23 Jul 2013

Beware of "Creative" promoters and door charges... [Swearies]

This is a rant.  If you want the short version, click here to go straight to the helpful summary diagram

So here's the situation:

A successful cabaret and burlesque show is operating in a bar on a Friday night, with no cover charge, packing people in on a weekly basis and getting great reviews online and in the local press.  Meanwhile, the bar queue's always ten people deep and the cocktail money keeps rolling in.

Everybody's happy.

But then a new manager turns up.  A new manager who thinks he's creative.  A new manager who, when we first saw him, was in the chef's face saying, "EVERY DISH YOU MAKE MUST BE A WINNER! PEOPLE SHOULD BE THINKING 'WOW! I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M EATING THIS!'".

In short, a dick.

Yes, this is a man who has no interest in keeping the venue successful - this is a man who in his own words wants to "shake things up a bit", which roughly translates as, "I'm the new boss, and I'm going to show you exactly how my willy is bigger than the last guy's."


In the two weeks between him starting at the venue and us meeting him, at least half of the staff had left or handed in their notice.

Then he turned his attention to the entertainment.

First, he brings in a cover charge.  This was never going to work.  The clientele is made up largely of young people - students and graduates - who primarily want to get hammered on the venue's posh and interesting cocktails rather than to watch a show.  Consequentially, they're not prepared to pay a cover chargeThey'd sooner go to the bar next door or across the road and get hammered there.

Second, the show is to be spread out, with lots of shorter acts and longer breaks.

Third, the actual stage area (on which an all-singing, all-dancing cabaret show is supposed to perform) is cut down by 75% to an area literally smaller than my in-laws' dining table

On this last point, we had possibly the most frustrating debate I've ever had in my life.  It seems he wanted to fill the stage with tables, and for the musicians in the show to sit amongst the audience.  He wanted a keyboard player and a guitarist to sit in the middle of a rowdy, drunken, albeit good-natured, London pub crowd.  When we pointed out that this was simply unworkable due to some clown on a stag do inevitably jumping up on the piano crying "I CAN PLAY CHOPSTICKS!", his response was literally as follows:

"Hey, man, I got shit loads of money, I got a Gibson Les Paul at home, you know?"

WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU ON, YOU MANIAC?!

So we eventually managed to get him to give us a bit more space on stage, but when it came to the actual show, the audience was, well, thin.  Very thin.  And because we'd been instructed to take much longer breaks in between sets, it was harder to keep the audience from leaving half way through.  The crowd that was there enjoyed themselves, of course, but it just didn't have the same buzz as a packed room.

The results:

He discovers he's losing money.  He's getting fewer bookings for tables and seating areas.  How could this possibly be?  He can't see any correlation between him starting to charge on the door and the bookings drying up. For every £5 he takes on the door, he loses £15 in cocktails.

But who gets the boot?

Yep, the performers.

So in the space of ONE MONTH this absolute lunatic has managed to alienate most of his staff, and completely dismantle a successful cabaret act.  In a few weeks, the venue will be closed down and refurbished.  Three months after its relaunch, it will be closed down again and sold.

What this all boils down to is a plea to venue owners, bar managers and promoters everywhere:

YOU ARE NOT A CHEF: YOU ARE A MANAGER
YOU ARE NOT A MUSICIAN: YOU ARE A MANAGER
YOU ARE NOT A DANCER: YOU ARE A MANAGER

The chef knows what tastes good.
The musicians know what songs go down well
The dancers know what routines get the loudest cheers.
 
Manage your staff, and the entertainers. Suggest ways to improve things if they need improving. Encourage change and innovation where it's needed...

... but fundamentally, LET THESE PEOPLE DO THE JOBS THEY WERE HIRED TO DO!

 And breathe...


What happens when small venues operate a cover charge
Obviously I'm not saying that all venues should be free,
but where the venue is primarily a pub or a restaurant rather than a performance space,
people simply won't pay extra for the entertainment!
 

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...