How do you handle the dreaded/beloved benefit show?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by kickysam49, Jan 31, 2023.

  1. My/our rate is the same as ever.

    13 vote(s)
  2. My/our rate is discounted.

    7 vote(s)
  3. My/our rate is break-even.

    5 vote(s)
  4. My/our rate is flexible depending on the benefit and expectations.

    126 vote(s)
  5. I don't do benefits.

    12 vote(s)
  6. I accept payment only in carrots.

    20 vote(s)
  1. kickysam49

    kickysam49 World Heavyweight Champion Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2022
    I know some people are deeply involved in the planning of their band's financials, others simply show up for a rate, others somewhere in between.

    It seems to me like there is something of an assumption that musicians are heavily willing to provide massive discounts/free labor for benefit shows, but I know darn well the local catering companies aren't giving it away, although certainly raffle gifts and such are donated.

    Anyway, tell me how you deal with these types of things!
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  2. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Depends on your schedule, depends on the "charity". If it's something where I would donate anyway, I'll say discount or freebie. If not, I'll turn down the offer.

    It also depends on the band schedule. There are only so many gigs I want to play, paid or not.
  3. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Agreed! I'll do charity events like "Toys 4 Tots" at a known good venue (...we get regular gigs)...heck, I even stick around and do sound for a couple addt'l acts. In this case, a freebie. If approached by an unknown that does a regular band rotation, I'll say "sure...but get out your book so we know when we'll be returning". It can go either way: future gigs or they shut-up / shut-down and we're rid of 'em. Sure, I'm an opportunist but I won't be exploited.

  4. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Depends on the schedule & charity. My band is happy to do 3 to 4 benefits per year free of charge.
  5. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    I think it's perfectly acceptable to ash for your market rate. That said, if you are on board for the cause, you and or your band mates that care to could donate their time and money earned. It's something I would present to the band at large as well as the organizer so they can plan their event, and your band mates can either donate or get their regular comp.
    kickysam49, DJ Bebop and Rip Van Dan like this.
  6. Michael Stanley 2112

    Michael Stanley 2112 Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2020
    I haven't dealt with this issue in many years, but it used to be (U.S.) tax law that you could deduct your normal fee from your taxes, if you didn't take a fee from a benefit.

    Other than the causes we wanted to support, if we need to "knock the tax bill on the head", we'd add a few benefits/discount gigs to the schedule.
    kickysam49 likes this.
  7. For a number of years, in the 80s and 90s, we did fund raisers for our local Bakersfield Country music association. Raising money to build a local museum to honor the local country music illuminati. We also played benefit shows for Rose Maddox and Billy Mize when medical expenses overwhelmed them.
    We played them all for the Karma.
    No regrets ;)
  8. Played a 'Celebration of Life' last weekend for a nurse who passed away. Declined the $100 offered. Gladly ate the sandwiches and veggies after and hung around a bit.
  9. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Depends. If it’s a healthcare benefit for someone I like or a charity I care about I’m down to help. If it’s something ridiculous and they’re just trying to get free music I’m probably out but I might go see someone else play.
  10. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer

    Jun 3, 2009
    Los Osos, CA
    For some reason my bands rarely get asked to do benefits for free/discount. In fact, most benefit events around here seem offer top pay or even higher. Of course, maybe my band leaders/bookers aren’t telling me about the other “offers” that come through. Usually we expect good pay and meals/drinks for benefit events. Although, one band leader is paying us out of his own pocket to play for his daughters PTA fundraiser next month. And I’m totally fine with that. I’ve got my own kids at home I need to earn money for if I’m not going to be spending time with.
  11. IF it was for a genuine cause I believed was legit, I gladly played no charge. The several I did tended to be jams with players from many bands clocking on and off stage through the show.

    I just didn't feel like getting paid out of the money they raised for someone who needed it way worse than me.
    timmus, kickysam49, Durham52 and 3 others like this.
  12. Spectre Gunner

    Spectre Gunner Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2016
    Tampa, Florida
    I don't gig but this is the policy I learned from my little photography business. If the organizer is making money from the event or other vendors are getting paid then I don't work for free. It's as simple as that.
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Okay, I’ll ask…

    What are some of the more questionable charity events that you’ve either played or turned down?

    kickysam49 likes this.
  14. Jeff Hughes

    Jeff Hughes

    May 3, 2020
    I have played quite a few charity shows. One in particular was a walk for warmth where people donated money to people who agreed to walk a certain distance. This was run by mostly volunteers from a credit union and the only paid people were the organizers from the organization since these events were just part of the job.

    But this event was super easy for load in, parking, time, and playlist requirements.

    I say it do it for free unless it occurs at a time when you would be performing a paid gig, or there are lots of expenditures you would incur. Maybe ask they cover the fuel price and ask for some free food and swag.
    kickysam49 likes this.
  15. Kevorargh

    Kevorargh Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2013
    West Bethel, Maine
    I've played benefits and organized benefits where I asked for free performances. One organization was tied to raising funds for cancer, the first benefit I organized was raising money for two students with cancer, and the second benefit (which I regretted doing) was to raise money for I don't know what - that one was pushed on me by a parent who had a son with a band, and I should have said no.
  16. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    If it's a charity I think is important and would support, I'll gladly play for free. Otherwise, it's just a gig and they can pay or find someone else.

    One thing that doesn't help is that many charity organizers don't know what they're getting into with a band and what we need to put on a good show.
    BlueTalon, timmo97 and FatherTrucker like this.
  17. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    We have done some that paid well. We have done some for no pay. We have done plenty in-between. It depends on the circumstances.
    bigjames likes this.
  18. My little musical community is benefit happy and I probably get asked to do five or six multi-band benefits a year. I typically don't mind donating my time for free, but I've come to accept that they are a logistical PITA. This is usually because most of the hosts/"promoters" setting these up book too many bands to the bill and have little awareness of logistical issues like stage changeover times, backline, PA, band parking/unloading, etc.
  19. alex1fly


    Feb 5, 2008
    It doesn't hurt to ask about these details. If the catering company is giving a discount, the band can give the same discount. But if the catering company is giving no discount and the band is being asked to play for free, that gives you a negotiation point.
    Flamingo21 likes this.
  20. Zak TMD

    Zak TMD

    Apr 22, 2016
    Outside of the heart of darkness, Washington, DC
    Breaking even is the new making money.
    Depending on the benefit, we'll typically do it for free - our time/performance is what we're donating.

    Edit: We've at times received payments for benefit shows without being aware we would get it, and turned around and gave that money back to the promoter to donate to the cause.