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RANT: Musicians who "mail it in" on a slow night


Blue JC

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In most bands that I play in, the musicians view a slow night or a slow last set as an opportunity to stretch out, go a little "outside", experiment and have fun.

 

This band that I subbed with last night had a slow night - all night - and completely "mailed it in." This drives me crazy: really, really long breaks, playing stupid dance songs when no one will be dancing and simply going through the motions to get to the end. Everything was either too slow or too fast because the drummer didn't want to be there and made no secret of that fact - even on mic. They even argued on stage because nobody wanted to sing anymore.

 

After the longest 4 hours of my life, I finally got torn down and loaded out. When they paid me, they started running future dates by me to see if I was available. When I told them that I wouldn't be playing with them again because of the way they acted on this gig, no one believed me and the finger pointed started. Sheesh!

 

Rant over - thanks for listening.

Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. W. C. Fields
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Man, I hate that kind of attitude. We have some gigs that we play that for some reason, our last set is pretty much empty. We'll use that time to play the really cool songs that we don't do very often, like "Ghost of a Chance" by Rush, "Shadows in the Rain" by The Police, or "Heard It On the X" by ZZ TOP. The only time we'll extend our breaks or just not play the last set is if the club owner tells us not to. We have too much fun playing, so we don't really need a good crowd to enjoy ourselves, but it helps.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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Man, that is ridiculous. At what point do musicians act like professionals? :rolleyes:

 

Blue JC, it is unfortunate that you had to waste 4 hours beyond getting paid.

 

However, it is great that you were able to say later for that particular gig. :thu::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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Blue JC,

Ah yes, the old "paid rehearsal". We will usually take the opportunity to work on some stuff that needs some polish, or launch into some jam-outs like Liz Reed or something. We have so much fun we don't even mail it in at rehearsal!

 

Regards,

Joe

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I think Ive played some of my best gigs with like 2 people in the audience. We tend to be more laid back, a few more drinks, get experimental. We had a fun night with just two guys in a bar one night, they kept requesting every Beatles song under the sun, we stumbled through them. Sometimes well start asking musical trivia questions and hand out some swag to the winners. What ever their in the mood for is what you gotta do.
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This weekend we hit a new club, and there were only about 30 people when we started. The owner gave me grief, wanted to renegotiate (which I had no problem doing, but I wasn't working for free) and basically told us it would be a short nite. So instead of our usual 2:45 first set, we only played about 90 minutes. But those 30 people that were there, inCLUDING the owner, were out of their minds, and totally knocked out by the band. And instead of calling it a night, many drinks were sloshed around, and we went up and did another 90 minutes of material (some rehearsed, some not) that had everyone eating out of our hands, and us PSYCHED to be playing.

 

Real musicians are there for the music; the crowd and the money and the drinks are just perks.

 

Screw those guys!

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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This weekend we hit a new club, and there were only about 30 people when we started. The owner gave me grief, wanted to renegotiate (which I had no problem doing, but I wasn't working for free) and basically told us it would be a short nite. So instead of our usual 2:45 first set, we only played about 90 minutes. But those 30 people that were there, inCLUDING the owner, were out of their minds, and totally knocked out by the band. And instead of calling it a night, many drinks were sloshed around, and we went up and did another 90 minutes of material (some rehearsed, some not) that had everyone eating out of our hands, and us PSYCHED to be playing.

 

Real musicians are there for the music; the crowd and the money and the drinks are just perks.

 

Screw those guys!

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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Originally posted by soundscape:

Originally posted by kanker, apparently:

Drinks and crowds don't pay my bills.

