GORILLA MUSIC (AKA GORILLA PRODUCTIONS)
If you are in a band, you've no doubt been approached by Gorilla Music to do one of their battles, showcases or festivals. We all have! This page will give you the information on this company, who runs it, and specific examples of their pay-to-play shows.
SCROLL DOWN OR PICK FROM THE LIST:
GORILLA MUSIC HEADQUARTERS - GORILLA MUSIC REPS - SPAM SPAM SPAM - GORILLA SCHEDULE - SELL SELL SELL - THE SHOW - THE PRIZES - FORMER WINNERS - YOUTUBE VIDEOS - THE GORILLA MUSIC PRICE BREAKDOWN (Wow!)
You may also be interested in the lawsuit that was filed against me and my band by Gorilla Music over my Freedom of Speech.
ALSO SEE GORILLA MUSIC VS. GIRL TROUBLE - THE ENTIRE STORY
GORILLA MUSIC - THE COMPANY:
Gorilla Music (formerly Gorilla Productions / Sugarlight Productions) is owned by brothers Dan Cull and John Michalak. Their company headquarters is based out of Cleveland, Ohio but don't worry, they'll get to you eventually. The big official website is gorillamusic.com where you can see all of their other enterprises, but not the schedules of the shows the are running. They run shows and battles in what they claim is 65 different cities and over 100+ clubs. It is my personal opinion their claim they are helping your "local scene" (when they don't live anywhere near you), is a stretch. From this central location they rent the club for the night and hire "local event coordinators" to collect the ticket money on the day of the battle/showcase. According to recent court documents, Gorilla claims they are worth over one million dollars. They also own Rock X Records, EagleOne Entertainment and Earth Entertainment.
ALSO WATCH FOR THE NEW GORILLA AFFILIATED COMPANY: MADMAN PRODUCTIONS. This company hosted pay-to-play musics fests (showcases, meltdowns, throwdowns, etc) in different areas. Housed in the same office building as Gorilla Music, this company is run by Gorilla rep Bryan Pauley. However the Ohio business license lists Cull and Michalak as it's authorized representatives. This company folded soon after it was formed.
These are screen shots from their many YouTube videos.
Gorilla Music is located in Cleveland, OH. They run all their shows from one location. In July, 2011 Gorilla Music moved from their funky little brick building to a new office in The Bloch Building. That's the old HQ on the left and the new Gorilla HQ is located in an office in the building on the right. This must be part of what they claim is over a million dollar business.
THE GORILLA REPS:
If there's one thing Gorilla Music has plenty of, it's reps to spam email bands and run battles and showcases from their company HQ. In the last two years there have been lots of turnover in the Gorilla Music work force. Most of the original myspace sites are still available, even though some of the owners have moved on, and one of them (Gorilla Liz) was actually sued by Gorilla for a blog she wrote. Here is a list of new reps and some of the social network sites where they might contact you. Here's their official list. Keep in mind that turnover is extremely high so some rep links will out of date (like the minute I post them!). I'll keep adding at the top. They also have a big myspace list compiled.
They still enjoy taking group photos just like the old days .
GORILLA HEATHER MARIE
GORILLA AGENT JULIE
GORILLA MIKE GGRIZZLE
GORILLA KEVIN McGINN
GORILLA LIZ Martens
and GORILLA MICHELLE
and Go-RILLA MICHELLE
and GORILLA TROY
and GORILLA LINDSAY
and GORILLA LINDSAY
and GORILLA LINDSAY
and GORILLA TOMMY
and GORILLA TOMMY
and GORILLA TOMMY
and GORILLA RAY
and GORILLA RAY
and GORILLA RACHAEL
and GORILLA ANDREA
Dan Cull (The Producer)
Rock X Records
ASHLEY GREY PUREVOLUME
For Earth Entertainment
and GORILLA GREGG
GORILLA SAN FRANCISCO
GORILLA SAN DIEGO
GORILLA SALT LAKE CITY
GORILLA KANSAS CITY
GORILLA OKLAHOMA CITY
GORILLA ST. LOUIS
GORILLA VA BEACH
GORILLA WASH DC
GORILLA MAIN MYSPACE
GORILLA PRO INC
Whether the new photo was taken to show how much fun they have is not known at this time.
Here's the recent line-up off the Gorilla Music site.
