PAY-TO-PLAY OPINIONS & EDITORIALS (Some thoughts and insights from established musicians)
|Pay-to-play promoters and company reps repeat it over and over. When it comes to their gigs/showcases/battles, there’s nothing that can take the place of the exposure your band will get. It’s the most common enticement that P2P promoters will offer. Even though musicians are getting ripped off on opportunities that never materialize, it’s often times the one word they’ll use when explaining why they accepted a pay-to-play event. So...
What about the exposure?
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime! Think of the exposure you’ll get!” Exposure. This word is musicians’ Kryptonite. The concept is so powerful it can even make the most seasoned vets play shows they would normally never dream of doing. If this word is even effective on the old timers, what chance does a new band have?
Pay-to-play promoters understand this. They know it well and use it to their full advantage. If they can convince inexperienced musicians that the benefit to their “career” will be so overwhelming (through playing to huge crowds in a massive unobtainable venue in front of industry professionals offering record contracts) they can get them to do practically anything. The promoter will give the impression that playing their event can lead to the big break every musician has been dreaming about.
The concept of exposure appears to be an addiction many musicians can’t shake. Even though the musician does not experience the outcome that these promoters promise, they will continue to come back for more and more. Like gambling, many are convinced that it only takes that one lucky roll of the dice (the right person to see them, the big show that breaks their career) to make their dreams come true.
You can especially tell when bands fall for it. It’s all over their facebook and reverbnation pages. Instead of playing normal shows and working up the ladder to better shows, their pages are saturated with pay-to-play “opportunities”. They are filled with BOTBs, ticket selling showcases, multiple posts urging friends and family to vote for them on-line for a spot on the Warped or Vans Tours, or opening for some national act. Many bands appear to put more effort into selling tickets for these golden opportunities that ultimately get them nowhere, than actually making music! Like playing the lottery, they’ll assume that if they do enough of these shows, eventually that Big Break will finally happen...or at least they’ll have a better shot at it. The reality is that the outcome is rarely worth the effort. It mostly turns out to be a time wasting drain of energy for your band and the goodwill of family and friends. People see through it and tire of it rapidly.
The fact is, when it involves pay-to-play, this “exposure” is often a hollow concept that is mostly meaningless. Now you may be saying, “Well I know a band who got a big break because they sold a lot of tickets.” But what are the odds? We all know the stories of the local gas station attendant who wins the ten million dollar Powerball. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to everybody. In fact, it hardly happens to anybody. Actually, the chances of either happening are so remote it’s barley worth mentioning. Like they say in Vegas; the percentage is always with the house.
It’s also important to remember that exposure is not exclusive to P2P shows. More exposure will come with every show you play. Everytime you perform live there will be new people to see you, new bands to meet, new friends to make. These promoters are not offering anything special, other than a huge deception. Even when a P2P show is packed, it is only due to high ticket sales from the bands, not the efforts of the promoter. Of course, the P2P promoters will take credit, but it’s credit they don’t deserve.
So what better opportunity to offer bands than exposure? It is the perfect pay-to-play enticement. It can’t be quantified. It can’t be traced. It’s impossible to put any kind of value on it. And when it doesn’t pan out, bands seldom discuss it again. It costs the promoter absolutely nothing and musicians will practically trip over themselves to obtain it. If a band buys into this con job, and is swayed to participate in a show they normally would never do, for the promoter “exposure” can be the most valuable incentive of all.
“Sell tickets to our show and you’ll have the opportunity to get massive exposure.” Exposure. Watch for it. Research it. And keep in mind what it could really mean.
Below are two excellent blogs Matti Eiriksson Frost has allowed us to share. Matti is lead singer and rhythm guitar player for the Quakertown, PA band Frost Giant and is also the administrator of the Anti Pay to Play Pennsylvania facebook group.
A Few Good Arguements Against Pay-To-Play by Matti
“This is th