Not even indirectly?
My point is, of course, that money is not a perk. I am a full time musician. That is how I feed my family, house them, clothe them, and send my daughter to a Catholic school and my wife to college, etc... I work my ass off night in and night out on good gigs and shit gigs in order to ensure that we stay fed, clothed, and sheltered. For someone to say I'm not a real musician because I'm there for the money as much as the music discounts the value of what I do, and frankly is offensive. That's the sort of unrealistic weekend warrior mentality that makes it harder for me to make decent money. It really surprises me coming from someone like Tony that I thought had done this for a living.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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I'm playing a regular Tuesday night gig - tonight as a matter of fact. The owner likes us because a crowd usually shows up to hear us, and the bar usually does great business. So indirectly they help pay us - kind of like renters help pay property taxes. If the business did not support us, the owner sure would not. She'd have somebody in there that had a following and made her money. Frankly, we are trying to get to the direct marketing stage where we merchandise the music instead of depending on these gigs - but, it is slow going! People need to be paying customers and pay for the music and the musicians. IMHO.
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
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Any chance someone could explain the term "mail it in?" I tried Googling, but do you have any idea how many web sites have that phrase somewhere in reference to how to get money to them? ;) (I tried combining it with other music and gig-related words; no dice.) Thanks!

 

As you can see, I'm not, nor have I ever really been, a gigging musician.

Darren Landrum
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Basically it means coming in and just going through the motions, and putting no effort into making it good.

 

In response to Kanker, if you're playing in a venue that serves drinks and/or charges a cover, then the drinks and crowds DO pay your bills. If the crowds aren't there, the venue will shut down the music, and no one will make money.

 

If you're playing live for a living, you are dependent on the crowd. That's why I'm happy no longer having to depend on the music for my income. I can relax and have more fun with the songs since I don't have to depend on the money.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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Originally posted by Mr. Nightime:

In response to Kanker, if you're playing in a venue that serves drinks and/or charges a cover, then the drinks and crowds DO pay your bills. If the crowds aren't there, the venue will shut down the music, and no one will make money. .

Apparently I'm not getting my meaning across. The post I was replying to was saying that I'm not a real musician because I don't see the money as a perk of playing. That I should only be there for the music.

 

It is my job. Do you consider money to be a just perk of your job? Should you just do your job for the love?

 

I have never and will never understand the perception, even among musicians, that what we do is somehow less valuable a vocation than any other job. Just because I 'play' an instrument does not mean that I do not work my ass off. We should just do it for the love? Love doesn't pay the bills, money does. I've been working at learning my instrument for 30 years. I'm 34. How many people in other jobs can say they've been working on and studying their craft for that much of their life? Yet I should just feel that money is a perk of my hard work, that I should only do it 'because of the music man'? That the money is equivalent to a couple of cocktails, that my time and work is only worth a couple of drinks? That may be fine for the 'weekend warriors' that don't need to do it for the money, but for those of us dedicated enough and talented enough to make our living doing this, you're doing us no favors.

A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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i dont find myself in agreement with kanker very often but this is one of those times... and it has always been the "working amatuers" who have made it tough for the pros to make a decent living... that's why i quit for a while and became a tech... unfortunately it didn't meet the other needs obviously...
"style is determined not by what you can play but what you cant...." dave brubeck
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Kanker, you approached my statement with a prejudice (as a working musician who has to periodically take gigs that aren't necessarily 'dream gigs'), and as such, I'm sure it was viewed as offensive to you. But I have supported myself and family for 20 years as a full-time musician. And yes, I've done some shit gigs too, but I learned early on that I cared too much about playing to put myself in a position where music was no longer an important reason why I was there. I know FULL WELL what it takes to be a full-time musician; and as such, you should have as little patience for boneheads who phone it in as I do. The actual performance is what all the other ancillary work leads to, and as such should be treated with respect, not just for ourselves, but for all the hard work our musical partners for the evening have done to get that gig too. We all have bad nights. But to intentionally do a crap job because the crowd is thin, or the money sucks, or the drinks weren't free, or whatever reason....well, as I said, REAL MUSICIANS don't do that.

 

The reason I (and I assume you and every other musician) got into this business of music in the first place is because we LOVE MUSIC. We ALL know this is a hard row to hoe, and almost all of us can make more money (or at least easier money)in a straight 9-5 than we can playing music. We work 3x harder than anyone we know, what with maintaining our chops, developing our business/sales skills (to keep those gigs coming), being creative with our talents to find musical work that will actually pay enough to subsidize those gigs we take that mean something to us personally and creatively, but don't bring in the money that we need to survive, as well as put our kids through school, keep the mortgage up to date, etc.

