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#2883671 - 10/06/17 03:25 PM Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts
kpl1228 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 151
Loc: New Mexico
Lately this seems to be a trend: "weekend warriors" who go on social media complaining about the bar owner cancelling the gig for whatever reason on short notice, but...
None of them seem to have contracts anymore. Once it would have been thought of as crazy for even a weekend bar band to do any job without even a basic contract, but now it seems that band leaders are scared to either insult or disrespect the club owner by asking for a signature on a written agreement, ensuring at least a portion of pay for a cancellation within a short time frame (24 hrs, etc). So the club owner stiffs them (sometimes for a legit reason, sometimes not), and then the musician gripes about how he's out a bunch of money on a Saturday night.
Anyone else seeing this recently with bar bands playing informally and without contracts? I can't be the only one that notices this. Are a lot of these local bar gigs now handshake agreements?


Edited by kpl1228 (10/06/17 03:27 PM)

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#2883675 - 10/06/17 04:06 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: kpl1228]
Cower, Boy! NQ Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 06/14/15
Posts: 597
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
We have contracts and job sheets for all of our "pub" gigs.

Having said this, weird things can and do still happen when dealing with venue management from time to time. Goes with turf I've found.

A good problem-solving mindset is preferable to complaining on social media in these situations.

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#2883676 - 10/06/17 04:13 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: kpl1228]
agitato Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/29/10
Posts: 304
Unfortunately, that seems to be the case. As far as public bar and/or restaurant gigs, one is lucky to work at all, these days. So when one gets those public gigs, do your absolute best to keep the patrons returning to spend money (especially when you or your band are there)and usually the owner will be happy and hire you back, hopefully on a regular basis. If you go there on your off nights, as a customer, that's really great, too, because it shows appreciation to the owner for the gig. (Just common sense.)Public gigs do get cancelled from time to time, but if you're bringing consistent business into the place,it shouldn't happen very often When I play private gigs (usually solo piano), I always send a contract to be signed and returned, as well as ask for a non-refundable deposit of half of the agreed upon pay,then those type of gigs have are far less likely to be cancelled. If the client really wants to hire you, they will send you a deposit.

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#2883677 - 10/06/17 04:25 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: agitato]
timwat Offline
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+1 on agitato's comments.

I don't remember the last time a bar / restaurant gig cancelled on us - mostly I believe that's because the bandleaders I work with have done a good job on the background leg work that's necessary (maintain rapport with owner AND making sure sufficient marketing is done beforehand to bring a draw).

I'm fortunate that a lot of my jazz work is contract, and of course the lucrative corporate / wedding stuff is by necessity contract work handled by the bandleader.

I for sure don't think I'm doing anything special or different or better than anyone else; I've been really fortunate to build relationships with reliable people...as well as shedding my music life of a few peeps who weren't that reliable for various reasons.
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#2883708 - 10/06/17 09:32 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: timwat]
cphollis Offline
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Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 1926
Loc: Massachussets, Florida
No contracts etc. in my bar band world, just "verbal handshakes". 99% of the time it works out OK, as it's a smallish town and everyone knows each other.

Truth be told, we're more likely to cancel than they are. Something comes up with a band member (understandable, but not avoidable) and we're the ones who have to call up the venue owner with our tails between our legs.

Like me when work calls and I have to get on an airplane to somewhere.

Occasionally, we'll book out three months in advance, and venue owner bags a better act for our night, so it's more of a reschedule than a cancellation.

Hey, no worries. We're doing this for fun, remember?

BTW, tipping the barstaff with a piece of our proceeds always seems to get us invited back, even if it was a slow night smile
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#2883725 - 10/07/17 01:55 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: cphollis]
RobP2 Offline
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Registered: 08/19/09
Posts: 142
Loc: Bedford, UK
I've played scores of pub gigs in the UK, not once has any pub offered a contract and if the band produced one they would ignore it. That's just the way it works in the UK. Problem is the music scene here is flooded with hobby bands happy to play for peanuts.
Seems that setting up a band is second only to cycling as the new middle-aged go-to hobby. Makes it almost impossible to make a living from bar band work here these days

One other issue here is that many pubs are closing and/or change management regularly, with attendant problems of continuity in bookings


