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Going Rate?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by montrocity, Jun 13, 2003.

  1. montrocity


    Jan 17, 2003
    Pittsburgh PA
    I started a band about 6 months ago with my sister and her boyfriend. We've been mostly playing the same dozen or so local bars every weekend since and have rapidly built a large and loyal following.
    ( I like to think it's because of my good looks ;) )

    My question is how much should these guys be paying us? I know these bars and we eaisily double their crowd on a saturday night - say from 50 to 100 people. SRO anyway. We give them a solid 4 hrs of covers with a few originals. Ohio, Pennsylvania and WV, USA area. And we don't suck either. :)

    btw, if it's not copacetic to ask about this stuff here, mod pls scrap this and my apologies.

  2. Seems like a very proper question to me.

    Here in Nashville the pay is pretty lousy. Approximately $250 (total band take) at the dives I've played (some lower, some higher). Hmmm...5 piece band, that's $50 per person, for 6 to 8 hours of the evening (setup, playing, teardown, driving)...and equipment costs...and gas....what a deal:eek:

    Private parties are much better though if you can get them. Pay is better, atmosphere better, usually knock off earlier, and often free food!!
  3. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    in denver its about the same, $ 250-$300 a night at local bars.
  4. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    About the same in North Carolina. Nobody gets rich from playing music here.

  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    In the Boston area pay starts at ZERO...this is clubs where have 3-4 bands on a bill and they have to split the door :(

    For clubs where one band plays the night pay starts at a whopping $150 and goes up from there...well established bands can demand $7-800, but for the average band starting out in the average bar it's about $250.
  6. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Every area is different. Columbus, OH, basic "bring your own small PA" bar band stuff is $250-$300, and established bands in larger clubs using full PA support get around $700-$800. Private functions are usually much higher, around $1500-$2000.
  7. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    It partially depends on the type of music you play. If you're playing rock covers you'll be playing smaller establishments that wont pay you as much. If you play dance covers then you'll get gigs in some of the bigger clubs which hold more people, and they'll be willing to pay more for you helping bring a packed house.
  8. montrocity


    Jan 17, 2003
    Pittsburgh PA
    That's about what I've come across. I was never in it for the $$ anyway but it sure helps justify going to bars all weekend to the wife. And free beer is a definite job perk. Considering how much fun I have I'd probably do it for free -just don't tell anybody I said that. ;)
  9. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    I live in NC (Charlotte) and usually the bars don't have a problem paying around $100 per band member including free sodas. Bands with more than 5 members never make that unless they are packing the place - like you are. I would ask for $100 per member. You can also negotiate for food, bar tab, or offer a special rate to play the whole weekend.
  10. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    My cover band plays mostly frat parties and usually get $500 - $700 per gig. Bars don't pay nearly as much. The most I've heard a bar paying is $200 for a band.
  11. 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
    The bars we're playing in are paying $200 to $300 with no BS (we play, you pay, period). Oh, you have BS? Like cut of the door, cut of the bar, whatever? Sorry, we can't play for you. Private gigs are $350 and up.
  12. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    we won't book for under $100 per man (5 piece band). I just joined (first gig is July 18th) so I'm going on their word... but we're booked 3 to 5 gigs a month for the next 4.

    btw: new country cover band that caters to the dancers.