 

Yes, REAL MUSICIANS need money; and yes, REAL MUSICIANS many times have to take some pretty unfulfilling musical gigs to make that money. It's a trade off you either accept or don't; but out of respect to the art, yourself, and the other musicians there, when you take that unfulfilling gig, you still treat it as an opportunity to make some MUSIC, and not treat it as a part-time shit job that requires only that you fill a vacancy on the stage, and nothing more. MUSICIANS don't do that. (Full-time or weekend warrior.)

 

As a full-time musician who is putting his wife through college and his child in Catholic school, it's obvious that you are a MUSICIAN, and someone that treats the gig with respect, and not just for the money; otherwise you couldn't be accomplishing what you are.

 

And one last thing: there has been this everlasting "jobber" vs. "weekend warrior", and "original" vs. "tribute/cover band" snobbery forever. I have to say, having been in all of those categories, it's all b.s.. I know some really fantastic weekend warrior players, both original and cover, who can play rings around their full-time counterparts; and vice versa. The choices a man/woman must make in their life to raise and support their family don't devalue their talents or the way they utilize them in their creative endeavors. Many times (but not all!), you'll find those that can only be artists or musicians on the weekends care more about how they get to spend that time and share their art than those that have the luxury of doing it as their livelihood.

 

I meant not to offend you Kanker, but to indict the hacks who inspired this thread in the first place. (They obviously were NOT musicians.)

 

Peace.

T

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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I definitely understand kanker's point of view.

 

Must be some form of the Stockholm Syndrome for a musician to think they should not make money when it comes to music.

 

When someone is providing entertainment, they are working. It is a job.

 

Maybe that is why so many non-muscians get paid in the music business. :rolleyes:

 

I choose if/when I'm going to play for free. Otherwise, somebody had better have my $$$. :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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Originally posted by tonysounds:

I meant not to offend you Kanker, but to indict the hacks who inspired this thread in the first place. (They obviously were NOT musicians.)

Tony,

Having spent a fair amount of time reading your posts here and on the Electro list, I have to admit that I was stunned to see what you wrote. You just sort of left it hanging out there without the qualifiers you've just shared. Sorry for misunderstanding your intent, and relieved that you hadn't changed your stripes. ;)

A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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Gigs like that are tough. I've been there.

 

This Saturday I got my ass kicked in a sub situation. The gig itself was a lame dinner gig (ie, music in a fancy restaurant as a total after-thought: "Hey, let's move these tables and put a tiny band here! Just make sure they don't play too loud!") but the musicians were top-notch and I'd never played with them before.

 

I have not done a "real-book" gig in a long time (having been burned out on them long ago) but the leader had some nice charts and I found myself way out of practice on reading charts. It was fun, challenging, and had some nice musical moments. The pay was crap, but hey... working is better than not working, eh?

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Originally posted by kanker, apparently:

Originally posted by Mr. Nightime:

In response to Kanker, if you're playing in a venue that serves drinks and/or charges a cover, then the drinks and crowds DO pay your bills. If the crowds aren't there, the venue will shut down the music, and no one will make money. .

Apparently I'm not getting my meaning across. The post I was replying to was saying that I'm not a real musician because I don't see the money as a perk of playing. That I should only be there for the music.

 

I wasn't implying that you weren't a "real musician" because the money is an important factor. If you got that idea, well, my bad.

 

Even though I'm a "Weekend Warrior" now, I still insist on making good money when I play. My point was just that the patrons are the ones that pay us. I worked for a long time trying to make my living out of music. I finally realized that it wasn't there for me, and got tired of having no money in my pocket, so I went to school and then to a day job. Now I play music for extra pocket money, and to keep me sane.

 

I can see both sides. I'll play music for the fun of it, but I expect the money to be there at the end of the night.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting paid to do what you love is the win-win situation.

 

Musicians who "mail it in" are missing another aspect of the game.

 

If there are only 8 people at the gig, you never know which one of them could be a contact leading to better opportunities.

