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Bass Player Gig question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by David Ferrare, Apr 17, 2018.


  1. David Ferrare

    David Ferrare

    Feb 19, 2015
    This is just a curiosity question. I just saw on Thatsmygig.com that there is a 4 month gig for a Bass Player on a Cruise Ship for a 4 month gig. It says it pays between 600-700 a week. Which is pretty good, but my big question is that if its on a Cruise ship is food and lodging covered, or does that come out of your pay? If it's covered its a really good gig.

    I'm just curious.

    Thanks
     
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    How would we know? Should eb in the job specifications.
     
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  3. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Morro Bay, CA
    Food and lodging is covered on almost every cruise line, (plus free medical care while on board). I haven't heard of a cruise line where musicians or any crew members don't get food and board. You need to be able to sight read VERY well to join the show band/ship orchestra, or show up with your own small (3-4 piece) cover band, or get hooked up to join a cover band that you can jump right in with. For cover bands they want you to know and be able to play at least a couple hundred covers and requests. For the show bands you just sight read every night, and they hope you know some jazz standards. Show bands work way less daily hours than cover bands on average.
     
  4. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2016
    Food and lodging is covered.

    Cruising is a decent gig. But you’ll lose contacts at home. So if you don’t have gigs, take a cruise. If you’re building contacts, I’d stay home.
     
  5. mrmxyzptlk

    mrmxyzptlk

    Jul 16, 2008
    I've worked several contracts on three different cruise lines. I wouldn't count on the quality of that "free medical care." :)

    Other things to take into account: You'll probably be sharing a tiny cabin with one other person, likely someone you don't know. If you're at all particular about food or have special dietary requirements, be prepared to have a difficult time. Any personality issues you might have with co-workers are magnified on a ship, as you'll be spending virtually 24 hours a day with these folks, except for any time you might be able to get off the ship in port. Alcohol can be a big part of the onboard culture; some people drink to ridiculous excess, while others who choose not to partake can often be ostracized to an extent.

    If you've never worked on a ship before and are curious about it, it's an experience I'd recommend - once. I've seen many musicians get trapped in a cycle of doing contract after contract, and become progressively unhappier with each one. It's best if you keep a goal in mind, and stick to it. The travel can be fun depending on where you go and how much port time you get. Good luck!
     
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  6. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Morro Bay, CA
    True, you won't be getting a top notch surgery on board. But more than once I've been very happy there were free doctors on board with a free pharmacy! For that matter, the food and lodging ain't of the best "quality" either, but they are all free. (Hotdogs with no buns and rice for lunch, again!?!)
     
  7. Hari Seldon

    Hari Seldon

    Dec 27, 2016
    Perhaps not the most efficient way to learn about the whole scene, but fairly entertaining, the talkingbass.net guy, Mark, did a whole vlog series about it while on a gig. Twelve fairly short episodes:



    If you're seriously considering it and haven't done it before it might be worth your time to watch them.
     
  8. mrmxyzptlk

    mrmxyzptlk

    Jul 16, 2008
    One very important point I neglected to mention in my earlier post: The cruise line for which I did most of my work, Princess Cruises, had a strange way of reporting my income to the IRS. As I recall, it was on a W2, so it looked like they were treating me as an employee. However, there was no Social Security tax withheld, so I was actually a contractor. I didn't realize this, and no one had explained it to me. I got nailed after the fact and had to pay a big sum to the IRS, including penalties and interest. By the time I did my last contract, I had learned my lesson, and made quarterly payments so that I wouldn't get socked with a big bill at tax time.

