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Feast or famine for gigs


J. Dan
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This has a couple components to it, and it will be interesting to see which direction it goes.

 

First, in my own experience it seems like you have 2 choices: 1) high paying gigs where the band is in demand but you play constantly booked way out and no time off. 2) struggle to get booked as much as you want and get paid much less.

 

There are a large number of aging musicians who would love to play maybe 2 full weekends a month that are talented enough for scenario 1 and can pull off scenario 1, but if you aren't willing to play that much, you're stuck with scenario 2. I went through that myself over the years. I think it's that your band has to play often enough to build the crowds and the name recognition to pull in the money, plain and simple.

 

Fast forward to my current solution to this, which is to substitute in bands that maintain the busy schedule for the higher pay, but swap players in/out as needed so people get time off. I've been doing that with one band in particular for a few years now and have ramped up the gigs to where me and the regular keys player are almost 50/50. I also started this original project to fill my time during some of the gaps in gigs. Of course I'm always open to filling in for other bands, in particular some of the others I've been in before.

 

That's the next part of the "feast or famine" theme here. I had 2 full months (Jan and Feb) with not a single gig - not one. March comes and I have one filling in and one with the original band (which means 1 PAYING gig, lol). Now I've got 4 gigs in the next 3 weekends filling in, so things are picking up, but get this..... June 9 my old acoustic band asked me to fill in on bass and I accepted. It's only $100 which I would normally turn down but I literally walk in with an acoustic instrument and plug a chord into it, plus it's a little different for me and kind of fun (5 piece acoustic with guitar, banjo, mandolin, etc). Of course after I agree, the cover band asks if I can do an outdoor concert. That would be $300 but I already agreed to the other guys, so somebody else will get that gig. Then my original band floats out 2 dates for a CD release party. The first, you guessed it, June 9th. The other, Cinco de Mayo, when I already have a lucrative gig scheduled filling in with the cover band. Sorry guys. So this part of feast or famine is more along the lines of 2 months of nothing, then one random day (June 9) where there are 3 different gigs I could take. If there was only a way to spread them out!

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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Pretty much this. Jan/Feb were light for me, but I've been invited to play a gig abroad - all expenses included. I'm not sure I fancy it - I hate airports at the best of times.

 

I can relate to the date-clash thing. We had a long-standing low-paying "family rate" gig with an old band I was with. We were later offered a very well paid gig at...Wimbledon Tennis Club!

 

We did the professional thing of not letting down our original commitment.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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I split myself up over a couple different projects. My Floyd tribute works about once a month, and those are generally higher paying venues, but involve a lot more production and travel. My party band plays maybe 2-4 times a month, with summer being our busiest time. Those gigs are moderate paying, sometimes great money, mostly decent money. Then I freelance with people. A couple blues guys call me, I fill in with a horn band once in a while, I've been working with a mostly original synth band with some other friends that does a couple shows a year, and I'll probably be doing more with this project called The Rock Orchestra that does 3-4 shows a year with different artists featured for each show. Right now I'm working on a Peter Gabriel show with them that is super challenging and very rewarding.

 

It's not always about money for me, if I like playing with the people in the band, and enjoy the music, that is a big factor- the blues stuff for instance, doesn't pay more than $100 per man but the guys are great players and a lot of fun to hang with.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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I enjoy 3 nights a week, same place twice a month then rotate to next gig.

Pay is fine, 1200 a month. A far cry from touring pay, but rehearsals are on weeks off and Im enjoying downtime.

90 minuets from Yosemite and Mammoth Mountain, 15 minutes from my all time favorite beach. Weed and Pizza delivery, family and friends over for bar b q.

 

I can always grab the big paying gigs if I want to hit Asia and get paid to travel.

Sadly you have to keep irons in the fire which means my local mates miss a month. But us keyboardists are in demand.

 

Want me full time 100% loyal, give me a monthly salary guarantee or Im a free agent.

Just doing Maroon 5, Bruno, Timberlake EW&Fire, TowOPow covers.

Love multiple parts and dance music though.

 

Tributes were fun but have had my share.

If I get bored solo piano gigs are abundant here.

No gear necessary.

 

Nice not having to lust for cash.

Gigs are more fun.

Magnus C350 + FMR RNP + Realistic Unisphere Mic
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I'm "stuck" with scenario 2... but not really upset about it. I play with skilled musicians and can see how we could make decent money if we all had the bandwidth to gig frequently (i.e., every week) and build up brand equity in the group, but we all have too many other life commitments to pursue music in that way. I am occasionally frustrated by knowing we are capable of taking it to the next level but aren't able too, but then I remind myself that I'm in a band for the love of playing music not to run a small business.

