Sunday, 17 January 2016

Blog 20.16 #1: Price Of A Pint

Price of a pint

In 2015 I really started to do more gigs.  Probably a bad idea, on a DIY scale of small punk bands, making money is like finding a One Direction fan at a hardcore show.  And if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right so inevitably that means a lot of time promoting via social media, various What’s On and Events pages, making/disturbing posters/flyers, hosting the band before/after and, of course, the gig itself!  (oh yeah, that thing).

But a phrase that gets used a lot is The Price Of A Pint, or even comparing a gig’s ticket to that of a pint.  I recall, many years ago, strongly recommending a piece of theatre to a Theatre Student, saying it was one of the best shows I’d seen for a long time (still is).  I *think* if memory serves the ticket was a special reduced price of £7ish.  The person said “Oh, that’s a bit steep” with a pint in his hands, which as followed by a few more.  The memory that show lives forever, but does the memory of those pints?

Now, I want to do a full blog about alcohol, but for now I want to analyse the value of what gigs and events are worth.

Every music gig I’ve put on, either under the Who Killed Moose banner or just as myself (in-jokingly called Pewter City Promotions) has been a mere £3.  I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out Pint Price to see the average cost of a pint in York is, you guess it, £3!

So, for the cost of a drink which lasts 10-30 mins and makes you mildly tipsy and need the loo, you could see 3-5 bands/acts and help pay for the sound, their travel and their Life.  Obviously, when put in this context of an evening of musical delights, £3 is nothing.  But, bear in mind, I’m a gig promoter.  Of course I’d style it this way.

What else could £3 buy?  A ready meal, a frozen pizza, a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar?

I do believe we need to value our art.  There are dozens, probably several dozens, blogs about paying artists.  Have a Google.  Treat y’sen.

Is £3 too cheap for this evening of entertainment?  If £3 is pretty much nothing, does that mean the gig itself is reductive and as throwaway as a simple pint of Fosters?

There’s an argument to be said that people coming to an event they want to come to would pay whatever, within reason.  £4 maybe?  Does £5 feel too much, as it’s breaking into a note?  Do 50ps come into play?  What is the psychology of gig-going?  Do you work it out how much £1 per band/act?

This is, of course, classist of me.  Some people really can’t afford £3.  £3 is a lot of money.  If it’s the difference between food and a gig, go for the food.  That’s why we keep the price down for punk gigs, because punk should be political and something affordable in a world where cars, shelter and, GODDAMMIT, food are out of reach for people, the least we can do if offer a evening of affordable fun.

Of course, it would be more affordable if we charged £0 entry, or took donations, but touring bands gotta eat too.

Next Moose gig is MOOSEFEST with 10 bands, which will cost you 50p per band.  And you know what?  I’m scared we won’t sell well.  Prove me wrong, reader.  20th Feb, Fulford Arms, doors 1pm.

In terms of Say Owt Slam, there’s a wider context to poetry nights in York, namely when we started there were 3, and 2 were free and 1 cost a mere £1.  Now, it’s inflated to £2.

But an £1 isn’t all that much to pay for the individual.  After all, it’s 2/3s of a pint!  But the promoter doubles his takings, and have twice as much to book other poets, or to keep for his time running the gig.

So we’ve put Say Owt Slam at £7 (£6 winter price).  This feels a lot.  I’ll hold my hand up, I wish we didn’t.  But all in all, when the guest poet has been paid (their rightful due) and the venue and advertisement costs are covered, we’re left with a small pot of money.  We give the winning poet £45.  This is totally fair.  Not only does it create some helpful incentive for entry, it also shows that the money YOU pay on the door helps a poet.

Finally, Fleeting Quiz has been one of the funnest experiences I’ve had for a long time with my mates Ben and John. My co-quiz-conspirator Ben makes sketches and t’other one John sings songs.  So to find something for us all to do as makes that is creative and not a board game is immeasurably rewarding.  But we charged £1 per person.  Seemed fair, it’s just a little fun quiz.  But now we’ve increased to £1.50.  Partly because we now have more venue costs, but also because we’ve got bloody good at it.  And people have enjoyed it.  We genuinely believe, when you come to a Fleeting Quiz, you’re not just paying to answer nerdy questions.  It’s a really entertaining evening.  Bad Kazoo Round speaks for itself.

But that’s the power of numbers.  When you get enough people together, even if they’re simply chipping in £1-3 of their money, or forking out £7, all together they are able to influence and affect how artists, sound engineers, promoters and venues get paid.  This is why corporations are so powerful, because like a river we pour into them our money and resources.  Individually, £1 might not buy much, but when 80 people pay £1 they make a pot of money for prizes, pay venue costs and have a little bit left over for the folks who spend hours (no exaggeration) on Wikipedia drawing up questions on fantasy books and films.  It’s what Tolkien would have wanted.  A LOTR-referencing Labour-movement analogy.

But let’s not forget loyalty is so important.  As much as the art has a value, there is a value in loyalty that audiences come and give, so ta x

Oh, but my next gig I might have to charge £4.  It’s a band from That There London!