Presale? WTF.

Okay, so before I start this, I want to say that this is simply an observation I have made from my experiences with being in a band, having friends that are in bands, and also working behind the scenes with promoters and venues.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I just have to state mine, because the more I work behind the scenes, the more my eyes have been opened.


Okay, so “presale”, that dirty little word that makes most bands cringe.  Yes, I know there is a bad stigma at the mention of “presale”. We’ve all heard the horror stories of such and such promoter or such and such venues. “Those cheats! Thieves! & greedy bastards!”, “Why should we sell anything for them?!”, etc, etc. YES – I am aware of it all.


Up until about a year ago, I was on the same page as most of you.  FCK PRESALE.  Right? We ain’t paying to play! ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. That is where I think most of you have it wrong.  Don’t get mad at me just yet – Let me explain.


Now that I have been working as a promoter, granted it’s been less than a year and I am only an assistant, I have been enlightened about the concept.  I can’t speak for all promoters or venues, but I can speak for myself and those few others that I have met and worked with.


For myself and the company I work for, 100% of the time, bands are asked to do presale for the following 2 reasons:


1)  To ENCOURAGE your friends, family & local community to participate (& hey, at a discount price?! That’s awesome.)  Have any of you ever bought a presale ticket and thought, “damn, I should’ve just paid at the door…”? Probably not. Presale tickets can and should be used as a MARKETING TOOL for both promoters and bands alike! Selling tickets at a lower price will encourage more people to buy tickets which in turns means MORE PEOPLE TO WATCH YOU PREFORM!  Woaaaa, what?  But Ellie, no one I know really buys tickets or goes to shows really…


Hey, you know what I used to do when I was in a band? My band mates and I would all pitch in, buy the presales, and then… hand them out for free to people we thought would enjoy us.  But Ellie, why should we pay for presale tickets for a show we’re opening up for?


OK. SO THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO EXPLAIN.  I feel there needs to be a clear definition of what Presale and Pay-to-Play is, because there is a H U G E difference bewtween the two.  I am not going to name drop any promoters or venues, but sadly, there are those out there who will literally turn locals down for not hitting the required presale.  That everybody, is called a Pay-to-Play system. A terrible system, in my opinion.  That to me, is when you can tell that the promoter/venue has lost all heart and passion for music and entertainment and have become all money and business.


Unlike Pay-to-play, presale, just simply means, “Hey, let’s help each other out and try to get as many people to go to this show”.  After all, we are all a community of music lovers, asking for a helping hand isn’t something to look down on.  Just cause you’re asked to do presale, doesn’t mean you will be turned down if you don’t hit the desired number.  SIDE NOTE – Always make sure it’s clear what the promoter is asking of you… preasale or pay-to-paly – END SIDE NOTE.


Also, cut it with that pissy-posh, holier than thou, attitude of, “Oh, we don’t do presale” (not saying you all sound like this, but most…).  When you do that, you’re missing out on the opportunity to help your local music scene and are also missing out on the opportunity to promote yourselves and gain new listeners and followers. You’re missing out on playing a show because you don’t want to try and sell 10 tickets?  I mean, I understand that because of bad promoters the idea of presale is tainted, but honestly, not all promoters are going to treat you the same.


Okay now to number 2.


2) Presale is asked for to HELP pay the guarantee of the tour package (Wait, touring bands need to get paid?) Yes, it’s true.  Touring bands need to get paid, as they should! They’re traveling, need gas, food, clothes, shelter, etc. After all, touring and being in a band is there job!  SIDE NOTE – I do want to mention, that I do recognize that some bands, usually bigger-more-popular bands probably don’t need as much… cough… but, you know, if people are demanding them, then rightly deserved. It’s business END SIDE NOTE.


I remember being 15 and seeing almost every band that I was super into at my local venue, and it was usually packed.  Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore and so as a way to cover our butts, presale is used  to help us ensure that the touring bands will get paid their guarantee. You know, as promoters, we want touring bands to feel welcome and we want them to have a  good time playing our hometowns as much as we want you, the show attendee, to have a good time rocking out to your favorite bands and also discovering new music!


Now before I close this essay, I do want you to understand this… Yes there are greedy promoters, venues, bands, and agents out there, but not all of us are.  Putting on a show is a lot of hard work, stress, and usually a pay loss, because you know when we don’t hit the guarantee or venue fee, it’s on us right? Are you getting this?  For most of us, this is a selfless job that we do out of love for the scene.


In the end, we are working to make everyone happy and we put ourselves last.  Bands must get paid. Venues need to get paid.  We put money on marketing (flyers, facebook “boosts”, etc).  We go back and forth with agents (usually not fun… -_-) We spend our time designing flyers for you.  We just want you to all have a good time! Even if we don’t see a dime, as long as you’re enjoying the music, that’s payment for us and hey, if you can help us BREAK EVEN, even better!


So in conclusion, to those who are not in bands, buy presale tickets when possible! & hey, if you missed presale, show up anyway! You complain about your music scene dying, but you’re content with not showing up to any shows? Stop that.  Support one another.  Point blank is, you want more bands to come through, show up to smaller shows, buy presales, share flyers on your social media (god forbid you loose “cool points” for spamming  your followers with your local shows).


And to those who are in bands, if you’re asked to do presale, and it’s clear that you won’t be turned down, help out dude.  We are a vital part of your music community.  Not every promoter is out to get you or your money.  Let’s prosper together in music.