My recent thoughts/ gigging adventures...

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Nowhereboy, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. Nowhereboy


    Mar 3, 2013
    What a weekend!

    We played a mini festival on friday which turned out to be HUGE! We ended up playing twice, first we played at about 5pm, to a pretty sober and quiet crowd, the event organiser kept pestering us to play again later on and we ended up going back on at 11pm, we were a bit apprehensive as we had been making the most of the free beer tokens we had been paid with but decided to go back on anyway. It was the best gig I've played so far, the tent was heaving everyone was dancing and the atmosphere was great.

    We ended up staying up most the night then heading back to the city to play a uni gig the day after, we were in the venue thinking "this is quiet" until we realized the doors had not yet opened, once it turned 9pm the doors opened and the place was heaving! We sounded great and we all knew it, I'm fairly new to gigging and everything started feeling right this gig, I was confident on stage and the band just clicked, it was perfect. We chilled backstage for the rest of the night watching a couple of other bands and getting up to our usual shenanigans before packing up to head home.

    The weekend is over and Im left with a few thoughts.

    Number 1... I really don't want to go back to my crappy office job tommorow, the thought of that is soul destroying.

    Number 2.... We spent more money on partying then what we made. I don't have a problem with this at the moment as I earn good money at my job. Currently the band is more of a social thing then a "job".

    Number 3... I really feel like being a musician is what I'm supposed to do with my life, the money from my day job does not make me happy, or anywhere near it. I'm seriously considering selling my fancy car and going part time to focus on the band.

    Number 4.... We have loads of gigs booked up for the next few months and things seem to be picking up nicely. Tho i'm quickly learning their is little money to be made in my city and the clubs/bars take home all the profits.

    Number 5.... That was probably the best weekend of my life, what a rush playing to a crowd that size was! How do you cope with doing that then going back to normality the day after? I find it really strange.
  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Settle down.
  3. Nowhereboy


    Mar 3, 2013
    Wow, what a buzzkill you are.
  4. Well, Mellowinman was a little direct, but he's about right. Without much more background, what I heard was "I had two great shows this weekend, I want to quit my day job that supports me and go into music full time".

    To make a good long term decision, you do need to consider all of the ramifications of your options. And doing that can be difficult while still on a "gig high".

    I would be curious to find out more about your situation. How long have you been playing music? Are you formally trained? What type of music are you playing? What are the realistic long-term prospects for your band? Do they want to quit their jobs and go full time? If not, would you start another band?
  5. Hi,

    My recommendation:

    Don't quit your day job. ;)

    Seriously. I know it's really, really fun and all but relying on music as an only source of income will leave you in one of two places, you'll be hungry and motivated enough to eventually "make it" or you will be broke, without insurance, and homeless. Of course there is a lot of space in between. Do you want a life of hustling gigs, dealing with clients, venues, and club owners, buying your own health insurance, not getting any paid vacation days, etc?

    I've always worked a day job and played in a band since 1969. I've been a paper boy, dish washer, did a hitch in the Air Force, been a truck driver, now working in IT network support, and always played in a band on the side. My job's benefits include plenty of vacation time so I can take days off when I have to do gigs. Plus my day job has a retirement plan, medical and dental insurance benefits, sick days, etc. I'd be a fool to give all that up.

    It's nice to have the extra "mad money" from my gigs but it's also nice to know that I don't have to rely on it. I know guys who are on tour buses for weeks at a time, sleeping on the bus or in motels if they're lucky. They'll be home one week, or less, then be on the road all over the country for four or five weeks or longer. They make a living, not a bad one. But that's not a life I want.

    I subbed one weekend with Hotel California, a So. Cal. based tribute band. I got on the bus in Ontario on Thursday afternoon and made a quick trip out to Phoenix to play one of the big casinos there. We played four one hour shows that weekend and I made $350. We loaded out and got right back on the bus Saturday night after the last show. After driving all night we were back at the yard in Ontario about 8:00 am on Sunday morning. I went home because I was so close. The rest of the band and their two sound guys slept on the bus right there in the yard before they went home, because they lived farther away.

    Sure, it was a fun weekend but I can't see myself doing that for 40 or 50 weeks a year. Maybe you would like that life, at least for a while. But what happens when you get off the road? Can you really expect to have a comfortable standard of living by playing the venues in your local area?

    I'm not saying "don't have dreams". Perhaps you are young enough and talented enough that you will make it. Maybe you have no family responsibilities or other commitments. If so, then this could be the perfect time to try and "make it". If after a few years it doesn't work out then you can go back to a day job and be a "weekend warrior" like a lot of us. For myself, I love being the "mild mannered computer guy" during the week and then go "rock star" on the weekends.

