'Power to the People no delay!' (Public Enemy)
On the heals of my 'out to rip you off' series, I feel a need to give a some counterpoint. I am going to start with a problem that a friend of mine brought up to me recently. He was pointing out that here in Nicosia (Cyprus) it is virtually impossible for a band to get a gig at a decent venue on a weekend. I will be using the Nicosia situation as the example here, but I would say that the points I will be making are universal to these kinds of problems.
So, my friend was telling me that it is almost impossible for a band playing original material to get or even set up a gig in our capitol city on a Friday or Saturday. The assumption being that venues are not willing to take a risk on their big money making nights. My friend mentioned that the only way he knew of making a gig happen would be to rent a venue (typically €1000 for a night) then also (possibly) have to organise any bartenders, door people, etc.
After doing a little investigating, I can confirm that (at least) the €1000 price tag is correct at one venue. Now, on the face of it this seems like a rather high price! And indeed it is, especially if that money needs to be paid up-front. Most bands I know can't get the money together to do a friend deal in a studio for a day, much less raise this kind of money. But even if they could, that equates to PAY-TO-PLAY, which I oppose on principle, and is something different than trying to organise something new and unique (renting a non-music venue to use as a venue).
Not to mention, most bands I know have trouble organising themselves for one rehearsal a week. I can't even begin to imagine the nightmares that would materialise if they had to deal with staffing a venue. The horror!
Although I think these horrible conditions can be worked within, and certainly some bands have managed this nicely... I do not think that they should have to, nor is this right in any way! What happened to venues being venues? Putting the onus on musicians to take over the jobs that, by all practical rights, should be the venue's is JUST BAD BUSINESS!
To my mind, this is as lame as a restaurant wanting their patrons to bring their own ingredients and a cook, then charging them to serve themselves, and use the kitchen, table, and place settings. THAT WOULD NOT BE A RESTAURANT! Right?
I cannot even begin to explain how I think this is just (or at least has it's beginnings in) lazy, unqualified business people wanting to pawn off their responsibility to turn an easy little pittance of a profit. If these venues put in the effort and did their jobs properly, they would probably find that their profits would grow a LOT, and they might get some actual job satisfaction in the process.
I think ALL bands should refuse to play this game! It's a pipe dream, I know, but hear me out. If no bands agreed to these silly conditions, the venues would soon find themselves without the 'upper hand' that they now use to strangle the music scene. The venues would then need to get their OWN STAFF and would start thinking, hopefully (and we could all help encourage this thinking), that they might want to get bands in (even on the weekends) to help them draw more patrons. Novel, I know.
But that is how things are supposed to work! What happened to bands being bands, venues being venues, and fans being fans? Come on! Do I have to do EVERYTHING? Maybe it is high time to introduce Cyprus (our your location) to good old D.I.Y., B.Y.O.B., Generator, out in the sticks (similar to the 'desert' thing that brought you bands like Queens Of The Stone Age [here's a link to a documentary which includes a great segment about it]) gigs... for all kinds of bands!
I am aware of one venue that is a glowing exception to this, and they are right here in Nicosia. That venue is Scarabeo. They have their own way of choosing bands to play, but they NEVER charge bands ANY MONEY to play... Ever! I highly suggest checking out their website (below) and going on down to see the place and get to know the staff. Yes, this is a rare endorsement from me, but it is justified. If any other venue wants to make themself known to me (and hence my readers) as being exceptions, please let me know, and I will add you to the below 'Exceptions' list.
'EXCEPTIONS' LIST (exceptional Nicosia venues):