[00:00:00] James: Welcome to episode 179 of the Bandhive Podcast. It is time for another episode of the Bandhive Podcast. My name is James Cross and I help independent artists tour smart. This week on the podcast, I am talking about why you should always get payment details in writing before you play any show. This is so incredibly important because if you don't have payment details in writing, It's all just he said, she said, and that is not a good situation to be in because, yeah, you know what, a lot of promoters are honest, but many of them are not.
[00:00:33] James: So to avoid yourself getting screwed over by a shady promoter or just. Being in a situation where you think you deserve more money, and the promoter says you don't. You want to get these details in writing. And I'm not saying you have to have a formal contract. If you can get a contract, that's absolutely fantastic, but at the very least, having something in an email that clearly identifies all the parties is going to be the way to go.
[00:00:57] James: And especially for bands who are just [00:01:00] emerging. This is really important because you don't really have the clout to argue with somebody at this point, but if you have it in writing, you can say, look, this is what we agreed to. I have it in the email right here. This is what we should be getting paid. It's really as simple as that.
[00:01:12] James: And please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you need to be that band who insists on having every single thing in writing. But if you can go out there and be that band who professionally communicates and makes your point in a clear, concise manner, people will respect you more for it.
[00:01:30] James: and if they respect you, they're more likely to uphold their end of the bargain and actually pay you the agreed. amount So the first thing we need to talk about is miscommunication and misunderstandings. A lot of times I see bands go to play a show and they have no idea if they're gonna get paid or not, and then at the end of the show, they ask for money.
[00:01:47] James: That's not how you want to do things. Asking for money when you've never been told that you're even gonna get paid is not what you want to do that just makes you look kinda weak and g. You wanna make sure you discuss these [00:02:00] payment details upfront, even if it's just saying, Hey, is this a paid show?
[00:02:03] James: And if so, how much is better than at the end of the show saying, cool, how much do we get paid? Because you don't know if you get paid. So going in with that assumption makes it look like you're not comfortable enough in your business shoes to ask the important questions up. front You feel like putting somebody on the spot is the only way that you're gonna get paid. That's not something that you want to get known for, because if that's the extent that you're able to communicate, it's not healthy and it's not gonna lead to a long career for your band.
[00:02:33] James: You need to be able to broach these difficult subjects and say, Hey, we can't do it if we're not getting. At least like 50 bucks, whatever amount it is. If you don't explain that upfront, then you have no right to, at the end of the show say, how much are we getting?
[00:02:49] James: Especially because that can leave a bad taste in people's mouths. And so if you want to grow relationships with your band and get invited back for future [00:03:00] shows. It's so important to go out there and just be open with your communication in advance. And you know what? Maybe people say, oh, this show doesn't pay.
[00:03:08] James: Then it's your choice to take the show or leave the show. That's up to you. But you can't get upset if you take the show without asking. And then at the end, find out there's no pay. That's not how this works. Now I have a couple of stories that I wanna share, and I'm gonna take out all the names because this actually happened to two different friends of mine on very different sides.
[00:03:30] James: So the first one is a band that played a show about four hours away from where they live. And it was a big festival show. And at the end of the show, they talked to the promoter about pay and the promoter. said I don't know how much we're gonna pay you. We have to figure that out.
[00:03:43] James: Cause it was like a 20 band festival, but we'll get back to you. Turns out then the promoter said, okay, you can come pick up the money. They're like, Well, we live four hours away. We're not gonna drive four hours to pick up the money. Can you do you PayPal or Venmo
[00:03:56] James: So the guy's trying to figure that out and days later still has not sent the [00:04:00] money. Now I get it. Maybe this promoter really did want to pay them, but as far as I know, the band still has not been paid yet, and it's been five days or four days since the show happened. If you as a promoter are any good, you'll have the deal outline and spreadsheets all done.
[00:04:14] James: So all you do is put in your income and expenses and it'll show you exactly what every single band is gonna get paid. That's what I do. For the rare times that I promote a show, I literally have a. Where I just put in, in advance all the figures, and then I know what the bands are going to earn if the show sells out.
