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How much does playing in a bar pay in your area?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by 98dvl, Dec 5, 2006.

  1. 98dvl


    Jan 31, 2002
    Don't know if this belongs here...

    But, my friends and I are thinking of getting a band started. We'd like to just play in some local bars. Something on the weekends, maybe a couple times a month.

    None of us has any idea of what to expect. How do most places handle this kind of thing? Most the bars around here don't take cover charges at the door. So, I assume they either a) pay the band a fixed fee or b) pay them some percentage of the bar tab at the end of the night.

    I'd like to know, but don't want to look like an idiot asking the bar managers. So, I thought I'd ask here.

    If you're in a band, and play at a local bar how do you get paid? How much does your band usually make in a night (be sure to say how many hours you play)?

    I realize every part of the country is different, and probably each bar is different too... I'm really more curious than anything. We still have a long way to go before we would even consider something (I'm bass-less right now for one!).

    Any tips/tricks on getting into the scene once we've got a band established and a few songs under our belts?
  2. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    if it is your intention to play the cover music that sells in your area, a hundred a man.

    if it is your intention to play original music, expect to work for free or pay to play
  3. Covers - ~£150-£200 (for the whole band, not matter how big)

    Well, thats what it is at the bar i work at, and i have to say its a pretty dire amount really, especially seeing how some of the bands are fairly big (size-wise).

    Originals - Pay to play, or gig for free. If your lucky you'll get money if someone in the band is the promoter or you might get fuel costs covered.
  4. Bayou_Brawler

    Bayou_Brawler The most hurtful thing ever realized

    Oct 23, 2003
    Ann Arbor, MI
    yup. i would just add that if you are playing original music you will generally take it bending over until you make a name for yourself...then you can make money...
  5. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    5 piece. We play 3 sets, about 3 hours, and I'm lucky/happy if I put $50 in my pocket. It is the worst "music scene" in the world.
  6. We play cheap bars around central New Jersey.

    Band competition is un-real around here. I'm told by bar owners that they get 5 to 6 CDs from bands a week.

    The entry level places we play pay $250 to $300 for the whole band.

    That's why we live by the old adage; You play for free, you get paid for moving the equipment.

    I'm told that top notch bands playing the "A" rooms at the beach get between $1500 and $3000!
  7. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV
    I'm in an original band.

    For flat fee, I'd say arond $100 per hour of music. Around here several places will pay orginal local actus $300 for a night. Some bands will play the full night, some half and half with another band, but it's most common to see three bands playing hour-long sets.
  8. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    It was 100.00 an hour here.So average gig was $300-350 not so great. Privite parties $100.00-150.00 per band member and up depends on what it was. Parties always paid good with food and drink...but then again i always get a bar tab and food at bar gigs too.
  9. The Jersey Shore is a very competitive area. Can't just be good musicians, you have to be entertaining and have a following. You don't easily get into the tier 1 clubs on your own, club owners depend on agencies and agencies will blacklist clubs who hire independents.

    About $300/night. We often played for 'the door' to get into a new club.
  10. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    I've heard that PB. I was seriously thinking about trying to get into the coverband circuit here in NJ for some extra bucks and just to get out and play a bit, but damn is it competitive, or so it seems.
    Any advice for a NJ-bassist-searching-for-a-decent-coverband :)?

    I'm in an original band we've played places where we've surely made nothing, then again we've also made some real real nice money too so it balances out in the end. You just have to go through some cr*p to get there though.
    But, if you want $ now, go covers, it's a hell of a lot more dependable.
  11. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    On a good night, at a decent venue out here, all original bands (3 on a bill) can make about $70-100 each. At a venue that doesnt have much of a natural draw, or an off night, you might make $40.
  12. Barisaxman

    Barisaxman Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    Well here in the heartland we're kind of running the gamut. I play in a country/classic rock cover band that's just getting going. We've played for as little as $250 for a 9 to 1 show at a smallish bar. But right now we're looking at about $450 a night for bar shows...we'll make a deal on a two night (Friday-Saturday) show. The bigger clubs and casino's are a different beast. The A list bands get 1200-2000 a night for the "circuit" of dance halls. We've actually had good luck talking to bars who stopped having bands because of the high dollar bands. We play for a little less and make it affordable and they are glad to have us. Our upcoming gigs

