Perhaps I should start by lamenting on my own naivety. About a month ago I received a facebook message from Racquel of Aurum Media. She “books” the bands for the Unsigned Event at Radium Beer Hall on Sundays.
The message asked if I could supply her unsigned bands for their events on the 26th of September, which I did, Monday Morning Justice (coming from Middleburg), Gatuex du Boef, Zam Boney and my project – Cami Scoundrel, supplying her with email addresses to confirm event details and details of payment with the bands. My own request of how payment would work – ignored, so I too waited for the emails.
The promotion company charges R50 per person at the door, and the beer hall gets over a hundred people through the door. On the Monday before the gig, having heard nothing from Raquel about the event, whether it was happening, or if there was even an event page up that we could use to advertise, I messaged her. An event was supplied.
She asked if I had received the email with line-ups and confirmation, I had not. I asked if there would be a drum kit, none would be supplied. I messaged Carrie from Gateaux du Bouef to see if they were bringing a kit. She said she had received no confirmation from Raquel that the gig was happening. I informed Raquel that this was the case, and organised her another band to take their place.
She gave the excuse that the emails were in junk mail boxes, but they weren't, that her email had been giving her trouble. Monday Morning Justice had to pull off the bill for private matters. So I organised her another band. This is Friday night. By Saturday morning I'd roped in the Slash Dogs to do an acoustic set, and they ask what the payment will be. I finally received the emails from Raquel.
The bands do not get paid, or get any guests. The reason being it's an event for unsigned musicians. I tell her this is bullshit. Just because they are unsigned doesn't mean they are not worth their time. More bands in this country are unsigned then not – it's how the musical economy works down here. She says they need to cover costs. She offers us a guest each and five free tickets on top of that. I ask for R100 a band member, that would be R900 between the 4 bands I had roped in. Yah, nothing hey? Barely petrol costs with guys coming from Pretoria.
Every other event organiser at the Radium pays their performers, and covers their costs. She gave us the number of her superior, he gave the same story. We pulled out of the show. I didn't ask her what cut she was taking for her job as “booking agent” while I was doing all her work for her. I forgot there were still events being run like this in the country, where bands are expected to pay to play under the guise of “exposure”. THEY SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED.
Even the small gesture of a door split after costs if any profit is made is acceptable. Run off with the money afterwards if you feel so inclined. But to say to a band, hey, please organise the bands for me, come play our gig, bring your own back-line, we do nothing in terms of promoting and take all the profit. IS EXPLOITATION.
Thumbs up guys, you're setting a great example for the standards of our music industry. Now get off the stage!
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