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Audition for Gig?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by FriscoBassAce, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. FriscoBassAce


    Dec 29, 2004
    Frisco, Texas
    Independent Manufacturers Representative
    I'm hoping some of you have some insight and experience regarding an issue that my band is facing. First off, it's a classic rock cover band comprised of a bunch of guys in their 30's and 40's who don't have a lot of experience as a whole playing gigs. I tried out for this band in April, and we're getting to the point where we are ready to gig. We've been beating the pavement talking to club owners to give us a shot in their clubs.

    We haven't been getting much in the way of callbacks when one of the clubowners at an established biker bar wants us to give her a one or two hour "audition" on Saturday, August 20th. Here's the kicker: it's unpaid, and it's going to be at 4:00 PM on a Saturday afternoon. She's counting on us bringing in extra business during the afternoon. (To me, it feels like she's just using us in a way). She just hired a band across the hall from us at our rehearsal studio using the same method. They brought in a bunch of their friends and family, and before they even finished their soundcheck, she hired them (based on the crowd they brought in, who were swilling beer).

    We're dying to play our first real gig, but damn I wish it was paid. Supposedly, if we can bring a crowd that likes to drink beer, then she'll book us on a Friday or Saturday night for pay.

    Anybody dealt with this before? Did it work out? Did you get ripped off? We need the experience, and we need to be able to say "Yeah, we've played at this club." We can also get some performance pics for our website too, so that will be an added benefit.
  2. I don't have a lot of experience in this area (kind of in a similar situation to you actually...just trying to get gigs right now). Personally, I think, if it worked for another band, why couldn't it work for yours? If the other band is vouching for her, it seems like you can trust her. Plus, like you said, this will give you the opportunity to gain experience, and get some pics (never a bad thing). Additionally, you can maximize your chances of success by telling everyone you know to come down, and maybe putting up flyers around town, etc.
  3. Dan in NJ

    Dan in NJ

    Sep 3, 2004
    Jersey Shore
    This has become the way of the world. There are things you guys can learn and fun you can have playing in front of people which will never happen in yr rehearsal room. You may find some guys in the band can't hang with the environment and others will come alive.
    You gotta understand their position too, the bar business is tough these days and there's a ton of musicians around. Bar owners will hire bands that'll make money and sometimes a band they personally like and may hang with you awhile to see if you develop a following.

    I'd say do it, and lean heavily on the Southern Rock material if you got any.
  4. Although my band has been lucky enough never to have to do a free gig, I wouldn't hesitate to do it if there is a chance you may get a paid gig out of it.

    But the first thing I would do is invite all the bar owners/gig bookers from your area so they can see you too. You might be able to get more than one venue interested in you that way!

    Best of luck!
  5. Look at it like a rehearsal. Its not like they're having you come in on the weekend nights for free. If they hired the other band you know of, then its on the level.

  6. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I'd jump on it. Like others have said, it would be good experience if nothing else. And it sounds like it really is an audition, not just a free night.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out!
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    It's your first shot. Take it.
  8. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    In this situation, my opinion is that I would not do it, no way! The club owner is just getting free entertainment, and bands that are desperate enough will agree to it, bad bad bad!! Do you even want to play for someone who is so blatantly willing to screw the band? Sounds like bad[/i] news to me.

    Do you guys have a demo? If you don't, then I think that should be your first priority. Then if people make such ridiculous requests again, at least you can let them know how you sound. Even if you have to spend a little money recording the demo, at least you can distribute it to multiple people, and not feel the need to play freakin gigs for FREE!!! Then possibly consider a booking agent? And keep networking!

    I understand the desire to play, but don't let your eagerness get in the way of your common sense!

    Good luck with your band. Try networking more and keep doing what you're doing, I am sure you will be able to find legitimate gigs.

  9. Whilst I understand and agree with your sentiment, Leanne, for this particular situation, it should be negotiable.

    These guys might actually make more contacts by doing the show than by not. Notice I advised to get club owners and bookers to the gig? Sometimes that works. In my band, we played a gig for a charity event, and we have been working steadily since due to the exposure.

    I agree that they should get a demo, but if the offer feels right, then I believe they should use this opportunity as a marketing tool.
  10. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    In the situation described, I'd go with it as long as you're reasonably sure of getting a reasonable number of folks along. You're not having to pay to play and I'm presuming no-one is being charged an entry fee. The only cost to people will be swilling down a few beers - the owner gets a crowd, they get entertained and you get the experience of playing in front of an audience. Everybody wins :D

    On the other hand, if the audience are going to have to fork out a cover charge or if you don't think you'll be able to get more than three or four people along, it might be worth waiting for other opportunities.

