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Alderman Schulter’s turn: The committee chair responds to music community worries about the promoter’s ordinance

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Here are the comments of Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th), the chairman of the city licensing committee, about the concerns of many in the Chicago music community pending the City Council vote on Wednesday on the new promoter’s ordinance.

Q. Alderman, the Chicago Music Commission voiced its concerns pretty eloquently in a statement released the other day: They’ve said the city was listening to its input on the law, but something seems to have broken down. They wrote, “CMC is extremely disappointed in the city’s public comment process for this significant change to Chicago’s music landscape, especially given the city’s commendable past efforts to work with the music community on this important effort.” What happened? Why is the public comment process being cut short and this thing being rushed to a vote next week?

A. We’ve been meeting since July. More time and energy has been put into this than any other ordinance... First of all, I am not the author of this, or the sponsor. That would be a good question for the mayor’s press secretary, Jacqueline Heard. What I did, as soon as it got into my arena, I held it up. In fact, your colleague at the Sun-Times, Fran Spielman, was saying, “Why did it take so long? It’s been five years since the E2 situation.” Well, since last July, we’ve been having a lot of meetings on this, along with Department of Business Affairs & Licensing, and a lot of the aldermen brought a whole host of other people that might not have even been part of any process in the past to get their input. And they came up with some really great changes. So if you look at the original ordinance…

Q. I have, and the CMC did a comparison of the two. They were very happy about some of the changes…

A. A lot of them were their recommendations, actually. I respect all the people involved in that organization; they’ve been very eloquent in talking about their issues. But I think that what they don’t want is a promoter’s license. Cutting right to the chase, I don’t think they want to see a promoter’s license.

Q. I think that many people in the music community don’t understand why a promoter’s license is necessary if you’re dealing with a venue that is already PPA-licensed.

A. The problem, Jim, is that you don’t know who is handling that part of the business. Unfortunately, we’ve had incidents in the city where people have been murdered, people have been accosted, there have been fights, and what we’re trying to do, our goal is not to hurt anybody, but to really help the promoter as well as the person in charge of the venue. Because right now, the only person that really is responsible is the person that runs the venue. I think that this gives a different status to the promoters, and I think that is a good and healthy thing. The community that these events are held in should know who’s hosting these events. If it’s not the person who owns the venue—since they are licensed, you’re right, they don’t need to have another license, so they were excluded; at one time, they were going to have to get the additional license, but I’m all for less is better with me—but in this particular arena, if you go and talk to the community organizations throughout the city, and the complaints that I get across the board, and that the police department gets, you’ve got some promoters, a few, who make the good people look bad.

Q. I understand that, alderman. But it seems like there’s a cultural gap, and we saw this with the anti-rave ordinance in 2000, as well. There is a world of difference between a fly-by-night dance promoter who does an event in an unlicensed venue, and, say, a group supporting community radio that wants to hold a benefit at a club like Schuba’s. This ordinance doesn’t seem to recognize that. Nocturna is a dance night promoted by a world-renowned gothic DJ at Metro; now, she’s going to have to get a promoter’s license, even though Metro is very exacting in making sure everything is done by the books at that venue. This ordinance has the potential to hurt events like these and not necessarily target the underground promoter who’s going to stay underground. And there are already a hundred laws on the books to go after that underground promoter. If you look at E2, there were many complaints already filed against that club, the city could have shut it down for a number of reasons that would have prevented the tragedy there, and you would not have needed this promoter’s ordinance to do that.

A. But how do you make the distinction, Jim?

Q. You could rule out any venue that already has a PPA license.

A. That’s the crux of the problem. How do you then know who these promoters are? How do you then make sure that the person is marketing the event, they market it to such a large audience that 1,000 people show up where there’s only room for 500, and the rest of the people are outside.

Q. I live up the block from Wrigley Field, and that happens with the pennant race! The promoter advertises but can’t control how many people show up; the good venues have the security in place, and it’s their responsibility to handle the crowd and say, “I’m sorry, we’re at capacity.”

