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How far ahead are clubs booking?

Saro 18 Jun 06 - 10:13 AM
John MacKenzie 18 Jun 06 - 10:34 AM
Dave the Gnome 18 Jun 06 - 10:59 AM
greg stephens 18 Jun 06 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Freelance folkie 18 Jun 06 - 12:54 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 Jun 06 - 01:03 PM
greg stephens 18 Jun 06 - 01:07 PM
greg stephens 18 Jun 06 - 01:20 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 Jun 06 - 02:16 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 Jun 06 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 Jun 06 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,Nicholas Waller 18 Jun 06 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,Nicholas Waller 18 Jun 06 - 07:42 PM
Susan of DT 18 Jun 06 - 08:48 PM
GUEST,VRDPKR 18 Jun 06 - 09:21 PM
greg stephens 19 Jun 06 - 04:14 AM
treewind 19 Jun 06 - 04:18 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Jun 06 - 04:51 AM
greg stephens 19 Jun 06 - 06:34 AM
The Villan 19 Jun 06 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,Nicholas Waller 19 Jun 06 - 07:06 AM
greg stephens 19 Jun 06 - 08:16 AM
treewind 19 Jun 06 - 08:32 AM
Scrump 19 Jun 06 - 09:11 AM
greg stephens 19 Jun 06 - 09:27 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Jun 06 - 10:44 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Jun 06 - 10:55 AM
Sandra in Sydney 19 Jun 06 - 11:02 AM
greg stephens 19 Jun 06 - 11:15 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Jun 06 - 12:17 PM
breezy 19 Jun 06 - 12:39 PM
The Villan 19 Jun 06 - 02:07 PM
The Villan 19 Jun 06 - 03:18 PM
Dave the Gnome 19 Jun 06 - 07:23 PM
Mo the caller 20 Jun 06 - 01:23 AM
Keef 20 Jun 06 - 03:25 AM
Dave Wynn 20 Jun 06 - 09:23 AM
GUEST 20 Jun 06 - 10:07 AM
greg stephens 20 Jun 06 - 02:39 PM
Dave the Gnome 20 Jun 06 - 02:42 PM
greg stephens 20 Jun 06 - 03:29 PM
Dave the Gnome 20 Jun 06 - 06:00 PM
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Subject: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Saro
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:13 AM

Is it my imagination or are club organisers booking further and further ahead...? In a way it is nice to know now what one will be doing on the last weekend in November next year (with a respectful nod here to various deities!) but it is also a bit bizarre. What are others finding? How far ahead do you book/are you booked?
Sarah


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:34 AM

Lot of clubs are already booked up to the end of this year, festivals are even further ahead.
G..


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:59 AM

Around a year for us at Swinton as well - And we are now finding it increasingly difficult to get anyone 'new' into our round of 'regulars':-( We certainly don't have anything against giving anyone new a try but we are obliged to give first refusal to those who support us by regulary attending singers nights and paying to see other guests! If it continues we may even need to go on an 18 month to 2 year cycle. Good news for audience variety - bad news for artists I guess?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 12:31 PM

Te practice of booking far ahead makes clubs compeletely paralysed, and unable to react to anything exciting happening. Particularly if someone is coming over from Ireland or America and is trying to organise a tour. Which typically might might be,say, this autumn or winter. They've got a few key dates lined up, then they are looking to fill in the odd Tuesday or Wednesday or whatever. Now, if venues are prepared to be flexible, as they are in Ireland for example, they can get the really interesting acts cheap. But you cant do that if you're booked till 2007 with the local schoolteacher who writes songs about trouble at't'mill or similar.
I have always felt that club organisers would have a much more vibrant and interesting club if they booked a few of the up-and-comers really quickly. Say you're a club organiser, and you've just been to Middlewich festival this weekend and seen some new kid who you think is absolutely fantastic, just starting on the professional circuit say. You want to be able to go up and say "Do you fancy a gig at my folk club one Thursday in October?". But the way most folk clubs are organised, you'd be saying "Do you want a gig in 2007 or 2008?".
   Creative people fire themselves up and form new groups and learn exciting new material. That'swhen they are looking for work, and are at their best. That's the time to put them on in your club. Not in two years time. Most venues wouldnt dream of booking two years in advance, they'd be mad. So why do folk clubs do it?


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: GUEST,Freelance folkie
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 12:54 PM

Good questions Greg - spot on. Is it too impractical to suggest that clubs might reserve a one-or-two monthly evening just for last-minute unforseen possibilities? Or maybe call it a Newcomer's & Visitors night so the established acts who have been trying for ages to get a booking (and who maybe you don't want but don't like to say) won't feel hard done by. Keep it for either foreign acts passing through (or people you don't often have a chance to see) or new talent, maybe? You could always warn your audience in advance that if no one new is around to book in a particular month, that it will be a singers night. It would probably broaden their tastes too.