 

A wise forumite recently posted in another thread that every gig needs at least 2 of 3 things: good money, good musicianship, and good times. (I'm paraphrasing here but I think that captures the sentiment.) I aim for the latter 2.

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Feast or famine is a phrase I have been slavishly attached to. It occurs to me now, it depends how you frame it. If you look at finances in music from a greater distance than weeks, but shift to years; hopefully the up and down is not felt the same way!

What did I make this year, rather than this week.

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Feast or famine is a phrase I have been slavishly attached to. It occurs to me now, it depends how you frame it. If you look at finances in music from a greater distance than weeks, but shift to years; hopefully the up and down is not felt the same way!

What did I make this year, rather than this week.

 

Same here on all points but my eye is usually on the net.

____________________________________
Rod

victoria bc

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Feast or famine is a phrase I have been slavishly attached to. It occurs to me now, it depends how you frame it. If you look at finances in music from a greater distance than weeks, but shift to years; hopefully the up and down is not felt the same way!

What did I make this year, rather than this week.

 

Same here on all points but my eye is usually on the net.

 

I don't know if this makes sense to others, but regarding "eye on the net" ( eye on the week ) --- one can drown in an inch of water.

In other words many of us live month to month, if not weakly, week to week.

 

My new insight ( not intended to incite, or anything :face palm: :D ) requires serious self discipline, which I lack.. as of this writing. YMMV

 

BTW I am in a seriously Famine phase.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Jan/Feb/March has been good for me. But heading into a (self-imposed) slow down. Bass player getting his knee worked on and most of April has been wiped clean. Also, one venue that we could count on for 5,6 gigs a summer is crying poverty and we have parted ways. Their big complaint was that our "older" crowd was not a drinking crowd - less income for them and less tips for the staff.

 

It seems, with this band at least, 4 years of steady growth is coming to a close. No way 2019 will be as good as 2016,2017, or whatever 18 proves out to be.

Formerly âChiefDanGâ - nobody calls me chief anymore.
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Feast or famine is a phrase I have been slavishly attached to. It occurs to me now, it depends how you frame it. If you look at finances in music from a greater distance than weeks, but shift to years; hopefully the up and down is not felt the same way!

What did I make this year, rather than this week.

 

Same here on all points but my eye is usually on the net.

 

I don't know if this makes sense to others, but regarding "eye on the net" ( eye on the week ) --- one can drown in an inch of water.

In other words many of us live month to month, if not weakly, week to week.

 

My new insight ( not intended to incite, or anything :face palm: :D ) requires serious self discipline, which I lack.. as of this writing. YMMV

 

BTW I am in a seriously Famine phase.

 

Not sure if I was clear. I meant that I focus more on comparisons of my annual net incomes.

 

 

____________________________________
Rod

victoria bc

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I've had my main band for 16 years. I'm the only original member at this point, although the harp player/vox has been a member for most of those years. The guitar/vox, bass/vox, ands drummer have all turned over in the last couple of years. The problem is that they're all good players, we get along well, the money is ok but booking gigs is difficult because all the players are in several other groups too. Guitar has his main band for more than 20 years and also an acoustic group and a singalong show, bass is also guitar/vox in a Beatles cover band and a country band and does a lot of solo shows, new drummer plays in another local rock band and in 2 jazz groups, harp player is also an actor/singer in theatre productions which can take him out of several weekend gigs in a row. We don't have many gigs because the calendars are too full. We have to book gigs way in advance in order to protect the date from everybody else's gigs. This is the problem with players who are good and in demand.

 

I'm always in 1 or 2 side projects, but they come and go. The latest one may have just gone. The bass player just quit. I think he was the 5th bass player. And there have been 5 drummers. And 5 guitar players. I'm on sax & keys. I think I may have just quit too. Or the band died a natural death. Dunno yet.

These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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Several threads simultaneously on similar issues:

 

Theme: We cannot get gigs cause too many of us are in too many bands!

 

Solution: Let's all agree to only be in one band. You go first! :/

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

Gigs: Yamaha CP88, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs

 

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This band ive been filling in with just books the gigs and if somebody cant make it, they go down the list of trusted subs until they find someone to play the gig. That maintains the gigs, following, and brand despite band member schedules. I played with them once when the only actual band member was the singer. The rest of us were all filling in and some of us were just meeting for the first time. Nobody in the crowd seemed to mind.

