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Thread: Those of you in bands....

  1. #26
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    You guys get paid for doing this? I gotta look into that!
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  2. #27
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Our band is a different situation (we all play for free. the money we make goes into a general fund that we use to pay for "real" musicians we invite over from Ireland), but we determine what we charge based on venue, time of year, ability of the asker to pay and the number and level of expertise of the musicians. We do the occasional freebie -- our home base on St. Patrick's Day gets a free show since they allow us to practice/hold a session once a week gratis (no rent); the St. Patrick's Day parade committee usually gets a free gig, and if we're asked to play for some school children in the worst part of town at the most economically challenged neighborhoods, we do it for love -- but a more affluent school or nursing home gets charged, a private party gets charged more, a university gig still more and a wedding our top price. We had decided to cut out any gig that pays us less than $250 (our 'real' concert schedule is set a year in advance and we have to pay for the bands we invite over) but we'll make exceptions on a case-by-case basis still.
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  3. #28

    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    I always say, "Of course we will play for free, but each musician gets $250 to haul equipment, set it up, break it down and haul it back home."

  4. #29
    Bill Healy mrbook's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    When our band started out we played all kinds of gigs, many for free. Now we do one free show every year for a camp for disabled people, and we play free at a festival put on by our local bluegrass association (along with every other band). We will play other good causes for free, but not every one that asks. You don't really get much exposure, and my feeling is that groups that want free entertainers usually make only a minimal effort to publicize the event - since the entertainment is free, they don't lose out if it's not successful. If I agree to play for free, I expect the group to try to get us a good audience to make our performance worthwhile for them and for us.

    We will do other events for free, like for any church or other group a band member is involved with. We will always lend our time and talent (such as it is) to a cause that matters to us. However, I never expect such gigs to be a stepping stone to real paying opportunities - it happens, but only rarely. Free gigs usually only lead to more offers for the same. It's also nice to use you music to really help a cause, though.

    We have had some interesting experiences. We once played a benefit to settle some bills for a guy who died. We didn't know him, but the organizer hired us for paying gigs. We found out later we helped settle his bar bill.

  5. #30
    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Barbara

    Where are you headed in Texas? It's a big state and full of jaming musicians.

    Neither of the two groups I'm in have a problem with free gigs. There are gigs we turn down, regardless of the compensation or lack of, simply because someone or all of the group has a concern about playing it.

    About 20% of my income is derived from teaching guitar and mandolin and I think of performing for any audience as a opportunity to promote myself as a teacher.

  6. #31
    Registered User Chris Willingham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    We're not very good, but we do several free shows for chambers of commerce and civic clubs. BUT only if the organizer doesn't make public that we're playing for free. Have always had good luck and usually recieve at least $50 in tips and most of the time the performance leads to several paying gigs.

    For example, played a black tie dinner for free a month ago (Bluegrass in tuxedos , I know) hosted by a local museum. Got $180 in tips and became the house band for all museum events were they need music. Free shows, few and farbetween, aren't too bad, IMO.

  7. #32
    Registered User Barbara Shultz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Hall View Post
    Barbara

    Where are you headed in Texas? It's a big state and full of jaming musicians.
    Finally arrived this evening (Thursday) just south of Houston. Am planning to try to spend at least one night in the next 9 days, in Austin. I'm going on a day bus trip tomorrow, with a group my sister belongs to, to the Brenham area, to see the beautiful Texas wildflowers... usually *I'm* the one driving, so I don't get to fully enjoy them! Then, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo both Saturday & Sunday... and gotta cram as much 'grandbaby' love in that I can~

  8. #33
    Registered User Jimmy Kittle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    I'm on the other side of the fence. Each year I put on a bluegrass show to benefit Cystic Fibrosis. I have had great response from the bands donating thier talents. I couldn't do this without the musicians. All the money raised goes to CF. The issue I always have is, "there are never enough words to thank them for thier support".

  9. #34

    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    We're just now feeling good enough that we won't play if we have to pay to get in!

    I don't know know of any other bands in a multi-city radius that play the same style as us, so I know we're not depriving anybody of paying gigs. We are working at getting good enough to be able to exchange money for our time, though. One day...

  10. #35
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    I usually do a couple of pro bono shows a year (research for cancer, leukemia, etc; funding for homeless kids and such). It's GOTTA be legitimate. I'll say that I do these things because I support the cause - but I do always see other workers and vendors being paid for their services at these events, and I have to get in a dig or two... sorry, can't help myself. "Artists" have a "gift from God and should share their talent with the world". Yeah, okay... dentists have a talent as well. Maybe they should provide free dentistry for good causes.

    That said, I definitely DO NOT regret the few pro bono jobs that I do, and my above observations are more from the snide "oh yeah, I thought it was a BENEFIT" camp - which I mostly keep to myself.

