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Are DJ's and Keyboards Stealing the gigs?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by frianbisher, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. frianbisher


    Dec 28, 2007
    Milwaukee WI
    Just a couple thoughts.

    Last night I was at a club with a live dj with the usual setup: Macbook, PA, turntables. Don't get me wrong people were dancing and enjoying it myself included. But at the same time I kept thinking that it would have been 5 times more entertaining had it been a good live band playing covers people like to dance to. How many places are doing this now instead of hiring a band? Probably more than 75% of the top clubs around here. My friend at work is also a DJ on the side and he says he can charge between $400-$1000 for a wedding. Theres another gig lost for a working band.

    Sidenote: This year at the State Fair Steve Miller Band was the headliner, which was a totally awesome show. BUT he did not have a bass player, he had a keyboardist with 2 sets of keys. Tell you the truth it sounded good enough that if you were blind you might think it was an actual bass player, but it still kinda irked me that Steve couldn't spring for a bass player. He did have a bass player from the opening band (Dave Mason) sit in on a few songs but it was mainly the keys. He was totally killer his name is Gerald Johnson

    Thoughts anyone?
  2. The last time I saw Steppenwolf they didn't have a bass player either. Keys, but no bass. Maybe it was the keyboardist playing bass, or maybe it was just midi'd up. But I lost a lot of respect for Steppenwolf that night. Yeah, you can lose the bass player...and the drummer can be replaced by a drum machine...and the guitarist and keyboardist could be replaced by prerecorded tracks also. Shoot, just put John Kay in front of a karaoke machine...

    And yes, DJ's can easily make $500 - $1000 for a wedding. Around here that's less than 1/2 of what a bona-fide wedding band gets. And the DJ can pull just about any song ever recorded out of his bag of tricks. Not nevessarily so with a wedding band. In the end, it's more about $$$ than anything else. IMO, no DJ will ever replace live music.

    Here's one of my pet peeves: A moniker at a bar advertising: "LIVE DJ!" What's live about a DJ??? Yeah, he's breathing, but the music is recordings...***???...
  3. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    DJs have been around for at least 30 years, keyboardists even longer. Are you observing a recent change?
  4. Bassdude404


    Oct 23, 2010
    +1...Been competing with DJ's playing hip hop crap for more years than I care to even think about...:scowl:
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Yep, nothing new. For 20 years in San Francisco, local bands trying to get paid gigs at small venues has been like beggars scrambling for table scraps.

    Consider: a band costs what, $500 to $1500 for a night? A DJ costs $100. People will dance and drink reliably to a DJ all night long, but who knows if the band you hire is going to suck, if people will stay and pay for drinks all night, or just leave? The bar receipts alone are thousands of dollars per night. So yeah, for bar and club owners it's a no-brainer: pay way less at the beginning, and make way more money at the end. As sick and disappointing as that is, I would probably do the same thing in their shoes--it's about economic survival.

    As far as keyboards, I don't take that seriously. Sure, there are keyboardists playing bass lines, but they've been doing that since the time pipe organs were invented. Some of the best bass lines ever recorded were performed by Stevie Wonder's left hand. I remember (because I was there) when Yamaha proclaimed the death of the bass guitar in their unveiling of the DX7. Indeed, bass "guitarism" took a huge hit at that time, but sheet, that was almost 30 years ago, and look how many bassists are on TB now, never mind worldwide off the forum.
  6. dj's usurping live bands.....alert the press,this is huge....
  7. Tampabass

    Tampabass Going Viral By 2080 Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    I know you are, but what am I?
    sadly, it's been going on for so long that younger listeners don't know what they're missing, because so many of the music-centered events - proms, birthday parties, wedding receptions, danceclubs, whatnot - routinely use DJs. And quite often, they pay those DJs way more than $100.

    What's a live band?
  8. frianbisher


    Dec 28, 2007
    Milwaukee WI
    Ok Point taken but keep in mind guys 20 years ago I was enjoying a free ride from my moms umbilical cord.
  9. i remember the first time at one of the better live venues here.....the band finished their first set,and before the last note faded the dj cut in ,louder than the band.....no moving around talking to anyone without screaming in their ears was possible......just sit there and pound back beer.....now almost every place has them and lots gave up on bands entirely,for dj's karaoke,and slots....between the economy,dui laws and the above live music is getting hard to find,and with the emphasis on dance music there is much less room for live acts that play other stuff
  10. Bassdude404


    Oct 23, 2010
    And the point being it's been going on at least that long man....Sucks, but it is what it is...I've even been through a deal where a gig was cancelled by the bar owner for a stupid B.S. reason, then come to find out he hired a DJ to fill that night for a b-day party for less $$$...:mad:
  11. frianbisher


