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Financial issue with festival promoter

Discussion in 'The Business Side' started by madsmeskalin, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. madsmeskalin

    madsmeskalin Torkonfoslak

    This thread is similiar to the other festival thread here.

    I have been booked as organizer of VJ´s, and as a VJ at a local electronica festival here in Oslo. It´s a small festival (around 2000 - 3000 people) with two stages, situated on an island. We were originally 4 VJ´s. but one of them backed out in the last minute. I asked the promoter to get his pay (we work on comission, about a quid for every 8 people) if we are to take over his hours. He said no, arguing that a couple of hours more or less each day doesnt matter, and we should do it for free. He also said they might be forced to close earlier (23:00 instead of 01:00) and in that case we wouldnt him to pay us less because we suddenly get less working hours, do we?
    We are the only VJ´s around here who does a good job, and we are also leasing the equipment (billed separately)

    My point, I´m not sure what to think of this. What do you guys think? What should I tell the promoter? By the way, I might show this thread to the promoter to back up my claim.
  2. sleepytom

    sleepytom VJF Admin

    It is normal practice across the events industry to charge a 'day rate'. This is a fixed fee for a nominal day of work. (Its best to think of a day as 10 hours, where possible it is standard to charge an additional half days pay if the day is longer than 10 hours)

    The day rate system is used because we all know that sometimes things take longer than expected and other times something that was supposed to take all day gets done in a couple of hours. By charging day rates your able to give the client a static price for your labour, if you get the work done quickly then you get some free time but the client pays the same and so they have a known outlay to put in their budget.

    When providing multiple VJs its best to work collectively and work out the nominal number of person days and make that your collective fee for the work. Its then your choice how you divide up the hours and the fee between the VJs.

    If each VJ has a separate deal with the promoter then if someone drops out he will keep their wages. If you work as a collective and invoice from a single company for all the VJs then providing you are able to supply the contracted services it should not matter how many people you actually use on site to do the work.

    ----
    on a side note the bit where you say "we work on comission, about a quid for every 8 people" really worries me. What if nobody comes to the party? You'd get no money?
    Its the promoters job to make people come to the event. If he is crap at doing that then why should you get paid less? Do you have someone on the door counting people coming in? or are you trusting the promoters figures?

    VJing is a technical service - it has fixed costs and should have a fixed budget. Any room for maneuver will only be advantageous to the client / promoter.
  3. deepvisual

    deepvisual visually challenged

    sounds like an excellant opportunity to record the first 4 hours of the show and then play it back later on..
  4. devonmiles

    devonmiles Midi: the language of God

    working on comission is a bit like gambling. if the event is packed you might get more than somenone who has been cotracted on a fixed wage. but yes, no guests, no cash. Its kinda wildwest style business approach but cant really say its a bad deal. its up to you, if you can afford a potential loss. its quite common over here when promoters hire subpromoters to outsource festival stages.
    1 quid per 8 punters doesnt sound like a fair deal though. I would opt for 1 per 4.
  5. sleepytom

    sleepytom VJF Admin

    But you have zero control over how many people are going to come to the event. If you were a band or other attraction that actually draws punters then it would make more sense.

    you would not want to base your pay on how loud the sound system is, or on the average bra size of the bar staff, so why base your pay on another thing you have no control over (ie how well the promoter has done his job)

    it is a gamble of the worst kind - if the event does well then you make a basic wage. If it doesn't then you don't get paid.

    Door Splits make sense if your a headline band, if your a technical service provider then they don't.
  6. many2

    many2 Active Member

    And good luck verifying the promoter's numbers. How can you be sure if there werre 1000 or 2000 people with paid tickets at an event ? And then, if you could count them, could you prove it ? And if you could prove it, would it be financially sound to defend those numbers in court ?
  7. devonmiles

    devonmiles Midi: the language of God

    you can be sure they will lie about numbers to a certain extend :D but they cant really pretend its a loss when all tents are crammed full. when there arent any punters you will have a hard time getting your cash anyway. regardless if youre contracted or comissioned... but yes, as much as it becomes common practice recently, commission should be avoided in most cases.
  8. madsmeskalin

