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Dan Davies

Venue Manager - Happy Yess

BE PERSISTENT

It’s worthwhile trying to contact a venue in a few different ways, because emails get lost and some days the phone’s just ringing incessantly. It’s worth being persistent but also be clear about who you are and what your business is before getting in touch.

DON’T RING UP ON A SUNDAY MORNING

Don’t ring up on a Sunday morning.

DON’T EXPECT A GIG STRAIGHTAWAY

It varies, but some venues might have gigs booked for the next nine months. With the Happy Yess, expect a gig two to three months after organising with the venue.

HELP THE VENUE HELP YOU

Provide tech specs – who you’ve got in the band and what sound gear you need. That sort of stuff keeps the sound engineer happy. Also provide a little blurb on yourself and send it through because the venue does a certain amount of promotion and we need that stuff to talk about whoever’s playing.

SELF-PROMOTION IS NECESSARY

Basically Happy Yess has a bit of sponsorship to operate as a community venue, but we still have to sell beers to survive, and in other venues the need is even more critical than ours. So a venue manager is going to want to know that you’re doing your best to promote this gig and you’re going to try and pull some people. Printing your own posters and getting someone to put them around town is a big job time-wise, but it doesn’t end up being that expensive if you’re putting them up yourself.

WORK OUT COSTS

In reality, bands often have to pay for use of a venue. The Happy Yess doesn’t charge anyone, but some venues may charge a fixed fee, others may take a few dollars from each ticket sold to see the gig.

Some venues might want you to bring a PA, which you might have to hire or buy if you can’t borrow. It’s one of the headaches of touring. Some will have a PA but will want you to bring an operator. It varies from venue to venue how much backline they have.

PRICE YOUR TICKETS

I strongly believe that musicians should get paid for what they do, but you do have to be realistic about how much you’re charging for a ticket. You can look at the ticket prices of bands playing at the same level as you for a guide.

With bigger name acts, there is a school of thought saying that you’re better off not advertising how much something costs but just concentrate on creating a vibe around what you’re doing so people want to go to it and will basically pay whatever. The Darwin Symphony Orchestra kind of works on that.

DIVIDE THE SPOILS FAIRLY

I try to encourage that everyone who plays gets an even cut of the door money. So say there’s a $1000 on the door, you don’t have a solo act getting $500, and then $500 to be shared amongst a 5-piece band.

But having said that there are sometimes other things to take into account and it’s kind of up to the bands to work that out themselves.

PLAY NICE

Don’t trash the equipment. If you want to be an anarchist, go and trash something that’s not there to support you.

Be nice to the door person and the sound engineer. They are the ones talking you up and making you sound good. Be nice to other artists as well, because it’s a good idea to have good relations with people who can help each other with gear or industry connections or whatever. Be nice to the audience. People are paying to come and see you and you should do your best to do a good show because people either will or won’t come and see you again.

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