Id like to hear what organisers think of this point because I really agree with Greg that the club rosters need to be more flexible and not get so locked in so tight.


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 01:03 PM

But you cant do that if you're booked till 2007 with the local schoolteacher who writes songs about trouble at't'mill or similar.

That is very unfair and confrontational as you well know, Greg. Where on earth do people like Johny Silvo, Gary and Vera Aspey, Anthony John Clarke and Ben Sands come under the umbrella of local scoolteachers writing songs about anything?

How on earth do you tell people like these, who support our club year in year out by both putting bums on seats and filling seats with their bums on singers nights, that they cannot have a booking just in case a band from Zimbabwe happen to be available?

How, in the event of us being able to get a band at short notice, do we advertise it so that enough people turn up to make their visit worthwhile?

Even if we do book local schoolteachers (Like Pete Ryder for instance - of whom Martin Carthy once said 'brilliant guitarist') what the hell is wrong with that? Local schoolteachers have as much right to be booked as do the latest world band from Bosnia.

Sorry, but to book 'unusual' acts in favour of good local talent is tantamount to reverse racism. Instead of having a go at local talent how about giving us a good workable way of booking these bands and paying their often extortionate fees?

Sorry in advance if I have said anything offensive. No offence was intended. I just feel I must ask how we can practicaly perform these deeds that you ask of us. And why you feel that local schoolteachers deserve such derision.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 01:07 PM

Surely the great advantage to clubs of being flexible is that they can put on artists that people really want to see, when they want to see them. This will affect your audiences in two rather good ways. First, they will be excited. Secondly, they will be larger. And, as a third bonus, if you book some people who are just becoming good, you might even get a younger audience. Which might be too much of a shock to some clubs, of course (add humorous emoticon).


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 01:20 PM

Both mys parents, all my grandparents, and all my aunts and uncles were schoolteachers. And I also know loads of librarians. That is possibly why I occasionally take the piss out of these professions. As I also tell banjo jokes(I am a banjo player).
   Dave@ I hear what you saying, and juggling your obligations to different groups of people is a nightmare. But I do know that non-folk venues in England, and folk venues not in England, do not feel this wild urge to set their programmes in stone a year in advance. It's really not necessary.(Mind you, it's easy to say that, I don't run a folk club. But,on the other hand, I used to run folk clubs which were popular, and I certainly never booked an act a year in advance in my whole life).
    And, to look art things from a performers point of view for a moment, and not from a clubs. I couldnt afford to commit myself to a club gig on a Tuesday in the autumn of 2007. It wouldnt be fair to the band, or to the ppeople who might want to be setting up a month long theatre project then. I am absolutely delighted to be offered a folk club booking this Septemeber or whatever, though.


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 02:16 PM

Sorry, Greg. I accept what you are saying but still feel that your statement was both inflamatory and derogatory. To choose the phrase 'writing songs about trouble at't'mill' is obviously a dig at northern clubs and songwriters. Why else choose it? Also, the fact that you and your family are all schoolteachers does not allow you to poke fun at that profession. Any more than my being half Polish and part Welsh allows me to make jokes about the Polish being thick and the Welsh being sheepshaggers. Even if they are...

(Lets see who pulls me up about that then!)

Back to the main topic. I think we are a pretty typical folk club. We run every Monday except when it clashes with Christmas or New year. We run guest nights every other week and singers nights in between. So we have the opportunity to fit in, at very most, 26 guests a year. Give me 10 minutes and I will list off twice that many acts who regulary frequent our folk club, who are festival quality artists and who deserve to be given a booking at least once a year. Where on earth can we fit in these other acts?

Singers nights is one choice. Yes, fine. Come along to any singers night and you will get a chance to air your talents. If you arrange it with me in advance I will even try to make sure that you get an extended spot but I cannot guarantee that. What if someone else of equal quality turns up? What if there are 74 singers that night? (Chance would be a fine thing!) Will you get paid? Will you hell. Singers nights are not about paying people. They cannot be. So, will your new and exciting bands turn up for a singers night? Without pay? Without a guaranteed extended slot? I think not. Why? They are, according to your previous comments, at a loose end that night. Aren't they?

Let us know how on earth we can fit these acts in without interfering with the good relationships we already have with the many talented local schooteachers. Give us a clue on how to get an extra 4 Mondays in the year. Please, please, please send these acts to local singers nights for no pay and little credit. Eventualy, if they are good enough, they may start to get bookings. Don't, however, expect us to book them just because they have 'exciting new material'. Or because they belong to the trendy world music genre.

Please don't get me wrong btw - I love new talent and new ideas. I would book someone different every day of the week if I could both fit it in and afford it. But I can't. Let me know how to do it and I will try my best.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 05:23 PM

The above question is not just for Greg, btw. It is open for anyone to answer.

As a folk club organiser how am I to incorporate the requests from local artists who I know well and who are of exceptional quality to book them with the wants of the audience to get the best artists for less than 3 a night with the desires of people to see 'new' talent?

