“I emailed Skip [Seip, of Never Say Die Productions] from something I saw on craigslist,” says “Mike,” who plays in one of the four metal bands (the Blood of the Covenant, Aten, Desolator, and Mindstress) that performed at Canes on October 15.
“The craigslist ad said something like, ‘Looking for bands to play at Canes, O’Connells, and Brick by Brick.’” Mike spoke with Seip, who booked his band for the Canes show. “But two emails and a week and a half later, he sprung on us that we had to pay to play.”
Seip told Mike’s band that they had to pay $300 to play Canes.
“He told us it was an opportunity to make a lot of money for the band,” says Mike. “He gave us 100 tickets that we were supposed to sell for $10. He said that we could keep the money for every ticket we sold after 30. If we don’t show up and don’t sell the tickets, there was some kind of fee we had to pay for wasting his time.”
Seip says that three of the four bands that played the show paid him $300 each to get on the bill. (One of the bands only paid $200 because members were minors.)
“I gave [Mike’s band] a hundred tickets. If they sold 80 at $10, they could keep $500 for themselves.” Seip describes himself as an “outside promoter” with fixed expenses. “I have to rent the room – Canes is not cheap. I have a bar guarantee [for liquor sales]. If I don’t hit it, it comes out of my pocket.… I lose money at these shows sometimes.… For the first two months [of promoting shows in San Diego], I didn’t make one penny.”
Seip, who last promoted shows in L.A., says he’s been working the San Diego scene for seven months. He moved to Vista one and a half years ago. He says he does not use the pay-to-play arrangement with all the bands he books and that some San Diego bands aren’t aware that pay-to-play is how the music business works in many large cities.
“I’m not in this as a promoter tapping his foot, watching how many heads are coming in through the door; it’s more about the band moving its career forward. So many bands aren’t doing anything to further their career. I want to work with bands who want to help themselves. What I’m doing is helping bands get through the door at Canes.”
– Ken Leighton