A. So the venue is obviously still responsible, but don’t you think that we need to know who is doing all this in the neighborhoods of Chicago?

Q. Let’s look at a club that has music six nights a week, 52 weeks a year. The city doesn’t need to know every one of the three bands that plays every night 300 nights a year, does it? Then, if 50 of those nights are sponsored by independent promoters—one night’s a ska night, and one night’s a psychedelic rock night—why do you need to know that? Say I have a psychedelic-rock fanzine, and twice a year at a club like Schuba’s, I host my psychedelic rock night.

A. Unfortunately, you’re citing an upstanding venue.

Q. But that’s the problem. The CMC has written: “The language of the ordinance as drafted unnecessarily and perhaps prohibitively increases the cost of doing business for any promoter seeking to work with PPA-licensed music venues under 500 seats and those without ‘fixed seating,’ including, among many others, Schuba’s, Buddy Guy’s Legends, the Vic Theater, the Riviera Theater, the Metro, the Hideout, Uncommon Ground and Martyrs’.” These are clubs that have gone through a lot of trouble and expense since E2 to make sure they conform to safety requirements—and we’re all glad, because we want to be safe—but now the city is adding an unnecessary burden to these clubs.

A. You brought up Martyr’s: Ray Quinn doesn’t have any outside promoters, as far as I understand.

Q. Sure he does. In fact, the city Department of Cultural Affairs has done shows there—there’s an outside promoter.

A. Obviously, you bring up some very interesting issues, but how do we distinguish the good promoters from the bad promoters?

Q. Doesn’t the city already distinguish between the good venues and the bad venues? The venues that have one complaint too many about underage drinking or fighting are quickly out of business—especially in the wake of E2. “Promoter” is a nebulous word; under this ordinance, it could apply to anyone who holds a benefit. The guy in my band broke his leg; he doesn’t have health insurance; we’re gonna hold a benefit to pay his medical bills. Suddenly, I'm a promoter. If I really have my act together and want to get certified as being a non-profit group so I'm exempt under this ordinance, that takes a long time and a lot of trouble.

A. Not really; what you’re talking about is a 501C-3. You can go on the Secretary of State’s Web page and get not-for-profit status pretty quickly. In any event, Jim, I am having another meeting on Tuesday, and we have extended an invitation to a lot of the people you are talking about to come and talk over their concerns. So I’m going to continue to listen to them to hear what they have to say.

Q. I think that’s what everyone in the Chicago music community wants.

A. But we’ve been dealing with a lot of these people for more than a year. I can check my schedule: We’ve met with every conceivable group on this issue, and there have been a lot of people who testified in favor of it. And as I said, the changes we’ve made, we made a lot of these changes after listening to a lot of these people, and we’ll continue to listen to them to see what they have to say on Tuesday.

Q. The concern, alderman, is that CMC says point-blank: “The ordinance will reduce the amount of music in Chicago, make events more expensive for consumers, dampen the large and growing economic engine that is Chicago music and create a much less supportive business climate for Chicago’s small music business community.” This is not a radical group; it's actually as mainstream as you can get.

A. Well, let me talk with them on Monday and Tuesday. I appreciate the call, and I really have an open-door policy, and a lot of these people have been talking with me for a real long time, better than two years… In fact, we were working on this well in advance of the E2 situation. What we don’t want to do, obviously, is hurt the industry. We thought that this was helping the industry by giving them status so that you separate yourself from the bad operators that are causing a lot of problems in the neighborhoods now. Otherwise, what can happen, gone unchecked, we have more initiatives on ballots to vote precincts dry now, and that is just horrific—that really hurts the good venues with maybe one bad apple. You can knock out 12 good venues with one bad apple. So there’s this balance between what I am hearing from people in the neighborhoods all over the city of Chicago and what we need to do here now. And the goal here was just to have more accountability, but we’ll keep you posted.

