Two Carbondale music venues got into spat in cyberspace this week, because one had to cancel a show after learning that the other had temporary veto power over a visiting band.
Cody Canada and The Departed, a Texas based-country rock act, was scheduled to perform at Steve’s Guitars in downtown Carbondale on Tuesday, Aug. 12. But on the day before the show, venue owner Steve Standiford sent out an email announcing its cancellation.
The reason, he said, was that the owner of PAC3, a music venue located inside Carbondale’s Third Street Center where The Departed had played in July, had invoked a so-called “radius clause” in their contract that limited the band from playing in or around Carbondale for a window of time after the PAC3 show.
“They were contacted by PAC3 who enforced a “blackout clause” and had them cancel the show,” wrote Standiford in his email newsletter. “First time for everything. Sorry you will miss a great night of live music in the shop.”
The staff of PAC3 soon responded angrily on that venue’s Facebook page, claiming that radius clauses are common in the music business.
“We feel that [the email blast] misrepresents the facts of what happened,” read the Facebook post. “The Departed’s camp and PAC3 Carbondale are outraged by the newsletter sent.”
PAC3 owner Josh Behrman could not be reached for comment, and the specifics of the radius clause in his contract with The Departed remain unclear.
Yet sources involved say the snafu may have happened because the band’s new agent, APA Booking of Nashville, Tenn., had recently taken over managing the act and was unaware of the radius clause in their contract with PAC3.
“So, the new agent made the critical mistake of not knowing about the PAC clause and Josh saw fit to exercise it, which is his legal right,” wrote Standiford in an email. He acknowledged that he had not signed a formal contract with APA Booking to host the band, but said he had received an email confirmation and posted news of the show on his website.
“We have had bands that said they couldn’t play because of these clauses like the Moab Fest or Belly Up before. But, never with what I call a “confirmed” show,” he wrote. “That’s a first.”
A representative from APA Booking declined to comment, except to say that Steve’s Guitars was never issued a formal contract to host The Departed.
Shannon Canada of 36D Management, which manages the band, said they had agreed to cancel their show at Steve’s Guitars at the urging of their booking agent and out of loyalty to PAC3, where they’ve played twice before.
“It was a request from them, and out of our loyalty to them, we don’t want to burn them in any way,” she said. “It’s like, we came to the dance with them, let’s leave with them.”
Canada also said that the band is planning to return to Colorado and play at PAC3 this fall or winter, so exercising the radius clause now could be a valid way to ensure that Carbondale fans come to that show.
Radius clauses are common in agreements between bands and music venues, according to several sources in the music business. They’re used to protect the investment that a venue makes when booking an artist, and to ensure that a show draws the maximum possible number of ticket-buyers.
“This is a common thing in every market,” said Canada. “Pretty much everywhere you go you have a standard radius clause with the club that you started out at. The music industry is also political.”
A standard radius clause, Canada said, might limit a band from playing within 120 miles of a venue for sixty days before and after a show.
Yet the clauses vary substantially depending on the venue, the band, the time of year, and other circumstances, according to Michael Goldberg, the owner of the music venue Belly Up Aspen.
A large festival like Chicago’s Lollapalooza, for instance, has a clause that prohibits festival bands from playing within a 300-mile radius of the festival for 180 days before and 90 days after the show. For a smaller band that’s just building an audience, the clause might be much less restrictive.
“If The Departed is a band that a venue wants to play every year, then having them play a month after at another venue may be too soon,” Goldberg said. “Or it may not be, depending in the time of year. Unless you are one of the three people involved, its impossible for anybody on the outside to judge who’s right in this case.”
Standiford, for his part, said he has never required artists to agree to radius clauses, though he knew that they were common with larger venues.
“[We] don’t really believe in them,” he wrote. “It seems to hurt the acts and their fans in the area. I don’t know of any other venues in town that use them.”
Regardless, Canada said that the fully electric sound of The Departed likely wouldn’t have worked in a small venue like Steve’s Guitars, and was probably better suited to a large space like PAC3.
“For a fully electric band to strip down and play an acoustic show doesn’t truly represent what that band is about,” she said.
PAC3 is a relatively young venue. It was founded in 2011 as a nonprofit, and continues to operate with the help of grants and donations, according to its website.
Steve’s Guitars has operated in downtown Carbondale for 15 years.
“[We’ve done] lots of shows,” wrote Standiford. “Looking forward to more with this never coming up again.”