The Music Biz -

Green Room Etiquette

Many new band members are excited to finally get to play in a venue with a green room.
Unfortunately, their bad behavior commonly leads to misunderstandings, abuse of property and worse:  Inappropriate use of the green room can leave a bad impression with venue owners, booking agents, other bands, managers and employees.
While specific green room policies vary with the venue there are some simple rules that you should follow that will keep these important relationships in good standing, no matter where you play.
  • What the green room is for: The green room is simply a place away from the hubub of the main room where you can change your clothes in privacy, tune your guitars without interruption and prepare to perform with your bandmates. It's usually a safe place to leave your purse or other valuables that you don't want to take on stage.
  • What the Green room is NOT for: It's not a place to hang out after the show for smoking pot, snorting coke or anything else illegal.  It's not for sex. It's not for parties. It's not for drug deals and it's not OK to trash the place because you're big rock stars now.
  • Who can come in? While it's usually Ok, to bring in your spouse or significant other, it's never cool to invite all their friends or the 6 hot girls you just met at the bar. The more people in the green room, the less privacy and security there is. Bringing  in people you don't know well, like a buddy's pal from out of town, just increases the likelihood that something valuable will go missing. If your bandmates, or members of another band need some privacy to go over the set list or work out the kinks in a new song, your drunken girlfriend is not gonna be much help.
  • When to use it: Before your set. 30-60 minutes before is plenty of time, you don't need to be there 3 hours before you go on getting drunk or high or whatever.  Do that stuff some place other than the venue where you are about to perform. After your set, you may go back to the green room, catch your breath, collect your belongings, throw away your trash and leave. Do not expect to hang out with your buddies in the green room for the rest of the night.
  • Courtesy to the venue: If you bring it in, please bring it back out or at least throw it away.  The venue's staff hates cleaning the green room, because there's always tons of trash, from broken guitar strings to empty beer bottles to unused flyers, cigarette butts and various unmentionables.  If you made the mess, please clean it up. If you bring glasses into the green room from the bar, please bring them back to the bar.  Nobody's gonna wash them in the green room. If you are in the headlining band please be aware that certain venue staff members don't get to go home until you are gone, so they can clean up after you and lock the place up for the night. Trust me, they've been there since well before you arrived, they worked a full shift and they would like to go home... Now.
  • Courtesy to the other bands: Many green rooms are shared. If you are an opening act and you've taken up the whole room with your entourage to the point that the headliner has no place to relax and prepare, you are being rude to them and they will remember that next time they need an opening act. If you are an opener get out of there as quick as possible after your set.
  • Follow the rules: Ask them if it's Ok to brings guests in, bring your own liquor in, or bring your under age nephew in. Especially while on the road, you may not know the local laws or rules of the venue.  Ask first.  If you accidentally break one, apologize and stop doing whatever it was.  Chances are, if you are polite and respectful, they (security guys/managers/cops) will gladly let it go and forget all about it by your next gig.
  • Can't repeat this enough: The green room is not your personal lounge or party room!  The party is supposed to be in the main room of the venue while you are on stage. Your fans can wait there for you or they can go home.  If you must have a party after your show, please arrange to have it some place else.  The Green Room is not Las Vegas, what happens there is remembered by the venue, even if you are too drunk to remember anything.

Here's a few real life examples of bad things that this author has observed working in a mid-sized venue:

  • The reggae band that gave out tickets to their friends that would get them in the door for free and into the private party in the green room without even bothering to tell anyone who worked at the venue. We made these people pay to get in and banned them from the green room.
  • The rock band that brought a marijuana vaporizer into the green room. Too bad they didn't make as much effort to bring their fans in for the show.
  • The national "Idol" act that allowed 40 or so "friends" and relatives" into the green room.  There was no privacy whatsoever and it was difficult for the performers to even get in and out of the place.
  • The band we nicknamed "Powdered Courage" after we caught them snorting coke in the green room, politely gave them 5 minutes to get rid of it and get out of there, and then had to go back 10 minutes later to throw them out. They were never invited back.
  • The band that thought it was a good idea to write their name on the lampshade in the green room.
  • The bands that hid their pipes, stash, trash and broken cymbals above the ceiling tiles in the green room. Guess who found all that stuff when cleaning up after a water pipe burst and some of those tiles had to be replaced?


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