Where does a bar find bands for hire?
By Dean McNeil
It used to be easier to find good bands. Club owners either grew up listening to live music in the area, and knew something about the local music scene, or they would call an agency who did. With the easy access to the Internet everyone is an expert with a touch of a button. At least they think they are.
Easy access to the Worldwide Web does make it easier for a club to find entertainment, but doesn’t always make good entertainment easy to find. Follow me?
It reminds me of the insurance commercial on TV where the girl is meeting her French boyfriend she met online says: “If it’s on the Internet it must be true”. “Who told you that?” “Uh, the Internet”.
Bands are also promoters, as they should be, but just because they promote on the Internet how great they are, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. As a club owner, how do you discern from who is telling the truth and who is the “French boyfriend”?
If you are the club owner, do you have time on the weekends to go out and see bands? No, you don’t have time to go see bands on the weekends because that is your busy time.
Everybody in your bar has a friend who is in a band, right? Just because the local in your bar has a friend who knows a band doesn’t mean it is the right thing for your venue. Your reputation is your future.
Are you one of those that trolls through Craigslist searching for cheap bands? If you are either advertising or answering an ad on Craigslist, do you really expect to find a good band where they sell used furniture? No, or course not.
Do you believe every band that walks through your door and says they are the best band in town? If a band keeps knocking on your door for a gig, they probably don’t have one. If they don’t have one, why do you think that is? Or what type of work do they have currently?
I know most bars don’t understand why agencies should get paid, when in their eyes the musicians are doing all the work. They see the agency as evil used car salesmen types and are afraid to call them. After all, it seems that the bands they represent are more expensive than the bands that just walk through your door.
The reason that the bands can be more expensive is not because of the agency’s commission, it’s usually because these bands have proven themselves to be worth the money. If a given band has the right package and entertainment value, the agencies wants to work with them. They want that band on their roster.
There are always exceptions to the rule. There are a few top-rated cover bands in the Seattle/Tacoma area that have proven themselves for many years, and do not need representation to find good work. These bands are easy to spot. Just look at the rooms they play. Chances are, you found them, they did not come to your venue looking for work.
If you want to know how to find a good band? Look to see where they are already playing. Good bands play good rooms, or the venue wouldn’t keep hiring them. Most likely, those bands are working with an agent, maybe even two.
So, who should you be more afraid of – the band who keeps knocking at your door, the unknowns on Craigslist, or a professional agent who is paid to book the proper bands in the proper establishments for optimum success?
I will wait for your call.