[00:04:32] James: And then when we actually do the show, I enter the actual numbers and we know what the band gets paid. It's that simple. It takes maybe 10 minutes it's what's called a settlement sheet. This is something that bands at the biggest levels use all the time. It's like a required thing to know.
[00:04:47] James: By doing this at the DIY level, it's super easy to make. It's a template that I just duplicate. Anytime I do a new show, it literally takes five to 10 minutes and I can tell the band exactly what they're gonna earn if they sell out every [00:05:00] single ticket in that venue. And then the night of, I just make sure that all the numbers are correct.
[00:05:04] James: And guess what? They get that money. It's as simple as that. It's super easy to do. So the promoter, yeah, they should have had this in place. There's no doubt about. But they also should have discussed payment details with the band beforehand. They should have said, Hey, this is what percentage you're getting, or, Hey, this is the flat amount we can offer you if they wanna do a flat guarantee, but whatever it is, the promoter should have known that night exactly what is owed to the band.
[00:05:30] James: There's no excuse for that. There really is not because if you can settle a million plus dollar show the same night, you can settle a small local festival the same. Because your expenses are gonna be a lot lower. That just shows poorer business skills on behalf of that promoter. And again, I'm not gonna name them because I don't know the full details.
[00:05:47] James: I just know my friend's point of view on this story. All I know is that this band should have been paid because the festival went well, and so far they have not been paid by the promoter. Again, at the largest levels of shows [00:06:00] we're talking to arenas and amphitheater. They do settlement night of Cuz guess what?
[00:06:03] James: The tour manager's not gonna be there the next night or the tour accountant if an accountant is on the tour. So why on earth if people can settle a massive show like that? Can a local promoter not settle a show that is dealing with maybe a couple thousand dollars instead of over a million? That's ridiculous. Now on the other side of things, I have another friend whose band put together a big show for themselves, and they invited a few locals onto the bill. Now this is a show where this band did everything. They rented out the venue, they booked the other bands. They created the poster. They promoted it.
[00:06:37] James: They advertised it. I think they put some money into paid advertising, all kinds of stuff. They ran the entire show and they brought most of the people. as well There's one band. One of the openers did not post about the show a single time on their social media. Not once They bought three people to the show.
[00:06:55] James: Three, and one of them didn't even pay. The singer's girlfriend did not pay to get in,[00:07:00] so they sold two tickets effectively. Well, the thing is the headliner, their family's all paid for the show. They didn't ask for any guest list. This opener did. At the end of the night, the opener came up asking for money, literally after they had two people show up for them.
[00:07:15] James: That just takes audacity, like I get that. You can't always bring people, and if you make an effort, that's great. A for effort. Appreciate that. Here's some money. But if you don't even post once on social media about the show you're playing and you bring two people, that's not making an effort, especially when you play a 20 minute set compared to the headliner who plays an hour.
[00:07:35] James: Now, this band's mistake was they didn't ask in advance about payment they could have had that choice to take it or leave it. Now they ended up getting paid a hundred dollars for a 20 minute. Where they brought two people to paying customers. Then they had the audacity to hit up my friend and complain that a hundred isn't enough, because there were so many people there.
[00:07:57] James: Now that's just ridiculous because [00:08:00] if you're getting paid a hundred dollars, that's $50 per person. These were not $50 tickets. These were like 15, $20 tickets. If you do the math, they're getting money equivalent to if they brought about 20 people. Cuz you have to factor in that the expenses of the show are deducted before any funds are split to the bands.
[00:08:17] James: So getting paid as if they brought probably like 15 to 20 people, even though they brought two. and they're complaining that that isn't enough. What's more is then the band's manager. Or should I say manager hit up my friend and said, Hey, I heard you're screwing over my client and paying them less than what they're worth.
[00:08:34] James: And my friend's response to that was simply, yeah, sorry. Maybe you should have your clients promote the show a little bit and also, you know, negotiate a deal for the bands that you're working with, rather than just flipping out after the fact when they already got paid more than they.