Edited by RobP2 (10/07/17 01:59 AM)
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#2883726 - 10/07/17 02:13 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: RobP2]
Lee T Offline
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Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 117
Loc: North West UK
Have to agree Rob. I've just asked one band I work with to sack off a pub gig that they've played for a couple of years as the pub refuses to raise the money. Personally I'd rather just do the good paying corporate and wedding gigs, but you have to invite people along to see you so pub gigs are a good opportunity. However, I refuse to get paid less than minimum wage, unlike the knobs who are doing this for a hobby.
As for the original topic, contracts for corporate and wedding gigs (with deposit) every time but I've never seen one for a pub gig. It would probably end up hanging in the toilet cubicle if I presented one to a pub owner or manager.
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#2883739 - 10/07/17 05:37 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: Lee T]
nickd Offline
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Registered: 05/24/10
Posts: 915
Loc: UK
Ditto to Lee and Rob, that's my experience in UK too.

At least nowadays a lot of booking is done via email, so there's often a written record to remind 'forgetful' bookers what they agreed to.

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#2883741 - 10/07/17 05:59 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: RobP2]
Frightful Mike Offline
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Originally Posted By: RobP2
I've played scores of pub gigs in the UK, not once has any pub offered a contract and if the band produced one they would ignore it. Problem is the music scene here is flooded with hobby bands happy to play for peanuts.
That sums up the local scene here as well.
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#2883742 - 10/07/17 06:29 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: Frightful Mike]
DanL Offline
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The only places we use contracts for are the casinos. Regular bar/restaurant stuff, we don't bother. It's been a LONG time since I got shafted by one, and if it happens, we just don't play there again. Most of the places we play are established and are not the "how many Jager drinking buddies can you bring so we have a good night" type of venue. I know there are places around here that cancel at the last minute or short the band pay, it's easy enough to avoid them. They usually don't last long.
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#2883767 - 10/07/17 10:24 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: DanL]
Synthaholic Offline
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I switched from contracts to just using email. It's enforceable, although I can't imagine ever going to small claims court to enforce one.

Contracts just invited the "What - you don't trust me?" look from club owners. Not a good way to begin a business arrangement.
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#2883798 - 10/07/17 04:06 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: Synthaholic]
El Lobo Offline
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Registered: 12/23/14
Posts: 685
We play several small clubs and other events on an every-few-months basis. Most of them wouldn't even think about a contract. One bar/restaurant that's a well-paid gig always requires that we sign a contract. There's also an annual festival that we usually play that uses contracts. Of the various bands I'm in or have been in, I don't think we've ever cancelled. We'd get a sub if a player couldn't do it for one reason or another. But the whole band would have to be in hospital before we'd cancel a gig.
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#2883813 - 10/07/17 07:21 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: El Lobo]
J. Dan Offline
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The restaurant/bars that book the larger acts sign contracts, but generally the contract comes from the booking agent who has both the band and the venue sign the contract. It makes sure everybody is on the same page for the date, the price, and of course the booking agent's cut. No contract, no gig.
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#2883862 - 10/08/17 08:09 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: Synthaholic]
clawback Offline
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Registered: 05/11/04
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Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Synthaholic
Contracts just invited the "What - you don't trust me?" look from club owners. Not a good way to begin a business arrangement.


Not a good business to begin an arrangement with, more like.

What, so his lease, insurance, vendors, staff, advertising etc is all handshake?
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#2883870 - 10/08/17 09:16 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: kpl1228]
llatham Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 229
Originally Posted By: kpl1228

None of them seem to have contracts anymore. Once it would have been thought of as crazy for even a weekend bar band to do any job without even a basic contract, but now it seems that band leaders are scared to either insult or disrespect the club owner by asking for a signature on a written agreement, ensuring at least a portion of pay for a cancellation within a short time frame (24 hrs, etc). So the club owner stiffs them (sometimes for a legit reason, sometimes not), and then the musician gripes about how he's out a bunch of money on a Saturday night.
Anyone else seeing this recently with bar bands playing informally and without contracts? I can't be the only one that notices this. Are a lot of these local bar gigs now handshake agreements?


I don't think it's that the bands are afraid. It's that the clubs simply won't do it.

Most of the time, the person who books the bands for the venue is in no position to enter into any legal agreements with a band.

And "recently"? No. It's been this way for at least the last 20 years.

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#2883871 - 10/08/17 09:27 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: cphollis]
llatham Offline
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Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 229
Originally Posted By: cphollis
No contracts etc. in my bar band world, just "verbal handshakes". 99% of the time it works out OK, as it's a smallish town and everyone knows each other.


