The Guestlist

Today, I got an email.

I did not know the person who sent it, but he claimed to be a promoter in a tiny little town in NEPA. I searched for the name of his company on Google, and found nothing. Then, I searched it on Facebook. Also, nothing. Finally, I searched his name on the Book of Faces and located him. We have three mutual friends. In his info was a link to his promoter page within Facebook. I clicked. They don’t seem to do any shows and the photo for the page is probably a photo of the stage of a Furthur show, but taken by a professional photographer.

The page had twenty two “likes”.

The reason the dude emailed me?

Asking for a guestlist spot on tonight’s show.

Here’s the transmission:

Hello Mike,
I’m ******** of **************, i am attending Biodiesel tonight and was wondering if there was anyway to get on a guestlist?

From: Michael Van Jura <>
To: ******************************
Sent: Thursday, December 8, 2011 10:33 AM
Subject: Re: biodiesel guest list

are you press?

On Dec 8, 2011, at 12:00 PM,************* wrote:

no not press , just the owner of another production company.

From: Michael Van Jura <>
To: *****************************
Sent: Thursday, December 8, 2011 2:08 PM
Subject: Re: biodiesel guest list

I don’t really want to sound like a dick, but it’s only a $7 ticket.

And for what it’s worth, I almost always buy tickets when I go to shows in other venues…

But sure, I’ll put you on the list.

Doors are at 7.

On Dec 8, 2011, at 2:21 PM, *********************> wrote:

wow definately do sound like a dick, the person who invited me out had said they thought it was $20 which is too much for a biodiesel show, that is why i asked about guestlist. $7 ticket not a problem.
and for what its worth i always guestlist any promoters who come out to any show im involved in and usually have same done for me.  like i said its not a problem if we decide to come out i have no problem paying $7.

From: Mike Van Jura <>
To: ***********************
Sent: Thursday, December 8, 2011 2:25 PM
Subject: Re: biodiesel guest list

So, you’re a promoter but didn’t think to check the website to see how much the tickets actually cost?

Do you see what happened there?

Someone I don’t know emailed out of the blue, asking to be put on the guest list for a show with a seven dollar cover. I did a bit of due diligence just to make sure I wasn’t giving a hard time to someone that didn’t deserve it, explained my reasoning for questioning him in my email, still offered him a spot on the list and I got called a “dick” for doing so.

Here’s my position on the guest list:

  • If you’re someone who goes above and beyond and helps promote shows (or a particular show), I have no problem giving a plus one.
  • If you’re somehow connected to the band via street team, long time fan, sleeping with the bass player…whatever. The band always has a guestlist allotment on a show and you can work your way on that way.
  • If it’s someone that I think that you really want to see, I’ll often say “hey man, you should come check these guys out. You’d probably dig them. I’ll put you on the list. They start around 9.”

And that’s pretty much it. Helping promote the show, a friend of the band or a personal friend of mine because I do have that luxury of giving free tickets to my friends.

Sometimes people don’t realize that a concert ticket is a promoter’s product. Just like Five Guys sells hamburgers and people exchange currency for two buns, beef, lettuce, tomato and ketchup, the hamburger you’re paying for at any concert is the act that’s performing on stage.

Shows ain’t cheap. And oftentimes, most people visit a venue twice or three times per month and see shows that are pretty well attended. And yes, while the well attended shows are profit generators for a promoter, there are plenty of other shows that either break even or lose money for the promoter.

Inherently, to be a concert promoter, one must also be a gambler at heart. When I confirm a show in August that isn’t scheduled until December, I have no idea if there is going to be a foot of snow on the ground the day of or if a better show will be confirmed for a venue within driving distance of mine on the same night. Therefore, for every show that confirms, I make another roll of the dice.

Look, I’m not a dick. But think of it like this – if we both owned a Turkey Sandwich shop and I went to your turkey sandwich shop and said “hey! I have a turkey sandwich shop a few hours from here. May I have a free turkey sandwich?, would you give me one?

See what I mean?

But, if I’m out in front of that Turkey Sandwich shop wearing a sandwich sign and parading up and down the block enticing people to come  in and buy a turkey sandwich, then I pretty much deserve that turkey fucking sandwich.

No, this isn’t the gospel. And every promoter is different. But I just had to vent this pet peeve of mine.

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