    I don't know if the ins and outs of taxes for a cruise ship musician are explained anywhere. You might want to talk to a tax accountant, specifically one with experience in this area.
     
    wintremute likes this.
  9. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Morro Bay, CA
    Interesting! I did more contracts than I can count for Princess Cruises off and on from 2003-2011 and never had a problem with my taxes. I do my own taxes on TurboTax and just treated it like a normal W2; going step by step through TurboTax, answer all the questions, and enter the info as they ask for it. This includes entering "0" for the box that says "Social Security withheld." I never heard any other American crew members mention this issue either. Maybe you worked for Princess during different years than me? Maybe you did your own taxes by hand and missed entering that info? Maybe I'm just lucky and never got caught? Maybe you had an agent set up your contract with Princess? (I had no agent, ever) Still baffled that I never heard another ship band member or music director talk about or warn of this, because they usually all share tips and secrets of the cruise ship trade.
     
  10. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Morro Bay, CA
    Another thought for the OP, you will need to own/buy a tuxedo for any ship gig.
     
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  11. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2016
    Did you talk to an accountant? This seems odd. For what it’s worth, you can have the company withhold extra money from your paycheck.
     
    SLO Surfer likes this.
  12. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2016
    Aw. That’s a bit harsh. I rather enjoyed the food the 6 years I cruised. But I like Currys, of which they had plenty. Fried chicken and burgers will leave you wanting.
     
  13. mrmxyzptlk

    mrmxyzptlk

    Jul 16, 2008
    Regarding the tax situation, it's quite likely that my problem would have been avoided if I had been using tax preparation software. I do now, but I hadn't yet started to when I did my last contract in 2009. At the time of my earliest contract for Princess, in 1995, I didn't even know that I was at risk of being held liable for the Social Security tax that hadn't been withheld. Just something for anyone who might still be doing their taxes with pen and paper to watch out for...

    Incidentally, on the subject of the tuxedo, I did a couple of contracts for Royal Caribbean in the '90s, and at the time they gave show band musicians a voucher to get a second tuxedo for free - to keep, even after the conclusion of the contract. I don't know if they're still doing that, though.
     
    SLO Surfer likes this.
  14. mrmxyzptlk

    mrmxyzptlk

    Jul 16, 2008
    In my experience, food quality can vary widely from one cruise line to another, or even from one ship to another. And if you're vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, for example, expect to have a tough time of it.
     
    Basstards likes this.
  15. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2016
    A tux is mandatory in my experience. A tux costs $200. Get a tux, put it in a credit card, and pay it with your first paycheck. No big deal.

    I don’t know a musician job that doesn’t require you to bring your own supplies. Instrument, PA, lights, cables, stands of all types, the list goes on.

    Edit: if you’re cheap, I’ve seen guys get away with a black suit and a tux shirt
     
  16. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Morro Bay, CA
    well, in the Crew Mess on port days, hotdogs and rice was mostly what was for lunch on all my Princess contracts, with curry on the side of course. Luckily we had passenger privileges and I ate and enjoyed the food in the passenger buffet, pizzeria, burger grill, sandwich station, etc. WAY more than I ever ate in the crew mess.

    This is very true; even within the same company, food can vary widely from ship to ship.
     
    Basstards likes this.
  17. Mosfed

    Mosfed

    Apr 21, 2013
    Chamonix Mont-Blanc
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    It’s gotta be covered. I doubt booze is but you may even have an allowance there. Honestly you would have to pay me A LOT more to spend 4 months on a cruise ship.
     
  18. hintz

    hintz

    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    I remember when carnival cruise lines were recruiting players from my college, but after hearing some of the stories I'm glad I didn't pursue that(working "secondary jobs" like bussing tables and the like)....
     
  19. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    I'd think of it as a 4 month prison sentence (your room might be smaller) with some time off where you get to play music. The food may or may not be better than what you get in the joint - I don't think the crew eats as well as the passengers. You should probably ask if you'll have cell mates, or if you have your own cell.
     
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  20. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I got reeeeeeeally close to doing one once. The band leader sat me down and gave me a long "dos and don'ts" speech. After hearing that I slept on it and then politely declined.

    One of the hard don'ts (among many) was getting caught hanging out with ANY passenger... be it on the ship or on land. That one I remember clearly.

    There are also more places on the ship you are NOT allowed to go than there are places you ARE allowed to go.
     
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