    madsmeskalin Torkonfoslak

    Yeah, I will never again work for comission. As you said, Tom, its only the promoter who can benefit from it. And this festival seems to go pretty bad, since not that many tickets have been sold. Well, I guess I just have to wait and see. Luckily, we know some of the people organizing the festival so I dont think it will be a problem getting the right numbers. And we told the organizer that if they dont want to pay us for the VJ who backed out (he wasnt one of us) then they just have to live with a smaller set, that we dont change our hours.
    They have given away 1300 tickets for free. In the contract it doesnt say that it have to be paying visitors. Do you think I can charge for the free tickets?
  9. deepvisual

    deepvisual visually challenged

    sounds like a good time to either renegotiate a fixed fee or pull out.
    unless you enjoy working all night for next to nothing.
    the only way you can be sure of the numbers attending is to either count all the tickets sold or count the numbers entering, neither of which you will be able to do.
    so the only likely scenario is the promoter paying you whatever he feels like at the end of the night when you can't do anything at all about it.
    its not like you can have your visuals back because he hasn't paid...
    hardly a great way to do business.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  10. madsmeskalin

    madsmeskalin Torkonfoslak

    I managed to renegotiate a 120 quid minimum for each of the artists, and 500 quid for projector rental. However, if they go bankrupt they can only pay for the equipment they say. I do want to pull out because of the finances, but at the same time I dont want to be the one breaking a deal like the other VJ they had. The festival starts in a week, and its a bout 5 hours each day divided on 3 VJ´s.
    At least I get the projector rental money. But yeah, not a great way to do business for sure, lesson learned!
  11. subpixel

    subpixel the pixelator

    How about 'pay to play'?.. The punters have to pay to get in, so you could ask to e paid before you turn on the lights.

    -spxl
  12. devonmiles

    devonmiles Midi: the language of God

    that used to be common practice, and serious promoters still do business this way but when the bigger festivals started to rent out tents to subpromoters, which act completely independent, the festival business has become somewhat a playground for gamblers...
  13. sleepytom

    sleepytom VJF Admin

    50% On conformation of booking
    remaining 50% due at start of event.

    Used to be standard practice.

    These days 50% on conformation of booking and 50% on 30 day invoice (dated same day as event) is more common.

    Either way you want to get at least half the money in your hands before you do any work.
  14. madsmeskalin

    madsmeskalin Torkonfoslak

    This festival is a fucking joke! Maybe I´m expecting too much, let me explain:

    1. When we were booked, we were promised that we would only need to setup the projectors. Screens, cabling, and everything else should be done by the technical responsible and some volunteers.

    2. We were supposed to set up everything on wednesday. Since I couldnt make it wednesday (I was babysitting some kids) I told the person in charge of the mainstage that they should just set up the lightning rig, soundsystem and everything, then I will be there thursday.

    3. When we got there thursday, nothing was done. The tent was up, but the lightning rig wasnt assembled, all of my stuff was locked in a truck and the truck driver was going for a walk with his dog so I couldnt get in for 2 hours. After waiting 6 hours, the lighting rig was still not put up, and I had to go back home to make dinner for the kids. I agreed with the person responsible for the mainstage that they should set up the screens, make the cable runs to the rig, and setup up the screens until the day after.

    4. When we get there the day after, Friday, the day of the event, nothing still hadnt been done. The lightning rig was assembled and my projectors were put on the rig, but no cabling and no screens. The festival was already opened, and the first act on the mainstage was on in less than four hours. We tried to get some volunteers to help us out, but they were useless. Two girls spent half an hour putting up a 2x3 meter screen made out of paper, then they ran off to check out the guys and eat burgers. So we had to setup up 30 x 3 meters screen by ourself, on the day of the event. Luckily we got some better volunteers an hour after the mainstage was supposed to open, bribing them with (our own) beers. We played our set fine, with some technical problems (they connected us to the wrong power source) so at times the projectors would turn off.

    5. During the night it was a storm, so all the screens blew off. Nobody told me anything about it, until I arrived the next day. I arrived earlier, since I knew that something was probably wrong. I called the person responsible for the mainstage to get more paper for the screens, and he said that it should arrive in half an hour. Two hours later it arrives, but by then the festival has run out of duct-tape. We managed to scavenge some white tent sheets to cover parts of the wall. I got pretty upset, and told the person responsible for the mainstage that we already worked way more than agreed in the contract, and that he should get some volunteers to put up the rest of the screens if he wants it better. It wasnt our job to begin with, which he agrees on. He says he will get volunteers to do it by the hour. Three hours later, nothing has been done and our set is about to start. The set went okay from our side.

    6. The festival told us they sold 1700 tickets. At the peak of the festival yesterday, it was maybe 500 people there tops. Most of the people heard of the festival from friends, and nobody had seen any kind of advertisement for it.

