Feeling like the stickler

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by twinjet, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    So, I have a bit of a concern.

    I find myself rejecting a lot of gigs when they don't pay well, or at all. I'm not a professional, just a guy who works here and there. So when one of my groups was offered a spot in the state's largest music festival, I was stoked. Only issue was compensation.

    Musicians were given:
    -Free camping/parking spot ($100 value)
    -100% of merchandise sales.
    -Bragging rights for being on the same bill as other major acts playing on the stage.
    -"Exposure to some of the largest audiences in the state". :poop:

    The festival is three hours outside of the city each way. Gas is over $3/gallon, at the musician's expense.

    When asked about going out with my group, I replied "can't do it. Exposure bucks don't pay the mortgage". Understandable. Today, I was ranting to this same BL about low-paying gigs.

    Regarding an upcoming gig, I told her that if they offered less than $75/person, she ought to tell the organizers to "pound sand". At another gig opportunity, I said no to tips and a skiing day pass. I don't ski and won't drive an hour RT for tips.

    I'm not a greedy player. I've put in my dues, is all. Now, as a part-time musician I just make sure I'm not devaluing the market.

    I do have to say no to more gigs and this may leave holes in my band, but is there really any winning here?
  2. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    They were offering 100% of your own merchandise sales? "Gee, thanks people who want to pay us with a parking spot."

    The way you feel is completely justifiable. I don't play for exposure anymore. I hear you can die from it.
    kobass, rd2rk, smogg and 20 others like this.
  3. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Yeah. Good thing this wasn't delivered in person. It would have been tough to keep a straight face.

    I just feel bad because I have no sub. My absence doesn't ruin a show, as many of our songs sound great and were first played solo before I came along. But I feel I'm doing the group a disservice.

    I also get the idea that this could also be hurting my networking opportunities. I recently missed a sub gig for another band because of work, but learned it was a four-hour blues gig for $90. I typically don't like going out for less than $125-150. I'm not worried about exposure, but I know a good night on stage can easily net me more work. Am I doing more harm than good here?
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
    two fingers, FenderB and Bodeanly like this.
  4. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Originals or covers? If originals, I'd be more inclined to take a freebie now and again, especially if opening for a larger act; however, I wouldn't do it enough to make it a habit, and I wouldn't tell anyone how much money I didn't make. But I only play covers for the money, so when the money ain't there, neither am I. Luckily, my band mates feel the same.
    smogg, Charlzm and LBS-bass like this.
  5. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Both. We have about an hour of originals and two hours of covers. Also, see above for updated post.
  6. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    You seem to be beating yourself up about it. I would do it if A) I wasn't doing anything else and B) carpool.
  7. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I can always find something better to do. Family, friends, or a local jam that I'd actually go to. Just feel bad that the line I draw between business and fun can occasionally leave my peeps hangin'.
    Kubicki Fan and two fingers like this.
  8. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Maybe have a meeting with the band and do this last one before the "nothing below $75" begins?
  9. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    The $75 is a one-time deal. Our gigs don't typically pay that low, it's just been a slow year so far. BL also knows I place high value on my time. 1.5 kids and a wife at home, so it's gotta be good to get me out of the house. Thankfully the BL understands!

    The only saving grace is knowing the entire repertoire could be performed solo, as it originally was, and that the current group is basically a bunch of fill-ins called to fit the gig.
  10. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I can totally relate. One band of mine has the same problems - it's divided on the issue, 2 vs 2. Two that do it "for the fun of it" and not the money, and that's alright, but they're seriously lowballing themselves by being willing to accept low to no paying gigs. One other member and me are of the mind that we shouldn't sell ourselves short since we are all competent musicians with years of experience - the front man was a full time musician before becoming a scientist (yeah, weird right!) and is accustomed to the big stages. He knows potential when he sees it.

    I, myself, have too little time on my hands to play bars for scratch. Which is basically all what the local bars have to offer - you get tips, that's it. Even the upper-class establishments would try anything to get a free gig out of you. I say no to that.

    On the other hand, we have accepted two (!) gigs that are basically for exposure at one of the biggest annual festivals of Northern Europe. We got a somewhat decent pay out of it, not great but acceptable. What the guys are banking on is the exposure. I won't hold my breath, even if it is a kind of a big deal for us. Venues don't send out scouts for bands. Musicians are basically treated like the doggie doo under your shoe around here. Yeah, I'm bitter.
    smogg, mikewalker and twinjet like this.
  11. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    You are talking about some wildly different situations. Playing in a club for a tip jar vs playing a festival with national acts. I wouldn't do the tip jar, but the state's largest music festival?? It never hurts to be able to say you've opened for national acts.