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's ideal Dan, and I've experienced it too. I did a NYE party where 6 of 7 members were subs, and it was an invigorating gig where everyone listened to what the other skillful musicians were doing. We also discovered a whole slew of songs that "we didn't know we knew."

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

Gigs: Yamaha CP88, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs

 

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I guess I do both Scenario 1 (country band) and Scenario 2 (classic rock band). Both bands have entirely different "constitutions" about who they are, how they present themselves, and what the main priority is.

 

Country band is totally pre-configured for maximum impact "putting on a show" type of thing (lots of happy faces and moving around the stage; no shoegazing!), has a following, and makes good money.

 

Classic rock band consists of a handful of weekend warriors well employed in other areas of life (making good money but not in music), and just want to live out their fantasies of being a 70s rock star (or something like that).

 

I can relate to both scenarios, and get on well in both.

Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
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I usually spend January thinking Ive played my last gig, then pick up steam in Feb and beyond. This year has been weird: Jan-Feb-Mar all nicely booked, with a slowdown here in April and the first half of May.

 

But my last musical existential crisis where I pondered whether I had crossed some kind of Murtaugh threshold, spit me out on the other side completely attached to this fickle career and unable to imagine ever not doing it, so I ride the waves and when the pace slows down I amuse myself by peeing in the water.

"
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I have another scenario that I am dealing with. I have TOO many gigs and I'm turning them down and cherry picking. I'm not being a braggard and It's not because I'm some great virtuoso; I'm not.

 

It's because i'm flexible, professional, reliable, easy to get along with, I work my ass off, and always come prepared (I sing pretty good too). I've gotten to a point in my life where I have an amazing catalog of songs that I know and can pull out of my arse at a moments notice so I get called for fill in gigs (for all different reasons) all the time. I did a recent gig with a fill in guitarist and bassist that knew about 1/2 of the songs? wtf. I pretty much did two sets of songs singing/playing along with the drummer and a female singer. It's also nice to get an extra hundo for saving their butts.

 

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I usually spend January thinking Ive played my last gig, then pick up steam in Feb and beyond. This year has been weird: Jan-Feb-Mar all nicely booked, with a slowdown here in April and the first half of May.

 

But my last musical existential crisis where I pondered whether I had crossed some kind of Murtaugh threshold, spit me out on the other side completely attached to this fickle career and unable to imagine ever not doing it, so I ride the waves and when the pace slows down I amuse myself by peeing in the water.

 

You sir, are an author. Consider it.

____________________________________
Rod

victoria bc

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Here's a recent story about musicians trying to optimize across a disparate set of commitments and varying parameters on gig quantity.

 

My main band is a mostly '80s style cover band and we have cultivated a very solid local crowd that packs out a couple of local establishments in our area. Everyone in the band has a full time day job and most everyone has a family though I think we're mostly at the point of our kids being in college or fully grown up adults.

 

We originally had been playing regularly about 4-6x per month between clubs, corporate and private parties. A few members had busier social lives going to their kids' college tailgate parties and also business commitments, so we dialed back to 3-4x per month over time and ultimately we are down to 2-3x per month. Which is far fewer than several of us want to play.

 

We use a shared Google calendar and book gigs in 6 month increments, asking all band members to populate the calendar with their blocks and then we book gigs around the blocks. Heading into 2018, we noticed that the blocks on the calendar were leaving very few if any open Friday/Saturday nights for us to book gigs. This was a pretty big pain as it meant we had to go to our usual places that we book and let them know, "hey we want to book gigs for this year - we can only play on these specific dates" which was suboptimal but most clubs were willing to work with us.

 

Out of 6 band members, we had 3 (including me) that wanted to play 4-6x per month and the other 3 only wanted to play 1-3x per month. We've settled in around 3x per month and occasionally 4.

 

The 3 of us that wanted more gigs started a side project band. We supplied drummer, lead guitar, and keys while we found a bass player and lead vocalist that were looking for the same thing - a sidebar band that knew most of the same material and could fill in dates to play more gigs when the main band was not playing. We worked up a play list, a name, and booked our first gig. Then the whole thing imploded as no one could commit quite the right amount of time to rehearse and make it a "real band" because we all had another "main band" - which in the end was probably for the best as I'd rather be known for being in a great band vs. splintered across multiple bands that are just ok due to lack of focus.

 

My one exception is my old original band that is doing 2-3 annual bigger venue reunion gigs per year and that is a total blast. I'll prioritize time for that, but for now I'll just live with the compromise of my main band playing a little less than I'd prefer.

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