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Philadelphia bill may stifle small clubs’ business

on May 19, 2010, 3:08pm

Picture this: you’re a promoter for a club, sitting in your kitchen in Philadelphia, sipping on some Sanka and reading Cracked. Your phone rings and it’s ?eustlove from The Roots! He’s calling to see if he and Tariq and the gang can play a surprise show at That Local Club Where Cool Bands Play. “Aw, ?uest, I’d love to, but you know the rules. I would have had to have asked the cops a month ago. Sorry, Amir.” This nightmare may become a reality.

Those in the 2-1-5th may soon deal with the ratification of Bill No.100267, a restrictive ordinance that would require all promoters to apply  for a permit from the Philadelphia Police Department 30 days in advance of any event (via True/Slant). To be detailed in the request would be security plans, the promoter’s business-privilege-license number, the venue’s capacity and the expected crowd. Additionally, the bill will now hold promoters liable for the crowds’ behavior at shows.

Beyond the tonnage of additional paperwork that this bill will require, the Philadelphia constabulary’s power to deny a request is laid out in not so specific terms in the Bill: “The application shall be deemed approved unless it is denied at least ten days prior to such event.” The “ten days prior” appears to be the only guideline with which to deny an event by the police.

With this new Bill docket-ready, the Philly music scene could potentially face serious problems. As the True/Slant editorial points out, “Such a potential law would drive touring musicians (or celebrities, etc) away from Philadelphia. Booking agents, managers and artists have enough to deal with in the process of planning a tour: The last thing they would want to worry about is that, even with every “t” crossed and “i” dotted, their show could be potentially cut… This bill doesn’t instill confidence in the system, it shuts down a vibrant city’s scene.”

The logistics and headaches of bringing a band to a club to play is nothing short of a nightmare. Between paperwork, scheduling, and a spiderweb of emails, phone calls, and faxes, no one person needs to negotiate through any more red tape than necessary, especially when they’re just trying to get your favorite band to play that favorite song of yours. And by no one person, I soon may actually mean every promoter in Philadelphia.

If you feel strongly against this bill, you can sign an online petition here and really try to Rock that Vote.