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24 Comments

You know, this may have been addressed, but how would this matter to, say, a band that is booked by the venue? They are an unsigned band, so I guess there would be no promoter. How is that affected? Does the venue act as a promoter, therefore getting billed twice themselves, with the insurance and fees or is the band billed? How does that work?

Amen Ald. Schulter. I am so tired of hearing that the music scene will be destroyed by this ordinance. They do not want to be licensed and that is the bottom line. Every other legitimate business has a license in the city and for some reason this industry has been given a free pass for years. Now they are so arrogant that they make arguments that simply do not make sense. They will not be one promoter in this city who will go out of business or go elsewhere because they have to be licensed. Like the suburbs can compete with city venues, yea, right. If their margin is so small that a license fee will put them out of business then they should do something else for a living. Stop whining, grow up and join the rest of the business world that obtains licenses, insurance and uses contracts.

Eric H.

Good question that can be easily answered by reading the ordinance and seeing who is exempt from having to get the license. Here is the list per Jim's post:
1. All media are exempt
2. All ticket sellers are exempt
3. All performers are exempt
4. All agents of atheletes and performers are exempt
5. Anny PPA licensed venue and employees are exempt that promote their own events.
6. All government agecies and their employees are exempt
7. All legitimate not-for-profits and their members and employees are exempt.
8. All promoters who EXCLUSIVELY promote events in venues that have either, 1)All fixed seating and all patrons ares seated in those fixed seats or 2) venues with 500 or more fixed seats.

So any PPA venue that decides to promote their own events does NOT have to obtain the license.

If a band (or any other performer) wants to promote their own events, they do NOT have to get the license.

Any not-for-profit organization that promotes their own events does NOT have to get the license.

Eric,

I think you perspective is a little misplaced. There are a lot of decent, hard-working event promoters, like in any other business, and this law is requiring a potential fee of $500-$2,000 per event.

You tell truck drivers to go find another job. You tell grocers to do something else for a living when the cost of food goes up and they can't keep their doors open.

You apparently consider yourself so elitist and revenues that the music industry brings in so minimal that the city can afford to stifle and choke the vitality and life right out of it.

We are all for safer venues and events, but this law, in its current form, is poised to do a lot more harm than good.

Not only that, Alderman Schulter failed to mention that to get 501C-3 you also need federal recognition, which takes weeks and hundreds of dollars to obtain...

Nick-

Thank you (as well as everyone else) for the explanations, but I don't think I have a misplaced perspective on this. I am just trying to figure out every facet of it. I don't have any fingers pointed, but after hearing a lot of this, I do believe it is a very unnecessary ordinance. I never really considered the city taking money from small promoters a good thing. I am NOT, repeat, NOT being an advocate for the city.

Nick:
Do me a favor and at leasts read the ordinance before you stoop to immature name calling. $500-2000 per event??? Hello!! You have no idea what your saying. The license is a 2-year license that ranges between $500 -$2000 every TWO YEARS!! Not every event.
Also- READ the language for NFP's you DO NOT HAVE TO BE A 501C-3, you only need to QUALIFY to be one. Nick is another example of people so biased against normal business regulation that they don't even take the time to read the ordinance and give some faith to the supporters who worked on this for the past 5 years.

Chicago has a rich and storied local performing arts tradition that must be kept intact.

But there may be a larger picture to the performing arts and civil liberties at stake here.

I can see this new ordinance not only limiting promoting of concerts but also opening the door to hindering small theatrical and performing arts events, recreational and cultural festivals, and educational and professional development classes, workshops and activities.

How does this potential law define “event promoter” and “venue”?

Where does that line get drawn that inhibits our right to free speech that facilitates our right to assemble, for cultural or civil purposes?

Please do not let this ordinance pass, and help secure and continue Chicago’s diverse, proud cultural offerings.