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YOU AIN'T THAT SPECIAL - GORILLA SPAM:
When one of the Gorilla Music reps contacts you by sending you a comment on Facebook or email through ReverbNation or Myspace to play one of their events, you've just joined tens of thousands of musicians who've gotten the same thing (usually multiple times). Gorilla reps work all day sending as many requests as possible to fill up slots on their pre-sale shows. In fact it's unusual if a band HASN'T been contacted by Gorilla Music. It doesn't really matter what you sound like since they don't listen to you.
Gorilla Music now uses Facebook to send multiple requests to bands. Here Gorilla Dan sends 55 random requests to fill up the bill for the Little Rock Gorilla Battle of the bands. Gorilla sends hundreds of requests, hoping that ten bands will agree to play. Keep in mind, he's only trying to fill ten slots.
The messages are all the same:
Sometimes the bands are not that impressed:
THEY CONTACT EVERYBODY:
It is obvious that they don't check to see who they contact. Here Gorilla Ashley contacts the popular local band, The Dignitaries (who get great shows on their own). They always start off casually...
STILL THINK GORILLA MUSIC PAYS ATTENTION TO WHO THEY SPAM? THE KAREN PAGE STORY
Well, here's a good one that I can't resist. The Toronto, Ohio band Karen Page was managed by Gorilla Music (then known as Gorilla Productions). In fact it was the Gorilla Productions hosted "Karen Page CD Release Party" that caused the problem related by Taylor Texas of The Relapsed.
Gorilla Tommy was in charge of Karen Page and Nicholas Megalis (mispelled below and who Gorilla later sued over a contract dispute).
Karen Page played lots of shows in connection with Gorilla Music (notice the Gorilla logo on the poster). They lasted almost four years before they started talking about an indefinite hiatus on April 12, 2011 (apparently now they are reforming with different members).
The interesting part was to see a band who'd been managed by Gorilla Music and who were now listing themselves as no longer performing receive this request on their Facebook page a month ealier. It was from Gorilla Ashley seeing if they wanted to play the Gorilla Pittsburgh Battle of the Bands in March, 2012. As you can see, Gorilla Music doesn't even check to see if they once MANAGED the band they are spamming! Apparently from their comment, Karen Page didn't "hop on the bill."
And I still enjoy this one...They can't decide if they are Tom or Gregg...
One of the claims made against us in the Gorilla Productions/Music lawsuit was that I was mistaken when I claimed Gorilla Music sent spam emails to randomly contact anybody with a band page (see tortuous statement #4). Wow! And of course during the time they were suing us, they also sent us a spam email to do a battle!
My point is that there seems to be no criteria for bands to be chosen to participate in these battles. Like I've been saying, if you are this random about selecting the acts, it makes for a seven and a half hour show of mis-matched, beginners.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR GORILLA MUSIC ADS ON CRAIGSLIST
Companies like Gorilla Music are finding it necessary to use other sites to sign bands for their battles. Craigslist is being implimented to meet this challenge. Look for the subject lines “Seeking Local Bands” “Local Bands Needed” etc.
Below is a typical ad taken randomly from hundreds listed throughout the year all over the U.S. The reps are different but the ads are basically the same. Be sure to notice that the Gorilla Craigslist ads don’t even mention the name “Gorilla Music!” If this company is so proud of their accomplishments, why wouldn’t they put their name on the ad?
THE GORILLA MUSIC EVENT SCHEDULE:
For some unknown reason the schedule of upcoming events normally listed on the Gorilla Music website is now only available to people with a password. I ask you, how much exposure are you getting when the giant official website won't even list the shows they are putting on? Tisk Tisk.
Sometimes you can find long lists of the dates on FACEBOOK.
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THE TICKETS - SELL SELL SELL!
The only legit definition of pay-to-play is the action of handing over money before a musician takes the stage. The funds can be obtained directly or through the selling of and collecting money for tickets (aka pre-sale). These companies insist that since you don't pay out of pocket, it's not pay-to-play. The common favorite term is now pre-sale. No matter what term is used, the result is the same: The musician gives money to the promoter and the promoter keeps most or all of the collected ticket money.
Like every other company, Gorillia Productions claim that they are not pay-to-play because they don't require ticket sales. But thousands of bands are turning in huge amounts of money to play Gorilla shows.