    I do earn 100% of my income as a musician, so other than for the charity events that I deem worthy, I have a minimum dollar figure in mind before I'll tote my gear out of the house. I've been working as a musician regularly since the 70's, so the idea of sitting at home in a pair of pajamas and munching a bowl of Cap'n Crunch and watching Warner Bros. cartoons is far more appealing to me personally than is that of going out to do any sort of work which wage does not accurately represent my expended efforts.

    The one thing that I would adamantly say to my musical brothers and sisters is that it's simply a bad idea to go play a bar for "exposure" when you see money being transferred for cover, food, drinks, or 'you name it'. Venue operators LOVE the fact that so many are of the mindset that musicians are willing to play for free - and why wouldn't they... the act has brought in its friends who consume beer and wings and whatnots. As long as folks are going to play for free, opportunists are going to take advantage of it, it's just that simple. There's nothing wrong with playing for free, just make sure of the situation. If a young musician desires some experience, playing at a house party for free is fine. Playing for free in an establishment that is turning profit is a horrible thing to do to your working brothers and sisters - it truly is the equivalent of supporting sweatshop wages in a third world country, and it absolutely undermines the notion of musician as occupation.

    I've done a fair amount of "work" in Nashville in recent years. For a town that calls itself "Music City U.S.A.", it certainly enjoys taking in tourist dollars hand-over-fist while paying the bulk of its working musicians next to nothing, simply for the 'privilege' of playing "there". When I've done "showcase" 45 minute sets in that town for the benefit of some producer or some AR guy that may or may not have decided to show up, I've required $100.00 pure profit, with all expenses paid. It doesn't bother me in the least if a project leader wants to get somebody else; again, I really enjoy being at home, and I've got work to do.

    It took me years to get on the same page with all of this with my family. A couple of common scenarios:

    1.) My neice/nephew/son/daughter/brother/sister/friend/associate is getting married. We'd LOVE to have you play for us!

    2.) How come you never show up for our annual Christmas party?

    3.) We'd LOVE to have you come sing and play at our annual Christmas party!



    1.) That's cool. When and where is the event, and what's the budget?

    2.) Because you always schedule the party in December on a Saturday, with short notice. I book a month or two in advance, and for the Holiday season, it's not unusual to start booking 3-4 months in advance. Most folks relax on the weekend, but that's when I work the most. If there are 52 Saturdays in a year, I'm working 49-50 of 'em. I'd love to attend, really I would. I won't ask you to change your approach just for little ol' me, but please don't treat me like the black sheep simply because my line of work contains parameters that you're not familiar with.

    3.) Ummm, yeah. Actually, I rarely have opportunity to go out socially. For those occasions, it would be really nice to leave the work tools at home and just hang out and talk for a change. Thanks.




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  11. #36
    Registered User Mike Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    I gig very little, these days, but I had my moments. You've got to be careful and have your eyes wide open. It builds a lot of good will to play for legit charities, can be very fulfilling. I have, however, been "duped" (I was the dupe) into playing free gigs, only to find out later that another group of musicians were axed from a paying gig as soon as I signed on. They were righteously PO'd.
    The person who signed us on had no intention of being forthright about the situation, and spent the saved money on upscale beverages. Some of those guys are still mad at me over 20+ years later. I was stupid. Mea culpa all to heck. It wasn't worth a couple of glasses of champagne.
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  12. #37
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Bowen View Post
    As with any occupational pursuit, nobody is interested in taking you seriously until you first do so for yourself.

    Tim, can I use that one?
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  13. #38
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    It's all in the way you look at it. I don't support myself as a musician although I play out several times a month. I get paid for some, some I do free. To me it's a hobby. I can make a heck of a lot more doing consulting in my field than I can playing music. Some guys golf. I choose to play music. I admire anyone that can make a living doing this. I have no aspirations to go that route.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  14. #39
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim2723
    Tim, can I use that one?
    Sure!

  15. #40
    Registered User jim_n_virginia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    I don't think there is anything wrong with doing a charity gig occasionally for a good cause. I myself have been involved with a non profit organization that provides music to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, Special needs kids camp etc. for 4 or 5 years now since they started. I do one 55 minute show a month for them.

    It's not techniqually a freebie anymore because while their first few years when they were strapped for cash I played (with friends or whatever band I am playing with) for no money but now they have sponsors and grants so there is a small stipend but it's not much just enough to cover everyone's gas and maybe lunch after the gig.

    Now I DO take issue with the halfway proficient musicians or bands (who are usually loaded) who will play EVERY gig for free or for food or beer. These people make it VERY hard for those who are trying to make some sort of a living at it.

    I remember when I asked Herschel Sizemore when I was studying his style of playing for a while if he ever jammed with buddies or went to local jams or open mic nights.

    He looked at me like I was NUTS and said very simply

    ... "No pay, NO PLAY!"

