16-May-2003 (Fri)
Wherein the disgusting vandalism continues apace.

I made a few changes to the web site today: the top-level page now lists, in addition to our next event, all of the events for which advance tickets are available. That should make that a bit more obvious, and also points out ``big'' events that are happening more than a couple of weeks out. Also, tickets.dnalounge.com now contains calendar-like details on only those events for which tickets are available.

In this week's edition of the ``people really fucking suck'' newsletter, our top story is pictured to the right: yes, that's a kiosk trackball on which someone has not just stuck, but smeared a giant wad of chewing gum. Dear whoever-you-are: fuck you very much.

So remember last month, when it sounded like we'd decided to do live music on a more regular basis? Yeah, I thought so too. It really seemed like Barry and I had finally made a decision, and dammit, something was going to happen. Then we talked to a few more people, and we heard thirty ways it wasn't going to work, and all the decision drained out of the room.

Alexis put out the word to the existing set of promoters we work with that if they want to do a show that is A) live music, and B) not on a weekend, then we'll give them the room for free. They all liked hearing that, but the world's not exactly beating a path to our door. I'm sure it will help, but I seriously doubt that that alone is going to get us where I want to be, which is at least one live act a week.

What we really need is to find some promoters who know live music, and who are ok with a situation like: promoter and band pay the sound guy and split the take of the door. If we can do that and get around a hundred people in here, we won't be losing too much money, since we can run with a pretty stripped down staff. But this is not a lucrative arrangement for anyone involved, so we need to find some person (or more likely, set of people) who's obsessive enough about live music to be willing to do this basically for free, and talking bands into playing nearly for free as well. Of course, if everyone's working for free, but we still only get 15 people a week, we're still losing money, so we need that rare thing: a band with a draw, who are also willing to work for cheap.

Ron and Caroline have both expressed some interest in doing this, so we'll see how that goes. Ron's working on putting together his first show, and Caroline might do the same once she gets back from tour...

23 Responses:

  1. billemon says:

    Plainly you need naked bouncers :)

  2. reddragdiva says:

    I know it sucks to have to go that far, but have you considered touchpads? As far as I can tell, they're all sold by or OEMed from Cirque. Looking for one myself, to alleviate mouse-induced RSI.

    • jwz says:

      Touchpads totally suck (even when you can see where they are), and they're expensive.

      These trackballs are actually fairly cheap, and they don't get destroyed very often. It takes about a half an hour to replace one, though, since we (and by "we" I mean "Jonathan") have to cajole the cables into coming out of and then back into the flex conduit.

      • jerronimo says:

        have you thought about replacing it (I recognize that model. it glows red/green when buttons pressed, right?) with an arcade/gaming trackball? they're made to take abuse like that. You'll have to spend about $40 + interface electronics, but it will last forever...

        http://www.wicothesource.com
        and
        http://www.happcontrols.com
        spring to mind...

        • jerronimo says:

          er $40 for a used unit. Prices for new units seem to have increased a bit since I last looked, but they also sell them integrated with the PS2/USB adapter now, which is cool... but they're asking $150 for the unit. nevermind.

          • jwz says:

            Those trackballs cost us around $20 for the first batch; then we picked up a few more for $10, because (eek!) they've been discontinued.

            It's hard to find (cheap and good) trackballs where the ball is locked in place: with most trackballs, you can pluck the ball out from the top. These were good in that you have to take them apart to get the ball out.

            They've held up pretty well; we had a few that went totally dead due to spills, but mostly when things have gone wrong, they've worked fine after some tedious cleaning.

        • cyeh says:

          Thanks for my flashback down memory lane. I had forgotten all about the WICO catalog until now.

  3. insomnia says:

    Rather than just approaching your regular promoters with the free room offer, how about opening this offer to all the college stations out there and allowing them do benefits / local music nights? If you want a particular type of music, work with the people who do particular types of shows...

    In the case of college radio stations, they have a surplus of "advertising space" and need a way to turn that into money, which is hard in this economy. Benefits are a great way for them to do this... meanwhile, you get the bar. You can also do something like this in combination with any independent band with a draw that you happen to find.

