I recently found a website written by Michael Patrick, a former employee of Gorilla Productions (aka Gorilla Music). Michael is apparently no longer associated with Gorilla Productions (Gorilla Music) but has taken it upon himself to make a website dedicated to "clear the air" about my band, his former company, pay-to-play and the music biz in general. Since he has lifted the contents of neverpaytoplay.com and has chosen to address many points to me specifically, I feel it is within my right to answer these charges. It's been a year since the lawsuit was filed against us and I've stopped working on this website for that entire time. According to Michael, Gorillanow.com is solely written and owned by him, not associated with the company suing us. Whereas Michael Patrick is not involved in any legal way with Girl Trouble or this lawsuit, I feel confident in answering an individual who's decided to write about me.
Each box represents one page from Gorillanow.com. Michael's writing will be in black. I will write in red. I will link to each page. If you want to skip down, the interesting page is at the bottom where Michael thoroughly discusses each of the 10 Warning Signs It's a Pay To Play Show. It's a hoot!
This first section of Gorillanow.com is a textbook example of how these promoters talk to musicians. I've seen this tactic over and over, on message boards, in blogs and emails. It can be extremely tough for new musicians to go up against this type of psychological manipulation. Instead of making this too complicated I will simply list the number of what tactic Michael is using. See the list below.
As a former employee of Gorilla Productions I feel the need to clear the air. Yes they are involved in a lawsuit with the band “Girl Trouble.” Yes they do ask bands participating in there shows to sell tickets. However, this is not required.
The real issue is that most bands don’t want to work hard at promoting there own shows. (4) Why is that? Laziness maybe? (9) Busy? Lack of knowing how? (1) Most likely all of these in my honest opinion. I mean really…if you want to go out and negotiate a price with a room, pay the room, get the sound, security, lights, book the bands, and make phone calls every week!? GO FOR IT!!! (6) There is nothing stopping you from doing that. Nothing at all but your own efforts. (6) The fact is that Gorilla Productions fills this void and they do it well. (3) I can say first hand from working there that this process is not easy. (1, 2) In addition to that most artists don’t understand it or appreciate all they do. (7)
Then I hear bands making the argument that the bands on the show are shitty. Who are you to judge what a band is or isn’t? And if you really feel that way then you shouldn’t be an artist pursuing this craft. (N/A) There is crappy bands that have made it all the way to top as far I can tell. Besides, how did you sound when you first started? (N/A) Get off it…Grow up…(9) Practice some humility and respect. (9) In this business it is all about making connections and working hard. (4, 8) Now if your a band that doesn’t really care about how many people come to your show, or you just play for fun. (5, 7) No problem…this isn’t for you. (5) Gorilla Productions caters to bands that are starting out or want to know how to get ahead in this crazy music business. (1)
The people of Gorilla Productions are pursuing a career just like you. (2) Believe me they want you to have a great show. Do you really think they want the club saying, “dude there was nobody there.” Hell no…then they could possibly get shut down in that area. (2) Which means bands that are starting off are back to playing in there parents garage. (5, 6) Most of the shows are all ages as well. I have met many parents that understand what we do and appreciate it. (3) It’s work plain and simple. It’s not gonna come because you created a great song. That’s another myth most bands fall victim to. HARD WORK…PERIOD! (1, 4)
Look…bottom line is all you artists really need to get real about there process. (1) If it’s not for you then don’t work with them. (5, 7) But to say that they are a scam is just plain wrong. They are not lining there pockets…that’s another myth. (2) They are not out to get one over on you. (2) They have a lot of knowledge to share with you and have propelled many acts to great levels. (*) Simply put it is a fair trade off. Unless your a band that draws 100 people to every show you don’t have any value. (9) Not to them, the club, a record label….NOBODY! (1, 5)
So I have compiled some information and I am going to keep updating this page. I have included some arguments from “Girl Trouble”, and some other groups that are unhappy (*). Now I will say that Gorilla Productions is not perfect. (2) However, they strive to do right by the bands, the clubs, and themselves. Really…what is wrong with that? (3) And last time I checked there isn’t a Benevolent Higher Power working in the music industry. (8) You should be happy that you can call a agent there and get some good advice. (1, 2, 3) Last time I checked that’s pretty much a rarity in the music business. In fact that industry is down right corrupt. (8) (Not according to your former boss!)
