Take them out of the equation, and leave just real music fans and the bar would be empty.
Sad. But. True.
I played a gig last week. Two hours. Solo. Pretty full place for nearly the entire time. Ninety-five percent of the folks weren't there for the music, they were there to eat and drink.
Anyway, at the end of the night here's what transpired between me and the manager:
Manager: "What do I owe you?"
Me: "Whatever you would pay any other solo performer on a night like this." And who happened to bring along, oh, about 10 or so people who actually came to see him play AND bought something. There's the rub. You can bring 30 high school kids who order water and spilt a plate of nachos. OR, you can bring 8 adults who order $7 dollar plates each and lots of drinky. Which one gets asked back class?
I was compensated pretty well.
Point being, had the place been empty and had I brought no one along, I would have asked for gas money and a few beers. Am I stupid? Maybe. But I've heard several managers of local bar/restuarants say: "Yeah, so and so is great, but he or she or they don't bring a crowd so......" Guess what? Over time, they'll probably get worked off the calendar.
There's one particular act that I found pretty mediocre, but (he, she, they) bring consistently 20-30 folks---lots of family as far as I can tell, littel kids, older folks, etc. it's sweet, really---with them EVERY time. Guess what? They're booked regularly. And I say God Bless 'Em and good for them. They're pulling the bottom line.