    In other words, lets say that you do get someone like Caroline from Sunshine Blind to take an interest in helping promote a night. You then go to KUSF and say "How would you like to help us with this event on a weekly basis? KFJC presents "________ Night" at the DNA Lounge?! You promote the event heavily with on-air promos, run the boards, and get to share the door with the bands. Also, when bands are coming through town, you can do benefits with them on this night and offer them a share of the door too."

    It's a good deal for them, not a horrible one for the bands, and ideally the combined promotional power can make these nights profitable.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, that's a very good idea. We're going to see whether we can find anyone interested at the radio stations.

      The offer is open to anyone, really. We don't care who books the shows; we just happen to have told the set of people we already know. If any of you know someone who does this sort of thing, pass it on...

  4. atakra says:

    "so we need that rare thing: a band with a draw, who are also willing to work for cheap"
    A promoter willing to work for free, that's a possibility. A band willing to do the same... good luck.

    So was the kiosk damage from last night's KRS-One show? I know that with the band guarantees that I've always signed (as an ex-promoter) I'd always include a "damage to venue" clause where any extensive damage that happens to the club would have to be paid by the performing band. This usually goes for damaged sound equipment, but could have been modified to include the kiosk trackball (although most likely not the work time)...
    :-(

    I know that when I walked by last night there were a bunch of rowdies in the general vicinity. I even commented about it to <lj user="kyronfive">.
    It's too bad that Mr. Socially conscious rap star's performance brought out a jerk who would deliberately do that to your venue.

    • hafnir says:

      > A promoter willing to work for free, that's a possibility. A band
      > willing to do the same... good luck.

      How about a promoter who's willing to lose money for a lot of people who don't care anyway? At your service.

      But as for bands like that (i.e. cheap but have [or at least had, but may still] some draw), I actually know a couple, and have been in contact with both in the last monthish. I'm pretty swamped with finalizing the details for Treffen and then our next event in June, plus working on another smaller event for somewhere in the summer, but I've been working on a show for at least one of these acts as well, I hope at DNA. Mostly we just need to pick a date and I need to figure out how much I can afford to lose.... :)

      • atakra says:

        When I was promoting (granted I haven't done that for a FEW years now), we broke even for all but one show (Neurosis). The reason we didn't break even for that was because their guarantee was unreasonable for the crowd draw, we simply couldn't get more than 200 people into the venue from the surrounding 100 mile radius (and yes, at the time people were willing to drive that far to see them).
        BUT the big killer was that their opening band (one of those fly-by-night hardcore bands that had thought that they had made the big time by being asked to tour with Neurosis) was composed of total primadonnas who insisted on getting paid their (suggested) guarantee even when nobody had come to see them. Even when THEY DID get paid this (thanks to Neurosis loosening up on their cash guarantee by dropping it quite a bit after the show), this said hardcore band went and caused over $400 worth of damage to the venue by deliberately dragging their heavy equipment across the hardwood floors of the venue after being told not to and being given an alternative to doing so.
        I ended up shelling out an extra $600 for damages after the fact to the venue owner. That also led to me writing in the "damage to venue clause" into every contract I ever signed as a booker in the future.

        The show itself was one of the best performances I've ever seen Neurosis do, we actually had to hire an electrician friend of mine for that evening to completely rewire the venue so that Neurosis would be able to play in safety (because nothing was grounded).

        • hafnir says:

          I hear more people used to go out back in da day, though, and furthermore our scene is a little more niche than yours I think, so it's actually pretty hard to break even. Our last show did, though.

          • atakra says:

            Well we can't all be Bill Graham's dead ghost!
            It's all a labor of love for the niche folks.
            Lowest show draw ever - 7 non-paying spectators.
            Did the band mind? Not in the least, they were happy to play at all and the venue gave us all free beer and dropped their rental fees.

            Hmm, you might like this noise band that was just sent to me, Gonken.
            http://www.gonken.com/
            It's sort of like listening to painfully slow dance music being played underneath a massive vat of pudding.

            • hafnir says:

              I think 30-something paid was our lowest ever. That can be depressing. Then again, depending how much you're spending, having twice or more that many can be even more depressing if you're way in the hole.

        • violetiae says:

          BUT the big killer was that their opening band (one of those fly-by-night hardcore bands that had thought that they had made the big time by being asked to tour with Neurosis) was composed of total primadonnas who insisted on getting paid their (suggested) guarantee even when nobody had come to see them.