    Here's my band... The Kelly Rae Band. We've been pretty busy this summer but things will slow down a bit in the fall. See our schedule HERE. We make pretty good money for a cover band playing the park concerts, events, amusement parks, fairs, casinos, private parties, etc. But it could never replace my day job income and all its benefits. When you have a family, insurance is a good thing.

    I wish you well. Just consider all your options before you make any drastic decisions. Break a leg!

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  6. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    I don't want to dampen your dream, but to give it some context that might help. I'm lucky enough to play with some talented players, some of whom have ultimately kept their day jobs and others who have managed to work as full-time musicians for most of their lives at a level that's allowed them to have modest but comfortable middle class lives. I've also worked with full-time musicians who have struggled to keep up with bills.

    FWIW, here's what I've learned:

    1. For almost all of human history, music has mostly been played by people who did something else to put food on the table. There's no dishonor in that, as long as you've found work you can take some pride in. For many musicians, having a day gig allows them to be more selective about the kinds of musical jobs they'll accept. Of course, if your day gig is exhausting and soul-crushing, there might not be a lot left over for gigging. But becoming a full-time musician ought not be a career you pick ought of desperate discontent with our current job and a sense that you have no other options.

    2. Adjusted for inflation, the peak pay for rock musicians happened back in the 60s and 70s. For jazz musicians, the arc of the decline is even longer (one reason the big band era ended was the pay got too thin to go around). This pattern doesn't seem to be reversing itself anytime soon.

    3. If you were to drop your day gig and make a career in music, you'd probably find that your approach to music-as-a-career has to be broader and more practical than your approach to gigging-as-a-weekend-thrill. Odds are, you'd make at least part of your musical paycheck chasing some relatively lucrative wedding band work, solo or duet wallpaper music gigs, and teaching lessons. If you have the aptitude, you might also write for-hire commercial music. Writing and performing your own songs (what most people think of as a career in music) can bring in money, but statistically very few people can build and sustain an entire career performing their own songs.

    4. For most folks, the thrill of playing at a high level doesn't go away. However, as with any buzz, finding some magic for the thousandth time on stage won't hit you w/ the same force as the first few times. And when some gigs are on your calendar only to help you make the rent or mortgage, not all those gigs will (to put it kindly) make your heart sing.

    I'm not saying to give it up and stay in your cubicle. But I would suggest woodshedding to prepare yourself to win spots in the range of gigs you're likely to need to take to make a living as a musician. Network—play with as many people as you can, and be as prepared for and as good natured on those gigs as you can muster. Seek out sub work. When you play with a new musician, exchange contact info. Take lessons, learn to play various genres of music that lead to work in your area, learn to play some guitar and keyboard, work on your lead and harmony vocals, expand your repertoire and notice the common structures beneath many of the hundreds of songs you'll learn. Feed your vocabulary from your wider studies in music. All along, keep plugging at your original music and/or your "love projects" (playing the kinds of music you're most passionate about, even if they're not the most lucrative).

    Perhaps along the way, one of your bands will take off or you will develop the contacts and productivity to write music for a living. But perhaps not, in which case you keep pushing and keep all your irons in the fire until you have enough happening musically that quitting your day job is a sustainable option. At that point, you might find that you don't necessarily want to trade your day gig for the kind of hustle you'd need to put together a paycheck as a full-time musician. OTOH, you might find yourself celebrating the day that you put in your notice and start supporting yourself through music.

    In the meantime, hang onto that day job—unless you can ditch it in favor of another job that makes you feel more alive
  7. There are a lot of weekend warriors on this forum (and I'm one of them) so you're going to hear "don't quit your day job" a lot. If you're serious about making a living at music you need to understand what the life entails and the amount of practice it will take to develop the skills to get to the point where you're earning a living. Not only that, but the amount of work it will take to stay there.

    Don't let others crush your dreams, but know what you're getting into before you go for it.
  8. Dr Improbable

    Dr Improbable

    Apr 15, 2013
    Maybe you need a better day job. I love my job and wouldn't leave for any band.
  9. IGotGas

    IGotGas Cajun Rocker

    Sep 26, 2011
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Lots of solid advice here. I've got to head to the office, but will put my two cents in later. Glad to hear what a great weekend you had!!

    A quick analogy:

    Making it big in music is very similar to pro sports. I played American Foot Ball and know some statistics which keep me in my day job, even though when I'm a hired gun, I make more per gig than most full time musicians make in a month. So here's reality...