Yeah, this is important. We all know each other - all the gigging bands, all the venues.

We've had a couple of double-bookings in the past. Most of the time a discussion was an apology on the part of the club and they'd book us some more gigs. We've also many a time taken a last minute gig for a bar that had a cancellation.

Most people are on the up and up - I mean, they're not paying what they should, but at least they're good about working with the bands.

We did play one venue - it was a new venue for us and was one of those typical places where they thought that by getting a "better known" band in (which we were) they'd get a bigger crowd and they thought by changing things up - you know, get a different clientele - they'd improve their situation.

I had a bad vibe the moment I arrived.

Half the sign was unlit - sure sign of a failing establishment. Walked in, Friday night at dinner time and it's a pretty big room, but there's only two people dining (and two solos, not a couple!). There wasn't anyone at the bar.

They did have an actual stage but power was wonky (another bad sign). Our band leader actually had to call another band he knew had played there to figure out the power situation because the staff didn't know.

This - by the way - was a place that served their beer in plastic solo cups. I've been to places years ago that didn't serve in bottles becuase it was a "rough" bar but I honestly haven't ever seen that, nor have I played in any place where anything like that was a concern in many many years.

We play, band leader goes to collect the pay "you didn't bring in as many people as we thought so we're only giving you 1/2".

This apparently is a common ploy with them.

The band leader ended up suing them and won.

He paid us out of pocket in advance, then took a couple of months for him to get paid back from the suit.

Don't know if the place is still in business, but most of the people we were chummy with were "warned" and many boycotted the place.

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#2883891 - 10/08/17 11:51 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: clawback]
Synthaholic Offline
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Registered: 04/18/05
Posts: 1356
Loc: Where the wild things are
Originally Posted By: clawback
Originally Posted By: Synthaholic
Contracts just invited the "What - you don't trust me?" look from club owners. Not a good way to begin a business arrangement.


Not a good business to begin an arrangement with, more like.

What, so his lease, insurance, vendors, staff, advertising etc is all handshake?



Well, no. That's why I said that I've switched to email confirmation of the gig's particulars. They are admissible in small claims court. As if I'd ever go to small claims court over a club owner screwing me out of a gig.
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#2884099 - 10/09/17 12:20 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: Synthaholic]
Bob L Offline
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Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 412
I use email for all gig booking, including with band members so I can look everything up later. The older I get, the less I can remember. We only play at a few venues on a regular basis and have a good relationship with the venue owners.
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#2884107 - 10/09/17 01:03 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: Bob L]
Stokely Offline
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Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 1580
Loc: Florida
We don't usually have contracts except for the larger gigs. We have occasionally been bumped for another band--but frankly our singer has done the same thing once or twice so... A couple times we've had a bar try to lowball us at the end of the night, and every time they had other issues going on--so we don't play those places anymore.

But almost always things are fine. Communication is always good, and some of the club owners would drive me nuts if I was doing the booking with how terrible they are with communication. Especially when it comes to a new place and you want details on where to go, when to show up, how to get in (with resorts this is an issue)... The biggest ongoing hassle for our singer is when the check isn't ready at night's end and the manager has left...she then hears "come back tomorrow when the manager is here"....grrrrr

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#2884116 - 10/09/17 02:39 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: Stokely]
WesG Offline
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We had a similar problem with a bar owner last year. Rather than suing him, we just decided to make it our mission to ensure that the level of talent playing in the joint goes down. And it has. We may not have a union, but to a certain extent, we all have each other's back.
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#2884157 - 10/09/17 09:06 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: WesG]
Synthaholic Offline
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Originally Posted By: WesG
We had a similar problem with a bar owner last year. Rather than suing him, we just decided to make it our mission to ensure that the level of talent playing in the joint goes down. And it has. We may not have a union, but to a certain extent, we all have each other's back.


Exactly. Word gets around. Nobody wants to be the club's next victim.
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#2884159 - 10/09/17 09:37 PM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: Synthaholic]
EscapeRocks Offline
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All of the festival and municipal shows use contracts. The clubs use the "email" system for contracts.
Luckily, in our 11 years we've only had one club with which we had an issue. Many other bands did as well. Club is closed .

