no clue…i’m sure that saves you a bunch of hassle, helps the bands and it’s very well said! Kudos to you bro for helping them. I’ve been booking shows for – [the tribute band that recently sold our club out] – for over 5 years now, he’s seen the shows i put together! he’ll tell ya, i NEVER have an empty show… just a few months ago i sold out the Bowery ballroom (600 tix sold). I will gladly get you any and all promo you need/want, there isn’t a website that’s out there where – [the tribute band] – hasn’t spammed the masses…. and we’re the ONLY – _____  tribute band actually endorsed by – [ the band we pay tribute to] – and their people. Door deal (minus 35) + 2 non smoking rooms with double beds + food & bev (not to exceed $150 buyout). Let me know if that works for ya.

Notes: Well, obviously that’s not gonna work for me. And if they sold 600 tickets to a NYC show recently, shouldn’t they be looking at bigger Philly venues? Our capacity is only 150.

March 21, 2011: Tribute band wonders what’s up
Hey Anthony, just following up. Are we good to go on this date?

March 21, 2011: I tell the band what’s up
To accommodate your requests the pay scale would have to be (100% of your draw x $7) -$300. Confirm?

March 21, 2011: Tribute band gets upset…. the fun begins
If that’s the case, then WE’RE paying for lodging. Can’t do a door deal and also make the bad pay for rooms from their drawn. I’m more than willing to work with you,   it’s standard hospitality to offer an out of state band of ten years touring experience lodging. Fair and reasonable. It’s all I’m asking.

March 23, 2011: I respond
We do the same deal for every band that comes through here regardless of self-imposed status. If you need rooms, then our production costs go up.
Standard offer: (100% of your draw x $7) -$35 for production Rockstar offer: (100% of your draw x $7) -$300 for production

March 23: The tribute band attempts reasoning:
I completely understand, and you’ve been very clear. however, you’re still negotiating your position and not budging on normal hospitality, perhaps we could consider a percentage of alcohol sales to offset lodging costs which are considered normal offerings for an out of state band with tenure, usually is provided by purchaser. You’re really not offering us anything but a door deal. I’m not having the band drive over 10 hours (they’re driving from NYC), load (yep), setup (it would help), perform for 2 hours straight with a multimedia production crew (a couple of lights and white sheets according to the live videos I saw), FOR A DOOR DEAL, and then make us take a pay cut for lodging?, just isnt fair and reasonable. we’ve been at this ten years, you’re treating us like we just got out of the garage yesterday, I’d like to do a show with you, however you’re not really meeting me in the middle on ANY of this to make it a win win.
Door deal i’ll accept (minus any normal/ fair and reasonable fees), i want you to pay for 2 rooms, you can get that from the $ we make you in alcohol sales. You agree and then this is a done deal. i will very easily sell your place out, that’s the only reason i’m even still discussing the terms with you. I need to do what’s best for the band, as you have to do what’s best for your business and the bar. Can we meet in the middle here?

April 4, 2011: The tribute band gets impatient:
Hey, i haven’t heard back from you …i guess you’re unwilling to provide lodging for your out of state entertainment?

April 5, 2011: I respond 🙂
How many albums have you sold?

April 5, 2011: The tribute band has had enough of me and my evil ways
Personally 5.  I write for – [struggling big name label] -, so god knows how many albums I’ve sold.  – [The band I play tribute to] – however are platinum recording artists who sell out 20,000 person arenas wherever and whenever they play.  So don’t be an asshole with me. I’m simply asking for two rooms for a national touring act who’s been touring for over ten years. We dont sell albums asshole we sell shows.
I’m about to drive over ten hours, do a crappy door deal minus fees…load, unload, perform, promote, get people in the door who will stay for two plus hours, drink heavily and you can’t even show some hospitality or respect? How about fuck you How many albums have i sold? Who the fuck cares. This is about us putting on a show and getting done alcohol sold for you. Cause you’re not certainly paying us. Least you could do is get us two rooms for under 100, I’m about I make that bar thousands. So don’t you dare fucking reach out to me, ask me for a show, and then at 1am talk your shit.

April 5, 2011: How can I NOT respond?
Wow, you sure put me in my place, haha. No, seriously – that reply was GOLD.


To be clear – you asked US for a show. We didn’t come to you. Also, check your ego. We’ve had countless national touring bands come through our doors – some have sold thousands of albums, some are just getting started. A few weeks ago we had a Grammy nominee perform. In every single account the bands were paid from the door. And, just like any other venue would do, all rider requests were added to their production costs. I realize all of this is lost on you because you’ve learned some other guys riffs, but it at this point it doesn’t really matter because I have no interest in working with you. Enjoy the rest of your day!

April 5, 2011: The tribute band offers me some advice:
Anthony please, go fuck yourself

Thomas Pridgen (ex-Mars Volta) and I at the club. He played there with his new band, The Memorials. They did a door deal.



4 thoughts on “A Lesson in Professionalism and Booking: A Booking Agent Laments

  1. Oh my fucking GAWD! YOU’RE A FUCKING TRIBUTE band you assholes!

    WHO in their RIGHT mind does ALL that shit for a shitty tribute band?
    I care deeply how many units you sell, dude, cuz if YOU can’t sell any albums then you aint worth a shit.

    What a doucher tool.
    Get em Anthony! This is GOLD!

    Posted by The Mistress Of Metal | April 6, 2011, 5:28 pm
  2. Hilarious!
    My buddy Jason books for Rock Island Brewing Company and deals with this kind of stuff quite often.
    I hope to see you write a book about all this someday!

    Posted by C.J. Crawford | April 6, 2011, 9:09 pm
  3. Hilarious! Good for you standing your ground with the door deals! 🙂 You don’t want to work with punishers like that anyway!

    Posted by Erica | April 7, 2011, 4:50 am
  4. I play in several internationally known and respected tribute bands..It’s 5k to 7500.00 just to show up plus full production and hospitality rider… But then again we do ticket/ door deals for some venues.. But there are also no unauthorized guest lists radio freebies venue employee friends etc. and only for places that are established in the market and capacity is over 1200… Otherwise its a flat guarantee .. Whatever tribute band this was were obviously rookies or just run of the mill average

    Posted by The Voice of Rock | April 16, 2011, 8:30 pm

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