Mala Waldron / Blog

How Do You Handle Double Bookings?

Let's face it -- double bookings happen from time to time. I guess it's just the nature of the business. Mistakes happen.

OK, but first, let me clarify -- I'm not talking about times when you've gotten booked for a gig, but you forgot to make note of it, and then you took another gig for the same day. I'm talking about getting booked for a gig and then showing up at the venue only to find another artist or band has also booked for the same slot!

It seems to happen at some venues a lot more than at others. In general, I try to stay away from clubs where double booking seems to happen just a little too often for comfort.

Maybe I've been lucky, but up until recently it had only happened twice in my career. The first time, I had been hired by a musician to do his gig. After driving through the most maddening rush-hour traffic, I arrived just in time only to find out another band was already in there setting up. After apologizing profusely the club owner said we wouldn't be playing that night.

One of the other musicians hired to play with us that night said we should have at least been compensated for our time and trouble. He had turned down another gig to do this one and was justifiably pissed off. The band leader was annoyed, but not wanting to sever his relationship with this club owner, he was more willing to forgive.

The second time I experienced a double-booking, the "sting" (or should it be the "stink") of it hit a little closer to home. I was the leader on this gig, so my musician's were looking at ME for answers. Now, I was in the hot seat. The club owner apologized profusely about the error and offered us dinner because she honestly felt badly. My band was understanding and stayed cool about the situation, probably because we had a history and they knew the mistake wasn't my fault. Unfortunately, I'd hired a "sub" that night who'd never worked with me before. Now I was the one apologizing profusely. He at the dinner, but he didn't look happy. I've never worked with him again. Hmmmmm ...

Some musicians accept the dreaded double-booking as an occupational hazard. I agree, but I don't think it should be a regular occurrence. If it happens too often I think it shows a lack of respect for musicians.

How do you feel about it? How do you handle them when they happen? Do you think the club owner should compensate the musicians, or is it the responsibility of the band leader? Would you work at a place with a reputation for doing this?