[00:08:51] James: Now, this is gonna be an unpopular opinion, but honestly, if I saw a band doing that and they didn't have a deal, I would not pay them. Now if I had had [00:09:00] a deal with them in place, and I always give a deal in advance, so this would never happen to me. But if I did have a deal in place, if it said they're gonna get 150 bucks, they would get 150 bucks.
[00:09:09] James: But again, if they didn't have a deal, I'd say, look, you brought two people that doesn't even cover the expenses. we would've been better off without you on the bill. We're sorry. That all aside. I hope these two stories show you how both sides of the equation can be in the wrong. You can have promoters who are just screwing over bands or you can have bands who are just too lazy to promote the show and then think they are worth more, even though they're not You don't want to be in that situation on either end. both parties look bad and it does burn bridges. So this is why you need to have things in writing. It helps protect your band's financial interests, first and foremost, because this means you're gonna get fair compensation for your work.
[00:09:46] James: Now, Last month I played a show, or actually two months ago, as of the time this is released, I'm recording this like a month before it gets released. I played a show where we were the second band outta three opening for a regional touring act, and [00:10:00] the band I was playing with got 5% of profit capped at a hundred dollars.
[00:10:05] James: And now this is a big show at a big venue. But we said, yeah, that's fine. we're down with that. It's a good opportunity. We're making friends with the people at the venue, and this venue we all know has really good catering and hospitality. So even though we're only getting a hundred dollars, all those other perks add up.
[00:10:23] James: It really does. You have to factor in the other things you're getting. I know getting paid in exposure sucks, but at a certain. Yeah, that's good. I think there were about 120 tickets sold and the drop was 95 or so. So 95 people in the room, multiple people came up and said they really liked what we were doing.
[00:10:39] James: This was our first big show in the area and we brought 10 to 15 people. That's not bad, and by all means, the headliner who's like an eight piece deserved more money than we did because they're from out of town. We. That's totally fine. That's the way it goes. It's not fun, it's not pleasant. But you know what?
[00:10:56] James: That's the deal we agreed to and we didn't complain about it. And yeah, [00:11:00] we did hit the cap of that 5%. So it all works out when you look at it that way. We made sure we got compensation that we thought was fair for that specific situation. Now maybe we could have negotiated and said, well, can you cap it at 1 25 or one 50?
[00:11:15] James: But you know what? When you're just establishing a relationship with a new venue, you don't wanna push too much because then if something goes wrong, it's not gonna look good on you either way, though, all the parties involved had extremely clear expectations what the pay for this show is gonna be, and that's the important factor here.
[00:11:32] James: We all knew that this is what the pay was going to. And if the other band who brought two people had had something in writing, they would've understood that if the promoter who screwed over my friend's band had put something in writing, even just internally for themselves, they would've known what each band should get.
[00:11:51] James: They shouldn't be doing this after the fact. It should all be done in. Now the next thing is really more if you get into contracts, but it's legal protection [00:12:00] because the last thing you want is for your ban to be involved in a legal dispute. And if you have that paper trail for reference, that is the best way you can protect yourself.
[00:12:09] James: Now when it comes to setting those clear expectations, this is a great example of professionalism and will help you build a good reputation with the promoters and venues you work with. Because by doing this, you're demonstrating a professional attitude in the industry, which is something that a lot of people just straight up lack.
[00:12:26] James: There are so many unprofessional people in the music business. It's kind of ridiculous. And we're talking anything from, you know, like yelling at a venue manager because you parked in somewhere that's not a parking ticket. And getting banned from the venue to booking a show and then bailing on the show because your singer is out of the country.
[00:12:44] James: Like you guys didn't check that. That's a pretty big deal. You don't confirm a show without confirming availability for everyone in the band. That's not a good reason to bail on a show, get somebody else to fill in. There's lots of bands that can do this no matter what though, just make sure that you are putting your [00:13:00] best foot forward at all times.