How can I book people at a couple of weeks notice and let the audience know in advance who is on? How can I manage to pay all these artists when at most I get 3 each from 30 people twice a month? How can I pay an Ethiopian dance troop 1000 for a nights entertainment when my total annual budget is not much more than 2000?

Tell me. Please!

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 06:35 PM

It must be very difficult Dave, and I think everyone who plays clubs for a living appreciates the juggling act you guys have to maintain year after year, just so we can indulge our obsessions and even get paid for the privilage!

One of the key reasons for clubs booking so far ahead seems to be that many rely on quarterly folk mags for publicity, and those mags have a long lead-time, so you need to be a minimum of six months in advance, for a start. Then there's people like me ringing up demanding bookings and taking them no matter how far ahead they are (even though that gives us a problem when village hall tours come up - for a good bit more cash it has to be said - and we have to turn them down because of a club booking we made nearly a year ago! But I'd never blame a club for booking a long way in advance. If you only need 12 acts a year you can sort them all in a day or two, and have no more worries for the year. I wish I could do a year's bookings in a couple of days!

One thing you could try would be to have a special feature night every now and then. You could advertise it as a major event, but leave the decision on who to have till quite near the time. The members would need to trust your judgement - but then that's what happens in all of the best clubs anyway. If the 'artistic director' (for want of a better term) books someone, people then come along trusting it'll be a good night, even if they haven't heard of the artist - and that's a win for all concerned. (But it is risky if your regulars only turn out for names they know, which is the bane of many clubs).

The other thing some clubs do is have featured supports. Either a longer floor spot (or two) or a full set instead of the normal multiple floor spots (assuming your regulars are willing to move over, of course)! This offers a decent opportunity for new acts to present their material, gain experience and, with luck, convince the club that they deserve a 'proper' booking. The Topic in Bradford (among others) does this very successfully - and they have double-header nights too - with two up-and-coming (or maybe down-and-going in my case) acts who might not fill the room individually.

But one thing I would tactfully suggest: Put your door price up! 3 (or less?!) to see a professional act, even in an area where people don't have much money to spare, is not really a fair transaction these days for what should be a top evening's entertainment (assuming you've booked someone good)!

Some die-hards think 'professional folk artist' is an oxymoron, but if people want performers to be available to tour around the country (and do the practising and management and recording etc necessary to maintain a viable career), then they can't have full time day job, and they will need to be able to pay the mortgage from their fees.

A lot of UK tourers feel a fiver should really be the minimum charged. If you compare it with a trip to the flicks, or a meal out, or bowling, or even (especially) the theatre, you'll find it's still a terrific bargain. It's only a couple of pints (people can always drink less if they're really short) and it would almost double your budget!

Also, and you might be surprised by this, one thing we've noticed: Audiences who've paid 8 or 10 to see us seem to enjoy the show more, and tend to buy more CDs, than people who've only paid 5 - and it has nothing do do with the relative prosperity or the area. It's all about investing in an enjoyable experience and making the most of a good night out.

Just a thought.

Tom (who's never taught a class in his life)!


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: GUEST,Nicholas Waller
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:17 PM

I look after the Topic website and put together a FAQ page on the site which addresses some of the issues raised here.

Generally, Headline acts are booked 9-12 months ahead, sometimes less, sometimes more... Dana and Susan Robinson, from the US, who are due November 9th, have been booked since August last year. All headline acts up to the end of 2006 were booked by mid-May.

As the Topic could fill its schedule 2-3 times over, headliners are usually not considered again before about 18-24 months... using Dana and Susan Robinson as an example again, when they come this autumn it will be 21 months since their last appearance. There are exceptions - Roger Sutcliffe, a Topic worthy for 40 years (and former club organiser) has an annual berth, and The Durbervilles did two end-of-year parties on the trot.

Double Header acts are booked more like 6 months in advance. Double Headers are a relatively new idea for the Topic: two acts take equal billing and split the door take. The standard is similar to Headline act quality and is one way of "making 4 more Mondays" in the year, offering a bit of flexibility, and giving newer and/or more esoteric acts a stage.

Then there are Featured Support slots (for a minimal contribution to expenses, paid out of the raffle). These are also good for newer acts, or more established but not full-time pros looking for more exposure and the chance to sell CDs, or people on tour from overseas with a Thursday-shaped gap in their schedules, or people going solo from bands, or whatever. These are booked a few weeks in advance; all the slots from September this year onwards are open.

And then there are floor singers, unbooked... there are still a couple of slots even on guest nights when a Featured Support act is booked, and a few more when there is not. And finally there is still time for Singers' and Musicians' nights once a month (which could, at a pinch, be hijacked if Paul Simon wanted to play at short notice). At a recent one of these several members of Bandersnatch and a couple of Mulberry Blue showed up, and at another the duo FYRISH came along; all later got Featured Support slots.