    This is the last day of the 3 day festival, but I had enough. I will play, but I wont feel good about it. What do you guys think? Is this really common? Do you have similiar experiences?
  15. madsmeskalin

    madsmeskalin Torkonfoslak

    Not directly VJ related, but one of my friends was supposed to supply food for the whole festival. They have a concept called the picnic sound system, where they make food and mix music to complement the food. They were told they would be the only supplier, apart from a kiosk outside the festival area. When he arrives, he sees no less than three food stands at the festival area, apart from the kiosk. He had spent 3000 quid on food! Luckily he could deliver parts of it back, losing only 300 quid. The organizers lost his stage tent during transport (400 quid) but after a day of searching he found it in a corner of the festival area. Talk about being royally buttfucked!
  16. PCProject

    PCProject Moderator

    Average. Had much better. Had much worse
  17. stickygreen

    stickygreen this is my custom title

    3 days to set up a stage for a few hundred people, and it's all messed up..

    not very well managed eh.?

    but you live and learn, right.
  18. deepvisual

    deepvisual visually challenged

    sadly it takes a little more than good intentions to make a festival work.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  19. asterix

    asterix IMAGINEER

    3 day festivals you rarely ever see the whole attendance on the dance floor though. Maybe about 1/4 at a time.

    Who's idea was it to make a screen out of paper lol
  20. madsmeskalin

    madsmeskalin Torkonfoslak

    Actually, that was my idea to make the screens out of paper. They worked wonders on all the inside venues I played at, cheap and can be cut into different shapes. But yes, they were a disaster outdoors when the wind started to blow.

    I didnt quite understand what you meant about that you dont see the whole attendees on the dance floor. When I meant a few houndred people, I meant in total.

    Anyway, I packed up my stuff and left the same day. The promoter said he couldnt guarantee that I get paid for my projectors or artist pay. We busted our ass off, did way much more than what the contract states, and no income. They will probably declare themselves bankrupt, and not hand out money to anyone. They reasoned it with me not living up to my end of the bargain. They said I should have arranged an outdoor cinema, so they could get support from the Norwegian Film Association. That is something we never agreed on. They mentioned it during a small talk, and I said sure just borrow my projectors. Nothing more. And its not stated in the contract as well.

    Fuck it, I´m rambling. The festival was horrible, I lost faith in mankind, and next time "pay before you play" ;)
  21. vdmoKstaTi

    vdmoKstaTi Seems to be Right Now

    First advice: Always try to see a bigger picture bro, please don't get discouraged by a single event! These come and go! :) Need a hug?

    What you described is supprisingly fairly common thing in some circles...Events come in all shapes and sizes, approaches and policies.. At times it can be Wild Wild West, yet sometimes you will end up working with professionals after all...

    Like you, I sometimes I work as VJ co-ordinator for a number of festivals (in Australia).. above selecting VJ crew to make festival visually engaging, i found that its best to have greater involvement in the actual production/set up/pack down or closer relationship with production crews themselves. The more events you generally do, the easier it will get.

    I had similar situations when things weren't organised by promoters in time many times, so I had stepped it up to make sure they happen from conceptional stages of event design down to install and performance.

    Another thing... Not all events are the same... Sometimes you simply must request 50% deposited before the event, sometimes you might work out the deal with a scalled approach.. it depends.. but building good working relationships with promoters and understaning sustainability elements of events itself can be a good knowledge to have for the overall picture....

    Keep your head up high and dream big.. it will come ;)
  22. psyOptik

    psyOptik New Member

    OT, but needs to be asked:

    The paper screens you have been using for indoor events, are they fireproof?
    If not... I have to question your general professionalism.

    ------

    Advice from someone who has fucked up a hundred times:

    Never trust organizers or volunteers.
    Be there before everyone else.
    Get to know every techie, gaffer, rigger, mule, stage manager, audio and lighting guy in your town, all the guys with gaffa, tools, straps, walkies, manpower, lifts and heavy gear. They will help you.

    YOU need to have control over the venue, YOU need to check which power source your projectors are fed, YOU need to make sure shit is rigged well ahead of time, you need to be there, not at home babysitting.

    And when a promotor tries to buttfuxx you, you need to introduce his testicles to your foot, not just bend over. Or you will be bent over a hundred times.

    Not that there's anything wrong with bending over, long as we're talking consent. :)

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