THE P2P BOTB CATCH-22:
1. The Gorilla Battle of the Bands is a contest
2. Bands enter to win
3. The winner is determined by audience applause
4. Each band is given 100 tickets to sell
4. The more tickets sold, the more people will vote for you
5. All bands will try to sell as many tickets as they can to win
6. A hired rep collects the money before the show starts
After agreeing to play a Gorilla event, bands are sent 100 tickets and advice on how to sell them. One of the more hilarious handouts, "10 Ways to Have a Great Show" doesn't really discuss having a great show until Step #10 ("Put on a great show "). It only tells you how to sell tickets. In the Gorilla World a great show equals how many tickets you can sell. As you will notice, each step outlines another way to get your family and friends to purchase those high priced tickets, including Step #6, putting on your own show to sell Gorilla tickets! Of course it leads to this question: If you are putting on your own show (which I highly recommend) why would you need Gorilla Music?
Your Gorilla Music rep will call you weekly to find out how many tickets you are selling. As a way to motivate you to sell more, they will tell you how well the other bands are selling. I've talked to many bands who found this tactic extremely annoying. As for your ticket purchasers, you won't know until close to showtime when you are playing. This doesn't help when you are trying to interest people in buying a ticket to your show. It will be up to you to notify your audience when they should arrive.
There isn't anyone I've talked to (including 13 year olds) who doesn't understand that to have the chance to win each band must sell as many tickets as they possibly can. Even if Gorilla doesn't require ticket sales to play the show, they certainly put the emphasis on it! Ticket sales is a huge factor in winning a Gorilla Battle of the Bands. You can be the best band, but if you haven't sold the tickets to your family and friends, there is no chance of you winning.
And here's the stats for some Houston Music Fest they held. It's the same old ticket selling story but this time if you sell all your 100 tickets, they'll generously give you $300...AFTER YOU GENEROUSLY PAID $700 TO PLAY THE SHOW! Their pay scale is exactly like the pay-to-play company, Afton/Big Time Entertainment. In fact, this whole blog is a complete pile of crap! "It’s really up to you guys and how hard you work at selling your tickets as to where and when you will play....." Remember: Working hard and working hard for Gorilla are two different things.
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THE SHOWS - A TALENT SHOW THAT ISN'T BASED ON TALENT!
(also see The day I attended a Gorilla Music Battle of the Bands for a very detailed account on how these shows work)
THE SHOW ITSELF: Gorilla Music signs up 9 or 10 bands for their Battle of the Bands. They count the tickets and decide what the line-up will be as Gorilla's John Michalak attempts to explain in this video. There's that phrase again..."the band that works the hardest" (he forgot to add "to sell our tickets"). Keep in mind that on battles the band generally doesn't get a cut of the money they turn in. This makes the split 100/0% and you are not getting the 100%! Can you name any musician who would be okay with getting a zero cut of the money? No musician playing a show should be satisfied with an arrangement like that!
THE BANDS: Young musicians in new bands (less than 2 years together) typically make up the major part of these battles. They are the ones who need what they think will be their "big break" and will be drawn into selling tickets and participating at the level Gorilla would like to see. It can be tough to get nine bands playing the same show in the same genre of music. The result can be a mish-mash of styles that don't exactly compliment each other. Since order is determined solely on ticket sales, these shows seldom flow together well.
These battles are always more expensive than normal local shows with bands people have actually heard of. They are often times held on off-nights like Sundays. It will be up to you to convince family and friends that they should pay this amount to see you. You will not be able to tell your supporters what time your band goes on or what your spot is on this huge line-up of acts. During this marathon you'll need to convince them to stick around for the final voting and buy another ticket for the next round if you win. TIP: And this comes directly from many bands we've talked to...get ready for some heavy complaining and griping.
THE AUDIENCE: As part of the audience, be prepared for hours and hours of listening to beginner bands you may not be interested in hearing. Enthusiasm aside, some of these bands are barely ready to perform live. Since the band you came to support will not be able to tell you when they'll play until the tickets are counted, you'll probably need to be there right when the show begins or wait around for a text message. The reason you are there is to vote for "your" band so you'll need to stay until the end of the night. A recent Gorilla Battle of the Bands at Studio Seven in Seattle was held on a Sunday. It started at 5 pm and went until 11:30 pm. That's six and a half hours of watching bands. In addition, Studio 7 has a "no ins and outs" policy for the under 21s so if you are younger, you'll be stuck inside for the entire night. These events are more a marathon of your endurance than an enjoyable night out. If the band you came to support wins, you'll be asked to attend the finals.
