empty gig

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jondog, Jul 18, 2004.

  1. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    I've been bitching about booking pressures lately. Tonight, I wasn't the boss, I was just a sideman, so I didn't feel responsible for the turnout, which was nice. It was, by far, the smallest crowd I've ever played to. 5 people, including bartenders at one point. They were appreciative and clapped and all, but man, that's an empty room!

    The guy I was playing for is established at this bar. He's been playing there for 15 years, and ran the open mic for 8 so everybody knows him. The last time I saw his band play in February, they were great and had a decent crowd. The old bassist, who is very good, took on a new project so they asked me to come on board. I spent 3 weeks learning a bunch of '80s tunes, and not normal ones but cool and relatively obscure ones from bands like the Knack and the Tubes, and I chipped in to rent the studio for 1 rehearsal. *Nobody* was there tonight, so I got paid 50% of what I was promised. I'm not positive, but I don't think the leader took any money so he could pay me and the drummer a bit more. So all in all we took a big loss on this. It's not going to kill me or anything and I had fun, but man that's an empty room! My drummer says he's played to 5 people several times, but it was my 1st time so I'm venting to you about it.

    I'm hoping he'll hire me again so I didn't learn those tunes for nothing. I'm also hoping the leader will practice more before the next show, just because you're established someplace doesn't mean you can not sing for 6 months and expect to jump right back into things.

    Also, the opening band skipped out on us!!! They're an original band on tour from GA. They met my drummer as he was setting up, and then left without a word. What a crock! No, we won't pay our dues by playing on slow nights we've booked in strange cities, we'll drive off in our RV and drink some beers while you guys rock the micromasses.

    Vent over, good night!
  2. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    This is probably a cultural thing, but when I do gigs as a sideman (or fill-in as we call it), I charge a set fee. In Austr most bands do the same. That way if no-one turns up, the venue wears the loss, not the musicians.

    We did a midweek gig like this 2 weeks ago. For a bit of fun, we were calling it a "Concert" instead of a gig and we carried on like total fools. We cracked as many bad jokes as we could, and invited the crowd to do so as well. We said things things to the crowd we've always wanted to say. We made the best of a bad situation and the 5 people who were there loved it. The venue loved it too, and they're now booking us for the busy weekend gigs :)
  3. I remember a Valentine's Day gig at a bar many years ago. 3 customers, 1 bartender.

    In true Blues Brothers fashion, the drummer was sucking down beer after beer, so he had a healthy tab to pay up before he left....

    Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues, and you know it don't come easy...
  4. darkspec


    Jan 2, 2003
    Cleveland Ohio
    You guys get paid to play????? Must be nice lol.....

    My band played a show along with 2 other bands with only 7 people at one point. Was pretty lame, but at the same time made it a bit easier considering it was one of my first shows.

    Now, my real question, and I hope I dont get flamed for this but, you guys seriously get paid to play? I fill in locally at open mics often and never ask for money afterwards. Got offered it a couple times, but not really my thing I guess. Is this strange?
  5. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Open mic events can be a different kettle of fish - normally with free entry and plenty of chances for people to take part. I wouldn't think it strange not to get paid unless you're a regular part of the fixed backing band and are putting time and effort into rehearsing and preparing.

    However, if your band is on the bill for a gig and the punters are getting charged to come in the door, I'd think it strange to not get a cut (even if it's only enough to cover some of your rehearsals, not enough to retire on ;) ).

  6. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    We played a gig with five other bands once, and by the time we went on (we were last, and not by our choice) the only people left were the bartender, waitress and the soundguy.
  7. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    My old band played an open mic night at a local club, and it was really quite good. The guy that set it up was playing the mini stage doing an acoustic thing most of the night, but when we were going on, he told everybody in the bar to go in and watch us. It was probbly about 50-60 people, on a tuesday night! That was an alright gig. I am still working on a newer band, and I hope to have gigs very soon.
  8. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Well I do this semi-professionally so yep, you pay me to play. I work an office job 3 days a week, then make the rest of my income playing bass, on average 3 or 4 gigs a week. Took me ages to get to this stage but now that I'm here, I'm making the most of it.
  9. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I have had plenty of gigs where there were more people on stage than in the audience. For me and my classic rock/blues band, it is a great chance to rehearse in a new environment. We get to tinker with tones, the PA, and other stuff. Most of the time we simply end up packing up early and getting our full pay (this has happened twice already this summer season!). The last time we got $400 for one-and-a-half sets!
  10. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    That sucks. If you were a sideman, I wouldn't worry too much about the low attendance. If it were my own band, that would suck because it might mean that my band won't be getting booked there again.

    The part about the pay sucks though. If I were in your situation, I wouldn't have made a stink about it, but I definately would have taken note. One of my business heros was a black guy by the name of AG Gaston, and he once said (to paraphrase) that when you are in charge, if anyone takes a hit, it should be you; you should make sure to compensate everyone else.

    Recently, my band was booked for a gig. When we showed up at the bar, we got cancelled due to a DUI checkpoint right down the road. The club owner was professional enough to pay us some amount of money for our travel/troubles. We made sure that the soundman was paid well before we took our cut. We couldn't pay him his full amount, because we weren't paid that much, but we let him name a price he thought was fair.
  11. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Ya, it's much less stressful when you're the sideman in that kind of situation.

    I'm still POed about the opening band, how can you book a show, show up, and then sneak away? They couldn't have known it would be a slow night because it was still early when they left . . .