The fair is over. What a whirlwind. What fun. Thank you everyone. This was so fun, and there were so many memorable performances. Maybe you would be interested in what it is like to put something like this together. I have been thinking about these issues and I thought I’d write a “post” fair piece. Every one of you, the performers, is special and I am so grateful you played the fair for the small amount of compensation we offer. Some of my praise or complaints are about specific acts, but I won’t call them out. Maybe this will be insightful for you or give you an idea or help to know what things are like from the bookers perspective.
How to be on the fair’s good side
Putting on a great show even if there are only a few audience members and or it is raining.
Promote your show!
Make a Facebook event for the fair and invite many friends!
Make flyers and put them in local bars/cofeeshops/music shops/ dance studios/ radio stations/ barber shops/ grocery stores (you’d be surprised how few people do this.)
Stay and watch the other artists perform.
Carpool/ bring the gear in one vehicle.
Show up between an hour to a half hour before you play.
Bring merch to sell, or a banner with your bands name, stickers, bring business cards/ flyers for upcoming shows/ invite other dancers to guest on your shows,
Be on time, professional, friendly and pleasant to work with.
If you have extra tickets, give them back.
Provide a brief description of your show/ band’s sound and a high res, full color photo of your group/ band over one month prior to the show.
How to be on the fairs disappointed list.
Not show up. (I have a waiting list of people who want to play. If you don’t show up or cancel at the last minute, i cannot get one of them to fill in for you.)
Show up late.
Don’t show up but send someone else in your place.
Curse or sing excessively violent or sexually explicit lyrics in the mic.
Refuse to stop playing when your time is up.
Take a long time setting up/tearing down.
Bring the gear in three or four vehicles. bring wives/girlfriends/boyfriends/husbands/friends to the fair and expect them to get in free because they are “with the band.”
Drive on the grounds without an escort (this is dangerous and against our policy. Doing this can result in cancellation of your show!)
Complain about the fair on social media (or on the mic!)
Smoke cigarettes before or after your show right next to the stage. (we have smoking sections, they aren’t near the stage)
Leave immediately after your set (support the other artists!)
Be rude to security/ the booker/ the other bands/artists/ sexually harass fair employees (wow, you wouldn’t believe this happens but it does!)
Say you are willing to fill in for others if they cancel, then not answer your phone or call back. (this isn’t really so bad, but odd. why would you state you are willing to play more, then not be available?
Leave a mess on the stage.
Bring extra, random people to play with the band who haven’t rehearsed. (Why would you do this? I’m very confused)
I am leaning towards groups that bring something unique and special. I like to see instruments other than guitars/bass/drums in bands. I like hearing touching, creative/funny songs. I like artists who are passionate.
I am getting more and more burned out with rock covers. If you must play covers, do a mashup. Play a familiar song in a new style. Playing songs that sound exactly like radio hits doesn’t excite me. Play unexpected covers. I heard a group play “the Xmen theme” it was awesome! I heard a group play “bubble bobble.” That is much more fun than playing some 70s cover we have already heard a million times, played exactly the way the original band plays it.
If you cannot play for what the fair pays. That is OK. I am glad for you if you are “too big” for the fair. Big rock stars not playing means there is more room for the teenager bands/ non-professionals/ locals who are glad to have an all ages, pleasant non-smoking, high sound quality venue. Some acts can negotiate more pay with a conversation with the booker (me) months ahead of the fair. I have a budget I have to stick to. It is very tacky to agree to play for a price, and then complain that it isn’t enough behind my back or on social media.
Why we pay what we pay:
The fair is for exposure/ sharing what you have worked on all year. It is not a place to get rich, or to be even paid what you are worth. Maybe if you always play to your friends, or for a 20 or 30 something crowd, this is your chance to play to kids too young to get into bars, people who don’t stay up late enough to go to a bar show, or play for people who have come from out of town. The pay might be only enough to cover replacing your strings or gas to get to the venue. I agree it is a pittance. A bar band can make good money playing in a bar in Alaska. A bar has only one or two bands in one night, and they make a high margin of profit on alcoholic drinks. We aren’t making a percentage of sales. We make money on the gate and our vendors. We have over 500 people performing to share a small budget.
We are investing in you, spending money on fair advertising, spending money on the high quality sound system for you to play into. You get to be a part of a catered show, sometimes you get to open for/ play after professional entertainers and that is priceless.
Some festivals charge the applying performers. Large festivals use this as a revenue generator, knowing that hundreds will apply and pay a 15$ (or more) fee for the opportunity to be considered to play. Fortunately, we don’t do that. Some venues have a “pay to play” policy requiring artists to rent their space. Some venues even take a percentage of merch sales. I am fully aware of the ways that venues “rip off” artists, or try to ensure that if someone loses money, it isn’t them.
I’m interested in engaging you, the performer. I want to hear your feedback.
I have heard from several artists that the fair is “not worth it.” I’m sorry. How can I make it better for you? What could I / we do to make the fair “worth it?” I’m sure some of my readers will think I am “full of crap.” ( I know there are some people who LIKE 70s, 80s, 90s rock covers. Lucky them. There are plenty of bands who play them.) Please explain why I’m full of crap. I also am an entertainer and I understand your troubles, explain to me your complaints/ give me constructive criticism and I will try to improve the fair: for you, for our patrons: for everyone. Maybe you have an idea that will make my job easier! Maybe you have an idea that would make the fair better. What a shame it would be if you kept that great idea to yourself. Thanks for taking the time to read this.