AND THE WINNER IS...
It doesn't really matter how well you play, what kind of show you put on, how great your songs sound. The reality is that the best ticket seller will win. This is a talent show that isn't really based on any kind of talent. If you can't match the salesmanship of the other contestants, you don't stand a chance. And since this is "scientifically" judged by having the show rep listen to who shouts the loudest, there has been instances where a band who sold 65 tickets beat out a band who sold 75 tickets simply by bringing in more loudmouths. This has also been a controversial point since Gorilla felt the need to address it in this video.
All new Gorilla Music videos generally have the ratings disabled and comments can only be posted after they are approved by Gorilla. This cuts down on what people really think.
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THE PRIZES - $500 and 20 HOURS OF STUDIO TIME
As you can hear from Dan Cull above, "we have been told our prize packages are awesome". If "awesome" equals crappy, then I guess they are awesome. Here's what you win for a two round battle.
$500 - The winning band always ends up selling more than $500. I haven't talked to one band who hasn't turned in over $500 before they "won" $500. In fact, when the ticket selling is competitive, many winners end up selling over double that amount. Now multiply that by all the bands who entered the battle and you can see why the real winner is Gorilla Music.
20 HOURS OF STUDIO TIME - In their book "Rock Your City - The 5 Steps To Becoming the Biggest Band in Town" Gorilla VP John Michalak admits that most of the studio time is either traded or obtained very cheaply. On page 132 he states: "Our production company, Gorilla Music, has over 50 deals with studios all over the country, all involving reduced rates for studio time." He goes on to say that only a handful of studios were unwilling to trade time. In this book, Gorilla Music is telling battle winners that the studio time is negotiated at a much lower rate than normal. In addition, 20 hours is not really enough to finish anything. Studios tend to know that if you want to finish off a project, they can charge the regular rate later.
So if you do win, the only prize you'll get is half the money you already turned in and several hours of traded studio time.
BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE $25,000 RECORD DEAL WTIH ROCK X RECORDS?
You may have heard that by winning previous battles you were eligible to win an exciting record deal with Gorilla owned, Rock X Records (who at the time had one release). In 2011 winning bands spent almost a year trying to get their families and friends to get onto the gorillamusic.com website and vote for them. The voting went on for a month, then another month (they set everything back to zero and had them start again!) and in the end the winners were just hand picked by Dan Cull and John Michalak. The process was confusing and exhausting. At one point bands started turning on each other and acused certain musicians of cheating. But in the end, the bands with the most votes didn't get the record deal. This year there is no mention of bands being eligible for a $25,000 Record Deal with Rock X Records.
Here are three of the bands who got the top votes. None are currently on the Rock X Roster, in fact one of the bands that is on the roster only came up with 1295 votes, well below most of the bands competing. What a waste of time for the bands who really did get people to vote for them!
Here is a typical post from a band who is acusing another band of cheating.
In the end, all that voting didn't count for anything. The winners were just picked by the Gorilla owners.
WINNERS FOR 2009
I think it's important to see the success of other Gorilla Music winners. Here are the acts that won in 2009:
Rapper OllieOx broke off from Rock X after posting a brilliant blog that no longer exists.
Junior Doctor is not on Rock X records and doesn't mention the Gorilla Battle in their bio even though they certainly did back in 2009.
Fight Cloud says: "After extensive thought, we sort of bailed on a record contract offer in 2010 because it didn't seem to be the right fit."
Through the Fall's facebook page is stuck on August 19, 2009 and doesn't seem to on Rock X Records.
WINNERS FOR 2010:
Dangerous New Addiction and Keeping Riley (then known as Life of Riley) won the $25,000 Rock X recording contract and 25 City tour.
According to the Dangerous New Addiction facebook page:
NEWS: The band is on an indefinite hiatus with the absence of Lance Dowdle.
Dangerous New Addiction won the $25,000 contract with Rock X Records and headlined the Cleveland Music Festival. At that show (and before they actually signed the Rock X contract) guitarist Lance Dowdle was selected to join another band that Gorilla associate Jeff Blue manages, Emphatic. Great for Lance, not so great for the rest of Dangerous New Addiction.
With the absence of Lance Dowdle the band went on hiatus in February 2011 and haven't surfaced since. They are currently not on the Rock X roster. "Playing on a show where a talent scout or label rep is in attendance is a great way for a group to get discovered quickly"...or a way for somebody to cherry pick your guitar player away.