    The jump from Jr High to High School sports is 15 out of 200. So, out if every 200 kids playing Foot Ball in jr high school, only 15 make the transition to high school ball. More, "successful" transitions are 1 out of ever 3500. So, out of every 3500 jr high football players, only one will be a starter by the time they are Juniors in High School.

    The jump from HS to college is much tougher. If you look at ALL of the HS players in the USA, and all of the college roster spots (includes all divisions from the best DIV1 SEC teams to the DIV3 small schools in the North East), its 1 in 125,000+/- kids make it. Becoming a starter at the D-1 level, statistically, is VERY rare. The jump from College to Pros is even rarer!!

    Statistically, the jump from being in High School football (essentially where you are in your music career right now?) to being a paid pro ball player is the proverbial lightning strike. But someone's gotta do it and it might as well be you. HOW you get there is the key brother!!
  10. Nowhereboy


    Mar 3, 2013
    First off thanks for so many great replies, I don't have time to reply to all of them! On the whole you all seem to have a similar view anyway.

    Perhaps I should have made it a little more clear, I don't intend on quitting work altogether but instead going part time. If I got rid of my petrol hungry sports car I could comfortably afford to go part time. I'm 28 and live with my dad, that may be frowned upon but I'm happy here and it beats paying £500 a month for rent on a crappy apartment like I used to. Going part time would give me the extra time I need for the band and it would keep me from hating my existence so much!

    I'm quite unhappy in my life to be honest, I've tried all sorts of jobs and worked my way up in many trades and every time I end up hating what I'm doing. I go round and round in circles of being unemployed then finding employment and working my way up again then leaving. All along the underlying thought that Im kissing my dreams goodbye goes around my head until it makes me hate my job to the point of leaving. Maybe I'm lazy or depressed but I just can't see myself staying in some mind numbing office job until I retire.

    When I first landed my most recent job I decided to try and change my mindset, leave the music stuff behind me and push forward with my life. I earn good money at the minute and I thought the money would change my opinion and make me happy, I tried to be a "normal" person, I bought a nice car and loads of other material things but the feeling that something is missing is still there, I feel like Im lying to myself. It's made me realize that money is not the answer, the only thing in life that makes me happy is playing music. Yes I need enough money to live but I can earn that easily by going part time and with my spare time I can pursue my music and push the band forward.

    The rest of the guys in the band are in a similar position to myself anyway, the lead guitarist is my best mate and we share the exact same mindset. I really believe in this band, I have played in loads of bands and witnessed many bands play, I have never felt the magic like I do with this one. The frontman is an absolute genius when it comes to songwriting and has an unbelievable voice. I wanted to be in this band for over a year before I finally got the chance. I'd rather try and fail then spend my life regretting and thinking "what if".

    If all else fails I might pack up and go traveling, I'm not sure what I'm looking for in life but it sure isn't stability or money.

    Thanks for your time guys, I'll be sure to keep you updated. We are recording some live demos this weekend so I will post em up here, will be interesting to see what your opinions on the music are!
  11. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Given all the rest of your post, this is the key statement.
    If you have no dependents currently, you'll never get a better time to try than now, and you won't be any younger or likely be more energetic.
    Put as much money away as you can before taking the first big step, because it may not be as easy as you think to recover afterwards.

    The odds are extremely poor that you'll 'make it', but as IGotGas already posted "someone's gotta do it", and it definitely won't happen unless you try.
    You may not even get off the ground, but if you don't do it you will regret it the rest of your life, and that's no way to live.
  12. rehernden


    Jun 30, 2013
    Blairsville GA
    I think you are facing the same questions many people do and not just aspiring musicians. That is what to do with my life? Seems like you're young enough to give it a try. Would be a shame when at 60 or 70 years old you wonder what if?
  13. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    I have a hard time adjusting to my day job after I get back from a good tour. takes me a few days to get back into real life.
  14. Hmmmmm - see the conflict here. I'm glad you had a great time, I know the feeling, but don't do anything you'll regret, like quitting your day job.
  15. Nowhereboy


    Mar 3, 2013
    I guess to me "making it" would be being able to afford to live without doing a normal 9 to 5. I understand that without being in a cover band that is incredibly hard to do these days.

    I did TV production in Uni and I'm pretty talented when it comes to filming and editing, another idea of mine is to try and make a bit of cash on the side by filming gigs and music videos for bands. There doesn't seem to be anyone doing that in my area at the minute and that would sure beat a 9 to 5.

    I hate feeling like I'm wasting my creative talents away in crappy jobs, getting spoke to like dirt by managers on a daily basis. I have so little in common with these jobsworth conforming suit and tie guys that its hard not to hate everything about them.
  16. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    I know what you mean.
    The day to day grind is just that: soul grinding.