Taking a look back over the last 12 months (on our Past Gigs page, which goes back to 1970 or so), I see the Topic had 31 Headline guest nights, 10 Double Header acts (5 double header nights, obviously), 19 Featured Support acts - a total of 60 acts paid something or other. And as there were still 14 Singers' and Musicians' nights (incl all August) in that period, those 60 acts slotted into 38 weeks.

People can work their way up the slots: Tom Napper Tom Bliss did a featured support slot before being booked for a headline gig, for instance, as did Julie Ellison. And others. (You can do it the other way round too: Darren Poyzer did a headline act one year and came back the next to be featured support to Roy Bailey).

Anyway, feel free to have a look at the site for the FAQ, the forthcoming acts, the past gigs list and anything else - like the acts for the Topic's 50th anniversary season this autumn.

Nick


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: GUEST,Nicholas Waller
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:42 PM

"How can I manage to pay all these artists when at most I get £3 each from 30 people twice a month?" DtG

I sent my previous screed before seeing Tom Bliss's comments, but if you look at the Topic website you'll see we occasionally have higher prices than normal for this autumn's 50th anniversary season. Normally it is £4 members, £5 non-members, but for acts like Vin Garbutt and Julie Felix it can be double that. Not that the club is profiteering - the entire door take goes to the artist.

You'll notice that there is a reference to "Arts Council" support on the Allan Taylor evening ("This project has received funding from Arts Council England (Musicians in Residence scheme)"), only in case the door take doesn't reach the artist's guaranteed minimum, but if you really wanted to put on a £1000 Ethiopian dance troupe it might be worth approaching some fun ding body...

Nick


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Susan of DT
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 08:48 PM

See the two permathreads I just started a couple of days ago: (1) Who's Performing Where/When and (2) Venues for Folk Performers.

The idea is to make it easier for performers and venues to find each other, particularly for long distance tours. It is nice to know who will be passing thru in enough time to book them. It should help if performers listed their proposed tours four to twelve months ahead.


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: GUEST,VRDPKR
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 09:21 PM

Yes, but....

Two years ago a local place wanted to book us for a Saint Patrick's Day about four months in advance. On hearing we were already booked, they promptly booked us for the following year. We've been invited to play for the 50th anniversary of Arizona State Parks. To make sure we would be available, they booked us 14 months out. If you want a particular group on a special day, it doesn't hurt to make arrangements as soon as possible.

Not something that happens very often to us, but it's nice when it does.

We've just set up a web page. Please check us out at harpytrails.com

Scary but exciting.

Ken


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 04:14 AM

Firstly, as to the schoolteachers and trouble at't'mill songs. My musical experience is northwestern English, so that was the natural example of the locally based folkclub singer. It could equally have been "accountant who writes songs about Cornish pilchard fishing". What I wanted to contrast was two types of club guest who are relevant to this discussion. The locally based person, with financial security from day job, who does bookings on the side. I was contrasting this with the national/international touring performer. Now, it is no skin of the nose of someone in the first category to be a bit flexible about bookings. To be prepared, if need be, to consider being shunted a month later or a month earlier or whatever. This is quite different to the touring performers work patttern. They need to pack their gigs into a tight sequence, trying to keep expenses down by avoiding the Aberdeen to penzance drives and so on. They have fixed expenses to meet, so their actual income may come from the last two gigs on the tour, when the expenses have been paid off.
    So, if you(the club organiser) want to get the best of all possible worlds and get the guests you want, you have to consider this.
    Coincidientally, after posting to this thread yesterday, we had a phone call that exactly illustrates this point. Two Time Polka, the Cork band, rang up. They'd got an offer of a oneoff gig in Chester(private function) in September, could we help with something else to make it worth while. Now, the day after their Chester offer, we (the Boat Band) have a pub gig in Necastle-under-Lyme, which is local to us. So it makes total sense to give our gig to Two Time Polka. That makes a weekend of it in England for them. In return(there is no agreement involved, just mutual give and take), I am perfectly sure that the next time we are touring Cork and Kerry, Two Time Polka will be flexible with one of their Cork gigs, or whatever, and help us sort something out there. Now, this depeneds on the pub, and us being flexible. It would be fairly pointless to take loads of time ringing round folk clubs to see if anyone wanted a band in September, because you can pretty certain they'd all say "Sorry, booked up, try 2007"
    This is a practical example of what I mean.(By the way, this is not a plea to clubs to book Two Time Polka on Setember 25. They are a six-piece with drums and bass, they wont fit into a folk club). But Dave, and others: I hope you see what I'm driving at. The locally based performer can afford to be flexible. So can the club. If you want touring musicians, and have limited budgets, being accommodating as to dates is one way of keeping the wheels of music turning. It does mean you're always juggling, but life's like that. And also, please note I am not dividing musicians into two mutually exclusive categories, touring prefessionals and locals. In this story, the Boat Band are the locals. In another story, we would be the tourers.


