Monday, November 20, 2006 

Why Bands Hate Talent Agents (Mostly)

FOR THOSE WHO MAY BE UNFAMILIAR with the often rocky relationships between talent agents and talent, here's our two bits to add to the bonepile. Although this agency out of Nashville, TN is the worst we've encountered with Creedence Again (so far, that is; they're called Red Ridge Entertainment) - they do typify some more-common-than-you'd think issues.

THE PHOTO OF ME WAS TAKEN NOVEMBER 19TH, 2006 at the Isle Of Capri Casino in Marquette, Iowa. For the record, the birds flying around are NOT directed at any bands, musicians or the casino - they're ONLY for Red Ridge, who - for whatever reason, as we have camera-ready downloadable promo photos available 24/7 on our website - sent a photo of our main competition instead of us (Creedence Clearwater Revisited photo is inset - more below).

THE WHOLE GIG WAS PRETTY MUCH WHAT WE EXPECTED IT TO BE: Everybody working there was nice enough, but no audience members were under 50, there were ZERO cute females for inspiration/motivation, the decor was incredibly tacky (inside & out; check out the fabulous pink elephant by the entrance), they put us up in some questionable motel several miles from the casino with only two rooms and TWO beds (but you gotta love that Ramone - once he found out the casino was footing the bill, he had them upgrade to better rooms, with two beds per room). More, the three one-hour shows (one hour apart) were a real grind (even though Dan McGuinness kicked ass, singing lead on every single song).

WITH THAT SITUATION IN MIND, MOST AGENTS TAKE 15% off the top which, for whatever reason, is the industry standard. What makes musicians crazy is how little most of them do for that paycheck. If/when a band is late for a show, problematic, drinks too much onstage, etc., the agent is all over them.
More, most agents expect the band to draw the crowd, fill the venue, travel to/from, stay in some crappy motel AND sweat out the show itself. However, if the agent screws up, it's a hollow attempt at an apology (maybe), and a totally different story.

THE FIRST RED FLAG WITH THESE RED RIDGE JOKERS CAME WHEN the standard 50% deposit was requested on the show. FYI, an advance deposit needs to come at least 30 - 45 days out; it serves to hold a date AND protect the band from shifty venues, managers and owners. And NOBODY wants to tell a story about how they spent $ renting a vehicle, buying gas, turned down other bookings and then... got stiffed on the paycheck.

YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS WRONG WHEN the agent tells you (me) that the client has approved the deposit check, they have the deposit check in hand... and they'll be holding that deposit until AFTER THE SHOW IS OVER. Huh?!?!?! Not exactly a deposit by anyone's definition, jackasses. Just that little issue put them into a unique category by themselves. Not until I made it abundantly clear there was no way/no how we were driving 5 hours without a deposit did they even start acting somewhat professional.

ANOTHER RED FLAG IS WHEN SOMEONE STARTS BLATHERING OVER A PERFECTLY REASONABLE REQUEST - trying to divert the topic at hand. "We've been in business for 25 years! These are our clients, and we'd never do anything to jeopardize that relationship!" And blah blah blah blah BLAH. It's just the same with catering clients: the ones with the least amount of money to spend are the biggest pain in the asses, expend the most energy trying to distort the facts, and are most likely to invent some reason to justify stiffing you on the check (or, at least, on the gratuity). Back to the story...

AS YOU MIGHT KNOW, THESE CASINOS ARE VERY CORPORATE, LIABILITY CONSCIOUS PLACES, UNDER THE LEGAL MICROSCOPE. It was THE most rules & guidelines we've encountered to date. Don't believe me? Check it out: They won't serve more than two drinks per hour to any single customer; They won't sell more than one drink at a time to one person (when I tried buying two drinks at once, the bartender actually walked back to the dressing room with me and handed the second drink to our drummer); they won't serve any shots without ice (they invite you to lose the ice if you desire); there are surveillance cameras everywhere. While I'm sure all these things are in place to avoid lawsuits, keep their gaming license, liquor license, etc., it's not exactly an inviting environment for musicians trying to get the room rolling.

GIVEN THIS ENVIRONMENT - AND EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT A LIKELY OUTCOME - THE FACT REMAINS: Red Ridge Entertainment put the casino at legal risk through its wrongful misrepresentation of our band, as the venue made many, many promotional copies & posters with that photo. Given the long-running, contentious feud between John Fogerty and them - and did I mention we already had our first Creedence Again site yanked in response to some "credible third-party complaint?" -
I suppose it's not unimaginable to entertain the possibility - however faint - of some legal action, were CC Revisited to sniff out some hushup legal payoff from a deep-pocket casino.

AND SO, RED RIDGE ENTERTAINMENT (AS MY PAL LEIGH SAYS) "ALL THE WAY WITH A RED HOT POKER!" If we ever do another show there (did we mention Danny Mac & us absolutely killed, and everyone said so?), we're booking it direct, with no agent sucking blood from the middle.

NEXT UP: Hail the MIGHTY MIGHTY MIGHTY Randall guitar amp!

Saturday, November 18, 2006 

Calvin's BBQ Goes National!

FOR ANYONE BORED ENOUGH TO READ THIS BLOG, they may remember me having picked Calvin Woods as an up-and-coming culinary star (at least, in the BBQ world). These inklings look to be affirmed - for the time being, at least - when Calvin & his partner Ted will be featured on a Food Network show called "The Hungry Detective." (Tues, Nov. 21, 2006).

ALTHOUGH I DON'T THINK CALVIN has really signed off on what's coming and its related "power-of-TV" impact (you'll see him wearing some random baseball hat on camera from some business I never heard of - WHAT THE HELL CALVIN?!?!?!), I'm pretty sure a national audience will result in a spike in Chicago-area business. And I'm CERTAIN his website will get hammered from non-Chicago visitors; which is making me crazy right now.

WEBSITE. I've been bugging Calvin for over a year to find some sort of budget so I can get his website in order (it currently sucks), but until yesterday, it never happened. Not until I mentioned his segment's airdate, that is. What's making me nuts is, with all the lead time, prior knowledge of this coming down the pike, etc., he didn't pull the trigger until yesterday, which gives me until Tuesday PM to put up something that will hopefully make him look halfway professional, franchiseable, and inviting.

THAT'S TOUGH ENOUGH, but I'm out of town with a band gig this weekend, which knocks two days out of the picture. Damn, and stay tuned...

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