Talent company preys on bands, says booker

Warning Young Bands: Darren Ollinger says that bands and artists should at least know what to expect before signing up for a gig with Landmark Events. Ollinger is the entertainment booker for the Ship and Anchor Pub in Calgary and ran the New Black, a defunct all-ages venue in Calgary, from 2008 to 2013.

As concerts are tentatively being booked for the spring and summer of 2022, one company is being called out for allegedly unfair tactics: Landmark Events (LME).

The website for LME states that the company’s goal is “to support and empower independent artists” by giving them “the opportunity to showcase their music in front of music industry representatives.”

However, some are not convinced.

The Instagram account for weekly event Rockin’ 4 Dollar$ published a post Jan. 17, 2022 warning bands and artists to “beware” of the company, further stating “They do not have your best interests in mind. They only want to make money off of you!” before ending with “#vultures.”

Darren Ollinger, entertainment booker for the Ship and Anchor Pub in Calgary, says that LME’s business model relies on “preying on an uneducated band or the up-and-starting band that doesn’t really know how it works,” but was quick to note that it is not a “pay-for-play” business model.

“You’re awarded by the amount of tickets you sell [and] if you sell the most, you get the prime slot on the bill.”

Ollinger says that one of the main issues with LME is the validity of the prizes they promote.

“You’re not winning studio time at a reputable studio,” he said. “You’re not winning a headlining slot at a cool bar. You’re not getting an opening slot for a cooler band.”

When reached for comment, LME founder Arthur Kalimidis said that the people who posted accusations about the company’s practices “never had anything to do with Landmark” and said they were “pretty unfair… and pretty mean.”

Kalimidis says that while “it would be nice to have an opportunity to defend ourselves… I’ve done that before and it only fuels more and more hate.”

A follow-up interview was supposed to be scheduled, but Kalimidis stopped communication with the reporter.

“You’re not winning studio time at a reputable studio. You’re not winning a headlining slot at a cool bar. You’re not getting an opening slot for a cooler band.” – Darren Ollinger

Ollinger says that while there may be upsides to working with LME, a band or artist should know what they’re getting into before working with them.

“It’s only as shady as you want it to be,” he said. “If you sign up… and then nothing comes out of it other than the fact that you got a gig and people came and watched you, there’s no real harm in that.”

“If you’ve never played a show before, go do it [and] play your 15 minutes and you’ll learn and you’ll get some stage time out of it,” he said, but added that “once a band knows what’s up, they’re not going to work with them again.”

About James Martens 3 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, James Martens is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021-22 academic year.