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: treewind
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 04:18 AM

Some clubs deliberately keep some a few guest slots reserved for short-notice bookings. That still has to be over four months, because of copy deadlines for quarterly magazines and the like.

But mostly it's a simple problem of supply and demand. There are too many performers competing for too few gigs. There aren't enough folk clubs, and/or their audiences aren't big enough.

Funnily enough, this isn't because there simply aren't that many people around who enjoy listening to folk music - I've seen several instances lately where people who knew nothing about folk music found themselves enjoying it immensely and saying they've never heard anything like it in their lives, or sometimes that they didn't think that's what "folk music" was or didn't think they'd like it.

One answer is to create different performing opportunities. We're currently

  • more interested in festivals than clubs
  • looking at arts centres and village halls as venues in which to stage concerts (one such has been the only event we can remember that sold out - must be doing something right!)
  • pursuing themed shows like CHARM (which ties in well with the "bigger venues" idea)

Anahata


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 04:51 AM

Brilliant ideas from Nick - already condidering some of them:-) Price - Yes we do need to increase (It is actualy 2.50 members, 3.00 non-members) I don't know how we can justify a double in price though - May have to phase it. I have also spotted another venue we can use - larger - so we may have the opportunity to put some of our bigger names into a bigger venue, charge more and give them more pay! I'm sure they wouldn't mind a slight change of data and location for that. My biggest worry is that we do, of course, have a very finite audience - would we be running the risk of stretching them to thinly? Worth a thought anyway.

OK, Greg - Like I said before I fully understand what you are saying. I accept that there was no offence intended and hope that your explanation will placate any local songwriting teachers who may have felt you were branding as second class acts. I am neither teacher nor paid performer btw - No axe to gring from me there. I just happen to know at least two local songwriting teachers who have appeared with the biggest names at top festivals and would not know trouble at't'mill if it bit them on the bum.

Your comment Now, it is no skin of the nose of someone in the first category to be a bit flexible about bookings. To be prepared, if need be, to consider being shunted a month later or a month earlier or whatever. is very significant. And I agree entirely. But, unfortunately, not every part time act has the same regard for us organisers. I would love you to have a word with some of our booked acts and tell them that, seeing as they are non-professional, they should make way for any visiting professionals at a moments notice. Bear in mind that most of these people are not only excelent acts in their own right but also friends of the club. I can just imagine the conversation.

"Errr, Jim? You know you have a booking next moth?"
"Yes, really looking forward to it"
"Well, we have the opportunity of booking a Norweigian mouth music trio who are on tour. Chance of a lifetime. Can we postpone your booking?"
"Till when?"
"Well, we are booked up for the year, so how about August 2007?"
"Of course you can, mate, no trouble at all..."

I know you would be happy with this, Greg, but can you honestly say that all local musicians would?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 06:34 AM

Dave: I wouldnt expect anybody(local or not) to be happy if shunted a year later. I very specifically said thatit's no skin off the nose of a financial secure local with a day job to be shunted a month later or earlier. Obviously, I am only suggesting a flexibility all rund, so if you have to ask a performer to chamnge the date of their booking, you offer thwem an alternative very shortly after. That's what I mean by flexibility. In the exqample I quoted that I was fixing yesterday, I was talking about offering my local gig to a touring performer to make their tour viable, I shift my gig a month or two later; and in due course I'll get an axtra gig in Cork next time I need one. Everyone's happy, and the sum total of the transaction is that some people in England get the chance to see a fantastic band from Cork who haardly ever come over. It's a win win situation for everyone.
    Dave, say you booked the Boat Band for next February, and then got a phone call from Christy Moore saying he wants to come over and relive his youth playing a few Lancashire folk clubs. Surely you'd see the sense of ringing me up, and sayin "Greg, can I shunt you to March, I'd love to put Christy Moore on, and your February date is the only possible one for him". Now, surely any local act would be perfectly happy with that offer from you, and if they weren't, they should get out of folk music and try something else. We're all in it for the crack, as well as some of us making a living. Swings and roundabouts,, let's all take of each other. That's a good philosophy, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: The Villan
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 07:01 AM

Stick to what you find best Dave.
You will go bonkers if you listen to everybody. You can't please everybody.
I am not sure if all performers realise how hard it is to balance the books, satisfy the audience, look after the performers, promote, admin etc, etc all for nothing (not complaining).
I have a list as long as your arm for 2007 and all within the budget I can afford, and like you I charge 3 entrance.
I don't know how much advice I get from so many people, I would go balmy if I kept on knee jerking, just becuase somebody else thinks it should be done another way.
My club works fine the way it is. I get good audiences with a limit of 70 including the performers (of which there are generally 10 people making up the performers). It averages 50 overall. It runs every other Friday.
What I do listen to is constructive critism about the club and wherever possible try to change accordingly.
I try my very best to look after all performers who grace my club and really can't do much more than that. At the end of the day, I also have to get an audience to come along and listen. They have to trust my judgement.