[00:13:01] James: And if things don't go your way, you can be polite but firm. You don't wanna start a flame war with people because again, that's going to burn a bridge. if they remember that, Hey, this person was levelheaded even when they were upset, let's work with 'em again.
[00:13:15] James: But if you blow up, they're not going to wanna work with you. again So building this trust and credibility with promoters and venues is so incredibly important for the longevity of your band. If you don't have that, your band's just not gonna go anywhere long term. And the number one thing is people like working with other people who are easy to work with.
[00:13:34] James: So if you come in and have a hissy fit, you're never gonna work with 'em again. This goes back to burning bridges, but again, if you can make yourself heard in a. Concise and professional manner, people aren't going to hold that against you, or at least they shouldn't, because that's how professionals communicate.
[00:13:52] James: You talk about the issue without letting it get personal, without yelling, without calling each other [00:14:00] names. That's really what is so incredibly important. so. To come to a few key points when you're drafting a written agreement for the shows you wanna play, there are a few things you wanna make sure you have.
[00:14:12] James: And I'm just gonna say we're doing this in an email. We're not doing like official contracts or anything like that. If you can great. Have an attorney draft that up. But essentially, if you're just gonna do this in email, let's say a promoter says, yeah, we'll give you 50 bucks to play this show. What you're gonna do is you're gonna say, okay, great.
[00:14:28] James: Thank you so much. I've typed up the details of payment for my own reference. Would you please let me know if this is correct, just so we're both on the same page and there's gonna be a few things. You say, my band, blah, blah, blah, is going to play at this venue on this date for this much money paid by XYZ Promoter, X YZ venue, whatever it.
[00:14:49] James: That way it's all incredibly clear. Now, if you want, you can even say paid by blah, blah, blah. The night of the. Or the next day, which I would never recommend, I would [00:15:00] always just collect money the night of. You can even say, what kind of payment are you gonna make? Is it gonna be cash, check, PayPal, whatever it is.
[00:15:07] James: Put that in writing. So then if they say, oh, I don't have my checkbook, you can say, well, we agreed to this. You agreed to this, you'd replied and said, yes, that's correct. And here's the thing, if you don't get that reply, follow up a few days later, just. Hey, wanted to make sure you saw the email, just so we're on the same page about the details of this show and payment, so there's no issues.
[00:15:26] James: Now if you don't get a reply the second time when you follow up, So three emails totaled the initial and two follow ups. and don't get a reply, that might be a red flag for the show and it might mean, Hey, maybe we should skip this show. But that all said, you're welcome to still play the show. Just don't be surprised at that point if somebody hasn't replied to your little quick deal outline. It's really just basically a deal point memo in an email. If people can't even do that, don't expect them to pay you.
[00:15:53] James: Now this varies from state to state, but in many states you can actually have a binding contract up to a [00:16:00] certain dollar value just based on a verbal deal and a handshake that can be legally binding in many states. So yeah, an email can also be legally binding. Now, I'm not an attorney.
[00:16:09] James: I'm not gonna tell you when it is and isn't legally binding. I'm just gonna say that it can. be So having this documentation is one of the key things to making sure that your band doesn't get screwed over by promoters who don't know what they're doing or are just flat out trying to screw you over. In conclusion, get your contract in writing.
[00:16:28] James: It doesn't have to be a formal contract in most cases, especially for shows where you're only getting a hundred or $200. If you have at least something in an email and no, we're not talking about texts and dms, we're talking about email, old school email. That's where you wanna do it cuz it's easier to search.
[00:16:45] James: There's more metadata, there's more information in the header that you can use if you need to. Hopefully you won't. But It's a more reliable and organized way of keeping all your documentation for shows together, and it really makes such a huge [00:17:00] difference.
[00:17:00] James: So please don't be the next band. I hear about complaining online because they got screwed over by a promoter. Ultimately, it's within your power to make sure that you have all the details up front so you and your. Don't end up in that situation. That's really all it takes is just get something in writing.