Middle East shifts to digital promotion, discourages bands posting printed flyers


Bad news this morning for cold, lonely streetpoles, the wall at Hootenanny in Harvard Square, and those three "community" bulletin boards in Allston -- the Middle East is shifting to a digital flyer promotion system, meaning the Central Square nightclub doesn't want you to spend all day at Staples printing out 11x17 cardstock flyers for your upcoming shows and plastering them around town like a drunken bassist handing out his digits at last call. The reason, as noted below, comes down to exorbitant fines from the cities of Boston and Cambridge.

The move is understandable. With social networking sites, and well, the Internet as a whole, the need for posting gig flyers around the ol ‘hood is really a thing of the past. There’s still a need for these flyers -- I think they’re some of the best art of this modern age -- but the form now comes in the shape of a jpeg rather than paper. And the Middle East might not be taking such drastic action if folks limited their flyering to just the legal, allocated spaces.

Personally, it's been years since I've walked around all day on a Sunday putting Pill flyers on any flat vertical surface from Allston to JP. And it has been even longer since I was informed about a show by a publicly posted flyer. That said, they do tend to *remind* me that certain shows of interest are happening as I'm walking around, going out or running errands.

I guess, once upon a time, you could properly judge the vibrancy of a community by the busyness of its community bulletin boards (I think I was quoted saying just that in the Boston Globe in 2005 when I helped fight the city in having the Allston boards re-installed), but that time seems to have passed.

Here's the Middle East's note to bands:

December 16, 2010

All Bands
Playing The Middle East & ZuZu
in the Near Future
Any Town, MA 02139

Dear Bands,

As of today, until further review, The Middle East Nightclub’s official stance on posting flyers is this: We do not in any way endorse or encourage the posting of bills anywhere in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Any posting of bills with “Middle East Upstairs, Middle East Downstairs, ZuZu, Middle East Nightclub, Middle East Club” or any variation thereof are not sanctioned, nor deemed necessary, by the Middle East Nightclub.

The Middle East Nightclub promotion has moved to a digital set up. Online marketing and social media outlets (,, ticket links on & many more) are to be the focus of promotion for your shows.

Why are we making such move? Fines. Hefty fines. Fines that we accept no responsibility for. Fines that will be charged to any band or promoter cited by law enforcement. Fines that will keep your band from being booked at the Middle East. Fines that could pay for your space rental for a month. Fines that could buy a nice guitar. Fines that could pay rent at your apartment.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts deems your show flyers as graffiti. That stinks. There’s some beautiful art being created on your flyers! Cambridge has it’s own strict subset of these laws. Your community does, too (We’re looking at you, Allston!). Recent citations are not less than $300 per violation. If you put up two of the same flyer in the same neighborhood, that equals $600. Law enforcement must stop there, right? No. Fines are per instance. Imagine having to pay $1500 for 5 flyers! That, sadly, could be you.

What can you do? Reach out to me, I’ll give you a digital workflow to promote your show. It works. Send me a .jpg of that flyer, I’ll get it on our web properties. Get us 4-6 nice 11x17 flyers to hang up on our walls, they are pretty! Color or black and white. No reason to print 1000 of these. Just a couple for us and one for your practice space wall. Make a hundred or so 1/4 page flyers. I can help you set that up and you’ll know how for life! Spark a conversation, shake a hand, get a phone number and hand them one of these little guys. Making friends is awesome. Making enemies of city officials and venues is not quite as awesome (not awesome at all).

Sincerely yours,

Clay Fernald
Middle East Nightclub and ZuZu Publicity

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