OTEP - Lessons to be learned
Otep Shamaya (OTEP) recently came under fire for two separate reasons – issues with The Convalescene (a supporting band on her ‘The Resistance Tour’) and a promoter in Ohio.
First, let’s talk about OTEPs requirement during their set, which is not to allow other bands to sell their merchandise during their performance. In a recently Facebook live video she said it is because she shows other bands respect and ask for them to do the same in return. Do I agree with this? No. I think it is an arrogant excuse to have people watch you babble your radical politics on stage under the veil of heavy metal (as was the case with her recent show in Winter Park at the Haven – as multiple people have told me), but hey, that’s just me. Now, I have never been to an OTEP show because I am not a fan. I recognize she has amazing talent, but it’s not for me. Regardless, in the circumstance with The Convalescence, OTEP was the headliner. Meaning the majority of the people at the show are probably going to be there for her, not the supporting acts. Common sense tells me that if someone went to a concert for a specific band, they will give that band their full attention during their set. So why not allow the support bands and local acts try to sell their merchandise? Personally, I think it is ego. OTEP, on their ‘Resistance’ tour brought on support acts who were at a lower level in popularity than OTEP. While she says that this is because she likes to give lower level acts a chance to live out their dream, my knowledge of the music business is telling me the bands were available and able to buy on the tour.
Oh yes… bands buy on tours. Now, if you are in a local band you are entirely familiar with the term “pay-to-play” and chances are you hate the idea of it. Though, the reality is that bands buy on tours all the time. It’s just the nature of the game. A band will buy on a tour for $500-$5,000 (maybe more) in efforts to play in front of a larger crowd. Not only does this offer them a chance to play their music in front of a new, and typically larger, crowd. It also gives them an opportunity to sell massive more amounts of merchandise to those fans. And there is no better advertisement than when someone is blasting your music, or wearing your shirt for all of their friends to hear and see. So while she is trying to act like she is doing them a favor, and yes, she is (bands that buy on tours typically don’t have to do it for very long – it ABSOLUTELY helps), she is cutting off one of the reasons a band would agree to do it in the first place.
Now, as for the promoter situation, I am actually going to agree with her. Granted I only heard her side of the story but regardless, it doesn’t add up for the promoter. Keeping in mind I have heard of the massive issues promoters have had working with her, and bands who opened for her have said she is a nightmare, like The Convalescence did. But a promoter’s job is to take the show and make it work. Part of that job also means paying bands when they tell you to. Larger names like OTEP almost always ask for a 50% deposit prior to the show. The other 50% is paid after their performance.
Where do I see OTEP and her team fucking up? They agreed to play a show without their requirements being met. I totally understand how important it is to fill a date while planning a tour, so I understand why they would wave this off as no big deal. However it does obviously raise a red flag. It is easy for me and any other person to say OTEP and her team fucked up but the reality is you expect people to do their job, and have a sense of integrity. Regardless I am a firm believer that everything is your responsibility. The good and bad. What she did right was not play the show. I know that sounds mean, but this is her career choice. You wouldn’t go to your job and do your work for free, so why should she? If her band isn’t being paid, she has no obligation to anyone to perform.
Upon this, she said she took the people who bought a VIP ticket out for coffee and tea, which is a very polite thing to do and not something I would think of as common among bigger name acts. She definitely deserves credit for that. She also offered to guest list anyone who wanted to come to her next show. She deserves credit for what she did with her VIP and for her offer to guest list the fans.
While I do not like OTEP as a person, nor do I care for her music, these recent happenings with her offer important lessons that local, regional, and national acts can learn from.