Everybody who puts on music shows will know the pressure that exists with regards to paying musicians who you ask to play. If I’m perfectly honest, it’s not often been a major problem for me with Trampoline as I am honest from the word go with artists. However, there have been a few occasions the money situation has still raised it’s ugly head and it can be a really difficult situation. Like I said, at Trampoline we are always upfront as to how things operate. It’s simple. We offer no guarantees, unless that guarantee can be justified. And by this, I mean that the artist in question is likely to pull a crowd significant enough to cover costs and therefore deserving of the money. That’s not to say people who don’t bring a crowd are not deserving of the money just that, given the deal we offer, you should be aware that without the people through the door there is no money to offer. I don’t of course mean that if you ask to play and tell me all your mates will come along that I’ll guarantee you anything because I don’t put on shows to make money. Anyways, I really am talking about bands like Broken Records, Frightened Rabbit, Meursault, Withered Hand; artists who if I were to put on at Trampoline now, the shows would sell themselves. Those acts wouldn’t have to tell people they are playing, or ask them along and would totally merit a guarantee. Smaller acts though really need to consider the implications of expecting money. I’m not saying don’t ask, I’m just saying don’t assume. Most promoters out there are DIY promoters who put on/organise shows out of the goodness of their heart and usually out of their own pocket too. There is no financial gain for Trampoline EVER. In fact, more often than not, I am forced to dip in to my own pocket to cover costs or just be able offer artists a little something. It often means that artists don’t get very much from us at the end of the night. But whilst we offer no official guarantees, we do state that at the end of the night, once costs are covered, all remaining cash will be given to the bands. However, this requires people to come along to the shows. We spend a lot of time on flyering and promoting the shows any way we can. There are plenty of avenues to find out about Trampoline shows. What gets me is when an artist turns up, brings nobody to to see them and yet still expect to be paid something. This is not possible and if you play Trampoline you are always made fully aware of this from the outset.
I’m a realist as a musician. Would I like to be paid to play? Yes, of course. Do I automatically think I deserve to be paid? No, of course not. Recently we at Trampoline were asked by a band to guarantee a fee. It was an amount greater than the standard fee the larger promoters would automatically pay an artist for playing a grassroots show. Sometimes it borders on the ridiculous. If you can justify the fee, of course I am happy to pay. And if we have a really good night then yes, you’ll get paid well – we guarantee that. However, if you don’t expect many people to come along then have a wee think about why you are asking for the money before you do. I understand travel costs etc are a problem, they exist for everyone who plays outside their home town, but I’d never, at this stage in my career, have the confidence to expect to be paid for a show. I have no problem with those who ask. Only those who expect or assume. It’s like that old saying. When you assume you just make an ass of u and me. It’s a delicate debate of course. And by no means am I saying that musicians don’t deserved to be paid for playing live – that would be like cutting off your nose to spite your face. I just wish some artists would think a bit more about who they are dealing with before they fired off a figure. Too much red wine? Oh dear.