    Bar Gig 12/16 $450
    Steakhouse New Years (2 nights) $1400
    Bar Gig 1/12 &13 $750
    Bar Gig 2/3 $450
    Steakhouse 2/10 & 11 $1200
  13. Ramble On

    Ramble On

    Oct 21, 2006
    I play in a rock cover band. We play 4 sets of 10 songs. Maybe 3 1/2 to 4 hours total playing time. We make anywhere from 300 to 800 depending on the club.
  14. CoDBassPlayer


    Oct 30, 2006
    Bariasaxman! You live in Omaha too? Sweet.

    Well I'e heard of a local band I know rented out the local Underground music scene, I asked the bassist what he made, said over 1000 a person, even after they dished out 100 per person for the bunch of other bands minus the cost of the hall and drinks for the whole band. They're a pretty big local band with a few CDs out, in fact they've toured other places and the bassist is in another project that went to New York for a Tommy Hilfiger deal thing, don't think he got it though.
  15. 98dvl


    Jan 31, 2002
    Thanks for all the answers...

    Seems like a fair amount of cash to be made, IMO.

    I was thinking it'd be somewhere in the lines of $300-$500 a night for a 3-4 piece band. I'll have to look into it in our area once we get started.

    Looks like doing covers is where it's at, but it'd be fun to write your own music and play. I never would have thought that if you just did all original stuff, that you'd have to Pay to Play... but it's the familiar stuff that draws people in, so it makes sense.
  16. Relic, stick with the originals, we've got enough competion in the cover band market! Right PauperBoy?;)

    A friends cover band just signed with an agent, Her fees are; up to $500 she takes nothing, $500 to $1000 she takes 10%, over a $1000 she gets 20%. She's got them playing all over the place and I really don't think that they play that marketable of music.

    Almost ever song they play is a song that the Grateful Dead covered. So they sound like a Dead cover band playing covers! (Man I hope this isn't your band Pauperboy!)

    None the less we've got a gig this Saturday night and I can't wait!
  17. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    It's funny, I placed an ad to just put some feelers out to see what's available, I was assaulted by responses almost instantly. Some were downright pushy. You aint kidding about competition Flashback, sheesh! Where are you playing?
  18. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    I'm playing the bars north of Austin. North Shore area of Lake Travis, plus Cedar Park, Round Rock, Georgetown.

    The lowest offer we've had, aside from "free", is $50. We turned that down, because of the venue. They'd booked us before at $150, then cancelled us the day of the show, because one of the owner's favorite bands was playing in a nearby venue, and he felt the competition was "too tough for a female-fronted band to handle". Then he turned around and offered us $50 later on, and we politely declined.

    Same place offered my hubby's band $50, too. I guess they think they'll get just anyone for $50, and then cherry-pick the ones they like and pay them more. Well...we've all been playing out here for years, and they have our demo's. I think $50 is a hard slap in the face.

    We play our favorite venue for $75, but that's for love. Its a great bar, but small. And they tip us well, because that crowd is our main fan base.

    The rest of the places pay anywhere from $150-$200, unless you pull in *really* good crowd, and then you can get them to pay a little bit more.

    Edited to say that we play both originals and covers, and our demo contains both.

  19. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    OMG, you are *all* making more than we are! :eek:

    Austin-area bars just don't pay very well. :rollno:

    Cherie :bassist:
  20. Spoiled Grape

    Spoiled Grape I <3 Darkstar

    May 29, 2003
    Riverside, CA
    If it's a local bar, we can expect $300-400 in our pockets, or we don't play. If it's an out of county bar, we hope for $100-$200.

    If it's a local club/all ages venue, we expect much more. Out of county, we expect the same $100-200.

    As far as starting new, bar tab/door is good to start out with. Once you start drawing, ask for minimums. They always make the night funner.

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