"Exposure bucks" are worth more than real bucks (to me) right now

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by RustfeatherBass, Apr 24, 2024.

  1. So I am in a little original band, and last night, me and the boys were talking about goals for year. We concluded that we want to gig more. So we discussed the realities of gigging for an unknown, local, original band of older dudes, with not much following. Sparse opportunities, to say the least.

    We discussed what types of gigs were possible, which ones would probably be worth it/not worth it, and what we hoped to get out of them. The surprising answer is that we all unanimously cared about gigs that had the potential to gain friends/fans/social followers (ie “exposure bucks”), and didn’t give a rat’s butt about getting paid.

    I guess it’s good to be in a position where a hundred bucks each doesn’t make or break us. There were times when this definitely wasn’t the case! But right now, a gig that has a built-in crowd, with the chance to gain a couple dozen legit, local, music people as fans followers is way more important right now.

    Anyone else in this situation?

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  2. I think the markets that will pay an all original band are few and far between. If you are in one of those markets, likely a larger urban area, then the competition for those gigs will be fierce. So, the play for exposure is likely the most realistic scenario. Disclaimer - I'm not in an originals only band, and don't live in a large urban area, so this is conjecture on my part - but I'm willing to bet I'm right :)
  3. I won't take that bet :) this matches my experience as well
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  4. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I can't speak to the "originals vs. covers" aspect (I'm a covers guy), but I do gig. I've done a few "exposure" only gigs (they have their place) and more than I count of cheap gigs (paid, but poorly).

    I'm in a financial position where the money I make gigging is not important for the bank account. But there is a matter of respect involved and when it comes to playing public venues, the main form of respect available is decent pay. I don't know why businesses think they can insult artists and call it pay. Either you have the clientele to support the cost of live music or you don't. (I've yet to be in a band where we have any kind of massive following - typically a handful of familiar faces at best - so no, I won't be packing your venue for you). I try not to set precedence so that others get paid insulting wages and I even have one venue I boycott (even though my band plays there monthly).

    Some of the guys in my band are in a place where every $50 matters, so I try to support them on some of the sub par gigs they want to take - otherwise, I'd pass on those gigs.

    I have no problem playing for free for a benefit (I'm helping someone out) or for a real opportunity to break into a next level situation (would need to be very a compelling opportunity).

    I would imagine for originals, you pretty much gotta take every gig you can get and hope the exposure will eventually start getting you paid. We all know gigging is not cheap; even if you're not making much profit, you want to at least cover expenses (food and gas). Besides, how will you ever get "discovered" if you don't play out?;)
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  5. The subject of "playing for exposure" is pontificated on by many TB'ers who will slam you for doing it.

    I'm of the camp that says "your band, your situation" and there are no rules. If you don't need the $$ to eat and you think it's of benefit to your band than who am I to tell you you're wrong? I'm not in your position.

    Hope it pays off for you.
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  6. ImTheOnlyOne

    ImTheOnlyOne Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2011
    See how far you can push the exposure opportunity to maximize it?
    Request the venue link to your media, post band flyers... fly a blimp or drone swarm with the group's logo ;)

    Now. On stage. Raise your glasses for...Exposure!
  7. What worked for me in the past when pursuing exposure gigs is to partner up with a local event or charity and provide entertainment for one of their fundraisers.

    There is an instant transfer of goodwill to your band from the attendees and organizations to your act and there is no downside.
  8. Drone swarm! I think you just named our next song :D
  9. This is a great idea! There are a lot of organizations that we would love to help, and it would be good, er, exposure, ahem, for us :)
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  10. This is pretty much where I'm at. I played in a cover band and we had a good value prop. Originals is a whole other thing though.
    Wyrdlow likes this.
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I get both sides and it depends only on your perspective and goals.

    Anyone who says your low wage gig takes away from a pro I disagree. Because a club booking pro acts is not booking first time acts, at least not on the same nights with the same ROI expectation. It’s the whole “they took our jobs” argument. It doesn’t hold up. Those are 2 different kinds of jobs in different venues.
    Truth is if you don’t have a following you aren’t adding significant value to the host venue anyway so it seems a reasonable trade to play for door or tips or a few bucks.

    The other side is you do devalue yourself for future gigs when you play for nothing.

    What if you try to split the difference and use your friend/social network to flush a local club “for the door” and when you show a decent amount of seats that’s when you can take that to the clubs and ask for better gigs.

    or another valid route is open for more successful locals and build following organically
  12. Thanks @Killing Floor, agree with all your points. And that's a great idea for ramping into a paid situation. I think that's the unspoken goal; at some point, we hopefully will have enough of a draw that paying us makes sense for the venue.

    It's funny though... it really makes me realize that I'm in a weird spot, where I don't really care if I ever make money from original music gigs. I feel like some would take that as some sort of defeatist attitude. But honestly, for me, it's always just been about wanting to play my stuff in front of people (whether they like it or not! haha).
  13. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I only play originals and have played as both a lead/member/writer/singer guy and as a gun. Although I have done some sub. The latter doesn’t apply. But if you want to play your own stuff you know the drill.
    Hey, every cover started on a notepad somewhere.
    Good luck. Definitely get a video on the socials. That’s the easiest way to get a booker to see where you fit. It takes work but in my own dumb opinion and personal experience it’s worth it.
  14. (Ramble On)

    Like pay-to-play? Reminds me of The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. Whatever happened to Odin?

    Forced Exposure was a great name for an indie music magazine.

    (Ramble off)
  15. Thanks! I really appreciate the advice and thoughts.
    Killing Floor likes this.
  16. I play in both an originals band and a cover band and they are very different animals. My originals band now has 3+ hours of music but it's taken us about five years to get there. In the early days we did lots of gigs where we received a portion of the door which some nights amounted to us not getting paid. Now we play wineries and breweries in the area for a guaranteed fee that is on par with the cover band.

    I enjoy playing in the cover band a lot but the originals band is much more creative and when people respond to what we're doing, it's more satisfying to me as well. Take your gig opportunities where you can, have fun and don't worry about what other people think.
  17. I play in an originals band that said they don’t do it for the money. So far it’s worked out perfectly.
  18. Yeah, it dances on the edge of pay to play. But actually forking out dough is a bridge too far for me. And after doing some youtube deep dives, it seems like this is more common than ever. A lot of the opening bands we see on tour are indeed paying for the opportunity, hoping to capitalize on the exposure, and make their money back and then some. Playing free (which isn't really free) is one thing, but actually shelling out money to play is another thing. I get why people do it, essentially it's no different than an advertising spend.
  19. More skin in the game to rehearse more is the only positive I can come up with.
    31HZ and RustfeatherBass like this.
  20. A technique that works is to research upcoming events locally - Find ones' that you may be a good fit for (organization / venue type) and reach out to the contact people. Do the legwork and be proactive.