Out of town shows always have a contract, and we've never had an issue executing one even if it's just a club. Granted, out of town clubs that can pony up the $$$$ to get us to travel have no problems with contracts.
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#2884206 - 10/10/17 07:51 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: EscapeRocks]
SkiGuy777 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/19/17
Posts: 164
Loc: Plantation FL
We're using a contract for one place. If the owner doesn't sign it, then we won't play. The owner actually contacted us about another gig we have booked saying that person owes him money and to watch out. In other words, everyone is connected.

If the place you played was empty and no one was eating food, it means the food sucks. Owners have this idea the band will bring 50 people. Nope, the good food will along with the reasonable drink prices, good location, and atmosphere. The places that fail don't realize this, don't hire a good chef or food service company. I think of people like ants, they go where there's good food.

If a place stiffs you, can easily write an average review on Yelp or Trip Advisor, say 2 or 3 stars instead of 5.


Edited by SkiGuy777 (10/10/17 08:01 AM)
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#2884209 - 10/10/17 07:59 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: EscapeRocks]
DanL Offline
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Registered: 09/22/05
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Loc: DE
Originally Posted By: EscapeRocks
All of the festival and municipal shows use contracts. The clubs use the "email" system for contracts.
Luckily, in our 11 years we've only had one club with which we had an issue. Many other bands did as well. Club is closed .

Out of town shows always have a contract, and we've never had an issue executing one even if it's just a club. Granted, out of town clubs that can pony up the $$$$ to get us to travel have no problems with contracts.


The tribute market is a good bit different than the local party band scene. There is more invested by both the venue and the band for those type of events.
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#2884420 - 10/11/17 10:06 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: DanL]
SkiGuy777 Offline
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Registered: 02/19/17
Posts: 164
Loc: Plantation FL
Had a rehearsal last night, found out we're not playing Boca Black Box because of the shady owner.
https://www.yelp.com/biz/boca-black-box-boca-raton-2
I looked up the Yelp review, only 3.5 stars, many people mad about the no refund policy on tickets. Read the reviews and you'll see a pattern.

Some places serve food, and that's what will draw the people. Other places are more like a club where the drinks and entertainment are important. I can never understand how these types of places can stay in business when they're doing nothing during the day.


Edited by SkiGuy777 (10/11/17 10:06 AM)
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#2884426 - 10/11/17 10:27 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: kpl1228]
MaskOfInsects Offline
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Registered: 02/04/15
Posts: 2584
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: kpl1228
Lately this seems to be a trend: "weekend warriors" who go on social media complaining about the bar owner cancelling the gig for whatever reason on short notice, but...
None of them seem to have contracts anymore. Once it would have been thought of as crazy for even a weekend bar band to do any job without even a basic contract, but now it seems that band leaders are scared to either insult or disrespect the club owner by asking for a signature on a written agreement, ensuring at least a portion of pay for a cancellation within a short time frame (24 hrs, etc). So the club owner stiffs them (sometimes for a legit reason, sometimes not), and then the musician gripes about how he's out a bunch of money on a Saturday night.
Anyone else seeing this recently with bar bands playing informally and without contracts? I can't be the only one that notices this. Are a lot of these local bar gigs now handshake agreements?


I spent my 20s literally living off the income from these kinds of gigs, and I don't ever remember contracts. I may just be forgetting, but in my memory, the "booking" was as good as the contract. You were literally added to the calendar as the conversation took place. That particular band played up and down the coast, usually Thurs-Mon, and (again, just my memory) I'm certain that was SOP at the time.

If anything, I actually would have thought that bands were MORE likely to ask for them these days, with the increase in social networking helping savvify the huddled masses.

In terms of hired-gun status, tradition dictates that a gig offered (to you by a BL) is a gig honored. Over the years I've found that actually holds about 50% of the time here: cancelled gigs are as often left unpaid, as paid. Maybe even more often. No amount or kind of protest has ever resulted in $, so I've come to view it as the operating cost of playing in the market I'm in. In fact, last month when a bar gig got cancelled day-of, I was pretty surprised to see the two bills show up in my PayPal that night all the same. Not as common as it "used to be," he said oldly.

Private gigs are a whole different story. Cancel and OT are baked in from the outset.
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#2884625 - 10/12/17 09:28 AM Re: Slightly OT: weekend bar band gigs and contracts [Re: MaskOfInsects]
Bob L Offline
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Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 412
I do it all by email so I have something to reference. You can also head off some problems by checking the venues calendar on their web site and make sure they think you are playing there also! Sound like a simple thing but a couple of times it has headed off problems.
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