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The Presale Ticket Scam

Justin Herring dropped some knowledge over at Hypebot about how required ticket presales can be, and often are, a raw deal for bands. Personally, whenever we hear the words "presale tickets required" it's a good sign to pass on a show.

The simple math breakdown is my favorite part:
We’ve already established that the pre-sale tickets are $14 apiece, but the door price is $17 the night of said show. If you get a walk in that mentions they’re at the venue to see your band, you get $4 out of that $17 door charge. Which is obviously more than the $1 per ticket you sold, but remember, if you don’t sell all 40, you don’t get to play. And, since the venue is so thoughtful of your band, they tell you that you have to include a tally counter and keep track of every person who comes in and mentions your band name. (Wonder if the door guy is even told to ask?)...
...After all of that is said and done I pose these questions, why aren’t venues being told this practice is uncalled for, unfair, ridiculous, and a downright scam? Out of $560 you turn in you keep $40 dollars!? You put on a four band bill all selling 40 tickets that’s $2,240 the venue is collecting, minus the whopping $160 cut to all four bands the venue is collecting a total of $2,080 for every band's hard work. Not to mention the amount they make at the bar.
If four bands tossed in $100 each to rent a venue and each sold the same 40 tickets, each band would make $460.

Once again, the math for DIY look a whole lot better than established channels.


Electronic and Hip Hop Better Suited to The New Music Industry

Electronic Dance Music (EDM), and to a lesser extent Hip Hop, are much better poised to thrive in the new music industry than traditional bands (live guitarists, drummers, vocalists, etc). Lefsetz has been talking about this phenomenon for a while but it's only been recently that the truth of his claims have become apparent.

Traditional bands have, and always will, exist. I'm not arguing that. What I am saying is that the environment for the new music industry is far more favorable towards electronic music than it is traditional bands. If we take equal amounts of each type of band, over time we'll see more electronic groups for all of the reasons listed below.


   True, the cash outlay for a decent studio setup is much larger than buying a crappy guitar and combo amp. Much larger. But electronic music doesn't need to rent out recording studios and engineers to put songs, all of that is part of the studio setup in the first place. Putting out a new single takes much less time and much much less money for electronic music than it does traditional bands.

And as unfortunate as it is to say, the less people in the band the more everyone gets paid. The same $10,000 show fee will feed a DJ and two techs a whole lot better than a five-piece band each with their own roadies. Touring is expensive and isn't always a good idea.

Low variable costs make a big difference. Profit is easier to come by for EDM and Hip Hop.

-Speed of Release
    EDM & Hip Hop artists put out many more singles than they do full-length albums. Less production time and more frequent releases keeps the artist in the fans' mind more easily.

-Cross Promotion
   Within a large majority of traditional bands, cross pollination between members of different acts through split EPs and remixes is rare (except for the Mastdon / Feist split, which was excellent).

The exact opposite is true for EDM and Hip Hop. It's hard to find a new single that doesn't either have guest artists or remixes of the track.

Cross promotion is a fantastic way to get potential fans of your music to discover that they actually like your music as you're essentially being endorsed by their current favorite artist. Hearing a new artist work with your favorite artist is even better than a friend's recommendation since it's coming from the source of your admiration. It wasn't until I heard Nas spit on the track Classic that I even considered getting into him. Cross promotion is one of many reasons groups like Doomtree are able to out-hustle and out-last many unconnected artists.

Fans are to be shared, not hoarded.

-Less Gatekeepers
   Electronic music isn't on mainstream radio yet it can sell out 30,000 person festivals. Electronic music, and to a lesser extent Hip Hop, grew up and thrives through the internet. Friends and bloggers pass music that resonates to one another, there's not radio spots or billboards hawking the newest Deadmau5 album. The movement is fan-led.

-Electronic Music Is Built Around Giving Away Music for Free
   DJs have long since known that getting your track the spins it deserves is more important that making a few extra bucks. Fame comes from people knowing and loving your work. Albums sales, like retweets or "likes", are indicators of fame, not the totality of fame. It's much easier for these acts to survive with the "music as a commodity" reality of today than it is traditional bands simply because the architecture for EDM wasn't built around album sales.

The album is marketing material for live performances now, not the primary product.

Which leads me to my next point.

-Cooler Shows
   Now I adore traditional music groups; they account for at least 80% of my listening. But Messhugah's five piece crushing metal blast couldn't compete with the spectacle of Skrillex riding a giant, smoke-spewing transformer in front of a throng of ten thousand fans dancing and drenched in the soft light of LED hula hoops.

Maybe I'm jaded from seeing so much live music, but if all a band does is stand on stage and play their album I feel ripped off. If I go to see a performance, I want to see a performer. It wasn't really until I saw an electronic music show that I began to actually appreciate the genre.



Negotiation Without Being a Jerk Vol. III

(Previously vol I, vol II)

A photographer friend got an unsolicited call from a major client, a hair care company. After a back and forth went into the info for the shoot, both parties agreed it sounded like a good fit. The photographer sent off the quote and waiting a few days.

The reply came back "We could only do it for 1/8th of what you quoted. Period."


After recovering from the shock, the friend weighed options.The friend knew that this would be an awesome, high-visibility client that would further their business. At the same time, the counter-offer was so low that death by discounting was a very real fear. Not only that, but if they accepted this offer to such a huge client, word would get out about their low photography rates among other large clients and this would permanently stunt the friend's business.

Is this deal already at an impasse?

Where would you go in this situation?


Having been reading me for a while, I'm sure you've already guessed no.

My photographer friend came back with their counter offer. "I'll do the gig for the low price plus five years of hair care products."

The company jumped on it.

They had a deal.


Negotiation is about total value, not just price. It's easy to get caught up on dollar figures since dollars are easy for anyone to understand, but money is only one of many sources of value. In this case, the hair care client didn't have the budget to pay the full amount but they did have endless amounts of shampoo and conditioner. Adding the hair care products didn't cost the company much since they produced them at cost, but for the photographer who would otherwise have to pay retail, it was a huge gain in value.

This is why we should be explicit about what we want; value is defined on a personal basis. Even with concrete items such as money, value is personal. A billionaire will value a hundred dollars much less than the musician would value a hundred dollars in the same way the billionaire would value a private concert more than the musician.

One of your goals when negotiating should be to figure out if the other side has anything that costs the other party nothing but has a huge value to you, and vice versa. Big wins like this are not only excellent bargaining chips but they allow you much more flexibility in your bargaining process.

Value is personal.