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Should Band Size Be Adjusted According to Gig Pay?


ProfD

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I know of a band consisting of (11) members as follows:

 

(1) bandleader

(2) KB players

(1) drummer

(1) lead guitar

(1) bass guitar

(2) horns

(1) male vocalist

(1) female vocalist

(1) percussionist

 

Their last gig paid $600. That works out to about $54/member if no other expenses were deducted. Otherwise, it gets uglier real fast.

 

The gig was about 45 minutes or more away from where most of the folks in the band live.

 

I don't know what these folks drive but if it takes $30 to fill up the gas tank, that leaves about $24. Sure, they could carpool.

 

My first recommendation to the bandleader was to cut the band in half. Of course, he believes everyone is essential.

 

Some bands like to maintain a certain 'look'. My response was to cut it down to (5) members multitasking or find multi-instrumentalists. :laugh:

 

Feel free to pass along your cost cutting measures for keeping this band within budget and more importantly, going home with respectable pay. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Feel free to pass along your cost cutting measures for keeping this band within budget and more importantly, going home with respectable pay. :cool:

 

Here's whatcha do:

 

Tell the lead guitarist that the band is playing at this very hip club in town and to tell all his friends.

 

Of course, he'll tell his step mother/father and all their friends & kinfolk that they can come out to hear him for FREE... no cover, just tell the guy at the door that it's OK - THEY'RE FRIENDS OF THE LEAD GUITARIST. :thu:

 

Then, when that happens - and it will indeed happen - his folks will be at the door demanding to get in at no charge.

 

Explain to the guitarist that this wasn't in the deal.

 

The guitarist then throws a fit, grabs his guitar (and strap) and walks off the stage and out the door. "That'll show those bastids." he mumbles as he storms out of the club.

 

And THAT, ProfD, will automagically adjust the size of the band, giving the remaining members more money in their pockets.

 

Everybody's happy. :laugh:

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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The band I mentioned in the other thread has usually consisted of

 

bandleader - guitar

drums

bass

keys

3 lead vox

 

He paid me better than I expected for the last two gigs. (I have no idea if he paid everyone the same and I didn't ask.)

 

He has now added

 

keys

3 background vox

 

It will be interesting to see if the pay drops. I know we won't fit on stages we've played previously.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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If you ask me, size matters

 

Braggart :sick:

He was talking about the women.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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No way I'd play for that - not even as a 5-piece. Maybe a duo.

 

I do no bands that have different lineups for different gigs. There's one in particular in town that can do anything from a 5-pc to 10-pc, but you're talking more of a $3500 to $10,000 price range. In their case, there are 2 or 3 guys who are the core of the band - everyone else are hired hands who get flat rate, regardless of band pay. Hired guns get paid, production gets paid, core guys split the rest - so they make the pitch to the client and negotiate pay vs show. The add-ons are basically horn section and female backup vox.

 

I also know several bands that do a 3-pc acoustic or semi-acoustic version of their bands for happy hours, often playing 2 shows in one night.

 

As for the band you reference, no matter what they do, if they are any good, they ought to be able to get more money.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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That band is just not working with realistic numbers. They may be a great act, but they are terrible business people. Unless you are going to take over as their business manager, and I doubt that you are as you are here looking for suggestions, I would suggest that they get an agent. Agents are what they are, but if he keeps you working for the right money, who cares?

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Lousy pay is precisely the reason why many of us suck it up, forget about being cool, and take much higher paying wedding band gigs. And yes, on the majority of those gigs, the band size is completely negotiable; from a solo pianist to a full blown production including 5 vocalists, 5 horns, string section, lighting, multi plasma screen video monitors, dancers, and more.
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I've done plenty of gigs that weren't about the money. Could be that the guys in the band just enjoy playing the music regardless of whether they make x number of dollars per gig. Is money an issue within the band? If not, why change anything?

That sounds wonderful. Believe I lost that innocence about 20 years ago.

 

Unless you are going to take over as their business manager, and I doubt that you are as you are here looking for suggestions...

Bill, you are right in that I'm not going to take over as their business manager. If I did, half the band would be unemployed. :laugh:

 

Nor am I looking for answers. My writing style is to throw proverbial stuff at the wall in order to stimulate discussion. ;)

 

I agree that this band is seriously undervaluing the market. But, that is what happens when musos "play for fun". :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Lousy pay is precisely the reason why many of us suck it up, forget about being cool, and take much higher paying wedding band gigs. And yes, on the majority of those gigs, the band size is completely negotiable; from a solo pianist to a full blown production including 5 vocalists, 5 horns, string section, lighting, multi plasma screen video monitors, dancers, and more.

 

Couple different things going on here. First of all, to answer the original question posed, regardless of the example given, you can modify your show/lineup to make price concessions - and I say concession, because my advice is to lead with your biggest/best show, full production, with the entire lineup, at your highest price. If you can't get it, you can strip away "features" to reduce the price, and still get paid as much or more per man than you want. That's just smart marketing and planning. We don't change our lineup, but we do it with production (video/lighting/sound).

