The Disease that Plagues the Entertainment Industry
Although this article is geo targeted, it can be extrapolated to fit every part of the entertainment industry anywhere in the world.
So, I have to voice a bit of a rant and even a gripe. I have always thought about how to approach this topic in such a way that people understand where I’m coming from. I’ve been on the promotion side of things for many years. I’ve probably put hundreds of thousands of dollars into events over time. I’ve helped to develop new talent, and re-establish the scene for old talent. I’ve always chosen and supported lineups based on what I love and shows that I would like to see as a participant in the audience. I’ve paid to go to countless shows, sometimes being offered a comp as a courtesy but even then, I always help promote the show and make sure that the value of my comp outweighs the loss to the promoter on my ticket fee.
As someone who puts shows together, I understand that my ticket costs anywhere from $2,500 to $25, 000. I have helped to build collaborations among promoters to make sure to mitigate risks and ensure that the widest possible audience is reached. Our events have surpassed the standard bringing together the live audience and the Dj in ways that nobody thought could happen and we have pulled it off time and time again with support from the music lovers of the city.
A true music lover understands the value of the shows we present and the pride in which we present them. When I first started throwing shows it was all about the music and the vibes of bringing party people together, and this goal is still the same today or I wouldn’t be doing it. We lost money time and time again but couldn’t stop because we felt a responsibility to the crowd, to the artists and to the community that we pushed to develop for years and years. There were many occasions where we lost so much that we thought it was over. Our love for the music kept bringing us back. We saved until we could afford to once again do what we love doing- bringing you the music. Coming up on our 10-year anniversary, a few challenges have come to light that I would like to share with all of you.
We aim to always provide the highest standard and quality of events and that costs money. We base our ticket prices at a fair level based on the numbers we need to make the money back and create moments. Our dollar has sunk and due to that, we book most artists in USD-we have to charge that premium back to the audience that pays in CDN. We provide a service that gives satisfaction, makes memories and gives people moments to look back on. We have opened eyes and shared our vision with positivity and have always tried to be responsive to the needs of the community.
Recently there has been a disturbing trend. Now, if you go to a show and pay for a ticket and feel that you get value for your money, then this is not for you. You are the people we appreciate as your presence add to the experience.This is for the people who consider themselves “Industry” or anyone who feels they deserve a comp because they have been around a long time, or media who feel the need to bring 4-10 friends in for free because they want to impress their posse, or, the guy that wants to go backstage because he shook the artist’s hand back in 2004.
By not financially supporting the shows you beg for comps from, you make it difficult for shows to return to Toronto. This is for you. You are effectively killing the community you claim to support. Promoters work on very thin budgets and everyone is trying to get a piece. The agents work hard to get the best fees for their acts. The venues gouge the promoters for fees/booze/techs/and any thing else they can think of. It’s a big city but i’ts also a small city.
Independent promoters are the lifeblood of the community because they put their hearts into events. Big time promoters typically just buy the acts and hope for the best because of the reach they have and the dollars to back them. When I lose on a show, I have to worry about where the rent will come from, so you getting a freebie ticket because you are “in the scene”, doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. In fact it makes me think that you are a leech sucking the lifeblood out of the community under a guise of support. The $20-$40 dollars you spend might not feel like a lot but there are 200 other “industry” people who feel the same entitlement as you. In turn the shows lose money, promoters stop promoting and good quality shows get replaced by corporate hash’s and cash grabs.
Now, don’t get me wrong there are people who help and contribute that deserve a complimentary ticket. Unfortunately there are too many who pretend to be that person taking the easiest route or contacting several promoters involved until they find their freebie. They are the people that hurt the community the most.
It’s not easy being a promoter in Toronto. The toll is heavy. Money causes people to do strange things. I have lost close friends because of it… it has even caused more than one person in my circles to take their own life over the years. Promoters take the heaviest cost both emotionally and financially and are always the scapegoat for every concern or issue. I have seen everything from artists with scratched CDs, blaming the promoter on the mic or bad equipment only to say the replacements we paid to have on site to ensure a smooth performance were not necessary (realizing it was their own CD that was faulty) to fans disappointed for a no-show (the only one we ever had in 10 years) after we paid for 2 flights and still provided 4 headliners on the night. We take chances and risks to give you a good time. The one party that makes money, pays for the 10 that lost. All of those looking for comps need to realize that and figure out if they’re a true contributor to the scene or a leech that steals from it.
The cost of advertising in Toronto is incredibly expensive often prohibitive and limitations on social media, have stopped the ease in which people can spread the word. We rely on the good people of the community to spread the word with us. We can’t offer free tickets for it but we can offer you more shows that you will love in the future. If you truly love the music and the artists, then you need to support them with your dollar. If not, they wont come to your city. T
here are plenty of places these artists can route their tours. You would not believe the number of times I have heard “Im bringing 10 people can I have a free ticket” and upon arrival they are the only person that comes in “oh, the rest didn’t want to get off the couch, you know how it is”… SO PAY FOR YOUR TICKET! The comps are the number one reason an artist wont be invited back to a city, right behind the weather hurting a show. We have so many incredible challenges in Toronto, from the number of competitors to the restrictions on advertising, the weather, and general city conditions that bleed your wallets dry.
We recognize that its not easy to lay out money for a ticket. We provide many opportunities through our partners to win tickets through contests and promotions. We provide advanced early bird tickets to allow some people to get in at low prices. Not everyone can get that. We wish we could put these events on for free and share them with everyone, but we put months of work, often spending 100-200 hours of work for a single event per promoter involved just to hear people complain that they wont spend an extra 5 dollars to come out. There are lots of companies out there that are all about the money. That’s not us. We do it for the love and our desire to share that love with you, so we budget for approximately 10% return on a party. Usually, we don’t get that.
What we do get out of it is the thrill of hosting a moment. Every once in a while something happens at a show that we know is one of a kind; a piece of history that will never be repeated and you can say you were part of. This is why we do this. The moments. Its what we live for. To see the hands in the air, the smiles from front to back, the crowd singing that lyric when the music cuts out, that collaboration between artists. It’s all about the moment. So the next time you think about approaching a promoter for a free ticket instead of supporting the community and the artist, think again and realize that by contributing to the show we can all experience more moments of musical bliss.
This is my rant. There is much more to say but I don’t want to write my novel yet. Bryan Farbs – Make it Funky