Sincerely,

Jason Rosado
Business Coach and Owner
Distinctive Coaching

Thank you for covering this so well, Jim DeRogatis.

Eric H: Venues who book their own acts are exempt.

GE: Existing promoters will not be put out of business because they're already licensed. The language of this ordinance is so vague that anyone from a bunch of teenagers out of the burbs (The Frantic, for example) to a traveling chamber orchestra from Oberlin could be considered promoters.

It's not a question of whether or not "they" want to be licensed. I'm not sure you're clear on who "they" are, which is understandable because the ordinance isn't very clear. You listed several exemptions to this ordinance and one of them was performers. Unfortunately, the ordinance states that the performer "exercises no other financial or non-performance-related operational responsibility in connection therewith". What about the actors who collect tickets? What about the performers who are given tickets to sell? And then there are those who book their own shows. They're booking the acts, they're advertising, they directly or indirectly receive revenues or shares from the event, and that, according to 4-157-010, is the definition of a promoter.

Additionally, some venues book one act and then ask that act to provide the rest of the lineup. In that instance, the first act becomes a promoter. Should they be penalized for being asked to contribute?

There's obviously an uproar in the community about this potential law. That alone should keep it from being passed until these muddy waters can be cleared.

IF you are opposed to this legislation and the confusion (and future lawsuits) that will follow, visit petition site http://savechicagoculture.org and leave a comment.

On a side note, even though I responded to "GE", it is difficult to respect the arguments of someone who doesn't leave a name or contact information. Anonymity is easy; full disclosure tells the world you have courage in your convictions.

What is the definition of performer? What if the promoter introduces the band or DJ's one song, does he or she become a performer? What if everyone passing out flyers DJ's one song or each one introduces a band? Do they become performers?

What about art shows? I just had an opening at a small gallery that had a beer sponsor and music playing. Do I need a license as an artist? I'm not performing. Does that mean my friends can't pass out flyers for me?

Theresa:

Regarding your side note: Why is it difficult to respect arguments by people who leave an abbreviated e-mail name? I saw your petition site and almost everyone of your protesters who posted used an e-mail abbreviated name like me, so does that mean that their wish to have some level of anonymity means that their comments lack courage in their convictions?? It is so easy to put your full name out there when the you have the luxury of seeing that your opinion is in the happy majority but if you knew that you risked unfair retaliation, by way of possible e-mail hacking or cyberstalking, by being in the minority, I wonder if you would be so high minded to criticize. I entered the appropriate e-mail address and other information to access this blog and if Jim wants to contact me in order to talk to you one on one, I would be fine with that. There is alot of misinformation from you and other bloggers being put out on this ordinance and you feel it necessary to create a web site to crush it when you do not know all the facts. For instance, did you know that if passed it would not even take affect until October of 2008? The city built in a 5 month window to work out any rules/regs and have education workshops to answer everyone's issues. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Just because there will be a 5 month window does not mean it is a reasonable law. The fact that they are leaving a 5 month window only shows that they are expecting a large backlash and problems that will take at least 5 months to figure out.

They are throwing at the baby with the bath water.

Ray Quinn doens't work with outside promoters?

Uhm, has he ever heard of JAM Productions?

It's good to know that if nothing else, they're certainly doing their research. *cough*

And one more comment for Eric H. who said:
If their margin is so small that a license fee will put them out of business then they should do something else for a living.

I apologize for the redundancy if this has already been addressed, but the majority of promoters in this city do NOT make their livings from their promotion/production companies. For many of us, myself included, it is a labor of love. Very few of us are making a lot of money at these events. Most of the live music promoters I have worked with are musicians themselves, trying to bring art and culture to the people.

