I have a love/hate relationship with booking agents. Most promoters do. We mutually understand that one does not exist without the other, but both are equally important to an artists’ career. The agent must ensure that the act gets booked into the smartest situations for the most lucrative payments. Conversely, the promoter must ensure he gets the most professional and promising acts at a rate that’s both fair to the act and commensurate to what they are worth in his market.
Most agents and I get along just fine. We’ve been working together long enough that they understand that I know my market and what we can generally expect from ticket sales for an act. They also know that I’m as persistent as I am because, in order to book shows in little old Harrisburg, one must be persistent.
All that said, once in awhile I’ll come across some asshole who has watched one-too-many episodes of Entourage and deserves the little respect he shows when dealing with a venue. However small my market is and no matter how challenging selling tickets in Harrisburg can be, I pride myself on how well we treat the acts that choose to play Harrisburg. Everyone’s got options and no one needs to play Harrisburg like they’d need to play Philadelphia or New York City on a record release tour.
I’ll keep this long story short : a few months ago, an act played one of my rooms. (I’ll leave out names to protect the innocent) The particular show they were playing was sold out a week in advance, they were the opener and we didn’t necessarily need the act on the bill. The show was what I call a “gift” – when a show sells out in advance, the opening act is getting tremendous exposure to a crowd that isn’t there to see them, but will still buy their merch and hopefully come back to see them when they return down the road.
From the start, it was agreed that they needed to load in at a specific time and were to be paid one hundred dollars. The day of the show, the band missed their load in time and wound up arriving over two hours late. Subsequently, we had to push the doors back about thirty minutes. They played their set, loaded out their gear and left sometime after. Normally, the band tracks down the promoter and asks to get paid. This band didn’t. They just left.
A week later, I got an email from the agent asking to send their check. Gladly, I dropped it in the mail. A week after THAT, I got another email asking me to send a different check cut to a different name because the band wasn’t able to cash checks in their band’s name.
Sure. Send the old one back and I’ll send you ANOTHER hundred dollar check.
Another couple weeks pass and I don’t see the check in the mail. From time to time, I’d see their band name pop up in the subject line of an email and I would delete it, assuming they were getting in touch to get a return date. Why would I want to book a return date for a band who showed up two hours late to a sold out show and caused me this much grief? There are literally hundreds of other bands I’d rather develop.
Fast forward a few months and I get a voicemail from the agent that was around three minutes long, chock full of expletives, accusations, threats and a demand for his bands hundred bucks.
Having some built up steam to blow off, I called the guy back and the conversation played out like two dogs barking at eachother through a fence. We hung up on each other and that was that.
About twenty minutes later, I decided to call the guy back, hoping to calm things down. After all, this was two type-a personalities in a pissing match over a hundred bucks. But the expletives and accusations kept flying, so I blew it off. Fuck it. Not worth it.
And sure, I’ll send you your hundred bucks.
Which is, if you’re still with me, where this story gets fun.
At first, I thought “Hmm, I’ll send him a hundred bucks in pennies.” – but decided the shipping would be too expensive.
And then, it was “A hundred bucks in crumpled up ones” -
But I knew I could do better.
So here’s what I decided to do. To settle this pissy hundred dollar dispute.
Remember- this band DID get their check for a hundred bucks but couldn’t cash it and I never got the check returned to me to issue a new one…
First, I went to the bank and got a hundred dollars in one dollar bills -
Then, I visited the party supply store and bought two pounds of glitter and confetti -
After my stop at the party store, I visited the adult shop up the road and looked for the nicest pink dildo I could find.
On my way home, I stopped by the post office and got a shipping box that would fit all of the goodness that I could pack into it -
And here’s the “how to” section of this post -
Take fifty of the one dollar bills and crumple them up as much as possible and layer them at the bottom of the mailing box -
Next, lay the pink dildo in the center of the dollar bills. *This is important because you want the dildo to be at the bottom of the pile*
Now, take one of the pounds of confetti and cover up the fifty ones and the pink dildo – (sort of like a dildo lasagna)
Then, the second layer of crumpled up one dollar bills -
Then, your other pound of confetti -
Finally, seal the box up good and tight ensuring that the confetti stays completely inside the box as to surprise the recipient as much as possible.
Take it down to the post office, mail it off and sit back and wait!
Now I’m not saying sending a pink dildo inside two pounds of confetti and a hundred crumpled up dollar bills is the way to settle EVERY disputed debt, but sometimes, when dealing with a shitty agent, there’s really no other way.
PS- This is perfectly acceptable behavior in the music industry.