          I used to manage, promote, and book bands in the Bay Area in the early 90s and I quit because of the constant crap like this.

          Bands with absolutely no following at all were expecting to get several hundred dollars the first time out at a club. It was ridiculous. I was getting them gigs at the Paradise Lounge and Bottom of the Hill and going out myself until the wee hours of the morning to post flyers up and down the streets of the city for their frickin' shows, and these egomaniacal little twits couldn't be bothered to do anything to help themselves. They'd bitch about how little they'd make from the door, but the only people who would show up were my friends.

          Then they'd wonder why they couldn't get gigs at these places again.

          There were some bands who realised that it was more important to be seen and get their names out there than to make money when they were starting out, but dealing with the ones who had the "what's in it for me?" attitude was just too much. And dealing with their constant temper tantrums wasn't much fun either, especially when I wasn't getting paid myself.

          Then the scene dried up, most of the clubs closed, and 99.9999% of those bands are nowhere at all now. Big surprise.

    • jwz says:

      The trackball damage was from saturday (Thump.)

      It might have been from friday (Remedy) but I think it's unlikely that it went un-noticed that long (it was the door kiosk, which gets used by staff during the day all the time, so someone would have heard the screams of "ew, gross!"

      I think the KRS-1 crowd was pretty well behaved; I didn't hear any stories, anyway.

      It's hard to get away with charging promoters for damage done by customers; if you do that, chance are that promoter won't come back, and will badmouth you to their pals. It's a schmoozy business.

  5. wfaulk says:

    How about bands play for free unless the club makes more than x amount of money, where x is how much it takes you to open and staff the place. If the club makes more than x, then the band gets a percentage of the amount over x. You might even be able to include a percentage of the profit from the bar to make it potentially more attractive. And the promoter could get a percentage based on the same idea, so that she would have more inclination to book bands that will make money.

    This way, you don't really have to differentiate between bands that have no draw and bands that do.

    Of course, this means that you'd still be dealing with potentially losing money, but you sound generally okay with that to begin with.

    • jwz says:

      We can argue til we're blue in the face about what the split with the hypothetical band is, but the bottom line is, someone has to do the legwork to propose something, anything, to the damned band in the first place, and we don't have that person.

      • baconmonkey says:

        get me fired from my job, or wait til they don't need me anymore (is temp assignment), and I'll have lots of time to hassle bands and promote like a deranged muffugga. JNA and I have been discussing some biz stuff that would involve hassling lotsa bands anyways.

      • wfaulk says:

        That's a good point. I suppose that I should try to actually articulate my points instead of assuming that my thoughts will magically appear on screen.

        What I was trying to point out is that you're already assuming that the bands are going to be reasonably professional. Why not extend that assumption to bookers, too, and put up flyers requesting people for booking bands. I think that there are a number of people out there that would like to be in the music scene enough that they'd be willing to work on spec. Put them up at the local schools. You're bound to get some responses. Hell, when I was in high school, I had a couple of friends that booked for a local club of note.

        You eventually would like to have stable bookers, but since you're not currently willing to expend the effort right now to find someone that fits that bill (largely because you don't know if such a person exists or not), maybe letting a number of volunteers do it for a while makes sense, then choose one or two who do it well.

  6. man, like you don't have ENOUGH against gum (and those who chew it) already!

    this is a job for gum busters, obviously.

    • fzou says:

      Gum being chewed at a nightclub? Doesn't that make it drug paraphernalia? Time to MAKE IT THE FUCK ILLEGAL. Don't let the gum cartel lead you to a downward spiral!

      Once you start chewing gum, you're only a few steps away from being a serial murderer with a terminal gobstopper habit. Imagine! Chocking to death some crappy chain motel in the midwest, no friends, no family. Your rhythmically clamping jaw, its muscle memory now forever present, greeting the state troopers in the pale morning light. No open casket funeral, it'd scare people. The epitaph on the hand-me-down tombstone serving as a reminder to the local school children that chewing gum is a bad, bad thing.

      You just need to learn how to say no.

      My pillpopping friends end up chewing on nothing anyway, so it's not like they actually need gum.