Ups and Downs of the Club Date Industry

Volume CIII, No. 10October, 2003

Jim Hannen

The club date industry has always been susceptible to the ups and downs of the economy. Certain segments of the club date business are more susceptible than others. The economic downturn of the past two years and the events of Sept. 11, 2001 have had a significant impact on key segments of the club date business. Many functions featuring live music such as conventions, corporate parties and – to a lesser extent – fundraisers for non-profits have all but disappeared from musicians’ date books. If and when the economy improves, will we see an increase in this type of work? Most assuredly, but probably not to previous levels.

A comparison of total club date engagements filed with Local 802 by signatories, member leaders and orthodox Jewish offices since 1986 bears this out.

We find that the industry never bounces back immediately after an economic upturn – there is always a lag of several years – and the industry never returns to levels of previous boom times.

For example, the club date industry did not begin to recover from the recession of 1991-1993 until 1996 – and even then it did not return to the levels of 1986-1988, which followed the recession of the early 1980’s.

This would indicate that recovery in the club date business only follows the kind of sustained economic growth that fosters a high level of confidence among those who purchase live music. That growth periods in the industry do not return to previous levels can be attributed to technological and cultural changes – and more guarded discretionary spending.

The fluctuations of most economic indicators, including the unemployment rate, closely parallel fluctuations in the club date industry.

The steady increase in the number of club date engagements filed with Local 802 between 1995 and 2000 mirrored the steady decrease in the unemployment rate for the same period and the corresponding increases in other indicators.

This is also true of the period 1986 through 1990.


Immediately following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, hundreds of club date musicians were canceled when hundreds of functions were canceled. Many events that did take place were understandably toned down. Total contracts filed for 2001 by all single engagement employers were down by 15 percent, but on September 1, 2001 the numbers were nearly identical to the first eight months of 2000.

Contracts filed for 2002 were off by 6 percent for all employers compared with 2001, but only off by less than 1 percent for the two largest club date employers.

More aggressive employers, in many cases, have had to lower their prices to maintain their share of a diminishing market that appears to have had the biggest impact on smaller employers and society offices.

The economic downturn that followed Sept. 11, 2001, continues to have dire consequences for the entire music industry. If the club date industry, and the music industry as a whole, is to substantially improve, the economy will have to grow uninterrupted for three to five years.

It is not all gloom and doom – there are hopeful signs for the club date field. Pre-filed jobs by signatory employers and field reports from Local 802 reps both indicate a slight increase in the number of engagements in the first half of 2003 over the same period last year.

January 1, 2002 through December 31, 2002

Collection amounts are based on the following:

  • Step One grievance settlements resulting from reviewing individual performance reports for each engagement by contract administrator Kimeo Lee.
  • Step Two grievance and arbitration settlements and awards.
  • Internal and external audits (e.g. pension fund, health fund, job reports sent by members, etc.).
  • Late penalties collected.

Single Engagement Club Date Collections

Work Dues





Hotel/Steady Collections

Work Dues