  16. #41
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    For me it's a simple rule: Hobbyist or professional, paid or charity, we are free to do what we whish as long as we don't harm anyone else in the process.
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  17. #42
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbook View Post
    We have had some interesting experiences. We once played a benefit to settle some bills for a guy who died. We didn't know him, but the organizer hired us for paying gigs. We found out later we helped settle his bar bill.
    There are worse causes to find you have supported. Lots worse.
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  18. #43
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Quote Originally Posted by msnyder View Post
    only to find out later that another group of musicians were axed from a paying gig as soon as I signed on. .
    That is the real problem - that's how others can get hurt. How does a band compete with "free", especially when the venue is not particular about the quality of the music?

    On the other hand, there are many places where live music would do folks a lot of good, but there isn't a budget to pay for it.
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  19. #44
    Registered User stratman62's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    If I'm moving the PA, I'm getting paid. If someone is making money off of my efforts, I'm
    getting paid. If someone needs help, I'll jump right in. I've had all the exposure I can stand.
    To me, this is not a business I'm in, but rather a lifestyle. I would just as soon pick in your
    kitchen than play in front of 50,000, and I've done both more than once. I'm not for sale,
    but I can be rented. I really just like to play. It's what I do.
    dwight in NC

  20. #45

    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    So many variables on this subject. I have one rule I like to stick by: I try to avoid playing a three-hour dance for no pay. Everything else is negotiable (not necessarily by plan, but practicality).
    Last edited by catmandu2; Mar-23-2009 at 10:09am.

  21. #46
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    . I have one rule I like to stick by: I try to avoid playing a three-hour dance for no pay. .
    Been there, more than once.

    I take the whimps creed on these things

    I AM MAD AS HECK AND I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE IT TOO MANY MORE TIMES
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  22. #47
    Mike Parks woodwizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    What?! ... play for free?! You mean not even any free food or beer!?? Just kidding. I'm with Mike ... we take it case by case. I've had a lot of fun at some free gigs in the past. We just try not to make a practice of it and when we do it is a practice I guess. We all as band members have to be 100% in agreement to do it tho before we acept.
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  23. #48
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Now I DO take issue with the halfway proficient musicians or bands (who are usually loaded) who will play EVERY gig for free or for food or beer. These people make it VERY hard for those who are trying to make some sort of a living at it.
    Hello. I am a halfway proficient musician who plays the majority of the time for free or for food or beer while occasionally loaded. Why is this an issue?

    I understand the frustration of not being able to make a living as a musician. Very few people in this world have the opportunity to do what they love and earn a living at the same time. But I do not think that pointing the finger at other musicians is the answer. I could stop my halfway proficient mandolin playing today, but you will not find yourself tomorrow in a limousine being chased by nubile groupies throwing rose petals as a result.

    It may seem unfair that musicians, more than any other group of people, are asked to donate their time to causes. At the same time, I am proud to be among a group of people that answer that call.
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  24. #49
    8 Fingers, 2 Thumbs Ken Sager's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    Your first statement is not an issue.

    Your mis-characterization (limousines and groupies?) doesn't change the fact that people who play for free take gigs away from others who try to make a living playing music. The more often some folks will play for free the less often other people will pay for live music.

    The cool thing is that it's a free market, and you are free to under-bid better musicians at will.

    If you think musicians feel entitled to make money playing music you're wrong. They do, however, feel entitled to be treated with respect. Just like asking a working musician to play for free, assuming working musicians are only after limousines and nubile groupies isn't being respectful.

    Quote Originally Posted by bobby bill View Post
    Hello. I am a halfway proficient musician who plays the majority of the time for free or for food or beer while occasionally loaded. Why is this an issue?

    I understand the frustration of not being able to make a living as a musician. Very few people in this world have the opportunity to do what they love and earn a living at the same time. But I do not think that pointing the finger at other musicians is the answer. I could stop my halfway proficient mandolin playing today, but you will not find yourself tomorrow in a limousine being chased by nubile groupies throwing rose petals as a result.

    It may seem unfair that musicians, more than any other group of people, are asked to donate their time to causes. At the same time, I am proud to be among a group of people that answer that call.
    Less talk, more pick.

  25. #50
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Those of you in bands....

    It was either Michael Cooney or Mike Agranoff, in a Sing Out! column many years ago, who made a statement along the lines of "It's hard to make a living wage doing what many people are willing to do for nothing."

    Don't know if this is entirely accurate; people do make a living playing music, as well as painting, cooking, writing -- even s-x, I understand! I guess you just have to be a lot better at it than the many eager amateurs and semi-pros who are willing to ply their trades for free.

    But really, getting resentful does nothing to improve the situation -- or one's disposition. Music is recreation as well as profession, and many a musician is "paid" sufficiently by the experience of producing music, sometimes in front of an audience, sometimes just for his/her own private enjoyment.

    If music presenters get a more reliable, better quality, more marketable and attractive brand of music by hiring a professional group, and it makes economic sense for them to do so, they will do so. Strays away quite a bit from the original question, which was "should a professional group ever take 'freebie' gigs, and if so, when?" And I would reiterate that I would say, evaluate them on a case-by-case basis, and make the choices that fit best with your preferences, professional status and goals, and resources.
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