Speaking from a personal perspective, I have never made more than a few hundred bucks at any event I've hosted, even very successful ones - several at clubs mentioned above that seat 250-500 people. It's because I pay the bands, I tip the staff, I compensate my own "employees" (friends that help stage manage and promote). So why do I put on these events? Because I love music! Touring bands who would otherwise have twenty people at their show have gotten to play for an audience of two hundred - and that makes me happy. It's something I do for fun, maybe an extra buck or two at the end of the night, but it's certainly not a LIVING nor would I ever consider it one; I have a day job as do many other small-time promoters, and I've poured a lot of money from that day job into my little promotion company.

No one here is getting rich, except for maybe JAM and a few others who will be exempt from the emended ordinance.

Most of us are not opposed to the idea of licensing promoters, the problem lies with the proposed fees and requirements of obtaining such a license. As one example, a company like mine simply cannot afford $500-$2000 semi-annually to host events that are not profitable bi-annually.

I hope that maybe this widens your perspective... We're not all money-grubbing anarchists, most of us really do just want to bring music to the people. :)

The claim above by GE that performers are exempt appears to me to be wrong, at least in terms of practical impact, because in real life the line is often not so clear. Here's the relevant text of the ordinance:

“Event promoter” or “promoter” means any person who: (1) is directly or indirectly responsible for the organization of an amusement or event, as evidenced by activities such as contracting with the principals, selecting entertainment, advertising or otherwise holding out an amusement or event to members of the general public, inviting participants to an amusement or event, or renting or controlling the site of an amusement or event; and (2) directly or indirectly receives or shares in any of the following: (a) admission or entrance fees paid by participants [...] (B) The following persons are not event promoters within the meaning of this chapter: [...] (3) any performer who is paid for his performance at an amusement or event but exercises no other financial or non-performance-related operational responsibility in connection therewith;

[my italics]

Here's a real-life example: I'm a jazz trombonist who's been living and working in Chicago since 1992. On Friday, May 23 I have a gig at the Velvet Lounge. I was offered the night to bring in a band of my choosing, so I called some guys up and put together a group for the gig, as I do dozens of times a year.

Under the terms of the ordinance, that makes me a promoter, because I contracted the other guys to play and will pay them at the end of the night, and publicized the gig on my website. So to comply with the law I'd have to get fingerprinted, get a criminal background check, pay a $500 fee for a two-year Class D promoter license, and buy liability insurance for the band (even though the Velvet is a fully compliant PPA venue with its own insurance). All this for a gig where I can expect to make around $80.00. The fee is once every two years (though still onerous in itself), but the liability insurance is something I'd have to provide every single time I call up some guys to do a gig (I work with different people all the time).

I don't run any kind of music promotion business and the economic structure of gigs like this does not generate a promoter fee on top of the performance fee. The fact that I'd be viewed as a promoter under this law, subject to this unnecessary regulation that would make it far more difficult for me to go out and play my gigs, is a sign that the law is poorly conceived and way too broad in its practical scope.

Or consider a young band who's got a CD out and is going on tour. They want to play Chicago, so they send promo stuff to the Empty Bottle and book a gig there, and publicize it on their MySpace page, etc. Now they are promoters under the law, so to play this one gig in Chicago on their shoestring-budget tour they'll have to jump through all those bureaucratic hoops and pay at least $500.00. Most bands faced with that are going to skip Chicago.

The consequences of these facts for venues like the Velvet and the Bottle, and for the vibrancy of the city's musical life, should be obvious.

(A lot of the above is resting on my reading of "financial or non-performance related operational responsibility," so if someone knowledgeable can show me I'm interpreting that wrong, please do. It looks to me to be certainly arguable that if, e.g., I pay the other guys, that is a financial responsibility that goes beyond my being paid for my performance, and if I publicize the gig that is a "non-performance related operational responsibility," in the sense that publicizing is not performing. A band on tour has to e.g. rent a van to travel to the gigs, which again looks to me like a "non-performance related operational responsibility," in the sense that making sure the performers show up for the gig at the agreed-on time is distinct from performing.)

THANK YOU Ellie!

