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Question for those who freelance

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by LiquidMidnight, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I'm currently in a popular Rock band that is full of talented players and is beginning to have success. Unfortunatley, the work schedules of our singer and guitarist prevent us from doing a lot of Friday bookings. Being a full-time college student, I like the money that comes with playing, so I put out an ad to do some freelance stuff during the week. I was contacted by a Blues outfit and I'll be doing a reheasal this evening.

    I haven't talked dollars and cents yet, but I'm wondering how to go about it. Obviously, my main gig is the traditional situation. We make X amount of dollars. We pay our production people. Then we split the money. Like all bands, we've been in situations where the pay sucked, and we all equally took up the posterior as a band. *LOL* I want to look out for my best interest in the freelance situation, so I'm asking if a flat rate is the best course of action. It wouldn't be so much that I work for X amount of dollars, but rather if I get called for a gig, I take the distance and other factors into consideration and say that I'll only play for X amount of dollars. Obviously, another reason for the guaranteed amount is I may be dealing with people I don't trust. If I agree to get paid an equal share, I don't know if they're pocketing money on the way from the register to the stage to hand me my money. A stipulated amount would take care of that headache.

    Any advice is welcome. I'm really excited about wearing the hired-gun hat.
  2. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    As the old saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it."

    This is the best advice I can offer:
    You are a mercenary and as such, it's all about one thing THE MONEY.

    Be nice, BE HONEST. You're there for one reason. You already have "a band". You need X amount because you may have to learn a whole pile of songs fast and that is a huge investment of time for what may be a one off show.

    I've been in that situation and the song learning turns into "get together just once before the show" which actually takes away from the song learning. Then they want to get together again.

    If it's a private function where there isn't a hard deadline to stop, they'll probably want to play all friggan night because they are all hyped up about the deal...it can be difficult in the heat of combat to pack up.

    Get a song list.
    Get a commitment criteria
    Get a play time schedule and a load in, load out schedule.

    Be very clear that you will provide competant bass parts for X songs at X times for X amount of money.

    And then make dang sure you provide it.
  3. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Thanks for the excellent advice. That's pretty much how I've been viewing the situation. I've been given a sample set list, but there really wasn't much use in "learning" the songs, since majority of the material is 12 bar stuff. Some of the other stuff is your typical R&B Mustang Sally stuff, and every band grooves that type of stuff a little differently.
  4. I've got a question which is slightly different, but similar...

    I put an ad up on the internet saying I was available for anything. A guy has since been in touch and he's recording an album and wants someone to do bass on a couple of tracks...

    What should I do? - ask for money or do a freebie just to get my name out there? - I'm undecided...I've never done any recording before aside from band demos, and I'd be happy even if I just got my name on the album credits for no money, BUT there again its a business I'm looking to be going into, and I can't live off doing freebies for people...

    ...also, how much SHOULD I charge if I were to? - I'm fairly competent on the bass - and I would like to get a few quid (if the guy will pay...I don't want to overcharge for my services, but I don't want to be forking out for train fares and stuff either) I'm not at the "living off recording and performing" stage yet, but hopefully will be soon...:help:
  5. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Make sure you also stipulate how many rehearsals you will do for that lump sum, or to best protect yourself, divide the gig into rehearsals and performance.

    For example: Say you want $250 for the gig. They want to do 2 rehearsals. Set up a contact stating that you will be paid $50 per rehearsal and $150 for the performance. If you want, you can divide that out even further into an hourly rate, but that might offend some people, or they might cut rehearsals and things short to pay you less.

    This way, if you do the rehearsals and the show ends up getting cancelled at the last minute, you as the mercenary don't have to lose all that invested time for nothing - you'd still get $100 (or whatever you negotiated).