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: GUEST,Nicholas Waller
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 07:06 AM

There's a club in Somerset I've been to once that has a structure that might be interesting to you, DtG. The Old Down Acoustic Club (Litton, nr Chewton Mendip) operates every Wednesday as a singers' and musicians' club. One Wednesday in the month they have a booked guest act (plus plenty of local resident performers) at £2 entrance, and then one Saturday in the month they have a big concert with an entrance of £10. The Wednesday I went they had a 4-piece band plus 8 or 9 floor performers. And a raffle.

For the Wednesday guest spots they have The Amazing Mr Smith, Foo Foo, Beck Sian, Ember and Keith Christmas booked. For the Saturday concert they've in the past had the likes of Spiers and Boden, Carthy and Waterson, Vin Garbutt, Dick Gaughan and Steve Tilston.

I don't know how they finance things or if they charge on non-guest-spot Wednesdays.

Going back to the Topic and "phasing in" price increases - the Topic has a normal price of £4 and £5, and special high prices for one-offs (generally with printed tickets as well). Then it is back to the normal price for the rest of the year. This autumn we have a few more higher-price-than-normal acts like Julie Felix, Allan Taylor and Wizz Jones to mark our 50th anniversary (club founded in 1956, you know) but other evenings it is back to normal. And singaround nights are free.

So you don't have to "phase" a price in. Just make sure that for any costly concerts your normal punters know well in advance that it is more expensive and they won't see Vin Garbutt, for instance, for £2.50. Your higher-priced/better known acts will draw in non-regulars too. You don't want to scare off your regualrs, so a separate day, like the Old Down does, or a bigger venue for special concerts might be a good idea.

I guess you ought to phase in booking the more expensive acts, though... a club that has booked, say, 25+ acts up to 36 weeks ahead has made certain financial commitments of several thousand pounds that it won't know for sure it can meet until the punters pay on the door!


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 08:16 AM

There are, luckily, a huge variety of clubs and venues, and what suits some will not suit all. If things are running fine on entrance fees of 2-3, that's great. Things are often a great deal more relaxed when there is not much money flying about. But that sort of ticket mpney is very low by comparison with most nights out, and in particular (in real terms) in comparison with the swinging 60's era of the great folk boom. You would have paid more than the price of a drink to see a folksinger in those days, I would guess.
   The Villan has it spot on: if it's working, dont fix it. But there are organisers here talking about problems they have, and in their case everything is worth discussing. What I think is true is that booking far ahead is more prevalent in England than in other countries, more prevalent in folk clubs than other places, and more prevalent these days than it used to be. So relevant questions might be: does the scene work better in England than other countries, does the folk scene work better than other forms of music, and do things run better than they did thirty years ago? What does anyone think?
    My personal opinion is that everyone would benefit from some more flexible venues(not all venues, just some).


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: treewind
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 08:32 AM

You would have paid more than the price of a drink to see a folksinger in those days, I would guess.

The rule of thumb used to be that you paid about the cost of about 2½ pints of beer at the door for a folk club. Still holds roughly true on average.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Scrump
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 09:11 AM

Basically the entrance fee of 3 sounds far too low for guest nights. The normal price seems to be 8 - 10, or even more occasionally for top acts. But of course it depends on the size of the premises and of your audience - the more people you can pack in (assuming you can attract them in the first place), the lower the entrance fee can be. With regard to the question "how do I find 4 more Mondays?" If you're trying to fit in more guests, why not just have a monthly session instead of a fortnightly one? Also, if you don't charge for sessions, why not consider charging a nominal amount, say 1 or 2 - you can explain that it all helps the club keep going and to allow you to book more acts, etc. Try to involve you members more, and make them feel part of it and not just punters.

Apologies for rambling on again - maybe I should call myself Rambling Syd Scrumpo ;-)


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 09:27 AM

Thanks for confirming my shaky memory, Anahata! Yes, two or three pints worth sounds more the mark, not two or three pounds!


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 10:44 AM

We always worked on the basis of the price of a pint so we are still pretty much in line. I can see though that we need to get tougher!

And I am still agreeing with you, Greg - If only more performers were as willing to be as flexible as you are my life would be a whole lot easier. But they are not. I don't blame them one bit. If, in your scenario, we booked Christy Moore instead of the Boat Band and asked if we could book you a month earlier or later I am sure you would be happy to oblige.

But we are very linited in what we can offer you. One or two Mondays before, one or two Mondays after at most. Also, I should think that even you would be pretty unhappy with me if you had turned down a booking at the Albert Hall because you had already been booked by Swinton. And what if you were booked for the 2 Mondays before and the 2 Mondays after? Do you then re-organise your bookings? Where does it all end?

No, sorry, re-organising existing bookings may be a route in some cases but all the above scenarios, plus some artists egoes, would prevent it being viable in the majority of cases. It is mainly because the paid artists cannot be that flexible that we have to book many months in advance. It is simply the demands of the artists, audience and advertisers that mean we have to book so far in front.

