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“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

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sugarrock Oct. 22, 2008 @ 12:44 p.m.

pay to play is for suckers. if your band is good you will never have to pay to play. its just a scam for the "promoter", always has been and always will be. if bands refuse to pay to play we can make these clowns go away and stop preying on inexperienced musicians


pknieval Oct. 22, 2008 @ 2:44 p.m.

Books bands that can DRAW in a big venue and PROMOTE your shows. A REAL promoter wouldn't put out and ad looking for any bands who want to play, and then SCREW them by charging them to play.

Don't take advantage of bands who don't know how it works and will play anywhere.

As for BANDS, if bands continue to do this kind of deal, it will continue to happen.


jimzadai Oct. 23, 2008 @ 12:18 a.m.

We just booked a show through skip at canes on Nov. 19th. We'll be playing with Mest and Rookie of the Year. We'll probably have to "pay to play" unless we get some help from the San Diego fans. We're well aware of what pay to play is (we have a new song on our myspace.com/offtrack called pay to play) and unfortunately that's how San Diego works.

If you would like to go to the show then please get in contact with us so that we can get you a ticket. They are $15.00, Canes 21+


jaytwo Oct. 23, 2008 @ 4:23 p.m.

Skip's a pretty decent guy and books shows the same way most promoters do, but you shouldn't pay $300 to play 'Canes. Period. If you can't sell 30 tickets at $10 a piece...don't. You'll end up paying $$$ to play for your friends. You may end up gaining a few fans if you're any good, but that's about it. If you can persuade 30+ heads to buy tickets, then you're a winner...and a loser...but mostly a winner...if you haven't lost. Did I lose you? Get lost...and win. WINNER!


BassHog Oct. 24, 2008 @ 3:45 p.m.

The only reason Pay to Play is going on in San Diego is because bands that have no business being on a stage are willing to shell out money to be there. Pay to Play has ruined the San Diego band scene, mostly due to greedy promoters. Fans don't want to shell out $10 to get into Canes or Brick by Brick to see 3 crappy bands play who's only qualification for being on that stage is their ability to fork over $300. Never pay to play...NEVER Anyone who tells you that this is how the music biz works is either stupid, or in a band that sucks so bad they have to pay to get gigs. I gig every weekend and we never pay to play.


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