During their website upgrade, Gorilla Music has been sharing some extra ideas on how great they are. The latest in their attempt to convince new inexperienced bands that Gorilla is the “best in the world” is called “The Top 10 Reasons Gorilla Music is the Best Local Band Production Company in the World”. Leave it to the folks at Gorilla Music to make a bold statement like this. Let’s break down Gorilla’s new Top Ten.

1. We do not require bands to sell tickets. Instead, we reward them for selling tickets by either giving them a better time slot or paying them more per ticket sold.

They don’t require it BUT don’t be fooled - they expect it. There have been many accounts of bands who have been pressured by Gorilla agents to get those tickets sold. They put the bands who don’t sell any tickets at such a disadvantage (horrible time slot, no chance to win their Battles, knocked off an overcapacity show) it would be crazy to play their events without selling their tickets. In fact, if you are a low ticket seller, they might even cancel your performance.

The Gorilla Music Battle of the Bands Finals at the Knitting Factory in Spokane, WA. Due to an over capacity crowd, the bottom three lowest
ticket selling bands were cancelled at the last minute. And of course it's up to the bands to get the money back to the people who bought their tickets.

However, the best proof that Gorilla does expect bands to sell tickets is contained in the lawsuit they filed against one of their own agents (April 23, 2014 - Case Number CV14825792), Michael Thompson.

The fact that he told bands that they did not need to sell tickets or collect ticket revenue was one of the charges against him! It is discussed more than once. So if Gorilla Music doesn’t require bands to sell tickets, why did they sue Michael Thompson for saying the same thing?

In Top 10 Reason #1 Gorilla states they do not require bands to sell tickets. When one of their reps tells bands the same thing, they sue him.

2. We have great shows. Most of our shows attract huge crowds, so the bands get to play for a lot more people than they would on other local shows.

Huge crowds like the one I saw in Seattle (left)? Or maybe like this one Peter Kissane photographed in Milwaukee (right)? When a show starts at 4 PM and ends at 11:00, and contains ten mismatched beginner bands, you’ve got yourself a seven hour endurance test. And again, low tickets sales means no crowd.

Big crowds seldom stick around for Gorilla shows but there is the rare occasion when the show is packed like this one that took place in Spokane, WA at The Knitting Factory. The bands worked their asses off to sell those Gorilla tickets. Do you know how much the bands received in compensation for this show?

Not one dime for all that work. It was a second round Battle of the Bands (these bands had already sold many tickets to win the first round), the bands actually packed the place, and 100% of the money went to Gorilla. When a band finally wins, they've already turned in much more money than the prize is worth.

3. It is free for bands to participate on all of our shows. We handle the cost of the room rental and all the production costs associated with each event. This allows the bands to play in a risk free environment.

Bands who won’t bring Gorilla money play first, to no one. Gorilla rents clubs on dead nights, mostly on Sundays when the rent is cheapest. The production cost includes the staff in Cleveland who spend all day with hundreds of bands trying to find out how many tickets they sold. It's a "risk free" environment, unless you can't account for your ticket money. Then it appears to get a little risky.

The story Taylor Texas told wasn't exactly risk free.

4. Our shows are open to any and all bands that want to participate. We do not discriminate against any form of music or any bands based on their level of development. We believe that everyone deserves a chance to perform!

Of course they can’t discriminate! They need every band they can find to fill those slots. Gorilla will contact any band with a music page on social media and experience means nothing. Want to play your first show in an 800 capacity venue? No problem. As long as you can sell enough tickets, you got it. Gorilla shows are well-known for being the biggest marathon of unmatched beginning bands. It's been my opinion that nobody at Gorilla cares what the bands sound like.

5. We have an A+ rating with The Better Business Bureau, which is the highest rating possible. We are one of the only concert productions companies that specialize in working with local bands that has an A+ rating with The BBB. We have had a total of 5 complaints since our inception in 2006 and all of them have been resolved. This is an absolutely amazing feat considering the fact that we have worked with tens of thousands of bands and hundreds of thousands of music fans.

Actually the BBB has a few problems of its own as shown in this report from ABC News' 20/20 Investigation. In fact, this story seems to indicate that the BBB has got a kind of pay-to-play (or pay-to-review) system going, where companies that pay money get the good rating. (Spoiler alert: Famous chef Wolfgang Puck got an F rating because he wouldn’t pay the BBB fee, but the terror group Hamas earned an A-!)

But even more to the point, what 15 year old that’s been ripped off thinks to contact the Better Business Bureau? The high school kids usually just complain on message boards and then when they do, Gorilla is there to threaten them with lawsuits. After Taylor Texas posted his experience on the Cleveland Hardcore Board, Gorilla told them to remove it or be faced with legal action. (FYI The post was finally removed.) Gorilla also implicated Taylor Texas in their lawsuit against me.

Recently there have been a couple of interesting reviews that have popped up on Gorilla's BBB page...and still they get an A+ after this story! See negative customer review from 1/2/2015.