So check out the other pages…read…comment…and most of all be honest…not hateful.
(* Please list band names)
BACK TO TOP
Michael's writing in black. My response in red. I appreciate that he has an entire page on Girl Trouble.
Never Pay to Play
Here is Girl Troubles definition of Pay to Play:
The transfer of money from an artist to a promoter before playing. The term pay-to-play is used to describe a performance where an artist (primarily applies to musicians) turns in money before taking the stage. This payment can originate either directly from the artist or be collected from the artist though the sale of tickets (aka pre-sale). All or the majority of the collected go to an independent promoter or to a pay-to-play club.
Here is the problem, you can’t just go around and change the definition of terms to suit your own needs. The term Pay to Play dates back to Los Angles in the 1980?s (You mean when pay to play ruined the LA scene?). Legend has it that several clubs on the LA strip (I believe it's known as the Sunset Strip) were charging group upwards of $500 to play on shows. They would then give the groups 50 or more ten dollar ticket (Those stats are fabricated) to sell in order for them to recoup their costs.
There was great risk and no reward or compensation for any of the participating groups. That process then evolved into groups being required to sell certain numbers of tickets to participate in events, and even being threatened by force or cancellation of their show or performance. Thus putting groups in uncomfortable risky situations, which is why the practice is frowned on in the music business.
However, stating that anytime pre-sale tickets are involved its a pay to play event would be the same as saying that anyone that drinks one beer is an alcoholic and that beer is evil. (Say what?) Unless your group is being forced to sell tickets or pay an outrageous entry fee its not a pay to play event. Unless your group has to reach into its own pockets to to satisfied some minimum ticket requirement its not pay to play, and its still not pay to play if you willing reach into your own pockets to cheat some other group out of the time slot that they earned.
Pre-sale tickets are a normal part of the music business, (not in my town they aren't - Review #8 above) on almost every show promoters give people the option to buy pre-sale tickets and usually at a discount. Allowing groups to sell pre-sale tickets or even rewarding them to do so with better time slots or more money is not unethical, uncommon or pay to play. Gorilla gives bands 100 tickets to sell. They mail the band fact sheets on how to sell tickets. They call the band every week to find out how well the tickets are selling. This seems like more than an "option".
Now if Never Pay to Play (Girl Trouble) is against groups selling tickets or promoting their own performance then why don’t they call their site Never Promote Yourself or Your Own Group? Oh snap! Man, that's gotta hurt!
Something to think about…
Okay Michael, I am thinking. I'm thinking you need to check these simple diagrams to see if the show is pay-to-play. Perhaps this is better than the written definition. I think this would be a handy chart to always consult when deciding what kind of show to do.
FIGURE 1: BAND VS. MONEY (NORMAL / PAY TO PLAY)
FIGURE 2: DEALING WITH THE MONEY
The warning signs are in black. Michael's criticism is in bold. My response is in red...
Here again they try some “elitist” “non-comformist” logic to make there argument. Yah smoke another bowl and complain about how life is unfair (rolls eyes). My responses are below and in bold. Holy crap, this is awesome! Being called a "nonconformist" is a big compliment in my book! So apparently Michael only likes dealing with conformists. I wonder why? And "smoke another bowl"?! Really?
(Girl Trouble)Never Pay to Play’s
10 Warning Signs It’s a Pay to Play Show
1) Unsolicited spam email: you typically receive a friendly often flattering email from a company you’ve never heard of, with show dates to choose from, or how to sign up for their Battle of The Bands (BOTB) contest. Their websites are usually professional looking/elaborate. No Matter how new your band is, or if you even are a band, they’ll claim they are interested in your music and want to work with you. Typically they don’t even listen to you.