Oh - It is not just folk clubs btw. All the big venues have their schedules published many months, if not years, in advance. As do any venues with function rooms. Tried booking a room for a wedding recently?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 10:55 AM

Mind you - Having said all that I don't see any reason I could not use our particular venue on another night as well! The only risk I run is that I may thin out the audience a little but with proper advertising I guess I could attract more people in. If anyone out there is organising a tour around NW England don't be put off by what I say. If you are willing to take the chance that not many turn up or you may not get paid what you are used to feel free to get in touch with me either here or at dpolshaw@hotmail.com

I just had that thought and am getting quite excited. Doesn't take much. You know what they say about small things and small minds:-) I have your number, Greg, so I will ring you in the next day or so. Fancy becoming part of my experiment?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 11:02 AM

a perspective from this side of the world

I run a club that meets in a Neighbourhood Centre 10 times a year (4th Sat, Feb-Nov). It's purely acoustic, in the sense of no mikes or amplification as the hall is a perfect acoutic space.

I have 2 permanent bookings a year - Feb is always unaccompanied singing, Sept the wonderful Shiny Bum Singers from Canberra. That leaves 8 nights or 16 acts. I can't put on any extra concerts unless I pay some Insurance company a large amount of money, which would take money from artists.

Each night we have 2 acts, usually main & support, sometimes 2 acts with equal billing, plus 2 or 3 floor spots. Payment is door deal only as we live from month to month. The room is licenced for 100 folks, & we get from 20 to 40 most months. Entry is $14/12, (sorry I can't give that in beer prices as I only drink water, but CDs cost $20 to $25).   

By March I had the year almost fully booked, same happened last year. I had 6 nights fully booked, with enough artists in mind for the rest of the year. Some artists had been booked the year before as I could not fit them in. Overseas artists can be booked even further ahead. One year I booked an interstate artist 2 years ahead as a Festival had booked him the night I wanted him!

I get a lot of enquiries wanting bookings - I'm waiting for 2 demo disks at the moment even tho I told the enquirers I have no space this year.

Sydney clubs are struggling to get audiences as Sydney is a big city (6million folks over a very wide area) & we have trouble getting audiences for both known & unknown acts. I couldn't even fill the room when I had Martyn Wyndham-Read a few years back, but that was due to the fact that James Keelagahn was appearing down the road that night!

It'e been interesting reading other folks' experiences.

sandra

The Loaded Dog Folk Club


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 11:15 AM

Not all bookers are dealing with things a year in advance. I am maybe too small sample to be significant statistically, but I have had to deal with queries about half a dozen gigs in the last few days. Every one of those queries was about gigs between July and October this year (not one, incidentally, from a folk club).


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 12:17 PM

I think that not one is from a folk club is quite significant - Perhaps they are not as well organised as us;-)

Were any of them for late cancellations, Greg? Or were any of them new ventures or one-off events? Maybe that is why they can book at short notice? Maybe they just want any act? (Not saying you are any old act, Greg!) There are dozens of reasons why they could be booking this late. I don't accept it is always because they are not 'completely paralised and unable to react' folk clubs!

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: breezy
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 12:39 PM

At windwrad I was booked up with artistes 12 months plus but have resisted bonkings beyond December 06 since January 06

This is by way of an experiment and also to reward my faithful resident artistes.

I ran twice aweek for 2 years and felt it worked O k, we had many guests from all over the country , inc Wales.

3 is too low an entry fee for a decent guest, and some guests would bw insulted. I believe 5 is a minimum

sessions that are free could help by asking for a nominal 1 towrads booking a proper guest, as too many people enjoy the music for free and wont go to clubs thus clubs cant promote guests every weeek.

unless the sessions are just friends finding their way.

Also any artiste that take a fee from a club when that fee has not been raised on the door on the night do not do themselves any favours.

its great to be paid, but if you call it a job then that is a insult to the music.

there are far too many artistes chasing too few bookings for too much dosh

Mind me step as I climb down from off this shakey soap box

and if it doesnt cover your travelling expenses then best not go until the organiser realises


down now


Stan Accrington in St Albans Sun 2nd july

Harvey Andrews on the 16th July


this friday RNLI night at barton Le Clay, artistes wanted


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: The Villan
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 02:07 PM

>>Also any artiste that take a fee from a club when that fee has not been raised on the door on the night do not do themselves any favours<<

Breezy, if I book an artist for a full gig, which is once a quarter on a different night to my normal Friday evening, then if I accept the price, it is then my responsibilty, not the artist. It is up to me to decide if I want that artist at the price they want to charge. Once agreed, the artist should never have to worry about how many punters walk through the door. However on that basis, I decide who I want, not the artist.
I have done two full gigs this year on a Saturday night, and I have lost 100 & 50 respectively. That comes from the float that I have built up from the Friday evenings. I am finding that my audience prefers the Friday night full of variety style, and are not too keen on full gigs, especially if they don't like the artist (and most of them have never seen these artists before). I am OK about losing that money, but as you can see, full gigs are not profitable for me. Incidentally, I charge 5 for a concert gig. 7 on the door. However my loyal followers only pay 5.
It is a waste of time, when artists tell me what I have to charge at the door, they just don't get booked. I pay an agreed fee fullstop. No percentage. Doesn't work with my club.