I think many people are failing to realize that we're not talking about large-scale events that rake in the money. The people who are going to be hurt by this are the ones who do it for the love of the music/event, etc., not to mention benefits! These promoters often will barely break even, and some even take losses just to put these events on. GE's comment to "join the rest of the business world" shows his ignorance towards smaller events and just how they are put on. I guess we should all just rely on corporate machines like JAM and ClearChannel to dictate what we get to experience, right?

Thanks, Jim, for posting this important information in your blog. I have e-mailed and called my Alderman (which happens to be Schulter) to explain my dismay at this proposed ordinance. Let's hope everyone else that read this post did too.

I can personally say that if this goes through I am through with putting on events in Chicago.

I am not a "big fish". I am not a voice that can reach into the pockets of those that would be interested. I do not rely on events to pay my way. If I did, I'd be doing illegal house parties, raves and loft parties.

I put on 2 or 3 concerts a year and I do a monthly dj night. If I wanted to make money off of shows for a living I'd never have tried to do it in this city to begin with. Too much competition and way too much money involved.

I don't rely on ticket sales to pay bands. I rely on having the money on hand before the night of the show.

Not a single event have I ever made enough money to even go so far as to pay my rent. I usually take all the money made at the door and split it between the bands. I might keep enough to pay for a cab ride home if needed.

I can say that I pay money out of my own pocket at the end of the night to make sure the bands get what was needed.

I will say now that if I have to pay for a license because the city doesn't want to enforce the laws and ordinances they already have, I won't.

Maybe I'll continue to do shows outside of the city limits. That's still to be seen.

Why do I do shows that cost me money? Everyone needs a hobby and because I like to offer the opportunity to bands to come in and show people what they can do. To open themselves up to a new area and hopefully gain new fans.

Everything I do, I do inside a licensed and insured establishment.

I do not promote or organize illegal house parties or raves. However, if the laws were stronger against people that held these illegal activities maybe the city wouldn't have to cover their asses and make everyone pay for a license to an ordinance that allows blame to fall on the venue and the promoters rather than the venue and the city.

Maybe the city should offer a "per head" ticketing system for people that organize and promote illegal loft parties, raves, and such inclined events. Every person at such an event is a $20 fine. And maybe they should enforce the underage and curfew policies for anyone that is underage at these events. But that might take too much man power and too much time. And this isn't about who's at the event. It's about who's putting it together and telling people about it. No need to ticket the underage kids because they didn't put together the event. They just showed up and got drunk. Even though they know they're not supposed to drink until they're of legal age.

After all, the city wants to determine who the good guys and bad guys are so wouldn't the fact that these events aren't in legal establishments do that?

I think it's funny how all of a sudden, the big venues like the Rosemont and United Center threatened to take their business out to the burbs if this passed. Now all of a sudden, they're exempt from it and they no longer care.

The biggest reason such venues said this was simple. They have a lot of people from other states that book events there. Circus', carnivals, monster trucks, concerts and such. Accordingly, all these outside promoters from other states and cities would have to buy this license. Even though they do not reside within the limits of the city of Chicago.

These promoters plainly said that they would take their events to other venues such as the Metro Centre in Rockford IL. The city doesn't want that to happen so now these larger venues are exempt. Thus, the outside promoters do not need the license.

The only thing I can offer to everyone, that is a small time player like myself, is this.

Search out venues that are outside of the city limits but close enough for trains and buses. As soon as the word is given that the license has become legitimate, cancel all the shows you have, even if they happen before the 5 month limit, and try to reschedule them outside of the city.

If everyone does this it might send a message to the city.

Highly doubtful, slightly possible, but it will save you the money instead of paying for a license that basically keeps the city out of court for not enforcing the laws and ordinances it already has.

Overall, I share Jason's concern that the promoters ordinance will inhibit our right to free speech and right to assemble, so I'm now a card-carrying ACLU member (www.aclu.org).

