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Takes the (Wedding) Cake


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So the Soul Band I play in is run by a husband-wife team. This year, one of their kids is getting married. And we (the Soul Band) have been chosen to play at the reception - yeah.

 

The band likes doing weddings because the hours are usually better and the pay is usually way better. I'm a little nervous about this one. For one thing, the band leaders will be busy all day and all night being wedding hosts - and so may not be at their best musically. And so far, there has been no mention about the pay for this particular gig. I am guessing the band leaders hope to have a pro bono gig to lessen the wedding expenses.

 

I think it is important that the band members talk openly about the pay for this gig. But I am afraid to ask the obvious question because I imagine the question will raise the hackles of the band leaders: "What? A wedding gift is pretty standard for wedding guests - why not give a gift of music? It's for our kid. Etc."

 

Any ideas about how I can raise this subject while staying in the good graces of the band leaders?

 

 

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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If this is usually a paying gig, then it would be presumptuous of the leaders to assume that the members would play for free. Quite frankly, it should have been brought up, by them already, one way or the other. You are going to have to decide if it is worth the grief of bringing it up. What do your other bandmates have to say?

 

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Please don't tell me this husband & wife team are planning on actually leading the gig? And if they're expecting you to work for free or cheap, it's on them to ask you. No askee... then it should be the regular bread. Something tells me this this isn't going to end well!
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They might have just been ensuring everyone can do it, and are waiting to find out their financial situation for the day before figuring out what they can pay everybody. It would surprise me if they were expecting you all to play for free.

 

I think a Hey, I dont have it in my notes, what is the gig on the 22nd paying? is fine and completely appropriate. If there is a group text, dont use it; any pay questions should always be one on one.

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We asked my covers band to play our wedding a couple of years ago. As the rest of the band live a way away from me, they often play as a 4-piece so it wasn't a problem for me to step of the stage and do the host thing, I think I played on 1/2-2/3 of the set. I think the difference between our situations is that we invited all the members as guests as well as booking them as a band. Once they'd all confirmed they could make it they said they were happy to do it for nothing as a wedding present. Because of the aforementioned distance we offered to cover their petrol costs.

 

I'm not sure what the relationships are like in your band, if you would have been invited anyway as regular guests then I'd feel a bit awkward asking for more than expenses, however if not I'd probably offer to do it at "mates rates". Obviously take your local wedding gift-giving culture into account as well. Also worth considering is when the wedding is - ours was a Wednesday so we weren't depriving the band of any weekend gigs.

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How I would approach it - sounds prescriptive the way I've worded it so please feel free to completely disregard!

 

I'm unclear who the "client" is here (ie. who is paying for the wedding, and more specifically, the band). Is it Mum and Dad band leaders, or the kid getting married?

 

Either way, your firm/company has walked smack bang into a conflict of interest situation, it's just a question of how significant the conflict is. Your leaders have not fulfilled their duty by communicating with the band how they are (or are not) addressing or mitigating this conflict, which presents you with the conundrum you're now contemplating.

 

In terms of the band leaders being musically at their best - minor consideration. Their issue - and theirs alone, if they're the client.

 

The payment on the other hand is potentially a major consideration. If you and your colleagues are happy to give the "gift of music", then maybe it doesn't matter. If you're not, you should surface it politely and respectfully with the band leaders.

 

If your performance is a "gift", then does that make you and your colleagues "guests"? If so, are you afforded the same accommodations as the other guests?

 

How to address it? In an honest and sincere face to face conversation with the band leaders.

 

 

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What do your other bandmates have to say?
... Something tells me this this isn't going to end well!

Yep. If playing in this band is a primary source of income for members, this should have been laid out on the table by the leaders already. If youre weekend warriors playing for fun, it might be different. Discuss it with the other members, reach a consensus together, and proceed with caution as a unit.

I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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I appreciate the BLs should be more transparent on plan and expectations. and I'm a weekend warrior that doesn't play as primary income so perhaps this is unfair to those that do - take it with a large grain of salt. My pay is most often not worth the effort, if pay was the point.

 

with that backdrop - not sure what your normal pay is but i'd offer to play for free before they even discuss fees. I'd do that for any band member, any family member, I'd even do that for a majority of my close friends. thats just me and its cool if others have different pay valuations. Then i wouldn't worry about if they are at the top of their "A Game" due to the many many competing activities of that day.

 

This is their big day. They will no doubt to be very proud that THEIR band is the entertainment for their kid's wedding. They will want it to be great but they will have many competing pressures. As in all gigs, minor glitches can happen and I'd just be supportive of them on their big day. I'd just flow like the river and my top thought would to not be another issue or problem they have to deal with on that day, they will have more than enough.

