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sparquelito

Extreme fatigue and the going rate

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Man oh man.

I'm worn out.

 

The band and I played a really big company Christmas party today, working from a festively-decorated flatbed trailer, and performing Christmas songs and fun oldies for about 400 people, including a lot of kids.

 

Early load-in, set-up, sound-check, and about six sets between 09:00 am and 2:00 pm.

After it was all over, the bandmates and I sat on the trailer and ate our cold leftovers from the Christmas feast that the attendees had enjoyed earlier.

(We agreed a long time ago that the band cannot eat a proper meal during a gig, if we are going to sing worth a $hit. A full belly impairs your diaphragm, and makes for lousy singing.)

 

I just finished organizing and putting away all the guitars, amps, mic stands, cables, and PA gear at the house, followed by a hot bath and some cold beers.

 

Reflecting on a conversation I had with bass-player David earlier, as we were offloading PA cabs and monitor speakers.

 

We were talking about the kind of money we ask for each given gig, and the equal division of pay, and how much the amount of money we make even matters.

(We all of us, myself, my brother the multi-instrumentalist, the bass player, our girl singer, and the drummer, have day jobs.)

And the band is less a source of income than it is a really fun and rewarding creative endeavor for band members who are age 57, 55, 52, 53, and 48 respectively.

 

Don't get me wrong, I have a business license for the band, and we track our debits and credits throughout the year, for tax purposes.

 

Four of the five of us work for the organization what threw the party today, and so we all got a full day's pay for making music.

Very rare situation, and very sweet. I was working on getting David to take some cash for his time and energy today, since he is the one band member who doesn't actually work for that company.

 

David admitted, "Man, I just really have fun being in this band, and making music. I really don't care if I make any money or not."

 

I remarked, "Well, don't forget just how much time we spend practicing for each gig. And how much hard work we put in today, loading-in, playing, and then loading out. We deserve every penny we earned today."

 

"Yeah, that's true."

 

"And more importantly perhaps, we have to think about the community of musicians hereabouts, and setting a standard for what bands should earn for any given job. When we play class reunions or bar gigs, we have been known to turn down the job when the money wasn't good enough. And that is less about our band than it is being careful not to lower the bar for all the other working bands in this State."

 

"Yep, I agree."

 

"We cannot ever agree to play for peanuts, because that sets a low standard for band wages in the entire region. Quality bands deserve top-dollar. And to play for less than you are worth does a disservice to every band looking to play a gig for a reasonable wage."

 

In the end, David will get paid well for today's job (I make sure that he always does), and we all remember that, though we are not a touring/working band, we have a responsibility to all the other bands out there.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Do bands in your town or area get/earn a decent wage?

Does everybody look out for everybody else?

We won't ever get rich doing this, but we all have bills to pay, after all.

 

What say you?

:unsure:

Amp-Guitar-Combo-Fender-Vibrolux_Reverb-210-1966-fr-detL.jpg

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No. It's terrible. I often drive to a neighboring town for gigs. Once I subtract my travel (56 cents a mile says Uncle Sam) I'm in the hole. Of course that means I deduct my losses from my other taxable income. All in all I lose money on paper as a musician but probably make a tiny bit in reality (since miles on my car don't seem to cost me money immediately). But I'm not trying to make a living at this, so that works for me. The other advantage is that instruments, strings, tubes, pedals etc are tax deductible purchases so long as you count them as income if you later resell them. I can live with that.

 

If I wanted to make a living at it, I'd move to Nashville (after getting a whole lot better on my instrument).

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I've always made pretty bad money playing gigs in Orange County and LA. Really just because I've never been in an amazing band or a cover band

 

It irritates all of us when we get paid dirt because we work hard but when I look at the big picture I realize we're not bringing in huge crowds or making the venue a ton of money. The money that we want doesn't just come from nowhere, so I understand.

 

Seems to me that for a small local band with a small draw, selling merch (tshirts and CDs) is the best way to make money at crappy gigs. The audience tends to be more generous than the venues around here unless you're selling tons of tickets

 

 

Is that your amp Square?

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Guest Farnsbarns

Sorry for my overly conservative view but if you're not making enough at the business you're in, charge more. If you can't get bookings fore "more", be better, if you're unable to be "better" be thankful you have a day job.

 

This is like any business. Your model has to work.

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It's past 1am. One of them guys comes over to the other two of us with money. Three of us, however many are playing. I say what I always say:

 

"I'da paid you to play this gig."

