Losing gigs to DJs

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Forgetful Jones, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Hi all, long time lurker, first time poster :)

    I couldn't see any repetitions of this topic elsewhere in the forum, but my apologies if I've missed something and this is a re-hashed topic.

    One of the better venues to play here in Hobart is in the process of converting from a live-band venue to a DJ venue. This is a big room, decent(ish) sized stage, reasonably good PA... and it's all being torn out and renovated so some glorified human jukebox can come in and play CDs all night.

    Is anyone else noticing a trend toward this? My current band are only just out of the gate, but we're good, and I'm confident we'll get other gigs, but it just means the competition got just that bit hotter. There's now one less venue, and still just as many bands, all of whom are now scrabbling to replace the gigs they would have had at this place.

    I just don't get it.... Actually yes, I do. It's cheaper to pay one person to play CDs than to pay 5 people to play instruments. I can't help but think they'll lose anything they're saving simply in bar-takings though. Are people really going to come out to this place to listen to CDs?

    Ahhhh that's good to get off my chest :D ;)

    Anyway, pleased to meet you all :)
  2. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    The trend is rampant in Kansas City as well. Multiple bars have stopped having live music altogether in the last year in favor of a DJ. It's not so much the pay, because it's not like bands get paid a whole lot anyway (around here it's generally the door plus a small additional chunk of change) but DJs bring a lot of people out and aren't deafeningly loud. They usually spin something danceable. People can mack a whole lot more easily when it's a DJ than a band, I guess, and naturally there's no sex god bass player to compete with. :)

    It's too bad. The same thing happened to jazz last century though. I guess it's just the eternal cycle of changes.

    Oh, and welcome!
  3. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Yeah, it's a trend, but I'm not sure if it's a new one or not. Remember the "we'll all be replaced by synths soon" fear of the late '80s and early '90s? And I'm pretty sure guys with large systems and turntables turned a few gigs in the '70s.

    My singer and I sell our services as DJs, using our band's PA, and we've made more money out of it than by playing our instruments. Pathetic, I know, but it's also opened up the door for our band to play in more than one place, and allowed us to occasionally run sound at a festival or other medium-sized venue/event. Just a thought, possibly a suggestion :)
  4. Yeah DJ's and Karaoke....
    Most classic rock bands just aren't cutting it anymore.
    I play in a 50's Doo wop band and we're pretty busy(3-6 gigs/month)

    We get them up dancing.
    That's what they want.. :hyper:
  5. I think those guys with an acoustic guitar and a laptop are a far greater threat.

  6. Yeah, that sort of thing apparently cuts it as "live music" around here. As in "come to our live music night".


  7. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    I hate to date myself but around here (Kitchener, Canada) in the early 80's bands could charge way more than DJs. Now a good band commands $400 / gig and a good DJ gets $600/gig.

    The number of venues that support live music is dwindling rapidly. Sadly karoke and "the guy with the accoustic and a laptop" is eating into the live bands' territory.
  8. I worked for many years as a Dj, simply because I got paid the same amount as my 5 piece band had to share. its great fun, etc, but I must say that it is not so prevalent these days to dump live music, in fact the opposite.

    Many of the clubs in my town are returning to live bands because they can see that the whole dance music/dj/rave thing is getting very stale.

    There is a very healthy uplift in live music at the moment, as anyone from Western Australia would attest to. I believe that the cycle turns as with everything, and I too am more concerned with MP3 bass lines than DJ's
  9. rfalter


    Jul 20, 2004
    Pasadena, MD
    Nothing like having to compete with a DJ directly. The last gig we played had a DJ spinning dance music during our breaks. The floor was full of younguns dry-humpin' to Booty Call at deafening levels. We thought we played one of our best shows to date and got nothing but crickets chirping after most of the songs. Luckily, it was also one of our highest paying gigs. The night wasn't that bad ( once my hearing came back ).
  10. I even heard those getting reffered to as "bands". :rollno:
  11. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Everything cycles. Where I'm at, bands are making a big comeback as clubs try to get more drinkers to hang out. When the bands aren't pulling in crowds, the bars will save the money and go to DJ's and get the same number of people to come out and drink.

    Luckily, people have been flocking to see live bands around here lately. Personally, I think its a result of the quality of bands. When the bands all suck, nobody wants to take a chance and "go see a band tonight". When the bands are generally good, its a fair risk for bar-goers to take.
  12. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    You know it is strange about loosing gigs to DJ's and Karaoke people. Years ago (early 1980's) bands played for about $75 per person and there were lots of places to play. The Drinking age was 18 here in WI so the bars were full of alot of people who loved live stuff and they spent their money. By the time the drinking age was 21 (about 1986) and the 18-20 years olds were no longer in the scene, we lost a ton of gigs from that as well. Also, the pay went down due to the lack of people to about $50 per person. Today, clubs and bars still pay us only $50 per person (average) and the single DJ or Karaoke guy gets paid $150 and plays all of the **** people want to get drunk to.
    We still continue on :bassist:
  13. It's heartening to see people talking about similar trends reversing in other towns. Particularly southpaw1, being from Adelaide. I'm in Hobart, and we tend to lag behind the national trend a little, so perhaps all is not lost!

