What’s holding back Oakland’s music scene?

Despite Oakland’s efforts to revitalize their nightlife and music scene, it’s still no competitor for the bright lights of San Francisco. And if you happen to call the East Bay home, you may be wondering: Where the heck is all the music!?

The reason your favorite band doesn’t come to the East Bay is due to a tricky provision known as a radius clause. This determines just where and when an artist can play for their Bay Area fans.

Specifically, it prevents an artist from performing in the same area in the weeks or months leading up to and following the event. This means if an artist recently played SF, they can’t play Oakland any time soon.

Supporters of radius clauses claim they’re needed in order to balance supply and demand. In other words, you wouldn’t want a band playing in Oakland one night, followed by another show in SF two weeks later with only a half-filled venue.

Even California’s very own beloved Coachella Music Festival has a radius clause on its numerous performers.

Normally the industry standard is “ninety days, ninety miles,” meaning that bands can’t perform within a ninety-mile radius for three months before or after a show. But some contracts can be negotiable, specifically if the band clearly has a large enough fan base to have another show in the same region in a short period of time.

Unfortunately, the clause puts Oakland clubs at a disadvantage when touring bands come round, especially acts that are unfamiliar with the Bay Area as SF would seem like the logical first choice.

Allen Scott, executive vice president at Another Planet Entertainment which books smaller music events at Bay Area venues like The Fox Theater, The Greek Theatre, and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, as well as bigger festivals like Outside Lands and Treasure Island, stated the facts:

“When you’re a small club act on tour and you have to pick one place to play in the Bay Area, you’re gonna pick San Francisco. It’s just a reality.”