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Alternatives to the Bar Gig

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jive1, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    After the discussions about the issues regarding gigs at bars and clubs, it may be time to consider some other options for gigging. I'm doing work for a Swing Dance company, and did some theatre work last month. I'm kinda liking working a setting that's not a typical all-nighter at a bar.

    So where do you guys gig that are not at a bar, or not an all-nighter?
  2. JumboJack


    Dec 31, 2007
    Church... Some pay. Some pay well.
  3. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    There are a few theater houses in our area that you can rent out for a night and host your own event. My band is beginning to consider those for our performances as we'd have much more control of things and can turn a gig into an event.
  4. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    Some expect you to play for free, too.
  5. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    Being from a four-seasons resort area,there's always some kind of season-oriented outdoor festival going on..aside from those our only non-bar option is playing in a church band.
  6. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Sunday morning brunch
    concerts in the park
    art walks
    wine walks
    gourmet food truck events
    swap meets
    restaurant gigs

    ...I love not getting home at three in the morning!
  7. I've done a local winery several times- these guys do a Saturday afternoon(2-5)thing- VERY enthusiastic crowd, done by 6.
  8. stagefumer11


    Dec 30, 2012
    just did a nudest camp gig for the end of the year, that was entertainment!.

    Mostly workman clubs, lots of private functions too.. Fun stuff
  9. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I hope it was an indoor gig, or that you live in the southern hemisphere. ;)
  10. CapnSev

    CapnSev Supporting Member

    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Any community event

    I've also really enjoyed a lot of the church gigs I've played. They pay decent and I'm always treated great.

    Quick story: I used to play frequently at Pat's BBQ, a restaurant in Salt Lake that was one of my favorite places to play ever. The gig was always from 7-9 p.m. and paid a standard $80 per man + tips and a free meal (out-of-this world BTW). I usually made ~ $100 each gig for 2 hours of playing in a family friendly venue full of awesome people and awesome food. Makes me sad that I moved away from that sometimes. :(
  11. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I used to play bars & clubs all the time when I was in my classic rock covers band years ago. Before that, it was Holiday Inns, VFW posts, Elks Clubs, etc., playing standards in a lounge band. It was all great fun, I made some bucks along the way...and I gained some very valuable practical experience - including the development of my musicianship skills. :meh:

    Now that I'm getting back into music again after a (too) long hiatus, with an originals project that I've been just itching to develop, the bar scene just ain't gonna cut it - most particularly not here in NYC. :rolleyes:

    Soon as we're ready to gig, I reckon the first step will be to see if we can play a set on some multi-band showcases that happen around here, targeting bands that play in a similar style. The purpose: To iron out the live performance "bugs", while getting the name out and beginning to develop a following.

    After that, it's time to start producing our own shows. Fortunately there are a number of halls & theatres throughout the city that can rented out for the purpose. And since New York is an "industry town", there are also booking agents, show promoters & ticketing agencies with whom we will be able to collaborate.

    Other than that, I'd be keen to play virtually any non-traditional venue/event that makes strategic sense for an original band. Gotta think outside the box, and all that. :meh:

    Still working to develop & refine the business model. First things first; step by step... :smug:

  12. I play at multiple churches. I'm also in a band that plays in different churches around the city so I get to play in even more churches than the ones I play in on Sundays. Also, there are bands that do festivals and special events like corporate gigs and weddings. Most of those pay more than a bar gig and they're usually a lot more fun.
  13. I worked in a corporate band, we played Fremantle Prison once...wore prisoner/cop outfits.
    Played a rail camp for a mining company...wore mining gear.
    Wore costumes or masks at costume/masquerade gigs...

    ...so I hope you guys wore the "standard" uniform to that gig! :D

    Charity gigs. Even if you don't get paid, you can write your expenses off as a donation, and IME, the sound reinforcement they provide is often better than bar gigs.

    Private parties. Risk = reward :)
    Corporate gigs for companies. Usually sourced via agents. Reasonable hours, no drunk patrons, good pay, gotta have the goods though.
  14. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    The project that pays the most for me is a classic (ie, early) country band that I lucked into a few years ago as a sub and now as a regular. It caters to a senior crowd, mostly French-Canadian or northern Maine. The band leader has been leading a band for nearly 50 years (!) and built up a faithful following. We even do country songs in French (I used to laugh at this stuff when I was a kid). The schedule for the year is 80% set on January 1. We play at either of two social clubs, about 15 miles apart, and at weddings, "Jack and Jill" parties, and other special events. No bars. We did 32 gigs of this type last year ... paid for gas and strings and allows me to do other things that I might enjoy more but pay less.

    Two of my projects are playing bass (occasionally I'll play guitar and/or sing harmonies) for two singer/songwriters. Not a lot of gigs (maybe a dozen a year, each) but good gigs. We play by invitation ... churches, social clubs, local cafes, private parties and seem to get some cherry gigs. Last year I played for 15 minutes (a short set in a showcase of area guitarists), carried no gear, drove only 20 miles, and got $150 plus dinner for my effort. These aren't about the money ... I just love the collaborations. We make some good music!

    Another project is an acoustic duo ... in which I play guitar primarily and sing. We pick up private parties and such. No bars.

    Finally, I get calls quite often to sub, fill-in, or do one-off shows. The thing that helps me get gigs is versatility. Bass guitar (electric and acoustic), upright bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keys, harp, and vocals ... and a working knowledge of many genres ... together seem to get me many gigs. Of course, some of these are bar gigs, but I tend to decline these depending on the venue.

    I've only returned to serious gigging after my retirement from corporate hell in '09 (began to polish my chops around '06 in anticipation). I hit the open mic circuit, got introductions to great players, met venue owners ... all casually, not looking for work, just connections. Seems to have worked well for me.
  15. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    I currently play with an originals trio. We have a rather large songbook which allows us to choose 2+ sets of music that's appropriate to most any type of venue... dance hall, neighborhood bar, restaurant with background music, cappuccino cafe type place, listening rooms, private parties, etc, etc. Just about the only venue we can't cover (no pun intended) is a venue that specifically wants a cover band.

    Just think about any and all places that might have music in them, then ponder if you're part of a project that has the repertoire to play those places that you'd like to play.
  16. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Well, it's either bar/club/restaurant or private affairs or community summer outdoor events.
  17. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Restaurant type gigs are fun. Yeah sometimes we are just dinner background music but it works. Bistro's and small pubs are great and the crowds more attentive. I love outdoor festivals or events for the community . The summer brings some music festivals and outdoor community concerts...all fun and pay decent too.
  18. stagefumer11


    Dec 30, 2012
    Summer here, But it was indoors. Was one of the best gigs i had. They know how to party!
  19. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Outside of bars, for us it's the summer festivals and music on main series.

  20. NightTripper


    Oct 20, 2011
    Coffee shops, cafes, etc. There is also a theater in my town that no longer shows films and has converted to doing live music, community theater, etc. So you might be able to check out some places like that.