This post is partly borne out of the interview we did with Glasgow Podcart in March and just before Game Over, in which we discussed our approach to gig promoting.  You maybe missed it in the blizzard of Game Over hype, so click here if you wish to read tales of arguments with managers of Stereo, Canadian assholes, and Halina Podcart’s very own personal snap of Gary Lightbody and Edith Bowman attending our first ever night at the Woodside Social Club in 2005.

This post is also inspired by The Pop Cop‘s typically interesting and insightful blog post from March entitled Pay to play: three little words, one big problem

Uopn reflecting on both the Glasgow Podcart interview and also The Pop Cop’s article, it struck us that there are a variety of promoters and venues in Glasgow offering bands gigs, and there are a range of rewards/incentives/arrangements on offer (let’s call them “deals”), each with their own merits and drawbacks. 

donking1 150x150 Glasgow gig deals: an overview

(Don King, enjoying the profits after fleecing another young band at Strawberry Fields)

You don’t tend to see a list of these deals in the same place.  So we thought it would be interesting to get in touch with some of Glasgow’s best known promoters and venues, and ask what deals were on offer, and gather the answers here.   We recieved some hopefully great information, which we think is a real credit to all the venues and promoters who were willing to be so candid. 

Please note that the aim of this post is to provide an overview of the deals.  We invite you to  make your own mind up about who you want to work with!  (The following information was correct around July 2012 – publishing has taken a  little while, so apologies if some infomation is slightly out of date – while we don’t intend to maintain this article on an ongoing basis, if you feel that the quotes or details below are inaccurate and don’t reflect you or your venue’s position as of autumn 2012 - then simply Contact Us and we will update it, thanks.)

Craig Johnston, King Tuts,

Some bigger acts get fees but most locals start off on tickets deals. This is no play to play there is no paying up front or minimum a band has to sell. We do state that if sales are low the band may not be asked back though. 

A normal ticket price is £6 and the split is £4 Tut’s – £2 Band, the cost for us to put a show on in King Tut’s totals [Craig mentioned a four figure sum - Pin Ups] encompassing not only staff wages in a rep & sound engineer, PA + lights maintenance, rider for all bands and also flyering (Design, Printing & Distribution) and postering (Design, Printing & Distribution).  So we do actually spend the £4 on things that benefit the bands.

We also have a 4 week rule where a band cannot play Glasgow 4 weeks either side of the date they play.

Steven McColm, BOX,

 As you are probably aware at Box, we are contradictory to the “Achilles heel” of the grass roots scene which is the ‘Glasgow pay to play’ which the major players and plenty of bands all participate in which is their prerogative for dual commercial reasons, but we have championed ‘free entry shows since our conception in 2006 and pay loads of bands.  

 It’s very much a ‘different courses for different horses” and depends solely on the weight of the promoter, venue reputation and what might happen in the future for that said band.  Bands and performers were paid [Steven mentioned a substantial 5 figure sum - Pin Ups] by box last year alone in my accounts and every show was free entry as that’s our mantra.   

We certainly appreciate all the other venues and hope they all do well by whatever way they personally deem fits their model

Cry Parrot,

The basic deal for Cry Parrot is touring bands are guaranteed a fee, fed and given some drinks or whatever else they demand.  For local bands we also do a minimum guarantee that goes up if we make more money on the door after break-even. Basically everyone’s fee increases after break-even but if the gig does outstandingly well we tend to invest some of the money in future shows. No money at all goes in our back pocket and we don’t pay ourselves a wage. This hasn’t always been the case – we’ve at times put on shows that have been a direct split of door takings, instead of working with guarantees.

Nice n Sleazys

For Sleazy’s in-house gigs everyone on the bill is guaranteed a fee (minimum £50) and given beers at the very least. If promoters want to hire out the venue they can drop me a message to [email protected] for prices.” 