 

Not only is its for their kid's most important day, there will be many many long time family friends and loved ones that seldom to never actually see them play in their normal band life. its a special gig to them on many fronts. the quality of the gig means more to them than anyone else in the band, i'm sure. it likely won't be the best gig the band ever does, but so what - not like audiences notice all that minutia we all notice anyway. the overall day will be 1000x more special to them forever because they had this extra big part in it.

 

Anti-Reeze prediction: i predict it will all work out just fine :)

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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For one thing, the band leaders will be busy all day and all night being wedding hosts

 

Major red flag. They could sit in as a "guest" for a song or two, but they will be focused on things other than the band for a very important day. The mother especially.

 

And so far, there has been no mention about the pay for this particular gig. I am guessing the band leaders hope to have a pro bono gig to lessen the wedding expenses.

 

The pay issue needs to be made clear pronto. If you are not happy then bow out while it is still early enough for the party to find another band.

 

I am afraid to ask the obvious question because I imagine the question will raise the hackles of the band leaders: "What? A wedding gift is pretty standard for wedding guests - why not give a gift of music? It's for our kid. Etc."

 

Tell them you will be happy to work pro bono when the same has been arranged for the caterers, the priest/pastor, the hall, etc.

 

Yeah it's THEIR kid but it's not YOUR kid, why should YOU work pro bono?

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Exactly right, I'm with Real MC. This is just ugly. Sure, offering on one's own behalf to play for free as MotiDave said he'd do is absolutely great, but there's little in band-world I like less than having a bandleader *expect*, assume or insist that I will do that. So disrespectful. He should feel extremely squeamish about even asking. If you are his friends why would he even want you to work all day without compensation? Why would he want to take advantage of your friendship or band relation? It's happened to me and I hate it. Why wouldn't he just invite you as guests to party and hire another band if he wants one? Hell, I'd be considering quitting the band altogether at this point (I'd probably calm down before it came to that).

Rich Forman

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Me tooWhoops! I mean I agree. I've had this happen to me in various different ways, and the common takeaway for me is that it is a vastly different thing to offer your services as a favor rather than to have it tacitly expected of you.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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I appreciate the BLs should be more transparent on plan and expectations. and I'm a weekend warrior that doesn't play as primary income so perhaps this is unfair to those that do - take it with a large grain of salt. My pay is most often not worth the effort, if pay was the point.

 

with that backdrop - not sure what your normal pay is but i'd offer to play for free before they even discuss fees. I'd do that for any band member, any family member, I'd even do that for a majority of my close friends. thats just me and its cool if others have different pay valuations. Then i wouldn't worry about if they are at the top of their "A Game" due to the many many competing activities of that day.

 

This is their big day. They will no doubt to be very proud that THEIR band is the entertainment for their kid's wedding. They will want it to be great but they will have many competing pressures. As in all gigs, minor glitches can happen and I'd just be supportive of them on their big day. I'd just flow like the river and my top thought would to not be another issue or problem they have to deal with on that day, they will have more than enough.

 

Not only is its for their kid's most important day, there will be many many long time family friends and loved ones that seldom to never actually see them play in their normal band life. its a special gig to them on many fronts. the quality of the gig means more to them than anyone else in the band, i'm sure. it likely won't be the best gig the band ever does, but so what - not like audiences notice all that minutia we all notice anyway. the overall day will be 1000x more special to them forever because they had this extra big part in it.

 

Anti-Reeze prediction: i predict it will all work out just fine :)

 

I agree with all of this. I have played on many weddings of band members and friends, and would never accept payment from those gigs, I would see my playing as a wedding present. Most of these occasions have turned up very good, even if the band member isnt on top of their game, maybe a little drunk or just not 100% there, it has been wonderful and joyous moments for me, the bands and specially the hosts who are eternally grateful.

Well worth it imho, but as Motidave suggests, it should come from you,not them,and if they expect you to work for free without bringing it up, its not good manners.

www.landegren.se

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I had my band play our wedding and we paid them. If people want to play free as a gift that's up to them, but otherwise, if it's a working band, they should get paid.

 

Then there was a 60s cover band I once joined. It was set up by the bass player. We did a couple of gigs but something wasn't right and I left. He later had the band play his wedding, some 100 miles away and he didn't pay them. Then he split the band!

Remember - you can make a record without an organ on it, but it won't be as good

 

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I agree that you need to have a conversation about this ASAP; it may be that you are worrying abut nothing and that they plan on paying you the going rate. But it needs to be out in the open and they certainly should really have made the financial situation clear when first mentioning the gig.