 

That is why it pays to play your a** off regardless. After all, you've gone through the trouble of getting there and setting up.

 

I know it can be a bummer playing to a less than enthusiastic house but that is what being a 'pro' is all about. Toughing it out.

 

Also, that is the ideal time to make sure the sound is tight and record the show. Still get your $$$ too! :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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There's another component to this that I haven't seen anyone else bring up: A real musician (regardless of how often you may or may not work) would still be working to interact with the band in artistic way, trying to inspire and be inspired from within the band itself , regardless of how few people are in the audience. These guys must not be that good even on a good night, if they're just playing the same old rote BS gig after gig.

 

I can't tell you how many thousands of times I've played these same tunes before, but I still try and interact with my fellow musicians in the most musical way possible.

 

The goal is to make quality music; period. Whether the audience "gets it", is secondary.

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As someone who also makes a good deal of my income from playing music, I share Kanker's frustration with certain weekend warriors who undervalue themselves, low-ball their price and screw up the market. It's a lot harder to negotiate a raise when you have some fools giving their talent away for half of what everyone else charges. Especially when they don't have to.
Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. W. C. Fields
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Originally posted by Blue JC:

It's a lot harder to negotiate a raise when you have some fools giving their talent away for half of what everyone else charges. Especially when they don't have to.

I have a hard time with this too. Playing for free is a hot-button for me.

 

Sure, we've all done it. And I'm glad to do an occassional favor for a good friend. But what really gripes me is when I feel taken advantage of.

 

I got a call the other day from a singer who is a friend of a girl who is getting married this spring. The singer wants to perform at her wedding - sing 3 songs, including The Lord's Prayer - which I would have to learn and rehearse with her. Afterwards, they need someone to play light jazz on the piano during the reception.

 

The way she expressed this to me made it sound as if she had already committed me to the gig. Oh, and my payment was that I would get to be her date at the wedding.

 

:eek:

 

There was no mention of any other compensation.

 

I ask you, my fellow forumites, under those conditions how would that make you feel?

 

So just yesterday the bride herself sent me an email giving me the details. I promptly wrote her back, declining the gig, and offering another pianist - who I know wouldn't hesitate to charge a reasonable fee. Today I find that he can't play because there is no piano at the site and he doesn't own a portable keyboard. So, I wonder if the bride will be calling me back asking for additional suggestions.

 

Which brings me to another point - for private parties, what is a reasonable rate for each band member to take home? In my area we are not unionized. Many of us feel that a local gig that puts ~$100 in our pocket is good. More is better.

 

I realize that a gig in a restaurant or a bar isn't going to pay as much; especially if it's a regular gig.

 

The problem is that this rate has stayed the same for years and years.

 

What are your thoughts on this topic?

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Kanker, I understad your frustration...realy I do.

 

 

However, I think it's tough to pigeon-hole all musicians into two camps.

 

Tony alluded to it in his post, all the "real vs part-time" musician and original vs. coverband/tribute band stuff.

 

Like you, I've been playing all my life. About 38 years now, and I'm 43. Studied all the classics, still run through my Hannon books, etc... I condifer myself a "real" musician.

 

I;ve done the original thing, and done the pro thing where music was my sole income.

 

These days, I guess I am one of those "Weekend warriors." Why? because the 5 of us love the show we put on. To make it even worse...we're a Tribute band ;)

 

As an aside, we do play the good rooms and we don't play for chump change, thereby undercutting others...we get paid very well for our gigs. Mostly because we do have a following around here, and the club owners like that.

 

 

ANyway, back to original topic: I have bene in that situation where the band i'm subbing in just sucks, or hasa crappy on stage attitude.

 

i just keep my head down, play the nly way I know..which is give it my best, take my pay, and quietly go home.

 

Someone asked why not say somethig during the gig?

Here's why: You're the hired-gun. If stuff goes wrong, they can blame you, even though you'e not at fault, and before you know it, you get a bad name around town. As big as my area is, the music community is a relatively small one.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Arturia Keylab 61MK2 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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