 

So whatever they give me is fine. I give some of mine to bass player, we use his studio, piss in his back yard, all that. I have a job, I don't do this for money.

 

rct

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All of us in this band have great day jobs, don't get me wrong.

And there is no desire to go full-time (quitting our day jobs, and marketing the band to a broader audience, for more money) in anyone's mind.

For one thing, we are too old and unattractive to really 'make it' in the music industry.

And each of us really loves our regular line of work.

 

We are all just musicians and singers who get along famously, and just really enjoy the heck out of making music, making audiences happy, and, yes, getting paid appropriately for the experience.

Guitar strings cost money. New PA gear costs money. So does gasoline for the van to and from the gig.

 

I don't mind playing bars or clubs for 'the door'.

In other words, the bar owner makes his money on food and alcohol, and the band gets the sum total of the money taken in at the door, as in 'the cover charge'.

That's a fair and equitable arrangement, particularly when your own talent and local word of mouth (and even some aggressive advertising) will guarantee a decent turn-out.

 

We have had some success playing high school reunions, for guys and gals who are of a certain age.

(1970's and 1980's grads)

Whenever old friends get together for their high school reunion parties, they tend to pony-up a certain bucket of money for the reunion dinner, the event hall, decorations, and of course, the band or DJ.

 

We have happily played such events when the money offered was good, and we have turned down such gigs when the planning committee wanted great live music on the cheap.

Again, it isn't about us so much as it is a conscious effort to avoid lowering the bar for other bands, re; recompense.

 

The worst thing a band can do is to accept jobs "for the exposure" or "for free beers and dinner".

Once or twice, for a really good friend, maybe.

But if you make it a habit, pretty soon no band in town will be able to command a decent wage for any gig.

:(

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The worst thing a band can do is to accept jobs "for the exposure" or "for free beers and dinner".

Once or twice, for a really good friend, maybe.

But if you make it a habit, pretty soon no band in town will be able to command a decent wage for any gig.

:(

 

I'm sure you know we are there to sell drinks and/or food. Period. Any comments from the owners/managers about how good we sounded are always accompanied/qualified by how full the place was or was not. "Here's your check... You guys sounded great... and you brought in some people" is the norm.

 

If you want to make more money (foregoing super stardom obviously) you have to get out of the bars and restaurants. Private functions like corporate parties and weddings pay much better.

 

I agree with you that it sucks - but I think supply and demand is working against us. Of course if kids these days are not learning instruments we could be more valuable in the future - if we can live long enough. [scared]

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Man oh man.

I'm worn out.

 

The band and I played a really big company Christmas party today, working from a festively-decorated flatbed trailer, and performing Christmas songs and fun oldies for about 400 people, including a lot of kids.

 

Early load-in, set-up, sound-check, and about six sets between 09:00 am and 2:00 pm.

After it was all over, the bandmates and I sat on the trailer and ate our cold leftovers from the Christmas feast that the attendees had enjoyed earlier.

(We agreed a long time ago that the band cannot eat a proper meal during a gig, if we are going to sing worth a $hit. A full belly impairs your diaphragm, and makes for lousy singing.)

 

Sounds like a perfect day to me!!!

 

 

<...snip...>

 

Do bands in your town or area get/earn a decent wage?

Does everybody look out for everybody else?

We won't ever get rich doing this, but we all have bills to pay, after all.

 

What say you?

:unsure:

 

No the bands no longer get a decent wage, but I still manage to pay the bills because we are well established and have regular customers. But we haven't raised our rates in close to 10 years now. In fact, one of the reasons I went duo with self-recorded backing tracks was financial.

 

Why don't the bands get a decent wage?

  1. TV - when we were young, and especially in my parents generation, there were only a few channels with tinny sound due to limited audio bandwidth. You had to go out to hear and watch good music being performed. Now you have +55" HDTV with 7.1 surround sound and a cable bill that can run up to $300 per month (there goes the entertainment budget)
  2. Open mic clubs - where the club used to hire entertainment, they now get it for free, and the entertainers bring their relatives and close friends with them. The owner is getting paid, the manager is getting paid, the bartender is getting paid, the cooks are getting paid, the wait staff is getting paid, the janitor is getting paid, security is getting paid, and the musicians are working for free, making all those people earn a living by being exploited
  3. Karaoke Jocks - singers who don't play any instruments and much less overhead singing along with karaoke tracks, and because they have no investment, undercut bands
  4. Karaoke nights - where the patrons supply the entertainment
  5. DJs, competition that can operate with minimal overhead investment in equipment
  6. Sports Bars - dozens of TVs all over the place luring the sports minded into the bars to watch "their" team play

 

Of all of the above, I'd say that TV is the biggest reason. If they don't go out, and can't afford to because their budget is spent on subscription services, the clubs are going to look for ways to cut their entertainment costs, this the open mic nights and KJ acts.