 

I came across a slightly different situation myself early this year. I'm the accompanist for a community choir and get paid a modest sum for rehearsals and concerts. It's useful pocket money and the handful of concerts rarely get in the way of other, better paid work.

 

Two of the choir are getting married this year, and both asked if the choir could sing at their wedding. This made it slightly more difficult for me both weddings are on Saturday and right in the middle of traditionally my most profitable period for other wedding work. So I had to have an (initially) slightly awkward conversation with the brides-to-be and explain that I had to cover my costs properly. I still quoted them a 'mates rates' price but it was significantly more than my standard hourly rate for normal work with the choir.

 

On the other hand, last year one of the choir members sadly died and we were asked to sing at the funeral. Although I didn't know the person in question (she had become ill and retired from the choir a few months before I came on the scene), I decided not to make a charge for that. So, prepare to be flexible but it's no use bottling these things up get talking.

 

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as Motidave suggests, it should come from you,not them,and if they expect you to work for free without bringing it up, its not good manners.

 

+1

 

Reminds me of a situation from about 15 years ago. Our band leader wanted us to play a gig at a birthday party. When I asked the usual question--how much does the gig pay--he became indignant and gave me the "Hey, this is for a friend" rationale. I wanted to ask if all the food and decorations would be provided for free as well, but kept that to myself.

 

I didn't play the gig... but wondered what eventually happened, as none of the other band members ever discussed it. :idk

 

 

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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Regardless of the type of gig and who it is, around these parts, the 1st question a musician will ask is how much the gig pays.

 

IMO, it is disrespectful to assume someone is going to play for free. Again, it doesn't matter the type of gig.

 

In fact, it has become customary to lead off the conversation with a $ figure when asking about availability to do the gig.

 

It goes a little something like this:

 

"Yeah, I've got a gig paying $200/man on this date, can you do it?"

 

From there, we bang out the logistics and roll.

 

Otherwise, never be shy or afraid to ask about compensation. Your time and gear doesn't pay for itself. :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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Whenever I get a call for a gig, and instead of hearing "I have a gig on xxx (date), it pays (amount)", the first words are "are you available on xxx (date)", I know immediately that the bread is gonna be short. In my opinion that's a passive-aggressive move, trying to dissuade me appearing mercenary-like by asking what the money is once I tell them I'm available. So now I always come back with "I might be available, I have some family obligations but could excuse myself from them if the conditions are right."

 

The very few times I call someone for a gig, I always make sure to mention the bread in the first sentence.

 

And just to be clear, I'm not always mercenary-like! I'll happily play for short bread in certain situations. I might even do a bandleader's kid's wedding for $0 if said bandleader had me doing a lot of gigs with him or her during the year, and I wasn't losing money by having to turn down another gig.

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Whenever I get a call for a gig, and instead of hearing "I have a gig on xxx (date), it pays (amount)", the first words are "are you available on xxx (date)", I know immediately that the bread is gonna be short. In my opinion that's a passive-aggressive move, trying to dissuade me appearing mercenary-like by asking what the money is once I tell them I'm available. So now I always come back with "I might be available, I have some family obligations but could excuse myself from them if the conditions are right."

 

The very few times I call someone for a gig, I always make sure to mention the bread in the first sentence.

 

And just to be clear, I'm not always mercenary-like! I'll happily play for short bread in certain situations. I might even do a bandleader's kid's wedding for $0 if said bandleader had me doing a lot of gigs with him or her during the year, and I wasn't losing money by having to turn down another gig.

 

Happens to me also.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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Fer hevvin's sake, ASK them about the pay or if they're thinking of it as a gift. It's what grown-up reasonable people do.

Agreed, but I would see what the rest of the band was thinking first, then ask. I wouldnt want to be the lone voice either way.

I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Fer hevvin's sake, ASK them about the pay or if they're thinking of it as a gift. It's what grown-up reasonable people do.

 

This is the obvious course of action, and I intend to do this when we next get together at practice (so we can discuss openly as a group).

 

I am worried that yes the BLs are expecting band members to play the reception for free, and if I ask the question, I will then be criticized or worse for being selfish and/or not being a good friend - i.e. "we're doing it for free; why aren't you?"

