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Response to \"Death to $5 Cover\" article

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Music Response to \"Death to $5 Cover\" article

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    Phil Reed of the Wind and the Sea asked me to publish his op-ed response to the article “It’s time for local bands to raise show prices.” I’m wondering what you all think! Link: http://iamtunedup.com/op-ed-response-to-its-time-for-local-bands-to-raise-show-prices/



    Okay so let’s put things into perspective here. Browsing their site, it appears they don’t have any current shows coming up: http://www.thewindandthesea.com/shows/ so I went to their facebook page and looked at past shows that could give me an idea of the venues they play. So far I’ve seen the Brothers Stage at Park Street Fest and Headlining Double Happiness festival. Both bars, both festivals. Bands need exposure so they need to play places that will expose them. Bars are a great resource to do this because it gets people to a place to socialize and drink and that’s a fresh group of new ears for your music. Now if bars started to charge 15-25 like Mr Reed intends it to be, then I’m sure you’ll see a slide in attendance at said bars. I can already hear the “Hey there’s a $25 cover to see some band, let’s go to Cantina instead.” It’s sad but it’s the honest truth. I’m sure the 751 likes on their facebook page would gladly pay $25 to see Earth Wind and F… I mean The Wind and the Sea play.

    Now I’m all for Mr Reed charing what he feels is the value of his show. Author and podcaster Maddox started charging $1000 for an episode of his podcast because he (jokingly) felt that was what it was worth, while everyone else charges .99-1.00. So please Mr Reed, I employ you to charge more than $25 a show!

    Further down he continues:

    Based on my conversation with Bob Breithaup I do not believe that Notes is the type of venue that values spirit over profit. Even financially speaking I do not believe that the “brand” Notes wishes to cultivate makes sense. I am obviously not an economist, but the suggestion that a business can successfully implement a new, higher price whilst tapping the same supply and demand structure the city currently has seems unlikely.

    This pretty much sums it up (although a bit dramatic), you aren’t an economist and you haven’t run a bar/venue and I can’t think of one place that charges $25 for local bands who has been successful. If this is a movement to get people to value live local music more then it has lost me with Reeds attitude and stubbornness. Does the local starving artist just what to quit his day job to be a rock star?

    And just to clarify, I’m willing to spend cash to see a live show, of a band I know and like. I’m also willing to drop cash on loads of vinyl (Brett at Spoonful can attest to that) so I’m not approaching this as a cheap ass. I’m approaching it as a customer looking for some drinks with friends and maybe enjoy some live music. If Reed needs to address a problem in the system we currently have established, he’s doing it poorly with this rant. And to put it bluntly, I don’t believe he’s in a position to start turning down venues like Notes.

    Chris Sunami
    Chris Sunami

    I think you may have misread the article. I read it as Mr. Reed advocating FOR $5 covers and AGAINST a policy by Notes (with the support of Joey Hendrickson) to not charge less than $25.

    I don’t personally know enough about the music scene to take a stand one way or another, but I think that is the correct matching of person to position.


    Nancy H

    Over in the Features section – King Gambrinus said:
    “I guess I’m confused as to the venues we’re talking about. If we’re talking bars half the time I don’t even know they’re going to have live music, it’s definitely not the reason I came, and it’s only $5 so whatever I’ll pay it and listen to live music as background. In that case if the cover was $15 I’m gonna go somewhere else to hang out.

    If you’re talking music specific venues and I came specifically to see that band then yeah I’ll pay $35 to $75 depending on who it is.
    I think context is important here.”

    I tend to agree with the King.

    I also think some bar owners are just taking advantage of new and unknown bands. It does seem a bit ridiculous to charge a $5 or even $15 cover when you have 3 or 4 bands, each playing for two hours that evening. It is not enough for any of them to make any money. At best they get some exposure. But, on the customer side of things, most of us would not be willing to pay a $25 to $35 cover charge because we are not going to sit there drinking from 6PM until 2AM. Most people just stopped by for a drink or two, or to meet up with friends before doing something else.

    If a band is playing at what amounts to an average local bar, they are being treated mostly as background entertainment. Something as a step up from TV or piped in music. People who wander in on any given night don’t even know who, if anybody, will be playing. So they are highly unlikely to pay even a $10 cover charge.

    If the place has a real stage area with a proper sound system, and the operator put some serious efforts into their live music choices, then I think people would pay $25 or more as a cover charge. People are going there for the music, along with a drink or two and maybe some food.

    I have not been to Notes, although I was there many times when it was Handke’s restaurant. That lower lever would be a strange place acoustically for a music venue, what with the stone walls, low ceilings and almost catacomb like break up of the space. The clanking of flatware on plates was a bit magnified and annoying in the restaurant, but the food more than made up for it. When I look at the Notes website, it looks like they have tiered pricing. Higher for the preferred seating area and a lower price for the rest of the space.


    Supply & Demand



    Getting folks to pay a bit more for live music is a struggle. If the show is an “event” there seems to be a better response to a slightly higher door charge. At Earwig’s last show we had a $10 cover and it seemed like fans were glad to pay that amount but it made it harder to attract new faces to the show.



    $5 actually seems kind of low nowadays, I remember $5 covers over 20 years ago I’m surprised we’re not up to $10 by now. I suppose lowering the drinking age would solve the problem but I don’t see that happening any time soon. And, I think bands should get paid for performing, don’t you think most people would agree?

    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans

    $5 actually seems kind of low nowadays, I remember $5 covers over 20 years ago I’m surprised we’re not up to $10 by now.

    Agreed. $5 was a normal movie ticket price 20 years ago, and it’s a cheap movie nowadays. $10 is more the norm for a movie ticket. It seems like live music hasn’t kept up with inflation.



    As a local musician, I can say that gig prices paid to the band have remained roughly the same for over 30 years. Go figure.



    I agree hometown! I’m a recently retired veteran of 30 plus years in the local scene and it’s worse, if anything. I recall a UA ‘old folks’ bar we (Jamburger) played in for the last 20 years and when he instituted a $5 cover there were several old friends we never saw again. I don’t think there’s any creative answer to what to do about getting bands paid what their worth publicly. Private parties are where the money is and has been for decades but boring as hell.

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