1) I have gotten a lot of emails from people I didn’t know and very few if any were pay to play events. I have not had particular good experiences with people that speak in absolutes, they tend to be fanatics, very irrational, and I personally have had difficulty reasoning with them. I did not say all spam emails are pay to play emails, dude! And by the way, if you are saying I am a fanatic, I also take that as a compliment. Also agreed, you'd have difficulty reasoning with me if you were trying to make me do a pay-to-play show!
2) They claim they are not pay-to-play: the pay-to-play company goes out of their way to mention many times over that they are not. No legitimate booking company has to make this claim. These companies are constantly doing damage control on blogs and message boards, trying to defend themselves against unhappy musicians. Always Google first to see what other bands are saying on musician forums/blogs (FYI: “glowing praise” on their pay-to-play site doesn’t count).
2) Here is a prefect example of the irrational thinking I am talking about. With this logic the only people that are not pay to pay would have to be anyone that says they are pay to play. Okay, you kind of lost me...but frankly, your gorillanow.com website actually proves my point. What company rep puts up an entire website to try to defend themselves and their company against the elitist irrational ramblings of one person?
3) You are given Tickets to sell: Whether it’s a requirement to play a show or suggested in order to win a contest, a bands’ role is not to be in charge or pre-ticket sales. Promote the hell out of it, but let the club (or promoter) do the actual ticket selling. You are “the artist” and your role is to put on a good show that people will want to see.
3) Here they are again speaking in absolutes, but that aside just selling tickets doesn’t dictate that its a pay to play event. Pay to Play means exactly that you pay someone money in order to perform. Now if a promoter requires you to sell a certain number of tickets and charges you personally for falling short or threatens you with force then its pay to play. Check the above Figures again. Plus, you've missed the point. Bands deserve to be paid. You seem to want to defend all the bands with the statement you made on your Real Deal page...
"Then I hear bands making the argument that the bands on the show are shitty. Who are you to judge what a band is or isn’t? And if you really feel that way then you shouldn’t be an artist pursuing this craft. There is crappy bands that have made it all the way to top as far I can tell. Besides, how did you sound when you first started? Get off it…Grow up…Practice some humility and respect."
Great! Then give bands the humility and respect they deserve and let them play first and then pay them. That will be much more appreciated than some lip service on a website.
4) You hand money before you play: If you hand any money, no matter where it comes from (your friends, family, your own pockets, the sofa cushions) to a company representative before the show, you are paying to play. The representative keeps a detailed tally of who came to see which band either by asking at the door or counting hands at a BOTB. This is never the real way shows are produced.
4) Again, if you hand money over out of your own pocket to play on a show then its pay to play, but if you choose to sell tickets to friends, family, and fans, saving them money and making your group money in the process, while you promote your group and show by insuring you play for a decent crowd then its just good marketing and good business. All promoters/companies come up with this same lame argument. Actually, the process is irrelevant to the outcome. In other words, it doesn't really matter HOW it is achieved. It only matters that it IS achieved. No matter how it's sliced and diced, promoters end up getting money from the bands.
5) The company takes the biggest cut: you get none (as in BOTB’s) or a small percentage back from the money you turned in. No matter what the situation, the company always takes the biggest cut for themselves. They are acting as unnecessary middleman.
5) They would like you to think these company’s take the largest cut but that is not the case. Many company’s pay groups a very generous cut when you consider the fact that they are taking all the risk, and covering all the over-head out of their cut of the of the proceeds. Most venues rent there rooms out for between $500 and $1,000 and that just the room rent. There are many other expense associated with these kinds of events. Most profitable companies net between 5-10% and these companies are no different. I won't fall for this old trick either. Again, you can't pump up these expenses. I've put on my own show. The room costs one amount. Gorilla mostly rents them on Sundays, when the rent is cheaper because it's considered a "dead night". Let's face it, if there was no money to be made on this deal, there wouldn't be a Gorilla Productions. And be sure to tell us the pre-sale company that pays groups "very generous cuts". In five years I have yet to find it.