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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... if I ask the question, I will then be criticized or worse for being selfish and/or not being a good friend - i.e. "we're doing it for free; why aren't you?"
I'm sorry you feel this way and that you think the BLs or other band members will criticize you for being selfish or not being a good friend. If that's their reaction THEY are not good friends. This is what I meant by being grown-ups and reasonable people. If it's not ok to clarify whether you're being paid or being asked to do a freebie, then they need to grow up and behave like reasonable people. If they criticize you for asking, criticize them for trying to guilt you for being an adult who desires clear communication.
These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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How much work does this band give you a year? Are you the first call guy? For the gigs you do with them, do they pay you fairly or nickel & dime you on travel costs & other stuff (like my previous band did). Are you all friends outside the band, or is this primarily a working relationship? All things to consider imo. As has been suggested, maybe ask some of the other sidepeople what their takes are before going to the leaders. BTW and apropos of nothing talked about in this thread, "husband & wife" bandleaders in my book that's an immediate red flag! :)
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Whenever I get a call for a gig, and instead of hearing "I have a gig on xxx (date), it pays (amount)", the first words are "are you available on xxx (date)", I know immediately that the bread is gonna be short. In my opinion that's a passive-aggressive move, trying to dissuade me appearing mercenary-like by asking what the money is once I tell them I'm available. So now I always come back with "I might be available, I have some family obligations but could excuse myself from them if the conditions are right."
Frakkin' brilliant! :thu:

 

aka - I'm stealing this!

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How much work does this band give you a year? Are you the first call guy? For the gigs you do with them, do they pay you fairly or nickel & dime you on travel costs & other stuff (like my previous band did). Are you all friends outside the band, or is this primarily a working relationship? All things to consider imo. As has been suggested, maybe ask some of the other sidepeople what their takes are before going to the leaders. BTW and apropos of nothing talked about in this thread, "husband & wife" bandleaders in my book that's an immediate red flag! :)

 

I am "the keyboardist" for this band. We do approximately 40 shows/yr. Most shows are bar-gigs that pay around $50 (it varies), so maybe in a year I am getting $2k-3k from these folks.

 

We are friendly, and I have on occasion hung out with the BLs and we have invited each other to parties and events. But I am very sure the band comes first for the BLs, not our social interactions, and I am sure they would look for a new keyboard player if I am too independently-minded or oppositional. Mostly, I let them make decisions and keep my mouth shut.

 

So I am conflicted. If they had simply invited my as a guest to the wedding, I would happily go and think nothing of spending money on a wedding gift for the kids, and would expect to have a good time. But a show where I am performing is another thing altogether.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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If that's their reaction THEY are not good friends. This is what I meant by being grown-ups and reasonable people. If it's not ok to clarify whether you're being paid or being asked to do a freebie, then they need to grow up and behave like reasonable people. If they criticize you for asking, criticize them for trying to guilt you for being an adult who desires clear communication.

 

Thank you Mr. Lobo. I think you are correct here about adult behavior.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

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So I am conflicted. If they had simply invited my as a guest to the wedding, I would happily go and think nothing of spending money on a wedding gift for the kids, and would expect to have a good time. But a show where I am performing is another thing altogether.

Yea that's really the bottom line isn't it? Here you guys are friends celebrating a nice family event and you're put to work! It doesn't feel right, correct? And then on top of that you might be expected to do it for zero pay? That's a double-whammy.

 

You're probably correct that you'll be starting some shit if you open your mouth. I don't really do bar gigs so my perspective is probably different from yours, but no leader is gonna get my undying allegiance and favors by giving me $50 gigs, unless it's the most fun I have on two feet. You'll probably have to decide if it's worth the chance of ending your association with this band by speaking up. To that end, here's the $10,000 question: do the bandleaders value your contribution, or are there other keyboard players out there they would call without thinking twice, just to have a warm body in the keyboard chair? With my last band, I thought I was in the former position, but I was quite wrong! Realizing that made getting let go from their band not feel bad at all. Good luck!

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How much work does this band give you a year? Are you the first call guy? For the gigs you do with them, do they pay you fairly or nickel & dime you on travel costs & other stuff (like my previous band did). Are you all friends outside the band, or is this primarily a working relationship? All things to consider imo. As has been suggested, maybe ask some of the other sidepeople what their takes are before going to the leaders. BTW and apropos of nothing talked about in this thread, "husband & wife" bandleaders in my book that's an immediate red flag! :)

 

Reeze, I can understand why you might think of these "considerations," but I don't think any of them really matter. It is the BLs who clearly should affirmatively ASK for the freebee at a minimum or ask for a specified discount. To say nothing and to assume the players would do this for nothing is manipulative in the face of conflict of interest. Putting the responsibility on the players to squirm through a bunch of considerations is also manipulative, no matter how often they get work for the OP. My opinion.

Barry

 

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