Bands, please DO NOT pay to play at a venue.
The way it works is the band has to buy £180 worth of tickets from the promoter up front and if they fail to sell them they loose their money. So any liability for the failure of the the night lies with the band, the promoter takes no risk. Its a con but I was talking to a guy in a band who believed this is STANDARD PRACTICE in London venues. This is INSANE - I've played at most of the small/mid sized venues in London and never encountered this until recently.
The band involved said "if you can't sell the tickets you must be shit and we would get in the NME by playing there". I know this sounds hopelessly naive be there are musicians like this, desperate for exposure - often from outside London looking to build a following in the city. To be honest I thought all this had stopped.
I agree bands should help promote gigs and bands and promoters need to work together to make nights work (I wrote about it here), liability needs to be shared.
All these venues end up doing is putting on poor bands who can't get a gig anywhere else, playing to their mates and often paying for the privilege. This is crazy and MUST STOP NOW. Spread the word, we must stop this.