This promoters ordinance will hurt the little guy, the hobbyist, the person with a day job or a career who on off-hours participates in Chicago's music scene as a musician, DJ or promoter simply for the love of music. This ordinance, the city's response to the E2 nightclub incident, throws out the baby with the bath water and essentially treats anyone involved in organizing or promoting a music event like some kind of gangster thug.

I can't be gentle here: I really think the city has lost its mind over so-called security when its going to subject music geeks to criminal background checks, fingerprinting and license fees to support Chicago's music scene. This ordinance treats music aficionados as though they are some kind of gangster thugs with guns and knives snorting coke at the bar.

When it comes to independent do-it-yourself (DIY) music events, the lines are often blurred between musicians and so-called "promoters". One band may arrange to play at a venue then line up additional supporting acts. The people creating or putting flyers in record stores may just be friends. Come performance night the bands may be excellent and play as well as any top 40 act, but only about 50 or 60 people show up, a good chunk of the crowd being groupie friends or acquaintances who go to all the shows.

I also look at the independent electronic music events I go to and its the same group of electronic music geeks who go to events week after week, month after month, rarely ever amounting to anything approaching 100 people per event, always staged at established restaurants/bars with what appears to have all the proper licensing to exist. It seems like that for many of the niche musical interests, whether its swing music/dancing or mod music; small groups of people participating or supporting these small music scenes because they love music, where any sort of profit from the events are marginal at best, if not losses when you consider the real time and effort expended and total project cost.

So for this great honor to pursue or support the joy of music in Chicago, one will now have to submit to background checks and fingerprinting? The alternative is to start a non-profit group then wait three years before hosting the event (according to the ordinance as written).

Think about it. Supporting music in Chicago is now going to be equated with some kind of illegal act. It's going to be easier to get a gun in Illinois than it will be to play music. There's something seriously wrong about this. And for one to then say that if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear really ignores the slow erosion of civil liberties, by the city placing an unnecessary burden and cost on free expression and public assembly. What's next?

Where is the joy in artistic expression when one has to deal with the bureaucratic overhead of needing or being a lawyer to understand the mindfield of Chicago laws in order to perform live? Why must music events taking placing at already properly permitted venues be sucked into Chicago's bureaucratic nightmare? It's just too much government.


GE - I am responding to this because you accused me and other bloggers of putting misinformation out there about the ordinance, but you failed to say what issues I've mentioned that are incorrect.

I do know all the facts, and only posted the site after reading through the entire ordinance in detail. Yes, I did know that there's a delay between passage and implementation. Specifically, it's 120 days, not five months (See Section 7 of the ordinance).

Also, regarding this statement: "It is so easy to put your full name out there when the you have the luxury of seeing that your opinion is in the happy majority but if you knew that you risked unfair retaliation, by way of possible e-mail hacking or cyberstalking, by being in the minority, I wonder if you would be so high minded to criticize"

Yes, GE, I would. I put my full name out there before I knew whether my opinion would be the majority or minority when I co-created SaveChicagoCulture.org. Fortunately the majority of people believe passing this ordinance would signal the death knell for Chicago culture. It's so broad even networking and business groups could be required to get a promoter's license and liability insurance.

Just for everyone's general information, events under 100 people are not exempt. Promoters for those events would pay the lowest amount. Here's the breakdown:
Class D Class C Class B Class A No limit - $2000

To put that in perspective, tiny Elbo Room has 120 person capacity.

Jeb Bishop - Excellent explanation of the ramifications of this ordinance!!

I run a web site for local bands from around the US. I make a whopping $200/month from banner ads. Take out my hosting costs and I net maybe $50/month. According to this ordinance I am a promoter. How in the world am I going to keep track of this? I know, I won't be able to... therefore I'll just have to pull the plug on the Chicago section of my site.

Why do Alderman in Chicago insist on creating onerous additional legislation instead of focusing on enforcing existing legislation? (Cell phone headset anyone?)

