5.04.2015

Why the Venue Won't Book Us Even Though They Sincerely Love Us

My high energy/gravity fun rocknroll cover band, HIATVS, took a hiatus from a lengthy hiatus last night (Sunday) to rock a short 30 minute (60 minutes from the audience's perspective, due to the law of general relativity in the viscinity of our massive time/space warping egos) showcase set at a music venue near my house that shall remain unnamed for reasons that will become apparent.

It was an incredibly potent set, notwithstanding the many biffs. There were actually fewer biffs than predicted, given that we haven't played or practiced in a long time. Everyone in attendance expressed enthusiasm and there was even some dancing, albeit somewhat coerced.

This band, HIATVS, would be a very desirable band for most sports bars that offer live music to the hoi poloi, such as this venue we played at last night. In the past, I have queried this bar about having one of my many good bands play a show there on a Friday or Saturday night and I could never get a straight answer. It seemed the only day/time they had any interest in us playing was the Sunday night open jam/stage and music showcase, a very "low profile" gig.

A few nights ago, I met the organizer of the Sunday jam, who is not affiliated with the paid venue staff, for a couple of drinks, so he could pick my brain on ways to improve the jam event and garner more audience draw. It was during these discussions that he disclosed that the venue in question may not be paying their annual dues to the performing rights organizations (PROs: BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc.), required by law of venues that have live music, in compliance with copyright and royalty payment laws. These laws apply to cover bands more than original bands for reasons beyond the scope of this post. So with that knowledge, it started to make sense why this venue would not want to actively book and promote a cover band. They could turn a blind eye on a Sunday night under the guise of an open forum type event that did not actually endorse the royalty-free performance of cover songs. Additionally, the chances of a PRO representative randomly dropping in to an "open mic type thing" at a remote suburban sports bar on a Sunday night would be slim at best, and not a huge risk for the venue. Plus, the owner never attends the open jam, allowing him to claim culpable deniability if he ever was called out on it.

"Open jam? What open jam? Are those deadbeat hippies squatting on my stage again? Curses!"

So that's my working theory why this venue never books my excellent cover bands, even though they profess to love our performances.

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