“Clubs, Economics and Baseball”
July 16 2002
One thing I never quite figured out is the way clubs and venues are run in the states. Mind you, in Europe or Great Britian, when you arrive in a club you will generally find someone there to greet you and tell you some important bits of information, like where the dressing room is and who’s the sound person. You get backastage and there will be sandwiches (not neccesarily good ones) and beer (not neccesarily cold ones.) Sometimes , the people at the clubs are a little …um..slow to move but still, even with languange barriers, things do get done and they are aware that you’re traveling and would like to relax in your dressing room. Not in the states (for the most part.)
You can expect a seriously tattoed person, most likely hungover, to look you over with a “So?” stare. And there’s a great chance they never heard of us. Not so in Europe. In Europe, if the Itiniery says sound check is at 5 pm, guess what? They are there at 5 pm. In the states…or let’s say Denver. The sound guy isn’t there at the club in Denver but it’s 5pm. As a matter of fact NO ONE IS at the club and it’s 5pm. Finally, someone comes to open the door and it’s the guy but his reason for coming late? No reason. “Just got here, dude.” So that means another hour before we can even start making sounds. This waste everyone’s time but it’s not unusual in some places around America. Now, I’m not trying to “Diss” my homeland. I’m just saying there’s a difference. In England, for instance, they treat you like an artist. Is there anything you need? Would you like more of that? In the states, after they finally bring you the food and drinks for backstage (after passing the task to several employers in the lower end of the pecking order), you will NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN, unless it’s on the back of a milk carton. Say, can we get some ice? Yes, let me find Louie…he’s the ice guy.But I’m not complaining…trust me. It’s an observation. But if you just traveled for 11 hours you don’t want to have to ask for things that should already be there.
And so now I’m changing the subject because I got in an arguement with a guy this morning (over coffee on main street) about baseball. Now, even if you hate baseball, the issue we were discussing is the possibility the players may go on strike because they’ve been advised that the contract the Owners have offered them could be better. My friend’s arguement is this; they make MILLIONS of dollars (Those of you in the UK and England, just think about the wealthy footballers instead of baseball, because the point is the same, as you will certainly see…) so why are they going on strike? This is a typical Amercian (or human?) position; why does an extremly wealthy person fight over more money? Well, first off, what difference does it make how much money anyone makes? I mean, last time I checked, this country’s foundations are based on Capitolist principles. And those principles dictate that the free market is just that, A FREE MARKET. Placing a salary cap on a sport just for the sake of the game or fans, to me, is wrong and just the opposite of what we all expect from wealthy individuals (who don’t make a living kicking balls) or corporations. So, why, all of a sudden, are Athlete’s any more selfish or greedy than these corporations? Is there a “cap” on how much money Bill Gates can make? There isn’t, because the Free Market operates just fine without one.
Say you work for a company…um…say you work for a soda company. A local, family owned soda pop company. If Wal-Mart moves next door you are history. No amount of “deals” or discounts will change this. This is the way America works. You can’t keep up, you go out of business. If your baseball or football team can’t make money, sell the team or get the hell out. Now, I don’t particularily agree with it, but my point is that it’s a bit unfair to point the finger at Athlete’s who generate BILLIONS of dollars for stockholders who own these teams. They have a right to earn whatever the company chooses they are worth. But now the Team owners want to “cap” how much the players can make, but of course, not cap their own personal earning! The woner’s arguement is that they are going broke trying to compete with the teams that have more money. That’s a load of crap. Show me ONE rich person that would rather lose money than lose games and i’ll show you a liar. It’s all a matter of economics. And people seam to think Sports figures are lower than the rest of us, as far as HOW they earn their money. And that brings of to another group that fits that catagory.
Musicians get treated like crap. It’s the truth. Ask Mozart or Beethoven or Lightnin’ Hopkins. And, for some reason, Musicians accept this. Clubs take the position that they are doing bands a favor but letting them bring their friends into a club and having them drink up all the clubs beer. But Musicians have more leverage than they would think. When Baby Lemonade used to play live as a group, I usually negotiated the money with the clubs. Sometimes it didn’t work in our favor, but I usually learned something about that and the next time I made sure we got paid right. There was one club that asked us to play but the % he offered was not really good. It was terrible. I told him I liked him and I would continue to come to his club to hang out but I wouldn’t play with that kind of deal. He never changed his position, and, like a lot of the people who booked in Hollywood from 1997-onm he’s unemployed. But I think it’s best to take the attitude that, if what you do has any value whatsoever, then treat it that way. Make sure all the pot holes are covered (i.e., your gear is good and working properly), and make sure your music is the way you want it. If you can bring 75 people to a club, that club, provided the door is atleast $5, should pay you about $200, or roughly more than 50% of the door. The club can make it’s dough off those $75. The better your show, the more people will come. Don’t play too much and when you do, you and your lot can take home a bit of change. But instead, Musicians get ripped off…it’s the oldest con going. But don’t worry, Love with Arthur Lee aren’t getting ripped off…
Ok, so there you have it; Mike Randle economics, for anyone who cares! I guess my whole point to this is, have a rule and let everyone follow it. If you want to cap something, cap EVERYTHING. And ask clubs to open the books when you play there. There’s a club in Santa Monica called , 14 below. The guy who owns it, Todd, is a good friend of mine. He’s always been on the up and up and there’s no funny business at the end of the night. I disputed some numbers with him once. He took me in his office and showed me the books. I never disputed him again. The fault was ours. The band that played before us handed tons of flyers out and we were too lazy so a bunch of our fans brought the flyers and got in the show at a discount and we lost money. But I learned an important lesson; never under-estimate a music fan!