‘I Actually Thought It Was Quite Ingenious’: Venues Respond To Threatin’s Fake Tour

Playing to an empty room
Lewis Barlow / The Rebellion
– Playing to an empty room
Scene from Threatin’s Nov. 7 gig at The Rebellion in Manchester, England

Musicians, and people in general, usually cite “hard work” as the most important factor in their success. In the overcrowded digital space, it takes more hard work than ever to drown out the noise, build a proper fanbase and surround oneself with a team that knows how to handle business.
At the end of last year, Jered “Threatin” Eames proved that it takes an equally amount of hard work to fake all of it: the number of fans, his booking agency, management, publicist and record label – everything apart from the music.
He managed to convince venue operators that he was going on a sold-out tour in the UK and a couple of other cities in Europe. He hired the venues, posing as a promoter, and paid all fees upfront. His social media stats checked out, as did his website, which included links to news articles, music videos, a merch shop, as well as the contact details to get in touch with his fake management, label and publicist.
The only thing the venue operators couldn’t guess was that Threatin hadn’t sold a single ticket.
Jered Eames is a skilled musician. Threatin is the name of his solo project. He records his own songs at his studio by himself, not just the vocals, but also every instrument involved.
He knew, that “in the music business, it is not enough to simply be a great songwriter anymore. You must capture the public’s imagination. So, that’s what I did.
“The music industry is lost and shelled off to new artists and new ways of thinking. I set out to do something thought-provoking that could propel my career.”
Eames didn’t just dupe the people running the venues, but also his bandmates, all of whom were session musicians, who were hired solely for the purposes of this tour, which kicked off Nov. 1 at The Underworld in London. Hardly a soul showed up, the handful of people that did most likely wanted to see the supporting act.
It’s not unusual for bands that have just started out to play empty rooms, of course, but because Threatin had lied about the ticket sales, it was only a matter of time until the venue operators became suspicious. By the time Threain arrived at The Asylum in Birmingham Nov. 8, word had reached the venue’s owner Roy Davis that the whole tour most likely was a scam.
No one, however, suspected that the band leader himself had been the instigator of it all. Davis assumed that a promoter was screwing the band over, not realizing that there had never been any promoter to begin with. There had only been Threatin.
“We sat down with them for about an hour before the show and had a really long conversation, trying to help. And they were still lying through their teeth. That was the thing that upset me afterwards,” Davis told Pollstar.
Davis could have closed the venue for the night, “but we were thinking they were being ripped off by this fictitious promoter. So we made sure they had a decent gig as far as we could. When actually it was them all the time.”
Apart from the lying, Davis doesn’t hold a grudge against Threatin. “The amount of people calling was just fascinating to me. I was even contacted by BBC correspondents in New York. So from that point of view, what he created was really good.”
Indeed, none of the venue owners and bookers Pollstar contacted were mad at Eames for having taken them on a ride.
Barbara Blair, co-owner of Trillians in Newcastle, actually thought: “Good on him, he’s not doing anything that half a dozen other people wouldn’t also have done: he set out to become famous.
“We didn’t lose any money or anything on that gig, because he was on a door takings only deal,” Blair explained, and since the gig took place on a Sunday night, when Trillian doesn’t usually host gigs, the loss in bar take was negligible.
“I actually thought it was quite ingenious,” she said, chuckling. Whether she would go as far as booking Threatin again, Blair wasn’t sure. “If he approached us, we’ll see. I think it would be foolish not to, because he’s drawn so much attention to himself, people will come along just to see what all the fuss was about.”
– Threatin
Came up with an elaborate scheme to become famous

The Underworld in London, where it all began, already booked Threatin again, on Nov. 1, 2019. Patrice Lovelace, one of the bookers at Underworld, found his stunt “fascinating. We were just really bewildered and intrigued by the whole thing.”

The decision isn’t met with much love. “If you check the Underworld Facebook page, under any post regarding Threatin you’ll see that it’s basically 80 percent hate. I don’t know if I was expecting that kind of backlash, because we find the whole thing hilarious. It was quite surprising to see that most people were taking it really seriously,” Lovelace said.
“What’s also really amusing is that a lot of people don’t believe the gig’s actually happening. Other people think that I am Threatin, other people think Underworld invented Threatin,” she said.
Lovelace thinks Threatin deserves any career boost that may result from his elaborate scheme.
“He did hire the venues, and the hire fee usually covers production and running costs for the show. We didn’t end up losing money paying the staff to be there, that was all paid for in the hire fee. What we lost is the fact that no one bought any beers, and we do rely on bar sales. So we had a record-breaking low bar take.
“Sometimes that happens, you have a show where no one drinks, a kiddies show or something like that. It’s not the end of the world, he didn’t rip us off, no one died. I think the whole thing was a really, really clever stunt.
“We’re basically impressed. Anyone who’s gone to that amount of length kind of deserve the spotlight. A lot of the real bands don’t put that much effort in,” she said.
A lot of real bands have been contacting Lovelace to accuse her of basically insulting every hard-working band in the country by booking Threatin again. Lovelace calmly dismantled that accusation:
“You didn’t lose any money, so I don’t know why you’re so angry. I’m thinking about writing a Facebook rant to address all these ‘hard-working’ bands, who are taking this so personally.
“If they’re getting upset it says a lot more about their own sense of worthiness than it does about anything else. I think it’s just jealousy.”
Judging by the in some cases hysterical comments, the entire Threatin incident has become an issue of social justice for many people. Lovelace thinks it’s what to expect from today’s “outrage culture.”
She won’t let herself be pressured into pulling out of the booking, though. “That’ll never happen. Maybe with another promoter, but at this office, we love stuff like that.
“We won’t cancel anything. What we’re hoping is that Threatin doesn’t continue trolling and either not show up or get on stage and not play. That, for us, would be a total disaster, but we’re happy to trust that he’s actually just going to get up and play, because he always wanted to play to and audience.
“That would be the happy ending to the story, so we just hope we donate get f’d over. We’re happy to take the risk,” Lovelace concluded.
Eames insists that “it was a carefully planned publicity stunt. The idea was not to fake a career. The idea was to manufacture a controversy to capture the public’s attention. Threatin is a character I created and perform as. The music is real. But, the concept was to manufacture the destruction of this character. In doing so, Threatin would become an infamous persona.”
Performing to empty rooms was “a necessary part of the publicity stunt. It was part of creating the controversy.
“If I had merely promoted the shows in advance with the intent of selling out every venue; the maximum exposure would have only reached in the thousands. Using this method, it reached millions.”
The tour got cancelled after the Asylum show. By then, Threatin’s session musicians had figured it all out and left. Still, according to Eames, the whole plan worked perfectly: “Now, the world knows the name Threatin and my album Breaking The World is selling in massive quantities. I have had many offers to perform again. Everything from full tours to major festival appearances.”
Eames said he’s even received offers for “major motion pictures, reality TV shows, documentaries, book deals, music collaborations,” although he couldn’t confirm anything but the Nov. 1 gig at The Underworld at press time.   
His plan is to properly tour in fall after recording the follow-up album to Breaking The World, then with a real promoter and a real agent.
Whether Threatin is serious this time around, only time will tell. The only thing that seems certain about this artists is best summed up by himself in the lyrics to his song “Identity”, where he sings: “I won’t be changed by your complaints. I’d rather die than be another Not Me.”