Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

The Bikini Kill Breakdown

Published on January 20, 2019 by   ·   88 Comments Pin It
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The now grown up riot grrls of yore were pissed as f this week about not getting tickets to Bikini Kill‘s first reunited show in forever. So what exactly happened?
As The Gothamist’s Ben Yakas wrote; “We were all very excited when it was announced earlier this week that the original lineup of DIY punk band Bikini Kill, the quintessential ’90s riot grrrl group, would reunite this spring for a handful of shows. One of the two NYC-area shows was scheduled for Terminal 5, the cavernous Midtown Manhattan venue nobody seems to like, but hey, at least there were two shows (the other is at Brooklyn Steel). Plenty of tickets to go around. What could go wrong? … cut to noon Friday, when the tickets to both shows went on sale”

(read the rest of his article to see what happened next if you don’t already know)

image via Bikini Kill

image via Bikini Kill

We thought we’d ask a music industry feminist her thoughts. Enter Tara Perkins. Tara is a well-respected music manager, feminist, and owner of Hard Land Management. She believes in women getting paid.

“It bugs me to see people who have no idea how the economics of live music works complaining about the cost of tickets/how rich BK is supposedly getting from these shows. These are estimates based on standard costs, I work in music, but I don’t work with this band. If we look at the Palladium show with 5000 capacity:

  • 1/4 of the ticket cost was fees for Ticketmaster. Money does not go straight to the bands, it goes to the venue’s promoter who handles all promotion and logistics for the show- security, staff, building rent, PA, etc. The band is given a guarantee, in this case I would guess it was probably around $60k-70k. Out of that (generously assuming it’s 70k) we subtract:
  • $7k booking agent
  • $10,500 management
  • $3,500 to a lawyer if they have one (there would be another $3,500 to an accountant if they were a regularly active band, but I’m guessing they don’t have one so will leave that off)
  • $4000 approximately for crew salary and PDs (tour manager, guitar/stage techs, front of house sound, monitors,)
  • $5000 in flight and ground travel costs for all the people and their gear, probably more
  • $4000 hotels for everyone for a couple nights
  • $1000 minimum for backline
  • $12,000 at least in state and federal taxes, probably more, California is one of the most expensive states to play

And we’re assuming they don’t bring in lights or any stage set or any other production that we’re all used to seeing at shows. Or any wardrobe or makeup etc. Those would all incur extra staff and rental costs.

That’s $49,000 in expenses, leaving approximately $21,000 in profits.

But wait! In order to do these reunion shows, they have had to spend weeks rehearsing, probably in NYC, and there will be costs for rehearsal space and gear rental for that, several hundred a day minimum. Plus flights for them all to be in the same city, and lodging for whoever has flown in and out for rehearsals, Ubers to and from airports and rehearsals, food….. They’ve probably had to buy new gear to be able to play these shows. If they’re playing 4 shows (please note income on Brooklyn Steel and Terminal 5 would be much lower as the capacities are smaller,) we could expense these preparation costs out over all 4, at approximately $4k a show. Bringing the ‘profit’ on this show to more like $17,000. Split amongst 4 people, that’s $4,250.

Spread it over a few months of preparation, travel, unpaid press to support the shows, and then actually playing the shows, and it starts to look a lot less like a cash-in and more like the same wages everyone who is trying to come see these shows is making.

Let’s save our gripes for the Rolling Stones, or better yet the fucking shutdown.”

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