Take away the insurance requirement and reduce the license fee to the same as the city's cheapest limited busines license ($250)every 2 years and see if the posts above change even one bit. I seriously doubt it. These posts have less to do with money and more about anti-government regulation. Somehow event promoters think they should be treated differently than every other legitimate business in the city that has to be licensed. What an elitist attitude. The "don't erode our civil liberties" by Gene J is a perfect example of the REAL objection behind all posts. So take away the insurance and reduce the fees city hall. Guess what? My guess there will still be not one post to support this ordinance.

GE wrote:

These posts have less to do with money and more about anti-government regulation.

It's not anti-government regulation per se, it's anti regulation that is

(a) superfluous: existing law is sufficient to address the problem of situations like E2;

(b) ineffective at achieving its intended purpose: it will affect many, many venues and performers who have nothing to do with any kind of E2-like scenario, and will do nothing additional to stop already-illegal events;

(c) economically stifling for many legitimate businesses operating with a small, zero, or negative profit margin;

(d) stifling of creativity and cultural vitality: it will price a lot of smaller players out of the game, will cause many out-of-town artists to avoid Chicago, and will force closure of smaller venues that depend on smaller acts and operate with low profit margins.

Bruce Springsteen didn't start out playing the Rosemont Horizon, you know. He played places in New Jersey a lot like, say, the Hideout. This law would effectively be a barrier to entry for artists starting out and working those kinds of venues, and will therefore economically choke the venues that depend on them. That is not healthy for the city's culture.

I suspect you don't really care about that, though. You just seem to think that promoters are getting away with something by not being subjected to this pointless regulatory burden. I'm all in favor of regulation that actually serves the public good, but this proposed law ain't it. It achieves no real benefit and would impoverish the city culturally.

To GE:

If the city were to adjust the ordinance so that it were the cost of a business license (as per your statement, $250 semi-annually), there was no per-event insurance required for venues that are already insured, and the restrictions and regulations (age, criminal background check, fingerprinting) were more in line with the application of a standard business license, I am sure there would be a LOT less opposition. I would be willing to pay it. At least I can make that back in two or three shows.

As many of us have said, repeatedly: we are not opposed to being regulated. What we are trying to fight are the fees that are astronomical for an industry that brings in very little money (outside of the big houses, who as already stated, are exempt from this law). $250 without the cost of obtaining $300,000 worth of insurance PER event is EXTREMELY reasonable, and I, for one, would be willing to drop out of fighting this ordinance if that was all they were asking.

My question now is this... If your statement on the cost of a business license is accurate, why isn't it just a business license? Why isn't it regulated like every other business in Chicago? As far as I know, you don't have to be fingerprinted to sell T-shirts, even though it requires a license (to use your earlier example). You don't have to be 21 to work in a liquor store, you just can't scan the booze. You can stock it and handle it, but you can't scan it - so why can people under 21 (as this ordinance essentially puts it) not be allowed in the same room with alcohol? What happens to the 18+/all ages clubs who book 18+/all ages bands? Specifically those that put together their own bill? Schuba's, Beat Kitchen, Bottom Lounge, Subterranean, Uncommon Ground, The Fireside, and many others have made valiant efforts in giving kids something to do BESIDES drinking and doing drugs in back alleys or in their parents' basements... Are we really trying to take that away?

I suppose that's a whole separate rant, and I've got to be on my way to my day job now... You know, the one that finances my production company twice a year and barely pays my rent the rest of the time.

This ordinance does nothing good for anybody except maybe giving the city a few thousand bucks from the few promoters who will pay up, and the insurance companies who already have more money than god...

It won't even stop the smallest of the small from just ignoring the ordinance.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on May 9, 2008 5:36 PM.

The city responds to the music community's concerns about the promoter's ordinance was the previous entry in this blog.

Update: Musical advocates gear up to fight the promoter's ordinance at Wednesday's City Council meeting is the next entry in this blog.

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