Someone recently asked me why I never got into the venue-owning and concert-booking business.
Youd be good at it, Liggett, he said. Youve got some connections, and you know good bands. Seems simple to me.
My friends simple line made me choke on my beer, and I explained to him just how simple it really is.
Now Im no expert, but Ive helped out with enough live music events to know most of the game. And if youve read this column enough, you know that I believe promoters have chosen a profession thats super important and vital in a community yet remains frustrating and thankless.
The phrase theres no good music here might as well translate to thanks for putting your neck on the line and bringing a band you thought people would love, but I guess people drunk on PBR are too stupid to look beyond their Best of Johnny Cash records and investigate under-the-radar types making the same type of music.
That phrase also applies to hippies who dont recognize anything that may be from someplace other than Nederland. Its a sad reality; sometimes people arent willing to take a chance on something they dont know, when knowing is now so easy. Ask anyone with a Pandora account.
So if youve ever thought booking concerts is simple, read on and learn.
Concerts cost money. Aside from whatever contractual agreement you may come up with, artists want to get paid. So you agree on a set fee or a percentage of the door, or both. Larger bands also may have a rider requiring a 12-pack of a particular microbrew, some decent food and a couple of hotel rooms. Tack a few hundred bucks more onto the tab.
Then you need to figure out staffing for your venue, which includes paying a worthwhile sound guy if the band doesnt travel with its own. Good sound people should get at least $100 a show or more.
Then, of course, theres promotion. You design a poster, pay for printing and slap them up all over town. You also should alert all the media outlets and pray theyll throw you a bone and give you some coverage.
So youve booked a band that wants $500 for its performance which is dirt cheap and your venue holds 200 people. As long as everyone pays the $5 cover, you may have made enough to break even after youve paid everyone. And because many bands have guest lists and friends, the bartender has friends and sometimes people dont want to part with the $5, well, do the math. Somebody is losing money.
Were lucky here in Durango to have some people Scottie Sindelar, Eugene Salaz, Tami Graham, Chuck Kuehn and Charles Leslie are just a few who do it for the love of live music. Concert promotion is a hard, under-appreciated livelihood that keeps you in the red in a community that only sometimes supports what you promote. To the venue owners, promoters and people not afraid to pay a cover thanks.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.