    Everyone's definition of 'making it' is different, and can change over time.
    Success is attaining what you want to get out of life, not what's determined by others, bear that in mind.
    If you're doing things you enjoy and satisfy you creatively and you are getting by, then you are a success, if that's what you want out of life.
    You don't have to be rich and famous to be happy, really most of the people who made it big are miserable much of the time.
  17. Hi,

    If working a part-time day job, playing some music, and doing live video recording of other bands, etc, makes enough money for you and makes you happy, then why not? Just be prepared for taxes, retirement, health insurance, etc. If you are a competent business person then it certainly can be done. You don't need a big record deal and platinum albums to "make it". Good on you. :)

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  18. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    You have to balance "I'll regret it if I don't try" against "I'll regret it if I do."

    If you stay the course, you will always love music and playing out. That love and the joy you get from it should not be taken lightly!

    If you try to make music your full-time career, you could possibly end up in a place where you totally hate it - because of all the other BS that goes with doing something for a living.

    A good friend of mine quit his 6 figure day job (painting cars - he's very good at it) 2 or 3 years ago to go full-time musician. He's a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and videographer. And he's very good on guitar and a very good (IMO) songwriter. And a pretty good singer. All in all, I'd say easily talented enough and creative enough to make a living at it.

    But, now, he spends so much of time scrounging for gigs, trying to get his website updated, trying to put together demos, applying for festival gigs, trying to book tour gigs, working sound for other people's gigs (just for the income) and playing crappy gigs (just for the income) that he actually plays a LOT LESS than what he used to before he quit his day job. I think, overall, he's LESS happy than he used to be where he didn't have to worry about how he was going to pay the mortgage and could just play as much as he wanted and take only the gigs he actually wanted to play.

    I don't think he actually regrets his decision. Yet. But, as an outside observer, I think he's not far from the point of regretting it. If he goes back to working a day job, I don't think he'll quit playing music. But, I think he'll always have a little bit of a bitter taste in his mouth about it. I don't think he enjoys the gigging as much now as he used to, and I am skeptical that that joy will ever come back.

    Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. I would just hate to see anybody who loves music as much as you (seemingly) and I do ever lose that joy. So, I'm not saying to not do it. I'm just saying to think carefully and be aware of both sides of the "regret coin" before you decide.

    Personally, I would keep my full-time job until such time as my music was actually being held back by not having that extra time to put into it every week. And if you're still at the point of partying so hard after a gig that you spend more than you make, well... if it was me, I'd cut that out of my week before I cut out a full-time job.

    Times are not like they used to be in the 60s and 70s (and maybe even 80s). Making your living at something is the definition of being a professional. These days, being a professional musician is more competitive than it ever has been. And if you want to be successful as a professional, you're going to need to give up the time spent partying and recovering from partying so you can spend that time furthering your career. At least, until such time as you have achieved the level of success that you want. Then you can ease back some and coast to some degree, if you want.

    Just my tuppence.
  19. Mike11121


    Sep 17, 2007
    +1000 This

    For most that I know, the thrill of playing what you want coz you want to is quite different to the feeling it being your job. There is a tangible moment (or for me anyways) when I was no longer playing purely for fun, but to pay the rent - and compromises needed to be (and were) made to suit. You'll play stuff you don't like sometimes, and might do jingles and teaching as D says to fill in the gaps. And when you don't feel like playing, you'll still play.

    If you know this (I mean really know this) and can deal with it, go ahead and roll the dice. Yes, it's statistically rare that people make it in music, and yet it does happen every day. The only way to be certain is not try.
  20. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Well, I'll jump off the bandwagon. If you really feel in your gut that you were born to do this here are a couple of observations.

    1) Do it NOW. You are 28. That's like 75 in famous musician years. What I mean is, it's pretty rare that somebody makes it in the music business after 30. (Please don't bombard me with all the examples of how "wrong" I am. I never said it doesn't happen, only that it's pretty rare).

    2) You need to have a VERY serious conversation with your band. You guys need to sit down and make sure EVERYONE is on the same page. If so, you need to start drawing up some sort of contracts that protect you all.

    3) If all of you ARE on the same page, and want to go for it, there is a LOT to be done! You better get started!

    I agree with you. Go for it now before it is too late. I did and it didn't really pay off in fame or fortune. But I wouldn't trade those 2 1/2 decades for anything. Now, at 42 I am married to an amazing woman and have two young children. So I got the best of both worlds! I played music for a living for quite a while. Now I am in school trying to fit in a career other than traveling so much. And I have a great family life. I wouldn't trade either side for anything.

    So do both! Good luck!