Les
Market Rasen Folk Club


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: The Villan
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 03:18 PM

>>At windwrad I was booked up with artistes 12 months plus but have resisted bonkings beyond December 06 since January 06<<

So you have been abstaining since January then Breezy LOL :-)

Is Windwrad a new club?


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 07:23 PM

I think it may be a new culb, Villna...

:D (tG)


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 01:23 AM

If you have a good bunch of floor singers/ musicians then singers nights are not something that can be pushed aside to make "more Mondays in the year". Scrump says "Try to involve you members more, and make them feel part of it and not just punters", but it's the singer's nights that make them a club not just an audience.


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Keef
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 03:25 AM

This thread is very timely for me.
I left the UK in the early seventies for a surfing holiday in Oz. I'm still here!
I'm still a fairly crap surfer but I have developed my talent as a singer and village idiot/entertainer. I mainly sing acapella (solo and with groups) and,.... well I'm just fantastic really.
Getting back to the point, I am going to UK in October for a college reunion and I have planned to stay for about a year WWOOFING (mostly in Ireland) and also to see how far I can take my musical career. (I spent a few weeks in Ireland 5 years ago and earned heaps of free beer with my voice).
I'm lucky if I know where I'll be next week, never mind in 2 years time.
How about a list of clubs where I can just rock up for a floor spot and then come back another day if they like me?
Not looking to make a fortune but a little beer and petrol money would be nice.
Many of the threads on Mudcat have been really negative about this,
Yes, I know the weather is crap, foods worse, and the price of everything is outrageous but I'm spending the kid's inheritance and that helps!
Surely folk music should be accessible to all and not limited to professional performers with their own websites and agents able to book a schedule way in advance.


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 09:23 AM

I help DtG run the White Lion club and have read and enjoyed some of the comments. I am not interested at all in any comments about "how far you should book in front" or "how much we should charge on the door" or any other such opinionated stuff as most of it comes from poeple with an interest in it being done their way.

My interest is in the fact that we have been running for 25 years now, bumbling along getting it all wrong, booking too far in front and not charging enough.

We ain't no fly by night here today and gone tomorrow amateurs.

Spot the Dog

P.S. Hi Dave....!


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 10:07 AM

"The above question is not just for Greg, btw. It is open for anyone to answer.

As a folk club organiser how am I to incorporate the requests from local artists who I know well and who are of exceptional quality to book them with the wants of the audience to get the best artists for less than 3 a night with the desires of people to see 'new' talent?

How can I book people at a couple of weeks notice and let the audience know in advance who is on? How can I manage to pay all these artists when at most I get 3 each from 30 people twice a month? How can I pay an Ethiopian dance troop 1000 for a nights entertainment when my total annual budget is not much more than 2000?

Tell me. Please!

Cheers

DtG"


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:39 PM

Spot the Dog: if it's going fine, dont touch it, of course. If it aint broke, dont fix it. But, some clubs are broke(or heading that way) and are looking for possible ways to fix things. That's what this thread is for, for people involved in clubs to talk about how things might be improved. Perfectly reasonable idea.


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:42 PM

I didn't post the one above Greg! I dunno who did and not quite sure why they did it. It was just a cut and paste of one of my earlier ones.

Just spoke to Greg btw and we are hoping to work on one of the ideas coming out of this - Keep your fingers crossed:-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: greg stephens
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 03:29 PM

Dave the Gnome: I've just spotted a query to me a few posts back, asking the nature of the gig enquiries that I was dealing with for dates in the July - October period. A lot of gigs are booked this sort of time in advance (what you call "late", and late they certainly are for those involved with a club that books upwards of a year in advcance).
The discussions I have been having referred to: a 40th birthday party; Urban Splash's September celebration in Manchester(they have only just selected a date, I think it was dependent on abuildings or canal work being finished); a Lake District event(Septemeber); another Lake Distirct event ( August); a Stoke community event(July); another Stoke community event(August); Cork Folk festival(September). There have been more enquiries: there is a short selection, all relating to events in the next four months. I think we only have one confirmed date for 2007, incidentally, and I wouldnt generally expect to till the autumn.


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Subject: RE: How far ahead are clubs booking?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 06:00 PM

Interesting, Greg. Like I said it is quite significant that none of them are folk clubs and, apart from the do in Cork, they all seem to be one off events. It is very easy to book at short notice for this type of event. Not so with a folk club like ours though:-( Both our audience and our artists seem to demand some kind of long term commitment.

Good news though - October 6 is looking good up to now:-)

Cheers

DtG


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