Last day, Masala Coffee, a popular music band, put a long post on Facebook. The post, according to them, was a caution to fellow musicians, artistes and event planners/promoters in the industry. They narrated an unfortunate experience they had to go through at an event held in Kochi.
“We were booked by the Silver Tree agency to play for a wedding at the Adlux Convention Centre, Cochin, on the 20th of April. The wedding was being planned and curated by Oscar Event Management who had recruited Silver tree to handle the music and entertainment for the evening (sic),” reads the post.
The post goes on about how the organisers ill-treated the team. They neither made proper arrangements for the band’s performance and stay nor paid them the entire amount prior to the event, as agreed. Later, when the team asked for payment, organisers told them to approach the court, says the post.
Not just that, the organisers also approached the team manager and demanded to play extra time after performing for the confirmed 30 minutes. “Their colleague, a girl, told our manager that we have to perform for just 30 minutes as singer Rimi Tomy would be singing on the other stage. We rechecked and confirmed before going on stage, but performed for 40 to 45 minutes (upon seeing a crowd gather and the general attendees having a good time, as said in the post). After we concluded the show and started packing the equipments, representative of Oscar events approached our manager and demanded to extend the performance for another 45 minutes. He was rude, and when we asked for payment, he told us to contact Silver Tree. When contacted them, people there told us that the client didn’t pay them,” says a member of Masala Coffee, who does not wish to be named.
“We have voice records of them admitting that it was their mistake. They paid an advance amount and promised to give pending amount prior to the performance, which they didn’t,” he adds.
Masala Coffee made the Facebook post to spread awareness among other bands. If something like this happens to a band like us, what about young talents, asks the member. “We have been thinking for a while about further steps. Now, we have posted this because we want our followers and music fraternity to know what we have gone through. It is humiliating for an artiste,” he says.
This is not the sole case. Music bands have been facing similar issues for a long time. John Thomas of Motherjane, who has been in the field for more than 20 years, says, “most bands must have gone through something like this. We have two experiences.” In his opinion, the safest way is to make sure that full payment is made before the band gets on stage. “Else, the organiser should be credible, and you must have worked with them before,” he says. “In this case, they have asked the band to go to court because they know the band won’t do it as it is an expensive and time-consuming affair,” he adds.
There is no doubt that it is a bad practice, but musicians don’t believe that all event planners or promoters are like this. “There are good ones. It is up to the band to find the right one,” opines John.
“These days, we see many persons without experience venturing into the music industry as organisers thinking it is a money-minting field. All they need is to make some profit. We have to be careful,” he says.
He also points to the need for a proper structure in the industry. “Take the case of films. If one artiste is not paid, she or he can file a complaint with respective organisations. Even the release of the film would be postponed until that person is paid. Independent music industry lacks an arrangement like this.”
Kishan, manager of the band When Chai Met Toast too believes getting full amount prior to the performance is the best way. “In certain situations, that may not happen. For instance, corporate have age-old practices that cannot be changed. But, then they have a good legal structure,” he says.
In his opinion, every band should have a legal advisor. “None of our artistes follow proper legal procedures for shows. Outside, bands do that. Nobody does it here because it may hinder getting shows,” he says. “All shows of our band (When Chai Met Toast) have proper legal documents. One cannot play around that. Ideally, one shouldn’t go for a performance before getting full payment. If the promoter is new, then there is no question. Get the entire amount before the band is on stage,” he says.Though we contacted Silver Tree for the response, they refused to give a solid comment and said, “We are communicating to this legally, and we can comment only after that.”