[From past experience we think this will be about £130 - Pin Ups]

Craig McGee, owner and booker at Pivo Pivo

We look at a number of deals.  I’ m keen to offer bands and promoters the venue for hire in order to maximise their income from gigs and hopefully cover our costs – very reasonable hire – £50 Sunday to Thursday, £100 Friday and Saturday.  We can also can do 50/50 on tickets with no minimum requirement.  Or free entry with no cash changing hands – maybe pizzas/drink for performers.  I’m also keen to hear of other ideas people bring to table on how to split cash.

Jim Connick, Aye Tunes,

Short version – door takings are used to cover venue hire, then any other money is divvied up between the bands more or less equally.  Except when it isn’t, a few times I’ve paid the hire myself so the bands can get some cash. No real hard and fast rule.  Before a band is confirmed for my gig they agree to the risk that if there’s a rubbish turn out, they might not get paid. More often than not they’ve all got something though, even if it isn’t much.  I don’t take any money for myself from gigs, though if it’s a busy one I might buy myself a pint.

Jon Anderson, independent promoter at Bloc

We offer fees for headliners and supports at Bar Bloc and fees for headliners with supports keeping 100% of their ticket/door income at other venues.

Gerry Blythe, New Life Glasgow,

 Fees that the acts are happy with are agreed before gigs at Bar Bloc.  At myArtSchoolgigs all door money is split between the acts.

Craig Reid, What’s the Noise Promotions,

Craig was happy to discuss the details but didn’t want to be directly quoted.  We think it’s fair to summarise that certain bands can negotiate a straight fee but the majority will be offered a tickets deal.


Stereo indicated that the answer to our question was “long”.  Deals offered to bands depend on the nature of the gig/event, cost of production, cost of marketing, in addition to usual costs of running a show.  Stereo hires the venue to either promoter or bands at the same rate, to cover the cost or their sound engineer, security and some staffing costs, and usually don’t cover all their overheads. 

[From past experience we reckon you are looking at paying around £80 to hire the venue for a weeknight or £120/£130 at weekends - Pin Ups.] 

13th Note,

We didn’t get an answer, but from past experience we reckon it’s free if a certain amount is made at the bar, £50 otherwise.

Barney Waygood, The Flying Duck,

 Gig wise the initial cost is £60 for sound engineer and then we usually charge another £30 for room hire – but waive this if the gig is for charity/fundraiser/non-profit thing or free entry. No extra charge to use our equipment and most often if there’s a club on after people are free to stay on for that after. Same deal whether week or weekends.

MILK, indpendent promoters at Flat 0/1 and Bloc, 

Milk have promoted some eye-catching and successful gigs over the last year or so.  They didn’t seem especially keen to engage with us about this, but we said on Twitter that we had heard they paid bands and gave them pizza, and they said “yes”.

Paul McJimpsey, PMCJ Events, and Tenement TV

Different deals are in place at various venues, due to the hire fee of the venue and overall running costs : For example a show at Cabaret Voltaire has a higher operating cost than a show at Captains Rest ( when it was open ). Our bigger acts get a fee and then most of the local supports are on a ticket split, either £3 band / £2 PMCJ or 50/50 split, again depending on the show. We also provide full backline for any acts that do not have that already in place. 

There is no minimum sell, we do however at this level look for everyone involved to work together to make the show a success. We have a full time Events Manager who looks after all the promo side : Website / Flyers / Posters / Listings etc.  So a large share of the ticket money is used here to ensure we are getting the bands name in all publications and promoted heavily on our social media sites. 
For any festivals that we are involved in association with Tenement TV the band get a fee for playing : Minimum £100 + rider. This has been the case with Doune The Rabbit Hole, The Merchant City Festival and also with the upcoming Big Burns Supper. When we booked bands for The Wickerman Festival a few years back, it was also a : Minimum £100 + rider … Bigger acts obviously generated larger fees.

So there you have it, some hopefully great information, which we think is a real credit to all these venues and promoters who were willing to be so candid. 

At Pin Up Nights we are now retired from parties and promotion, but of course Contact Us if you have any queries or would like advice.   Good luck, and we hope you have a great gig!

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