 

The other side of this story is the ridiculously low rate. While what they are getting paid is laughable, I don't think it has to devalue a different band. I know it reality, in terms of the bar client's perception of the value of live entertainment, it plays a role. But it is still up to you to sell your value. There are dozens, hell maybe hundreds, of bands around here that will play for pennies, if not free, if not pay to play. That doesn't mean I can't get top dollar. We're worth more. Period. If you're place holds 600 people, a cheap band just isn't going to be able to guarantee you a full house at a $5 or $10 cover consistantly. Some people don't believe it and have to find out for themselves - to the detriment of their business - but if you deliver what you promise and can communicate the value, there is no reason to step to that level. I don't care if they are a 10-pc, 50-pc, or 100-pc, original or extra crispy... net profit to the bar: at the end of the day you bring it or you don't.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I've done plenty of gigs that weren't about the money. Could be that the guys in the band just enjoy playing the music regardless of whether they make x number of dollars per gig. Is money an issue within the band? If not, why change anything?

That sounds wonderful. Believe I lost that innocence about 20 years ago.

 

That's a shame man. I make a living out of performing, so it's not like I'm going out and playing free gigs every night, but at the same time you gotta have fun and some sort of emotional investment in what you're doing. The money matters less if it's a particular gig/project/whatever that pleases you on that level. I have to be able to play music that gets me off artistically once in a while or else I'd go insane, and sometimes that means putting less emphasis on how much you make in order to do what you want. Don't get me wrong, I make sure I get mine, or else I'd be living in a van down by the river. For every one of those gigs there are are plenty of other high-paying "job" gigs that pay my bills. Alls I'm saying is the moment you let money dictate your every move is the moment you lose sight of why you're in it in the first place: for the music. That's how I feel anyway. If all I cared about was money I would have gone to law school. Go ahead and call me part of the problem if you want.

 

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Well, Briddog sounds like you found an excellent situation for yourself - where you're not starving in an attic for your art, or playing music you hate all the time.

 

I've never played professionally, mostly playing guitar in churches, but I certainly know that once in a while I've got to go play music that actually INTERESTS me.....

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I've done plenty of gigs that weren't about the money. Could be that the guys in the band just enjoy playing the music regardless of whether they make x number of dollars per gig. Is money an issue within the band? If not, why change anything?

That sounds wonderful. Believe I lost that innocence about 20 years ago.

 

That's a shame man. I make a living out of performing, so it's not like I'm going out and playing free gigs every night, but at the same time you gotta have fun and some sort of emotional investment in what you're doing. The money matters less if it's a particular gig/project/whatever that pleases you on that level. I have to be able to play music that gets me off artistically once in a while or else I'd go insane, and sometimes that means putting less emphasis on how much you make in order to do what you want. Don't get me wrong, I make sure I get mine, or else I'd be living in a van down by the river. For every one of those gigs there are are plenty of other high-paying "job" gigs that pay my bills. Alls I'm saying is the moment you let money dictate your every move is the moment you lose sight of why you're in it in the first place: for the music. That's how I feel anyway. If all I cared about was money I would have gone to law school. Go ahead and call me part of the problem if you want.

Your point is well taken mayne.

 

Of course, as musos, there are gigs/projects where the pay is little to none but artistically satisfying. Everybody knows the deal upfront.

 

However, when there is a club, PA system and folks paying $20 to get inside, somebody is getting paid. In that instance, I don't see the point in doing charity work. :cool:

 

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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[

However, when there is a club, PA system and folks paying $20 to get inside, somebody is getting paid. In that instance, I don't see the point in doing charity work. :cool:

 

+1

whenever i play in a band over 6 people, price is always a thing to discuss. Bands with more people (horns, female male vocals, rappers etc etc) have more fun than small combos and make people drink more. It's paradoxal but i would ask less money to play with my 5 piece band (original music) than with a 10 piece cover band

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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Bands with more people (horns, female male vocals, rappers etc etc) have more fun than small combos and make people drink more.

 

That's not true in my area. By far the most popular band around here is a four piece AC/DC cover band. Patrons drink obscene amounts or alcohol when they are playing - and they seem to be having a pretty good time at it the last time I checked. ;)

 

Regarding band size and pay, there's really two philosophies about it:

 

1. The band is a fixed institution and only takes jobs above it's minimum.

 

2. Band members are determined by a leader, who assembles sidemen according to the pay offered at the gig.

 

I've done both. Both are valid approaches. Lately it's been more option number 2.

 

The original example was obviously a bunch of guys who are out doing it for fun. Money wasn't on the top of their agenda, or they wouldn't have played that gig.

 

That's a valid approach too. Just not mine.

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I don't care if they are a 10-pc, 50-pc, or 100-pc, original or extra crispy... net profit to the bar: at the end of the day you bring it or you don't.

 

Exactamundo :thu:

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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