This article was co-written by Vick Sacha and Mike Marlinski. It’s divided into two segments: the first is about up and coming bands having an attitude about playing for free to support a cause. The second is a personal account from a show that deals greatly with basic band etiquette.
Q: Why should bands play benefit shows?
A: Everyone benefits from them.
Speaking as a musician, I think that exposure is the name of the game. What better way to get exposure than a benefit show? Benefit shows provide exposure not just for the bands playing the show, but the cause that’s being benefited, the promoters and venue owners putting on the show, and the venue itself as well. Bands need to be able to network properly in order to make a name for themselves. If you’re in a band and you play a benefit show, promoters learn about you. Venues learn about you. Those in charge of the cause being benefited learn about you. But more importantly, fans of the metal scene learn about you.
Venue gain: Even if all door proceeds are donated to the cause being benefited, bar venues and legion halls with bars will still take in drink and food sales. Statistically, people spend more money on drinks at venues with bars for benefit shows than they do for paying gigs. A prosperous night for promoters and venues = more paying gigs for you in the future. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE.
Band gain: If you’ve got merch to sell, people will buy it. Even if it’s a $1 patch, its better than nothing, right? Wouldn’t you want to see people walking around with your logo on them?
Basic morality: It’s the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the most evil sounding metal band around with the stereotypical “fuck everything” attitude. Odds are, you care about something. At some point in your life, you or someone you care about have been affected by a terminal disease, sudden loss of property due to fire, flood, tornado, divine plague, or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Perhaps a car accident or drug overdose took your best friend or significant other, or whoever. The point is, at one point or another, you or someone you care deeply for has needed a helping hand. Whether you believe in karma or not, I think that going out of your way to help a worthy cause makes you a decent human being, and decent human beings usually find themselves on the high ground eventually.
Q: Why is it a bad idea for bands to insult their fans with poor etiquette?
A: Without your fans, you’re a group of musicians trapped in a garage or basement for all eternity.
Now, here are some thoughts about band etiquette from a non-musician’s perspective. The following story is Vick’s personal account from what should have been a kick ass show. A well-known metal band’s booking agent contacted a local promoter about getting on an off shoot tour date at The Forvm in Amherst, NY. The promoter and venue owner both agreed and were stoked to be able to present said band to their audience. Sadly, the band didn’t promote the show at all online, then didn’t even leave their hometown (they had a four hour drive) until the moment the show started. The booking agent called the promoter saying as much, implying that the band was going to show up just before midnight, play a half hour set, then leave, still wanting the predetermined guarantee of $400. Upon their arrival, they were very rude to the club owner and staff and threatened to leave without playing if they did not receive the full amount immediately. At this point, the club owner and the promoter were engrossed in a heated argument about not paying the band the full amount. It also seemed fairly reasonable to assume that the band could’ve made at least a quarter of that on merchandise alone, had they showed up earlier and promoted the show. Most of their fans had left before their set anyway, since they didn’t go on until almost midnight; in the end, the venue owner agreed to pay the $400 to put an end to the debate.
Given the caliber of the band in question, it’s a wonder that being so selfish and unprofessional even crossed their minds. Bands of any caliber- up and comers especially, shouldn’t be insulting anyone who remotely supports their projects by denying them things such as a live show solely because of greed.
Moral of the story: just shut up and play music!
Note from the authors: If you got this far in the article, the both of us would like to thank you for taking the time to go through the whole thing! This was our first collaboration together, and we hope that you enjoyed what you read. Questions, comments, concerns?
Feel free to comment here on the blog site or leave us something on Facebook at www.facebook.com/welcometothemetal. Thanks again!