Does less beer mean happier musicians?

…and the poll says….that our readers would overwhelmingly not mind paying a cover to see bands on Frenchmen Street if doors on Frenchmen Street clubs were required to be closed. But, it was pointed out, that traffic to individual clubs would go down as patrons might not be interested in paying a cover charge at every club. One astute reader suggested a wristband that would allow music lovers to get into every club on Frenchmen. Sounds good, but who would administer the wristband program? Looks like something our new administration and District C Councilman, Kristen Gisleson Palmer, should look into, for feasibility. But would the clubowners on Frenchmen Street go for this? I think I can say they would not.

I think it’s a great idea to get all the musicians paid better, but it’s definitely going to have a potential negative effect on the music clubs, who sell a ton more alcohol with the doors open, so people can wander down the street, listen to music for free and drink in whichever club they land in that has its doors wide open and no cover charge.

We also gather information on demographics when we do our polls, and the older music lovers who go to Frenchmen Street tend to be more apt to be open to paying for a cover music (well, duh: they generally have more money to spend). It’s the respondents who are in their twenties who can’t afford it.

So, how do you satisfy younger people who can’t afford to pay a cover for every club? Ask them to give up one beer or one shot and use the money for a cover charge so the musicians can be paid better?

Quite a conundrum. Suggestions, anyone?


  • John Swallow

    Perhaps a combination o’ previously successful ideas…at one time, clubs charged a “two drink minimum” – hard to manage in this day. However, if the “cover charge” included a drink ticket or two, it solves both problems! Tips still appreciated.

  • Lloyd Dobbler

    Having New Orleans government issue wristbands? Dumb idea. Musicians will never see the money. The market will figure it out.

  • Lloyd Dobbler

    This is basic economics. Supply and demand. The musicians (the suppliers) can raise their rate. Club owners (the purchasers) then decide to pay that rate or look for another supplier at a cheaper rate. In the end, the club owners will make a business decision based on customer demand. In no way, shape, or form should municipal government come in to administer a process. The market will figure it out.

    Post script — in every profession, there are people who get paid a lot and there are people who get paid little. College professor vs. kindergarten teacher. Law firm partner vs. public D.A. Taylor Swift vs. Frenchman Street vocalist.

  • jjazznola

    If it ain’t broke…..

  • redwriter

    Spotted Cat has a one-drink minimum, yet I often see plenty of people right up front with no drink. At other places, people seem to have plenty of money for rounds of shots, but can’t cough up a dollar to tip the band.

  • G E. Guido

    Wow, this seems wrong in so many ways. We always tell tourists to go to Frenchmen because they can hear music from outside a club or go in or listen for a song and stay of they like it or move on to the next place if they don’t. So if we close all the doors and start charging a cover charge, people have to decide to hear a band they don’t know by the name and a picture on a handbill in the window. That means instead of sampling several clubs in one night they’l go to one or maybe two. How many cover charges are you going to pay in one night?

    I often go to hear a specific band or artist on Frenchmen and when I do, I tip well and tip for each set I stay for. I imagine performers I go to see would suffer a net loss from me by going to a “cover charge” rather than “tip jar”. There are also times that I like to go from club to club to hear new things and maybe stay for a set at each (tipping accordingly). Many people stay for a set at one club and move on after….and maybe come back if they don’t hear something they like better. Although I tip at each place I would go I would likely be loathe to spend a cover charge if I’m only staying for a short while – a half a set or so. How many times have I walked into a club and heard one song follwoed by “We’re going to take a short pause…” That usually means it’s time to head somewhere else. If I had paid a cover I would either be obliged to stay for 15…20…30 minutes (?) until the next set or leave and be very upset that I just wasted a cover charge and didn’t see anything and be badgering the doorman to return my cover charge. You might think I’m reaching and nit picking here, but that really is the nature of visiting Frenchmen St.

    So, being that the Frenchmen experience is to have a musical buffet that you can sample from and move on…how would a cover work? Would a pay a cover for each set at a club? What if I’m coming in at the beginning of the last set of 3? Do I pay the same as if I came at the beginning of the first set? What if I come in halfway through the last set? What if I want to see the next band and arrive early and see a few songs of the band currently performing? Do I have to pay a cover for each artist? And how much? A relatively high cover might dissuade me from coming in to a club especially for a performer I’m not familiar with. And depending on the amount, afer paying a couple cover charges (again depending if it’s per artist, per set, etc.) I’m probably going to call it a night.

    And oh, yeah. So the club owners are going to charge oa cover…whay would you think the club owners would pay the entire cover to the artist? This could go one of two ways. Either the band gets the entire door – but the band then has to have someone counting the door to be sure they are paid accourately. Or the club owner says to the band OK, I’ll pay you a flat x number of dollars per night and he’ll pay the band and keep any overage from the door as profit. Or you can do a hybrid paying a flat amount plus the door if it’s over a certain amount or a percent of the door over a certain amount, again leaving the band to have to count the door to get a proper a payout.

  • G E. Guido

    I have many problems with this. We always tell people from out of town to head to Frenchmen. Stop in a club and have a listen and if you like what you hear, stay and if not, move on to the next. That’s the nature of Frenchmen. Sampling a few songs or a set or many different performers.

    Sometimes I go to Frenchmen with the intent of seeing one particular artist and staying for the duration of their show 2 or 3 sets or however long they play. I wouldn’t mind paying a cover charge in those situations, but I probably tip more than a cover charge, tipping after each set. Other times I just like to see who’s playing and maybe see some performers I haven’t seen or only know by name. I would hate to pay a cover and only stay a few songs or half a set or whatever,although I would tip in those situations. It seems this would serve to kill the “musical buffet” aspect of Frenchmen. Without being able to go in and hear a song before deciding to stay how does one decide to go to a club and pay a cover if you cant hear the music outside with a closed door and only rely on a name and picture on a handbill?

    Which leads to a whole other issue. How much cover charge will I pay and for what? As the nature of Frenchmen is largely this musical browsing I might just stay for a set or only arrive for the last set. Do I pay a cover for each set? Do I pay less for arriving at the last set as as opposed to arriving at the first and staying for several sets? What if ( as happens many times) I get to the club and hear “OK, we’re going to take a short break now…” Sometimes that happens even before I get a drink. So I might want to go somewhere else. Do I get my cover charge back? Depending on the amount of the cover charge, it will deter me form sampling several different performers in a night.

    Finally, when there is a cover charge, what will ensure that the performers will actually be paid the entire cover charges paid by customers on any given night? Performers will have to have someone watch the door to be sure they are paid whet they are due. Or maybe club owners will charge a cover but have performers sign a contract for a flat rate, and keep the difference.

    Last night I saw the existing system work just the way it should. Two woman stopped in the doorway of a club, listened for a couple minutes, came in and bought a drink, sat down stayed for two or three songs, dropped some kind of tip off and headed out with their drinks. I’d hate to lose the ability to do that. Having said that, it drives me crazy to see someone come in to a club, get out their phone and record an entire set and not tip or buy a cd.

    All things considered this system ain’t so bad