 

I'm glad I grew up in a time where a person could pay off the mortgage doing music and nothing but music.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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Four of the five of us work for the organization what threw the party today, and so we all got a full day's pay for making music.

Very rare situation, and very sweet....

 

Yeah, I guess. Seems like they could have paid you in full for the band, as well as your regular pay. msp_smile.gif

 

But basically, the point is, most musicians are way underpaid. Unlike doctors and lawyers, there's no "musician's guild" that restricts entry, and ensures that its members are reasonably paid. (Well, there's "the union," but how effective is that?)

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But basically, the point is, most musicians are way underpaid. Unlike doctors and lawyers, there's no "musician's guild" that restricts entry, and ensures that its members are reasonably paid. (Well, there's "the union," but how effective is that?)

 

There are unions - depending on where you live. They seem pretty effective in some places.

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No one in our band makes any more than expenses really. It's partly because there are 7 of us, play fun gigs (instead of well paid ones) and only play a handful of gigs per year.

 

If you factor in what we spend on equipment, we lose money. We play for fun really.

 

I admit it never occurred to me what you say about pay scales and precedent, but it makes absolute sense to me. I think you have a responsible attitude.

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There are unions - depending on where you live. They seem pretty effective in some places.

 

Yeah. When I read the OP, I immediately thought that it sounded very "union".

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Hey Spark. I hope I don't hijack the thread here. I just have a story, that doesn't really have a "moral" other than to just illustrate some of the dilemmas that us weekend-warrior gigging musicians face.

 

One of the venues we have been playing in the last year has been the local Cheeseburger In Paradise. It's a big national chain. Anyway, we have brought in a great crowd every time we play and many of them have been my personal friends because it's very local to where I live and grew up. We have a great time every time we play there. However, they make you jump through hoops just to get paid and then they pay by corporate check which is mailed to one of the band members. We played there about three weeks ago and packed the place and still haven't received the check from Corporate! Now we are scheduled to play there again this Saturday. As much as we like playing there, I'm tempted to petition the band to not play the gig if we haven't been paid for the last one yet. What if I took my family in and we all had a huge meal, and I told the management that I would send them a check for the bill when I have a chance? Think they wold go for it?

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Hey Spark. I hope I don't hijack the thread here. I just have a story, that doesn't really have a "moral" other than to just illustrate some of the dilemmas that us weekend-warrior gigging musicians face.

 

One of the venues we have been playing in the last year has been the local Cheeseburger In Paradise. It's a big national chain. Anyway, we have brought in a great crowd every time we play and many of them have been my personal friends because it's very local to where I live and grew up. We have a great time every time we play there. However, they make you jump through hoops just to get paid and then they pay by corporate check which is mailed to one of the band members. We played there about three weeks ago and packed the place and still haven't received the check from Corporate! Now we are scheduled to play there again this Saturday. As much as we like playing there, I'm tempted to petition the band to not play the gig if we haven't been paid for the last one yet. What if I took my family in and we all had a huge meal, and I told the management that I would send them a check for the bill when I have a chance? Think they would go for it?

 

Oh man, that's quite a dilemma.

 

I had a similar situation this past summer when we played a large corporate party at Point Mallard Park in Decatur.

 

The lady who had coordinated for us to play, and who agreed (in multiple emails) to pay us $700 for six sets of live music (from 9:00 am till 3:00 pm), dropped off the radar the week after we played the Saturday gig.

 

She wasn't answering voice mails or emails.

I kept apologizing to the band members, all of whom said, "Ah, it's not a big deal. We'll get paid when we get paid."

 

I finally got the gal at corporate to pay-up, but it was like pulling teeth.

I honestly think that she figured if she stalled long enough, we would give up and write off the experience to bad luck.

 

Or else she's just as flaky as a Crisco pie crust.

One or the other.

:unsure:

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they pay by corporate check which is mailed to one of the band members.

 

Wait a minute...they told you "The check is in the mail?" Try that one with your plumber or electrician...

