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Gigging question


Chris Link

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It's been a long time (twenty years!) since I've been playing music for money. I have been playing semi-regularly with a local blues band at their open jam. Last weekend I played (and was paid) for an out of town gig.

 

Due to other committments, I can't play regularly on weekends, but the leader has asked me to play again Saturday night at one of their regular spots (where the open jam takes place). What is reasonable for a 3-4 hour night in a medium size city (700000 in metro area)? What's the usual arrangement for splitting the take with a leader and sidemen?

aka âmisterdregsâ

 

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Things haven't changed all that much in the last 20 years. The pay is about the same for bar gigs (without adjusting for inflation!) due to drunk driving laws cutting into attendance. Leaders (depending on their ego) can take a huge percentage off the top or split things evenly... after expenses like PA/soundman/booking fees. It all depends...just like the old days. I struggle to keep my mimimum at $100 a night but will sometimes cut it just to keep working...I usually work 3-4 nights a week as a result. I'm sure there are others in this forum who make a lot more... I'm just a casual bar guy playing 100-200 seat rooms.
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Round here in Portland, $100 a night is considered ok. Fees have actually fallen in recent years - lots of people are making less than that.

 

Its a lousy way to make a living. Especially up here where they still allow smoking in bars.

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Thanks for the feedback everyone. This is obviously not my bread and butter (even at good musician wages, I can't afford to give up a good day job), but I want to be treated fairly and certainly don't want to screw things up for the guys out there gigging to make a living. I appreciate the opportunity to play, but I deserve better than free drinks- the going rate for regulars at the typical jam.

aka âmisterdregsâ

 

Nord Electro 5D 73

Yamaha P105

Kurzweil PC3LE7

Motion Sound KP200S

Schimmel 6-10LE

QSC CP-12

Westone AM Pro 30 IEMs

Rolls PM55P

 

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Jayhawk, the bottom line (literally and figuratively) is what is the amount that would make you happy. If you ask for a certain amount and you receive it, it's a done deal regardless of what the market will bear.

 

I have an old friend in the US (he's about 75), who really doesn't need the money, but he always says, I can stay home and make nothing or I can go out, play, have some fun and make something. Look at it from that point of view.

 

I personally think a minimum amount for three or four hours would be $75 or so - the very minimum. If I didn't have to move a piano and I were offered $75 for a night where I had nothing booked, I'd take it. I've even worked free for one evening just to get my foot in the door. I have noticed that the pay (as others have mentioned) really hasn't changed all that much through the years. In the US, ten years ago, I would earn $400+ as a leader for a wedding band and pay the guys with me $200+ for four hours and everyone was happy. I'm making much less now in Europe ... and working much less as well. (I wonder if DJs have anything to do with this. I'm biting my tongue to avoid typing a provocative statement.)

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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If it is for a party, wedding or and event, I charge at least $120 for the first hour and $80 for each additional hour. Of course, bars and clubs pay less, sometimes four hours for only $50, which I won't accept.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Find 700 of Harry’s piano arrangements of standards for educational purposes and jazz piano tutorials at www.Patreon.com/HarryLikas

 

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OK...re-reading Jayhawk's two posts...here's my take on jam etiquette...

 

I sometimes jam with other musicians on their gigs. Other musicians sometimes jam with me on mine. I ask first, and let them work me in at their convenience...and vice-versa. I certainly don't expect to get paid in a situation like that...I'm just out having fun. Now, if a band asks me to come in...yeah, I would expect to get paid because they're including me as a member of their band for the gig. That's how it's done around here anyway.

 

Some have mentioned getting paid more for non-bar functions like receptions, reunions, parties. This is one area where pay has gone up over the years. It used to be that you could get a little more than usual for these gigs, now many of us get two to three times the pay we get in bars because there's no manager scowling over the nightlies...checking to see whether or not the place made a profit. Weddings aren't geared towards profitability...the always operate at a loss! :D

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I live about 50 miles outside of DC in a semi rural area. I'd go along with most of these guys at about 100.00 a night if you're only moving one board and amp. Used to have a solo restaurant bar gig, 3 nights a week 100.00 a night and I could leave my equip. there. Damn, why did I quit that. Ooops I remember, couldn't take playing the girl from Ipanema one more time.
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Originally posted by pt1091:

Damn, why did I quit that. Ooops I remember, couldn't take playing the girl from Ipanema one more time.

:D Stranger from Paradise did me in. Same guy would walk in and expect it, 5 nights a week, for 10 months. That was it. Didn't play the piano for 2 years after that.
"........! Try to make It..REAL! compared to what? ! ! ! " - BOPBEEPER
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Damn. I haven't played a gig for $ in over 10 years. I was making about $100 (or more) per gig back then. I guess things haven't changed much. I remember that the DJ's put a hurting on the wedding bands back then.
Yamis
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You should ask the club/bar manager what he pays bands at the venue. They should have have no hesitation in telling you. If they do, then it's not worth playing there. Knowing the going rate can help you in your decision. I know how it feels to be "ripped-off" by being payed a lot less then the rest of the band for fill-in/pick-up gigs :(

Also, if you have your own band, then try to get your own gig there. Hang out at the club and get to know the people there. It's all part of getting gigs.

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