    Dec 28, 2007
    Milwaukee WI
    Thats what I'm getting at.....Me being 22 I have not seen live music In a club or dancehall or what have you....I mean yeah there are concerts at larger venues but it's not the same as a club setting.....just not the same. Maybe Milwaukee just can't offer any places like this or maybe thats just how it is across the country.
  12. Samsound


    Sep 28, 2010
    Classic DJs I got no time for. But live remixers and DJs who "perform" trance and house - THAT I dig, if they're good.
  13. bombpop14


    Apr 10, 2010
    Irvine, California USA
    Endorsing Artist Ampeg Amps
    Have you seen the pics of Savannah, GA in chix at gigs? Some parts of the country still get off on live music.
  14. trkelley


    Nov 18, 2009
    Oregon USA
    +100. Love it. My son does this type of gig. He's 17. Sometimes he asks me to play certain things for him to sample and add to his loop bank or whatever it is. very fun to jam along with.:D
  15. I've played Savannah a number of times and it's indeed true. However locally here there are far more people interested in going to check out a DJ than there are going out to look for live music. I'm not one of them, but even I will agree that a DJ is a sure thing while a live act is a bit of a risk.
  16. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Oh son, it used to be you could catch three or more different awesome live shows at various small clubs around town even in the smaller cities and "big towns". $5 cover would get you two (probably crappy) opening bands and a killer main act, for like six hours of loud, live, rowdy music where you could get your sweat mixed with the band's sweat, and if you liked the bass you could hand the bassist a beer. And that would be any Friday and Saturday, and midweek too in a bustling scene town. In a medium-to-big city you'd have the luxury of picking whether you wanted butt rock, indie rock, folk rock, or whatever. I mean I saw bands like the Ramones, GWAR, High On Fire, the Cramps, and the freaking Sun Ra Arkestra in venues that were barely bigger than the stage.

    Now get off my lawn!!!
  17. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Gerald played with Steve back in the 70s (saw him at a show in Albany, NY in 73). He's on the Joker album.

    Touring is expensive and a lot of classic rock acts are reduced to using key bass to save money. Playing the state fair circuit is not quite the same as packing arenas, so the take is smaller. I'm guessing Steve's band was a trio then? Lots of local bands I know of are downsizing to trios, they can't afford 4 or 5 pieces any more. No different for the big boys.

    As for a DJ getting $400-1000 for weddings, that's pretty slim pickings for a band. Even mediocre wedding bands get about $1000 and $2000 is closer to the average. Good wedding bands get even more.

    I've heard more than few gasps over the phone when I get calls asking about booking a wedding. Some bandleaders even offer different bands (8 pieces, 6 pieces, 4 pieces, singer + keys) if the client's budget is tight.

    A DJ is just more economical.

    I used to play in a top 40 band where the PA belonged to the drummer. When band bookings started to dry up, he bought turntables and a mixer, plugged them into his PA and hit the clubs again. With no 5-way split he was making much more money DJing.

    That was over 20 years ago, BTW.
  18. Rob Lewis

    Rob Lewis

    Feb 23, 2006
    I've always had a low opinion of Guitar Hero but today I saw an advert for DJ Hero. I wouldn't want to be growing up now, that's for sure!
  19. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.
    Here's the biggest problem with bands, they quite often don't play what the crowd wants to hear and they are "musicians".

    If I owned a club, I would have to think real hard about having a band.

    A DJ that keeps the dance floor packed- means I sell more drinks
    A band that packs it a few times a set- means I sell less drinks.
    I make money selling drinks.
    People dance, they get thirsty and want to drink.

    If a band approached their set like a DJ, crank out 5-6 tunes in a row- quick "hello" and got back to another 4-5-6 tunes back to back, current hits that are on the radio, then I think bands would be more common.

    My current band does this pretty much our second and third sets.
    First set we play "our" music. cool stuff that we dig.
    But once the place starts to fill up, to us it's embarrassing to have a DJ fill the dance floor more than us.
    We have a pretty good following now, so we can kinda get away with some other stuff, but when we first started going at it, we made it our mission to pack the dance floor at least as much as a DJ could.
  20. pbd

    pbd Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2003
    Metro Detroit
    owner Procables N Sound
    Hey all,
    Sorry I am late to the post but I used to bar tend at weddings back when DJ's just started to become popular. I sure missed the wedding bands after the DJ's took over. It was always cool to hear different arraingments of the same olds songs when the bands played, when the dj's played "Celebration" it was just like the last 5 guys who spun it, at least with the bands it sounded different and sometimes it was even cooler than the orginal.

    I'll take and band over a DJ anytime

    my 2 cents,
    Todd :)

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