    As far as "telling them to pound sand," why do you have to be like that? "I appreciate the offer, but we're booked" (or any other excuse) will suffice. They may have an opportunity you would want in the future; no need to be a jerk about turning down a gig. The music business is not for the thin skinned. ;)
  12. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Some thoughts about “exposure”…

    To me, the biggest problem with playing for the exposure is it’s often useless for most bands. Because suppose (and this is just a thought experiment) it actually does lead to something for the band. What are you going to realistically be able to do with that opportunity?

    If you’re like most bands, the answer is: nothing.

    Because while smart people sometimes take into consideration the possibility of failure, they hardly ever have a plan for what they’re going to do if they find they’re suddenly successful. And unplanned success can kill a band just as easily.

    People have jobs. People have families and kids. People have commitments and responsibilities. Maybe one or two band members are part of the steadily growing number of us who have an elderly parent or relative whose care they’re responsible for. And we all have bills to pay.

    Is all that something you can just up and walk away from in order to take a long shot at the goal of attaining fame and (maybe) fortune? More to the point, are you ready to quit your day job to be in a band full time? Or be less involved with family or other responsibilities because you’ll be gigging locally far more than ever because you’re popular and in demand?

    Because if that isn’t the goal, what happens next?

    Answer: nada. You go back to doing what you were doing before you got that great exposure which (for once) actually led to something. That, or a rift develops between the band members ready to jump at the opportunity and those who either won’t or can’t. In which case the band breaks up soon after.

    So here’s the thing. Next time your band is considering doing something “for exposure,” ask yourselves: to what end? Suppose it leads to something? Can we start gigging out three or more nights each and every week and start traveling further and more often? Or suppose we get an offer that involves touring. Can we all afford to risk what we currently have and attempt to go pro?

    If the answer is “no,” then playing “for exposure” is quantifiably useless. Exposure is only worth something if it leads to a bigger opportunity. And that opportunity is only worth something if you’re able to take advantage of it. Otherwise it’s like winning a first prize in a raffle where the prize is one year’s worth of free fuel for your personal jet - but the prize is non transferable and can’t be redeemed for cash. Lucky you!

    It’s not just the fact it’s for no money. Exposure gets you nothing unless it leads to something. And unless what it leads to is something you can actually use, that ‘something’ is worthless too.

    Ok. End of semi-rant.
  13. Our time is the most valuable thing we have. When we’re young we have lots of time on hands and lots of energy. As we get older our time gets more valuable because we have less of it, and don’t know how much we have left. Only you can decide how you want to spend your time.

    I’ve played paying gigs that I vowed never to do again, and I’ve played free gigs and benefits that I would play again in a heartbeat. It just depends on the situation.
  14. 4-stringB


    Jun 10, 2010
    OP, you're dead on the money. I'm winding down my time with an Americana originals band, because the BL wants to get his songs "out there." Free gigs, tips, drinks, lunch grade meals just don't cut it. I (and the drummer and lead guys) are professionals, We deserve our due. Period.
  15. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Nothing wrong with that. You value your time, and set that value. Frankly, if the gig isn't worth the number I set, I'd rather play at home and play exactly the music I want. That's the choice my jazz group made. About the only jazz gigs around here are for schlocky dinner music. So we play public gigs a few times a year, but we meet weekly, drink good beer and wine, and play some great jazz. I gig more with my other group.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
    twinjet likes this.
  16. Dynomuttasaurus


    Jul 23, 2016
    The question really gets to why to you play and perform. Only you can answer that question. Do it truthfully to yourself and share honestly with the band mates.

    Worrying about devaluing music for other musicians is a load of crap. Sorry, it is. The commercial music industry is horrid because it lacks competition and free market ingenuity -- not because someone took a gig for exposure or because someone wanted experience.

    Personally, I have a solid job and music will never pay my bills the way my salaried w/ benefits job does. I love to play music and it fills a spot on my bucket list of experiences to play out. I would play a large free festival in a heartbeat. But, that's me and that's the band I play in who are all in the same situation.
  17. Question: Why is it considered a selling point to let the band keep all the merchandise sales? Is it common practice for venues to collect a percentage?
    cnltb likes this.
  18. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    If the rest of the band wants to do these gigs and you're the one saying, "No", even though you're definitely justified, I would expect to be replaced shortly.
    five7, Kevin Teed, gln1955 and 3 others like this.
  19. Dynomuttasaurus


    Jul 23, 2016
    Yes, it can be.

    Some venues collect up to 25% of merchandise sales. I work at a venue that sells venue t-shirts and hats -- exactly the same merchandise most bands sell. I have to tell bands if they want to sell t-shirts and hats, they have to give us a cut as they are diluting the house's ability to sell. We do not take a cut on non-competitive merchandise such as CDs, digital downloads, etc.

    That said, we pay bands and don't ask for them to play for free.
  20. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    This. And if you’re not replaced, do you really want to be in a band where you’re keeping the others from doing gigs they want?
    39-Bassist and kentiki like this.

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