When Gorilla Music started to announce that they were hosting SXSW showcases a few years ago, I knew something was fishy. It just didn’t sound realistic that the SXSW Festival would actually partner with a controversial company like Gorilla. There are many bars around the SXSW Fest where bands play but those shows are not officially SXSW shows. In other words, it doesn’t mean you are playing SXSW just because you played at a bar in Austin during that time. Many bands don’t seem to understand that. They think that if it’s in Austin during those weeks, it must be SXSW. Gorilla was taking advantage of this misconception.

I knew this was a case again of Gorilla Music selling inexperienced bands on something that would not come close to meeting their slick sales-pitch. They are expert at pushing just the right buttons in order to get money out of star-struck musicians. Asking bands if they’d be interested in playing SXSW would certainly be a good way to do it.

Of course as I watched it through bands’ facebook pages and websites, I knew what was about to happen. I watched bands gleefully tell their family and friends that playing SXSW would be the opportunity of a lifetime. I saw Kickstarter pages start up in order to finance a trip to Austin. I read as all their well-wishers congratulated them and proclaimed “hope you remember us when you are famous!” I hated feeling so skeptical but I’ve seen this story many times. I knew the promises would not match the reality. But the problem is that typically bands will post a few photos but not give the real lowdown. They know they’ve been conned, so why bother to give any of the depressing details to their supporters? This was always how it played out, until now.

Finally, Gorilla Music’s Better Business Bureau page (and they still get an A+ rating?), somebody has dared to share what happened to them. They also discuss being on the Gorilla Music Management roster (as we have already posted from the band The Shots - and be sure to notice how this story is almost identical to what The Shots have to say). FYI: These photos are from various bands who played the "Gorilla SXSW Showcase."

A story from the Better Business Bureau Review page (1-2-2015): (see the first negative review on this page)


My band was approached by a gentleman and young lady that worked for Gorilla Music in at a Chicago promo party they were hosting in 2013. after our performance, we were told that they were extremely impressed with our music, professionalism, and merchandise display. We were given a business card by the gentleman and were told to get a hold of him. Not knowing much about the company we did a bit of research and found several negative reviews. Furthermore, we thought that could have been from disgruntled bands about set times, broken promises, etc.


We decided it would be in our best interest to contact the gentleman and see what he had to say . He was very kind and professional, and titled himself as a band consultant/manager/adviser. He told us he would get us shows in and around our region and build up our brand, hook us up with discounts, and make it to where we definitely gain some steam. He then told us that his services weren't free and that they would cost us $300.00 a month to start. Reluctant at first, we decided to try the guy out, after all, he made it seem like it was a worthwhile venture for us to pursue. So we started working with him, and every week we would have a conference call where he would basically recite verbatim out of a book/manual about what we should do.

Not impressed with his lackluster advice and consultations, he then laid the big one on us..."hey guys, do you wanna play SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin, Texas? How about two shows?" Speechless at first, we were star struck with the opportunity, and immediately became interested in the chance to perform at a festival most would dream of playing. We discussed the opportunity internally and came to an agreement that we definitely would want to play.

The gentleman explained how in the past Gorilla Music always gave out free drinks and free pizza at the clubs/venues they booked and that always was a success in creating sold out shows for them. After being told that admission to their showcases were free and that Gorilla Music fronts all of the costs to rent the venues, he then dropped the "well...each show will cost you a little over $200".

We were immediately thrown for a loop and realized that Gorilla Music is not really a music company, they are a sales company. Obviously, we wanted to play SxSw and we agreed that we wanted to make it happen. After all, what did we have to lose?? The Gorilla guy said he would send us tickets that would equate to free admission and one free drink so it would make it easier to promote the show. What a selling point!! We immediately thought that we could make this opportunity a success because we had free drink tickets we could give away, couple that with a CD of ours, and this could be a home-run to get people in the door.

We had to get to work, we started a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for gas, lodging, Gorilla show fees, Gorilla adviser fees, etc. so we could make it to Austin, TX. We ended up meeting our goal of $3500 in 19 days.

We set out for Austin, Texas last March with so much optimism. We had all of our merch, our free admission/drink tickets, all of our gear, we were ready to make this a success with the tools Gorilla Music provided for us. We arrived at our first venue, The Red Eyed Fly. Not familiar with how SXSW worked, we got there early so we could gauge parking, load-in, etc. We were greeted by a lady that was subcontracted by Gorilla Music (not an actual Gorilla employee) that would present us with load-in info and other particulars, specifically that we were playing an unofficial SXSW showcase. No wonder we couldn't find ourselves on the official website!

Not too concerned about official or unofficial showcases...we loaded in...and then immediately took to the streets to start handing out free admission/drink tickets to festival goers. After handing all of our tickets out, we approached the venue and saw a guy at the door checking ID's and taking tickets and saw him turn away like three people we had just told to come see us. Curious as to why they didn't come in...we asked the guy, and the guy (an employee of the venue) informed us that we were misinformed, and no drinks were free.

We immediately became angry, because we were lied to. We drove 23 hours to perform under false pretenses. However, we gathered ourselves and realized we could still make some fans by playing our music. Turns out, all the bands were told this same line of B.S. so Gorilla could make money off of them and they not deliver anything in return...just a venue full of bands and musicians to play for one another.


Day 2. We were to play at Lucky’s Lounge. Again, unfamiliar with the city, we got there early and scoped the area. We eventually loaded in and met with he venue manager, for a while. He was a very pleasant guy who was familiar with our hometown. As our set time drew closer, we wee curious as to where the sound guy, not to mention, the other bands on the bill were, some of whom had played with us the day before. We were informed by the venue manager that all the bands cancelled because there wasn’t a P.A. system adequate enough for 4 and 5 piece bands. Not to mention, there wasn’t a sound guy to run sound for the bands. You mean to tell us Gorilla Music booked a show with bands and failed to address one of the most important components of booking live music? Amateur. Oh yeah...and the Free admission/free drink tickets that the Gorilla Music adviser sold us on, yeah, they didn’t work for this venue either.

We immediately tried to call the Gorilla Music employee and couldn’t get a hold of him. Go figure. Trying to figure out what to do, we struck a deal with the venue manager for us to use his little P.A. that was more of less used for karaoke and we performed anyway. I mean, we did drive 23 hours. We had to make it worth our time. What an experience.

After we returned home, we immediately cut ties with Gorilla Music. Gorilla Music only delivers false promised, un-organization, lack of support, and snakey-selling strategies and tactics (similar to a used car salesman, but worse). Gorilla Music rents venues, books 9-12 bands from out of town with no local draw, charges a premium price for each band to play, which in turn nets 35-60 musicians standing around playing for each other.

My advice for any young band...STAY AWAY. Everything you read that is negative is true. Gorilla Music is a poison. Gorilla Music did absolutely nothing for us but take $900-$1200 of our money in three short months. Luckily for my band, we are still together and are now stronger than ever after dealing with clowns like these guys.