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“Pay To Play” Still Exists And It Sucks

pay to play

If you know anything about music festivals and promoter etiquette, you’d be able to tell me (or at least give an educated guess) how the interaction between performers and promoters usually go … The promoters of a festival book artists for their lineup that they find talented and a good fit for the vibe they want, the promoters get the word out and sell tickets, the artists play the festival and then get paid by the promoters and go home satisfied and happy. The End. But sadly enough, some promoters are still scummy enough to practice the “pay to play” way. In other words, two upcoming heavy rock/screamo festivals, The Civil Unrest Tour and Holdin’ It Down For The Underground¬†are making naive, aspiring bands pay hundreds, even thousands, of dollars for advanced festival tickets for them to sell themselves in order to gain a spot on the festivals’ lineups.

Both of these festivals are convincing unsuspecting young bands into buying a bulk amount of advanced tickets to resell for the festival, which then earns them a spot on the lineup. And the more tickets they sell, the better their time slot will be at the festival. In other words, both of the promoters behind The Civil Unrest Tour and Holdin’ It Down For The Underground are using hardworking bands to do their dirty promotional work for them and taking their money in the process. And what’s worse, they aren’t even gauging artists’ talent to create their timeslots. It all depends on how much money they can earn for the festival!

This can’t be emphasized enough, but this is not how festivals work. It’s all about fanbases, talent, reputation and integrity. If you succeed as an artist, the promoters will seek you out and want to pay you and give you the timeslot you deserve for your hard work. And the promoters, if they’re any good, will do all the ticket sales and promotion themselves. An artist should never lose money for playing a festivals or be in debt to promoters in the process. Long story short: the “pay to play” mantra is cheap, illegitimate and extremely scummy, and if any promoters are guilty of this, it’s best to boycott their event so this stops happening!


Morgan Susalka
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