Keeping Riley did release "Welcome Fire" on the Rock X label and went on the tour. It is important to note that a tour arranged by Gorilla Music involves the local bands selling tickets to play with the touring headliner. Although Keeping Riley is on the Rock X roster, their facebook page hasn't been touched since September 2011.
QUICK CHANGE: NOW THE CONTEST HAS GONE FROM A $25,000 RECORD DEAL TO VOTING FOR THE COOLEST BAND NAME!
In a brilliant move to get people to constantly view their website, Gorilla Music has exchanged the $25,000 record deal for a stupid contest to see who has the best band name! Really!? Check out this little write-up! Oh those crazy band names...
It's all over facebook...
What a thrill!
The band, Fight Nice, has a very good blog on the topic.
THE VIDEO PROOF - Or one video is worth a thousand words.
(Gorilla Music estimates 200-350 people will see you play in the first round! Wow, that's great exposure!)
However (and what I personally witnessed) many events don't show this. Below are links to random Gorilla Battles and shows that bands have posted on Youtube. I am not posting these to make any judgement on the musicians playing (they all get an A+ for getting on stage). I'm linking to these to show crowd/numbers. Look at them for number of people in the audience and applause/response. These videos do not appear to be anywhere close to the 200-350 people Gorilla claims you'll play for. In fact, it's fairly easy to tell that it's only family and friends who are there to support the band. Where is the exposure?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIdaTVo3En0 : San Francisco, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCCir_YCA3g : Oklahoma City, OK
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIKpcrhCUAo : Baltimore, MD
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQfdcOrXzck : Chicago, IL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnYHwHNi24c , Raleigh, NC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEHNVzb7ipY : Grand Rapids, MI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HrAxrU_DP0 : Clifton Park, NY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4FMCXccvaI : Springfield, VA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBoCwMNm6yo : Kansas City, MO
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx9jbRDOc68 : Mt. Clemens, MI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWzzzxxuaKU : Houston, TX
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De-yBLA1opQ : Milwaukee, WI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJujqYrbD2o : Austin, TX
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ivBOvbG5O4 : Springfield, VA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6m9XWuVHMc : Portland, ME
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2ShnU-Mh-M : Cleveland, OH
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLCzZzECqFM : Springfield, VA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2FmGodXuU0 : San Francisco, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB1XnqkL_7c : Mammoth Junction
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG6KSG_2_e4 : Charlotte, NC
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQWoDwJQeA8 : Dallas, TX
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE9c-cgp4hk : Birmingham, AL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uOOJEBgnQI : Houston, TX
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zSnYMJhIgU : Gallup, NM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWxLT9hp1G8 : Dallas, TX
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRfghcNYl_4 : San Francisco, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYUUXbPqsuY : San Francisco, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLlVLtsBDOA : Pittsburgh, PA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex7JElLkQMw : Little Rock, AR
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ar5KH5Xv-M : Toronto, Ont.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVNrJFXhxec : Boston, MA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC_pipiqNK8 : San Antonio, TX
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QB_9093EbmU : Richmond, VA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdJQ1k8wEHE : Tulsa, OK
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv-FQ_BKwKY: Pittsburgh, PA (watch the voting process)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up4jMfrSndk: Baltimore, MD
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28Li3ekXY2w: Albuquerque, NM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEHNVzb7ipY#t=82: Grand Rapids, MI
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THE GORILLA MUSIC MANAGEMENT PRICE BREAKDOWN:
Finally Gorilla is giving bands a chance to buy their services, for a hefty price. By the way, on the tour package our friend Jon from Lackluster brought it to my attention that if you wanted to save $1500, you could just book 3 consecutive 10 day tours instead of the 30 day tour for $7,500. And "song reviews"? Really?
OLD UPDATES THAT WENT BAD: In 2012, Gorilla came up with this brilliant idea that they'd book shows from a generic "battle of the bands" site. They bought up several year's worth but now they appear to be taken over by a Japanese company selling bags.
UPDATE: Gorilla Music (under Gorilla Productions, Administrator, John Michalak) has also obtained the websites:
battleofthebands2012.com / battleofthebands2013.com / battleofthebands2014.com / battleofthebands2015.com / battleofthebands2016.com in what appears to be an attempt to rid themselves of the Gorilla name entirely for their battle events.
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