A door split is a term for a financial arrangement between a band and a promoter or venue. In this type of agreement, the performers do not get a set fee for performing. Instead, they get a percentage of ticket sales or the club cover charge. Door splits are more common for independent artists, newcomers, and growing bands. Established artists with strong followings are more likely to command a set guaranteed fee.
How a Door Split Works
Under a door split arrangement, the band's payment is directly tied to the event's attendance. If you get a good turnout, you'll make a decent amount of money. If very few people show up, you may go home unable to pay your bills.
Your portion of the door split is dependent on your name recognition and potential draw. Reasonably well-known bands may get as much as 80 percent of the money, while lesser names may have to agree to just 50 percent.
Door Split Versus Guarantee
With a guaranteed performance fee, you receive a certain amount that you previously agreed upon with the promoter. You are entitled to this fee regardless of turnout at the event. Even if no one shows up, you get the full amount you were promised.
When you're just starting out, a guarantee is a big deal. Not only will you get a certain amount, but you will also know ahead of time how much you will get. Having a guaranteed income can be invaluable when you're trying to build your brand's recognition.
Guarantees also make budgeting easier when managing your band. You can see precisely what income is coming in versus how much you have in expenses, from going to shows to buying equipment. While guarantees are not typical for newer artists, when you do find those opportunities, they can be lucrative events.
Downsides to a Door Split
Without a guaranteed payout, it can be difficult to decide if a show is worth it or not. It also requires significant trust with the venue or promoter, or you need to hire someone to monitor sales at the door. Otherwise, the club can distort its numbers to take a more significant portion of the profits.
Benefits of a Door Split
If you have a bad night with low turnout, the venue is less likely to be annoyed than if they had paid you a hefty performance fee. This increases the likelihood that you could appear there again. You also can champion your success; if you do significant promotion and advertising on your own, you can increase your potential profits.
If you're fairly new and are trying to make a name for yourself, door splits can be a valuable way to build your reputation. If you're willing to do these kinds of arrangements, you are more likely to score gigs early on, since there's less risk for the venue. That means you can do more shows and get exposure to new fans. Even if the turnout is not high, you get your name out in front of more people and could even get press exposure for your band.