GORILLA MUSIC BATTLE OF THE BANDS - NATIONAL PAY-TO-PLAY (PRE-SALE) BATTLE
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THIS IS THE OLD PAGE - FOR NEW INFORMATION, PLEASE HIT THE ABOVE LINK
Is Gorilla Battle of the Bands a scam? Is Gorilla Productions pay-to-play?
We link wherever possible, including to all graphics. All photos will only be screen captures and will appear rough. You can see how many websites and myspaces that this company maintains. We've got one website and one myspace. This is located information and our opinion. We are providing the stats. It's up to each musicians to make the call.
NEWEST UPDATE April 2010: All the members of Girl Trouble are being sued by Gorilla Productions (aka Gorilla Music) for our opinions on this page.
See the information through this link Gorilla Productions vs. Girl Trouble . 11-22-11: The judge ruled in our favor.
Check out the article in the CLEVELAND SCENE
other blogs and articles about Gorilla Productions then and now:
SPOONFUL OF SUGARLIGHT
GOOD RIDDANCE by Sarah Hepola
FEEL THE NOISE by Sarah Heploa
GORILLA WINNER OLLIE OX
HARMONY CENTRAL #2
502 MUSIC SCENE
PAY TO PLAY SUCKS
LOUEVIL MUSIC NEWZ
THE COMPANY: Gorilla Productions (aka Gorilla Music) is owned by Dan Cull and John Michalak. Their company headquarters is based out of Cleveland but don't worry, they'll get to you eventually. They have a big official website gorillamusic.com where you can see all the cities the giant Gorilla head is taking over. They run shows and battles in what they claim is 65 different cities and over 100+ clubs. Claiming they are helping your "local scene" is a stretch since they don't live anywhere near you, unless you are in Cleveland. 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.
There are many myspace sites run by all the Gorilla reps but there are also a couple just reserved for the Gorilla Productions (Gorilla Music).
And as far as the "scam" word, here's a
google search of Gorilla Productions. When "gorilla productions scam" is the first choice after your company name, obviously more than one person has wondered about the operation:
THE GORILLA REPS: Gorilla Productions (Gorilla Music) hire reps located in Cleveland to send out thousands of form/generic emails all day long primarily from Myspace even though they have now have two FACEBOOK (FACEBOOK) sites. They rent clubs and sign bands all from the main office in town. All their business is done from this location which is available with an easy mapquest search. (UPDATE)
If you want to look at most of the reps together check the link. They've got a groovy group photo showing how much fun they have. According to one of the ex-staff members this photo was taken for a failed pitch to MTV for a reality series! Wow! That would have been interesting...
GORILLA MICHELLE and GORILLA MICHELLE and Go-RILLA MICHELLE
GORILLA SPAM EMAIL: With all those reps working hard every day on all those sites, every band on Myspace has gotten the invitation to sell tickets for the Gorilla Battle of the Bands. When they spam myspace email a 23 year old band (that would be Girl Trouble, 5 albums, US, Canadian, European tours) to play one of their Sunday Battle of the "unfortunate" Bands shows in Olympia at a club we've played many times (and of course, got paid!), paying attention to detail doesn't seem to be their strong suit. I believe this was about third or fourth of Gorilla Alan's spam emails (The write-up on his myspace claims: "It gets a little boring sitting by a comp all day"). This time he wants us to play Studio 7 (Seattle's home of pay-to-play): (UPDATE)
And this one from Tommy gives you the big rundown on prizes...
And with this email they can't even get the name straight...are they Tom or Gregg?
SELLING THE TICKETS: We believe that 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. One of the owners even sites the Wikipedia definition of Payola which doesn't really cover this topic. (And of course Wikipedia also claimed my band played Big Time Entertainment shows and I was one of their favorite clients to work with until I turned against them...and they said I was male...in other words, you gotta take that site with a grain of salt.)
THE P2P BOTB CATCH-22:
1. The Gorilla Battle of the Bands is a contest
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, many of their official rules deal with the sale and handling of tickets (see the second section). 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.
* $500 CASH
However, it's important to remember that this prize doesn't come in the first round of battles. To receive this, you must go through to the second round and win that battle. All the bands I've talked to have given much more than $500 to Gorilla in collected ticket money. The studios vary in quality, from professional equipment to as I was told, "somebody's personal home recording center". Make sure you know where the studio is. And 20 hours? That's not really much when it comes to studio time. The term "music submitted to four majo labels" can mean they mail out your demo.
Part of the BOTB is now also some kind of on-line voting thing. Voting is still going on this month. The big prize for that is...
One of the top 10 bands will be awarded a $25,000 record deal with Rock X Records and a one year management contract with Gorilla Management. This will include the preparation of a full length cd, merchandise, touring, publicity, marketing, and distribution. Here's the link to the details.
Also I'll link you to Rock X Records. Check it out. It was started in June, 2008, there are no "artists" releases listed (on a record label website!?) but you can send submissions, there are no products to sell, their myspace site doesn't exactly have thousands of friends including all the Gorilla Reps. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't seem like a very big record company to me. And the winner will be awarded a $25,000 record deal? With Rock X Records? Of course, look closer to see that this company was (apparently recently) started by Dan Cull who owns Gorilla, he's the President and all the Gorilla reps fill other Rock X duties.
It has been our experience that any new record company takes at least a few years to work out all the kinks. This takes an enormous amount of time and work. So is a contract with Rock X Records worth $25,000? Always keep this in mind: Like Calvin Ayre displaying that giant million dollar check, this is their estimate of the "value". Anybody can claim a prize is worth a certain value, but whether it is or not is another matter. And if you want to start with a record company who's never released anything, our advice is to do it with somebody you actually know, hopefully from your own area. We did that with our friends Bruce Pavitt from Sub Pop and Calvin Johnson from K Records and it actually worked out okay.
AND OUR PERSONAL TIP: Never sign a contract without an entertainment attorney taking a look at it.
Some bands wrongly assume that they will actually RECEIVE the $25,000 like this guy who hopes it will pay some bills:
THE SCHEDULE: UPDATE The schedule for Gorilla shows and battles is an aggressive one to say the least. We've done a quick screen capture of Battles from November 20th, 2009 until January 31, 2010. In a two and a half month period Gorilla is hosting 84 battles and 19 finals. They state the average number of bands on each of these shows is 9. That's 756 bands doing battles, all selling as many tickets as they can to win. Each of those bands are given 100 tickets to sell. In the finals 171 of those bands will once again sell more tickets for the 19 shows they have scheduled. Even if these 927 scheduled bands only sell 30 tickets per band...well, we'll let you do the math on what bands are handing in. Again, it's up to the individual to decide if this qualifies as pay-to-play. (UPDATE)
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THE SHOWS - 9 BANDS IN ONE NIGHT
THE BAND: 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 a 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 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. The reason you are there is to vote for "your" band so you'll need to stay for the entire show. 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.
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