    The first gig is a town fair... 1.5 hours @ $900 for the band :cool:
  13. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    It really comes down to how many people you draw, and how much they spend. If the place has no cover, they are depending on you to help sell drinks, food or whatever. In this case, say you bring a crowd of 50 people who only buy 10 beers and leave the bartender lousy tips. Even worse the band's crowd scares away the regular crowd that spends alot of money. That is the recipe for low pay and/or that being the last gig for your band there.
    In Washington DC/Northern Virginia my band averages anywhere from $300-$500 for a club. At a couple of nice ones, we make $700. We do Blues/Swing/Rock/R&B covers so work is pretty steady. Functions pay a little bit more than the standard all-niter.
    If you are an original band with not a big following, don't expect to get paid much anywhere. But, they are more likely to "make it" than a strictly cover band.
    In competitive markets draw determines pay through tickets sold, or cover charge or take of the bar, or whatever. I find that college towns kinda suck if you aren't a national or regional act. There's too many local bands and people willing to play for free or for free beer.
    Chicago was pretty good for pay. A decent cover band gets $250-$500 for the night. In the better clubs the pay could be substantially higher (up to $1000). In my experience, I find that the blue collar towns do well for Rock/Blues/R&B/Country bands becuase live music and drinking are the readily accesible forms of entertainment than say a place where there are lots of cultural alternatives (as well as competing bands) or natural beauty (people waking up at 7 AM to go mountain biking). Alternative and original bands do well in trendy, cosmopolitan areas where the crowds are into new stuff. And obviously the jazzers and classical guys, as well as the guys who play casuals get more work in wealthier areas. Don't knock casuals because they pay well, and some of the musicians you work with can be as talented as any national act. When you get to play for people who have an entertainment or philanthropy budget, or are willing to spend (aka wedding) you can expect at least $400 or more. Some bands make over $1000 for playing social functions like corporte parties or weddings.
    There's bunch of factors that determine pay, and some of them can be arbitrary. Everything I said is neither right or wrong, but a sharing of my experience. Enough of my BS Buddha of the trailer park sutras, play the bass! (make some cash too!)
  14. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    jive 1, good post!
  15. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound

    I used to live in beautiful Colorado and played around Denver and Boulder. I agree with you about the pay thing. $2-300 seems the norm around there for bars. There's also a bunch of places like the Cricket on the Hill where you really make piddly. I can't think of any bar or club in Boulder that pays well (or even pays). Colorado was the place I was thinking of when I was talking about people waking up at 7AM to go mountain biking. I've witnessed smoking bands (including my own:D ) who had a crowd going, only to have them dissipate when the clock struck 12. Better pay is to be gotten at the ski towns like Vail or Steamboat, but those gigs are competitive and a long drive.

    This is a great thread. I'd like to hear what people in other areas are getting paid. Anyone from New Orleans, Memphis or Philly care to chime in? How about from around the world? Is there a place where decent musicians are well compensated (or at least appreciated)?
  16. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    From my experience, it's not only how much you draw, or how well you can keep them there drinking. That's all part of how you get the gigs. The amount you get paid is based on how much the bar/club NEEDS you. What I mean is, you could draw thousands of people, but if that is the only club in the area, then the owners will pay you whatever they want because they know you can't play anywhere else. They will take advantage of you. However, if there are two clubs in the same town and you have the choice of which one you will play and you know you'll draw people away from the other one that you don't play at, and the owners know this too, then they will pay you more to play at their venue. I don't want to go into figures, but we get paid very good and alot of it has to do with this factor.
  17. DB5


    Jul 3, 2001
    Austin Texas
    Here in Austin the clubs don,t pay well at all. Been there done that. However the formal wedding & corp party's which is what I play is 2000 & up. We have a four piece group and business is great. don,t think I'll ever go back to playing clubs.:D
  18. Try getting a large audience! My cover-band don't play gigs very often.
    But we had two this week, and we got all the cover-charge. At the end we earned about 3000 dollars. Not bad for two evenings, and we only played a two-hour set.
    But we don't do this for a living, and we play very seldom so I guess that's why people wanna hear us when we does a gig at last.
    (The total amount of money was about 5000, but we had to pay sound, guards, lights and so on. )
  19. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    As much as I can get. Some gigs I have negotiated $550 plus food and booze. Another gig another band member negotiated $250. I ask them what do you pay your bands? They say well $350, then I say well our rate is $400, do you also provide drinks? Get them talking and giving prices. It's a business in a sense, you paid all that cash for all that gear, haul it all over the place may as well make some cash! Most of you know it is very difficult to get back you investment because your always upgrading gear, or something breaks, recording costs, practice time or space, instruction costs..etc etc. I have heard of some bands in my area getting $800-$1000 a gig.
  20. We get anywhere from 450 - 700 for a club gig, and thats pretty good since we are a 3 piece with all our own gear.

    My only advice would be - don't under value yourselves just to get a gig. It's hard to get an owner to agree to pay you more money, so ask for what you think you are worth. If you are offered $100 for the whole thing this week, you'll probably get offered $100 next week too.

    If it doesn't add up, don't do the gig.

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