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Paying the sound guy up front...?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by panama, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. panama


    May 26, 2009
    So, I am about to start playing gigs in a new city and as far I can tell it is very common for the bands playing to pay the sound guy up front.

    In my other experiences the sound guy was paid by the bar. We bring people to the show, they buy lots of alcohol, everyone gets paid everyone is happy.

    I have nothing but love for sound guys and if this is how they have to get paid then so be it..they work just as hard as anyone else..it just seems unorthodox to me.
  2. wildhorse


    Mar 15, 2009
    I've only used sound guys in large venues and they have all been paid for by the venue.
    In a club or bar I set the sound myself. Not too fond of many of them myself unless they are pro's in a large pro venue. Otherwise many of them couldn't hear feedback if it was staring them in the face. And that's feedback from the speakers or from what the band expects. Not knocking anybody. If you're good you're good.
  3. panama


    May 26, 2009
    I mean, it's $100 between 3 bands...$33 per band, which makes my portion $7. Not exactly breaking the bank.

    But after this show we'll have a small chunk of "band fund" to use for this kind of thing.
  4. wildhorse


    Mar 15, 2009
    Well Panama, if the gigs going to be fun and a good learning experience what the heck, go for it. Sounds like some of the clubs here in California where you pay to play. I've never paid to play and never will. Other than paying for my own equipment.
    I think in some of the situations like yours the sound guy gives preference to his favorite bands at times as well, which can really suck. In clubs like that you should have your own sound guy, then maybe pay to use the P.A.
  5. Don't assume anything. When you book the show, ask the venue who is responsible for paying the soundguy. It's a simple question with a simple answer. It's possible that some venues have really crappy sound guys, but bands still want to play there. If they want to use their own soundguy, then they pay for him.

    If the soundguy tells you he needs to get paid, he might be double-dipping.

    Lastly, if the soundguy does a decent job and is nice to you and willing to work for you to make you sound the best you can, then it's customary to tip him.
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    By pay "upfront", you mean before the gig? Nah, I wouldn't do that. Doesn't make sense to me. Then you're fronting money until you get paid. Why would the sound guy get paid upfront? He hasn't delivered his services yet.
  7. Paying the sound guy up front...?

    NO DICE ! If he works for YOU, pay him when you get paid.
    If he works for the venue, he gets paid when the venue pays him.
    Now, if he works for the venue, and does an exceptional job of making you sound, and look good, then I see no problem in " compensating" him in the form of a tip. Not unlike you would tip the waitress that "hooked you up" during the gig.
  8. Ug. I HATE doing sound myself. Our band has a large PA system which can be adapted to almost any sized venue, but we try our best never to use it.

    It comes down to this - it's incredibly difficult to get a good idea of your own sound when you're mostly on stage, and you have your own biases as to what you might think sounds good. This is ESPECIALLY true for guitarists - they pretty much always think the guitar needs to be at least twice as loud as it should be. My advice is to ever let a guitarist mix anything - they almost never get it right, and if they're mixing drinks, well, they can make 'em subversively potent!

    As much as I think I have a good ear and can make a balanced sound for the band, I know I have my own biases, too. I'd much prefer to defer the task to someone else with a 3rd party perspective.

    A good sound guy is tough to find, and a valuable thing. Finding one that also understands the concepts of notching out competing frequencies and EQ-ing for instrument separation is even tougher.

    As to the OP's question - every venue has different arrangements. We've played clubs where we've made the deal and promised a sound guy $XXX amount up front. It's not uncommon. Like Stumbo said, don't pay him before the gig, but paying them 1/2 before they unload and 1/2 after the gig is reasonable. When we run sound for other people, that's our standard - we've been burned too many times before.

    Also, if the sound guy works for the club or venue, it is not up to you and your band to pay for him. It's the club or venue's responsibility. He is their employee, and should be considered part of the package when you play the gig. They may offer you less of the take from the bar or the door (80% of the door cover, or only 15% of the bar take instead of a standard 20%), and you must factor this in before accepting the gig.