  11. +1 Totally agree. If the club has door charge, I wouldn't touch it with yours :D
  12. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    Overall, I agree with what you said, but in this instance, it seems that the club owner wants to do no work, assume no risk, and pay no money. I am not against gigs that pay zero, assuming the band gains something or it benefits someone else, but not one that benefits the greedy club owner at the expense of the band, you know? I believe that the club owner won't have too hard of a time finding bands that want to "audition." If enough bands were ignorant of what was going on, that club could get free bands every week or whatever for an entire year!

    I also agree that even an unpaid gig that benefits the greedy club owner could be beneficial to the band, but do you really want to put yourself in that position? And how much benefit can really be expected?? I wouldn't count on much from a bar that so obviously puts profit above anything else. It might be the normal thing, but at least some bar owners try to hide it or make it less obvious, or something!

    edit: BTW:
    Hey, if they feel good about it, they should do what they want and certainly not bother listening to me! I'm just giving my opinion, regardless! Trying to help, but of course I have no idea what is best for them, or even for me, or anyone!
  13. Yup, sounds like we are on the same page. I have been reading heaps of threads around here that say that the band has to pay to play!!!! That's not how it works in my town, so I get a bit anxious about how young bands can get themselves into the scene without losing money from their own pockets.
  14. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I'd be inclined to agree if the offer were to play a popular slot, like Friday or Saturday evening, for free. However, 4pm on a Saturday afternoon is a pretty unusual time for most gigs. Looking at it in a positive light, it's relatively low risk for the owner (assuming you don't bring a crowd of drunken yobs who smash everything up) and may net her a bit of profit. However, it's also low risk for the band if they look at it as a chance to rehearse with an audience with the potential of paying gigs down the line.

    What's the worst that can happen in this situation? The band plays to an empty room for half an hour and then the owner comes over and says "thanks but no thanks". Go away, practise some more and find somewhere else to play.

    On the other hand, what if the band gets stuck in front of a paying audience and one of them freezes up with stage fright? That could be one unhappy crowd. What if they get offered a slot with a reasonable amount of money coming in but they don't bring in any extras and drive away the regulars? There's likely to be some tense negotiations at the end of the evening because the owner may feel that the band has failed to fulfill their end of the bargain.

    That's why I think this deal sounds okay. If you don't want to make an investment in building a reputation (and experience), you're going to have to talk your way into a band that's already done the hard work!


    ps. Another factor to consider is what the hidden costs are - I'm assuming this place is relatively easy to get to and that none of you would have to take time off from paid employment to get there.
  15. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    This is a thing that has to do with experience, and you're the only one who can decide if you're doing the right thing. I've done parties, anniversaries, and stuff for friends/family for free. I've done short gigs for free, even as an established band. The condition was that it was short, convenient, and that I might gain something from it. In your situation, you gain much more experience from a gig than any rehearsal. We all do - every gig is a new experience.
  16. 2 things tip me into the "Go ahead and do it".

    • 4pm Sat is off-peak band minutes, she's not getting freebie when it counts, nights, not even weeknights
    • you already know a band that tried this at this bar with this owner, and DID get a paying gig out of it

    Sounds like she's on the level. I would want to see a band live rather than a demo too. I can put a demo together in a home studio that makes me sound like a competent bass player. Very misleading.

  17. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    I hope I didn't miss this above, but is this a full-time gig for you guys, or is it a hobby? (If it's a full-time gig, so far you're stinkin' up the place! :D ) Hobbies are rarely money-making ventures, so consider it the price of promotion.

    Our band is a hobby because we all just love doing it. We're all professionals in other fields, so we have a rule. Every band member owes every other band member one free gig per year. Where we play to provide music to a crowd of appreciative people, and all we ask is to be invited to dinner. These are the best gigs on the planet.
  18. Do it.

    Same as above: it's a saturday afternoon so it's not a normal situation.

    If I owned a bar I'd be doing the same thing esp. if you have no demo to provide. What if you play on a Sat nite the first time, and the crowd hates you? Lots of those people may not show up next Saturday night or another Saturday for that matter. I think the owner is just protecting his/herself. And yeah, think of it as more practice.
  19. My band "sat in" for 5 tunes in the second set of another band's gig as an audition. We did this at two different venues and got bookings at both. The only way we were able to do this is because our percussionist is the drummer of the "host" band, and the club owners were ok with it. We even had audience members from the first audition follow us to another club based on our performance. EXPOSURE IS A GOOD THING! Do the gig.
  20. Wesley R

    Wesley R Supporting Member

    Last time I was in an unestablished, lesser experienced band, we played a wedding for free as a gift. Actually I paid the rest of the band. I really needed to see how they acted/behaved/performed etc. Ended up whacking two and keeping one. All was well.

    If you were established and such, then for free could become a question.

    Invite half the bleepin world. Have cards and promo stuff ready and available.Each band member should be able to get 6 people minimum. I used to be able to scrounge up 20-30 and our keyboardist about the same. Heck some of your buddies will want to start the Sat. evenings festivities early. Make an event out of it.

    Best of Luck,
    Wesley R.