    As far as the recording gig goes, decide first whether you're willing to do the gig regardless of pay. Ask him then if there's a budget for session players. That should cue him to offer some info on the pay situation. IMHO, recording work won't get your name out there as much as you think it will unless you're working with bigger names in your community. With the tiny bit of info you gave, it sounds like this guy is doing his recording on a shoestring...
  6. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    Just thought a recent experience of mine might be worth mentioning here. I recently got asked if I could make about 7 dates this month with a woman who approached me after one of my regular gigs. She said nothing about money, but I didn't really feel comfortable asking about it, especially since one of the dates is for Jazz Fest, which I know I'll get paid for. So I go to the first gig, which is at a church, assuming that it's going to be a free-bee, and she slips me a $100 check while I'm packing up. So, I guess the moral is sometimes keeping your mouth shut pays off too . . . I'm assuming the other gigs she has me booked for will pay at least as well, but I'm not gonna ask!
  7. Addy-

    If it was me(althopugh I drive,) I would personally since it would also be my first time recording or doing soemthing of this situation, ask for enough to pay gas, a new pack of strings for the bass you will be recording with and maybee a little extra per hour, like even 20$(or more)/hr would suffice for me. But in the end of it, it is all up to you. If he says"yeah I have 300$ set aside per-say for the bassist. Make sure you get clear on how many songs the 300$ is for, or how many hours of work it is for. Because in the end you dont want to be thinking your done with the 12 tracks he says he was going to have you play on, then be like " Hey I wrote these two tracks today they are now part of the album." Then it turns into 14 tracks and you are loosing 2 hours worth of pay to record these new tunes.

    I hope this all made sense.


    Edit- After reading Will's reply, I am reminded about how this guy I am playing with, his uncle is a bassist in a popular local cover band. So I took the one night gig, and never asked a thing about money. I was happy just playing live and with new people. After the first and only jam I was told 100$ for the night. Fair enough, I've never been paid for a gig before. Then I get home and the money is given to me and i got slipepd an extra 50$ for playing good, and taking the gig on such short notice(30 songs, 8 days.)
  8. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    If you do it for free, your name will get out there as "That guy that works for free".

    The more you do that, the harder it is to get paid.

    The harder it is for EVERYBODY to get paid.

    If you don't know the guy well enough to help him put a new roof on his house for free, charge him.

    Real respect or "Street Cred" is about the hardest thing to get in the music biz and you ain't getting it by giving it away.
  9. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    This seems to come up whenever the almighty dollar is mentioned on TB. You can't seriously tell me that one bassist working for free because he loves to play is going to screw up the entire world of working bassists.

    Or that a band playing for free is circumventing the music industry by setting the example. Come on. I could study hard, get a law degree, and represent people for free. Would that completely destroy all the business of all the lawyers in the world? Doubtful.

    Sorry. You just got the brunt end of a rant that was a lot time coming. My apologies. :D
  10. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I'm afraid that it is true - to an extent. Young bands that will "play for beer" or for free to "get their name out" do make it harder for more serious bands to get paid a realistic amount.
  11. Apparently he's got his own setup and wants to see me playing before we make a deal or anything... (sounds like hes pretty serious...) He said he's got 22 or so tracks to put on this album, and he'd be having a similar situation to "lamb chop"...some musicians on some tracks...completely different ones on others (so I'd probably only be on 6 or so of them if that...maybe more...).

    Now the fact he wants to see me playing before I commit to anything suggests to me (now I may be jumping the gun a bit...) that he may want to do a tour or some gigs to promote the album.

    Maybe I could say £15 per hour + expenses or something, but I don't even know if he's paying yet...if he sees me playing at my college performance then I can at least have a chat to him and see what hes got in mind...

    any more opinions on what you reckon to the gig then guys? - it'd be useful...:bassist:

    oh yeah...what do you reckon to my Myspace website? Do ya think it gets the point across well enough in terms of "selling myself"?
  12. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    It's cool.

    We started out as a discussion about being a freelancer or as I think of it, mercenary.

    When one guy works for free it's not a problem but when a bunch of people do it, thats different.

    It all depends on how wide a view you take

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