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Personally, I don't want or need to be paid. It's a hobby and a lot cheaper one than many I could pursue. I was always glad to pay our sound guy though as he was giving up his evenings to help us sound good/less bad.

 

I think you raise a good point though and have sympathy for the people who have foregone other options and chosen to make it their livelihood, especially if they started back when it seemed a viable way to do so and committed fully to it. Weekend warriors less so, it's a choice and I doubt (for example) most blokes who pour many thousands into doing up classic cars get paid to display them in local shows where vendors make money.

 

Ultimately it's supply and demand, if there were floods of kids looking to go and see top covers bands playing in all the pubs/bars then the good bands could demand a good pay. Same as if people weren't getting sick those Doctors mentioned wouldn't be able to pull their current income.

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On principle, I agree with the OP. Don't get me wrong - I have and will play for ramen and a sleeping bag.

 

But if someone makes money off the door... Then you're entitled to a share. IMHO. YMMV.

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...and in the Uk. Phil Collins is charging £300 a seat for his gigs.

 

What does he charge for an early exit?

 

 

I'm not serious. I think Phil is pretty good, but most of my friends despise him!

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What does he charge for an early exit?

 

 

I'm not serious. I think Phil is pretty good, but most of my friends despise him!

Get in quick mate, those early exit tickets should sell out pretty fast.

 

 

 

 

(Similar disclaimer - I.e nothing personal against him but quite honestly I wouldn't spend 300 of yours to see him, let alone of mine [laugh] )

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Sounds like Bowie playing Sweden in the early 00s. Members of the fan club could even bring their friends... If they brought 200-300 quid each, that is.

 

It probably would have been worth it, though. But at three hundred UK clams, that's a sizeable "if". I wasn't exactly enamoured to hear that, thanks to my friend in the fan club, I too could spend that much on a ticket.

 

Love Bowie, though. Never met him or anything, but his 70s to early 80s output was magic and still is.

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We have happily played such events when the money offered was good, and we have turned down such gigs when the planning committee wanted great live music on the cheap.

Again, it isn't about us so much as it is a conscious effort to avoid lowering the bar for other bands, re; recompense.

 

The worst thing a band can do is to accept jobs "for the exposure" or "for free beers and dinner".

Once or twice, for a really good friend, maybe.

But if you make it a habit, pretty soon no band in town will be able to command a decent wage for any gig.

:(

 

I smell poop. Sounds like yer pisst that you don't make a crapload every time you go out the door. It's a tough business. What your band does does nothing to my band, and vice versa. If what you are saying is true, all the suck bands around here would make what we do and always have. They don't and probably never will. The bar owners set the prices, not us. You either play for it or you don't, that's how it has always been.

 

rct

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I smell poop. Sounds like yer pisst that you don't make a crapload every time you go out the door. It's a tough business. What your band does does nothing to my band, and vice versa. If what you are saying is true, all the suck bands around here would make what we do and always have. They don't and probably never will. The bar owners set the prices, not us. You either play for it or you don't, that's how it has always been.

rct

 

Not to disagree, because I respect you very much, but you may be missing my original point.

 

* I've never been pissed over the money we have made on ANY gig.

We go in with our eyes wide open each and every time we play, and sometimes the money is great, and other times it doesn't work out as well as we might have liked.

Especially when we agree to just take 'the door', and less people showed up than expected, due to foul weather or whatever.

One time we made less than expected because it was a college football Saturday evening, and more people than expected chose to stay and watch the big game at home (rather than on the sports-bar tv screens in the place we were playing).

It's all a part of the learning curve.

 

And we have played for free for charity events, such as local cancer fundraisers, etc.

So it's not like we are greedy.

 

* What standards my band operates under (re; reasonable pay for a quality live performance) DOES affect other bands in the area.

Are there terrible bands who clearly don't deserve as much as other bands who sound great?

Sure.

But when quality bands consistently take gigs for less than they are worth, it lowers the bar and sets a new (lower) standard for live band wages for everybody else.

 

Word of mouth is EVERYTHING.

You can advertise all you like, and hang shiny posters everywhere.

But what gets people in the door is the word-of-mouth about how fantastic you rocked the last time a bunch of people heard you.

We did more than a few private parties in a row, over the past few years, all because of positive reviews from each previous gig.

 

:)

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In this area we don't play for the door, haven't since the very early 80's. It's a guaranteed loser, it's a shame that bars are like that where you are. These guys know they won't get anyone to play like that.

 

rct

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