    The acoustic guitar/laptop issue is indeed another problem, and as has been pointed out, it's masquerading as "live music", and I guess does qualify by the most tenuous of criteria. The sad thing is I've been in a position where I've considered joining their ranks, because it's a gig. However, if I'm going to play a solo acoustic gig (which I've done) I'd much rather make it exactly that - solo, and acoustic. I know from a spectator point of view, I'd much rather watch a guy with a decent voice play some songs on his acoustic guitar than listen to someone play along to some MIDI files.

    I've had gigs like this... but this most recent one, at the venue that's moving away from bands, was the exact opposite. The DJ got a lukewarm response at best, and we were very warmly received. Perhaps it was a one-off thing (we don't usually share stage time with DJs) but it certainly leaves me puzzled as to the logic behind their decision.

    That's a really good point actually. It's easy to get caught up with generalities, and "bands are better than DJs" type arguments, but you're right - if there's a choice between a DJ and a truly bad live group, I'd probably pick the DJ if I was just after a pleasant noise to accompany my drinking/socialising. At the end of the day I suppose that's what's important to the non-musician pub-goer.

    My hope is that our extensive rehearsals and carefully planned setlists weren't in vain, and we can ride out the "gig recession" by simply being better than the competition ;) :D
  14. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    There's sort of a similar thing going on in the town where I go to school. I'm not sure what the pay is around here (I've heard about $50) but I know that a lot of places have been doing DJs and such quite a bit. Not much of the acoustic+laptop thing going, though that could just be because all the acoustic types don't know how to turn on a computer.

    Ah well, the Bay Area's still running strong from what I hear, so this summer should be good for my band. Anyone know what the average pay is for a punk/rock band in the Bay Area these days?
  15. Tell me about it, john...we play way less than we used to even 2 years ago, and finding gigs is like pulling teeth.

    Almost as bad as when disco hit in the 70's... :p :help:
  16. Wesley R

    Wesley R Supporting Member

    I have done both DJ and live music (way, way more live) and weddings and many bar owners love DJ's as it is easier to turn dow one person thatfight a band of egotistacal band mebers.
    At a higher more pro level bands that control the volume (even heavey metal and whatever the modern kid stuff((not meant to be derogatory)) can command a higher price.
    Budget DJ Wedding about $200, budget wedding band about $400-500.
    Better DJ Wedding gig $500-800, better more pro band Wedding gig $2,000-$3000
    Budget DJ Bar $100-$200, budget bar band $150-$250 (and a few orchastrated boxing rings are that for a weekend!)
    Better DJ Bar gig $300-$500, better band $1,500-$2,000

    Of course many exception exists, like the local cowboy bar where the dad bought his kid (a drummer) a bar to own and play in. That way the dad didn't have to listen to the kid.
    Another pit that I like to test new bands out in, pays about the level of whale poop and thats on the notttem of the ocean. Some new bands still play a weekend there for $150, whole band twoo nights.

    Our bands rule, If we wouldn't do it for free we ain't doing it, and we need to be paid for out time so a wedding gig has to be reasonably close, the families need to pass the interview and (so do we), and max of one gig per month, bare but minimum $2,500

    Best of Luck,
    Wesley R.
  17. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Gas money home, if that. There's a million guys with out-of-tune guitars and bad vocals that try to replicate The White Stripes and Green Day's success, and fail miserably at the vibe and energy part. Er, IMO. The Bay Area has plenty of acoustic guys with laptops in Alameda. My acoustic band competes well against them, though :)
  18. those of you that DJ, how much of "DJ skills" (crossfading, beatmatching, or even scratching, transforms, effects, live looping etc...) do you use, or do you often get away with just playing records/CDs back to back?
  19. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I think the success of a live music scene depends directly on the vitality of the music culture that supports it. In New Orleans, where people identify with a vast and rich tradition of live music, and where musicians constantly develop new and interesting music within the context of that tradition, the live music scene is thriving compared to many places.

    The downside is that the pay can be low (because of the saturation of good musicians), but if you get you're name out there you can get enough gigs to make a decent living. Anyway I don't think anyone in New Orleans would imagine that a DJ could "compete" with live music. They're two very different things.
  20. mrniceguy715


    May 2, 2006
    I'm a dj as well. not the cd type either the two turntables and a crap load of vinyl. In my seen live bands and dj's dont really compete. I spin breaks, hip hop r&b and what ever they wanna hear( avoid techno if I can). and as far as band wise we have several funk bands and old school cover that play diffenet venues and pack them out. the cd guy is my biggest threat from two angles lol. and Serato is my new best friend (time coded records used to play mp3s from a lap top, saves my back)