6) Only very new or inexperienced bands are on the bill: pay-to-play companies work with inexperienced bands. Notice who’s on the bill (if they can even tell you) and see if it’s anybody you’ve ever heard of. Established bands are hip to this con job and won’t do these shows. In fact, ask any established band what they think of paying-to-play (unless you are profanity sensitive) and see how they view this practice.
6) The shows in question do tend to have more in-experience groups on them that why these companies were created ion the first place to give groups with less experience and fewer relationships opportunities to play on great shows. The fact that the shows tend to be so well attended is the reason the experienced group try to get on them, everyone want to play on great shows. Please tell me what experienced group is trying to get on your shows. I want to talk to them. Bands from your company don't count. And finally! Somebody from your company has admitted that mostly inexperienced bands play your shows.
7) Crappy shows: Too many bands on the bill, a mismatched lineup of acts, too short of time on stage, admission price higher than normal, and an audience that won’t stay for the whole show (or are only interested in the band they came to vote for).
7) Who are they to say which groups are bad and which one are good. If having 10 bands on a show makes it a crappy show, then Oz Fest and Warp Tour must really blow! Wow, you totally ignored that entire thing. The show is crappy, not the bands. You didn't address how there are too many bands, how the line-up is mismatched, how the set times are too short, how the admission price is higher and how the audience typically only wants to see the band they bought the tickets from. And you aren't really comparing a Gorilla Battle of the Bands to the Warped Tour are you? God, I hope not.
8) Big promises, big prizes: if you play this show your band will be on the road to fame and fortune. You’ll play in a venue you will never get on your own and you will win a chance to do a major tour, play at a major festival, get a million dollar recording contract, receive free recording time at a major studio, have major label A&R reps to evaluate you, ect. The percentage of any of this happening though these shows is remote at best.
8) Why do big prizes have to translate into big promises? These guys seem like a glass is half empty kind of crew. American Idol has some big prizes according to this definition they must be a scam. I don't think the American Idol contestants are selling tickets to their family and friends and handing in the money to Randy Jackson every week. First you compare Gorilla Productions to the Warped Tour and now it's American Idol! Are we talking about the same company?
9) No promo: The company doesn’t print flyers for the show, there are no special print ads in the local music papers, no mention in the free concert calendar. The only promotion is done by the bands. Only the club might list it on their website and that’s it. BECAUSE…
9) Its my understanding that a lot of these companies do make flyers for the shows and getting it on the clubs website isn’t a small task. What promoting do the groups do that these promoters are not doing? What are they talking about? Yeah, these companies design on-line flyers that they suggest bands use as their Facebook default photo. Big Deal! AND if you can't get the band names playing that night on the club website you need to go back to Promotions 101. That's the easiest part of promoting a show! If the club won't list the bands playing that night, find another club to rent!
10) you do all the work – they get all the money: and if the show doesn’t turn out well and you complain, you get the blame for not working hard enough, or being a band that will never make it in this biz. In addition, pay-to-play promoters will always stress what a big favor they do for bands, how much they are sacrificing to help you obtain success, how they too are musicians who’s only unselfish goal is to “help other musicians”
10) Coordinating an event is a highly risky venture that takes a lot of time and money. Most promoters risk their own money, time, and resources to to provide groups with the best live experience possible. Are they all good? No! In every industry you’re going to find some bad seeds, but this site seems to think everyone is bad, that’s just not true! Be sure to list what the "bad" companies are. And boo-hoo. This is also an old trick. You are doing so much for the lowly musician. I know a good show from a bad one and your show model is a disaster. There are many bands who have complained about these types of gigs, if they can keep their post up before somebody threatens them with a lawsuit. Here's a great idea. Since doing these shows is such a hardship, why take the risk at all?
As you say, something to think about...