6. We are the only production company that understands that we are an event coordination company, and not a promotions company. It is through networking that our shows are successful. We provide the tools and environment for bands to be successful. At the same time, we assume the risk by paying for the room and putting together the shows so the bands can focus on networking and performing. It is this team work that helps to ensure a great show for everyone, including the fans.

Can anyone figure out what that first sentence even means? Gorilla (like many others) never want to admit that they are promoters. That would lead people to believe that they might promote the show they signed them up to play! Instead, they want the band to do all that work, while they collect the money. The person that asked you to play the show is the person who should do the most promoting. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote also, but it means for everything you do, they should do double. (See this page for more information on what a promoter does.)

Gorilla is notorious for no promotion. They don’t even list their shows on their own website! There is no central location where you can see the shows and the bands who are playing them! It seems to be a secret. That is unacceptable. They don’t promote in free music calendar listings and most of the time the only “promotion” on the club website is to list that it’s a Gorilla Music event without naming the bands playing. They’ll send the bands a generic on-line flyer and sometimes they don’t even list the bands on that!

Left: Ad in the local music paper for Studio Seven in Seattle. Even Afton can manage to list the acts on their pay-to-play showcase. The only thing listed for Gorilla is "Gorilla Productions Presents:" (under Sun April 10, if you have trouble finding it). Great promotion for the bands! Right: Gorilla's facebook page suggests "support some of your local musicians." Too bad they can't name any of them! The on-line poster doesn't even list any bands!

A participating band even posts a question to Gorilla Music about who else is on the show, with no response. Gorilla isn't kidding when they say it's not their job to promote!

7. We care. Our agents are easy to get a hold of by phone or email. Our agents are trained to help bands.
They are retrained on a regular basis. Additionally, the owners of the company are also easy to reach by phone or email and, more importantly, are interested in talking with you and your band. Both owners have performed live themselves so they know what you’re going through. The entire staff wants to support your band and help you in any way possible.

The turnover in the Gorilla workforce is substantial. Most Gorilla agents don’t last long at this job which is probably the reason for all that retraining. A former agent, Gorilla Liz, who was sued by Gorilla in 2009 had a few things to say about her experience with working conditions in her blog "The Top Ten Reasons I Left Gorilla Productions."

And although this part-time employee seemed to like the staff, notice how they claim the turnaround is so high, you won't even have time to know their names! Also pay attention to that last advice to management: "Pay people when they don't have shows so that they are not working for no money for weeks on end with no pay." No wonder they leave! And no wonder those agents seem desperate to book bands...they are!

The company owners are interested in talking you, espeically if you criticize their business model. Here John Michalak contacts someone who wrote some harsh critiques of the company.

The owners may have performed when they were in high school, many years ago, but it's hard to find any trace of it. This is the typical “I’m a musician too” excuse that most pay-to-play promoters use in order to convince new musicians that what they are doing is normal. In fact, when Gorilla owner John Michalak writes about his band, he can’t even come up with a photo of it. He had to use a random photo he lifted from some show review!

During the telling of "John's Story" they couldn't come up with a photo of any band he played in. So they had to "borrow" a photo of a band from New Jersey called Man Overboard. If his band was so great, wouldn't he have a photo of it?

8. We have created one of the best books ever written about the music business, “Rock Your City.” This book is designed to help local bands navigate their way through their local music scene. Local bands are raving about this book. If you don’t have one, ask us about it.

How many books have actually been written about the music business? And these guys claim to have the best? See my review of this joyless book here. By the way, this book is so popular its facebook page has 38 “likes” (and many of those were former Gorilla reps). That doesn't exactly spell "best seller".

9. We have a fair structure where bands are rewarded for their hard work. Almost all of the bands that participate in one of our events walk away happy. For the most part, the only people that ever really complain about our company have never worked with us before. The music business is a strange business, but we love it.

As Gorilla Liz stated in her blog The Top Ten Reasons I Left Gorilla Productions (Gorilla Music used to be known as Gorilla Productions) said “Getting an email that says ‘fuck u, I hope u all die’ is only funny the first 1,000 times.”

If this isn't enough, be sure to check out the screen shot page to read all about those happy bands who have worked with Gorilla Music.

10. We have an amazing management program where any band that wants our help can get it. Our management team never locks bands into a long term commitment or ask for a percentage of their profits. Instead, they charge a small monthly fee that we try to work out so that it can fit within each bands budget. In addition to our management program, any band that would like the advice or opinions of our staff – most of whom have been working in the industry for years—all need do is ask. Every member of our staff is more than happy to help your band in any way they can, and that’s a fact. If you’re looking for help, look no further. We are the best!

Check out the story from the band, The Shots, about how great that Gorilla Management deal is. Two hundred bucks a month is not a small monthly fee, especially for high school kids. The Gorilla Music Management roster changes monthly. In my opinion, this is not a good sign.

Yes, Gorilla is the getting bands to hand them money!