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Relocated to Lower Paying Market - Would You Keep Playing?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jaywa, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    A purely hypothetical situation but one I've been thinking about lately.

    Assume you're a well established "weekend warrior" cover band bassist and you're playing pretty regularly and making an average of $150-200 a gig.

    Your day job transfers you to a different part of the country and you happen to have a musician friend in that city who can get you into some gigging situations... but your pay would only be $75 or $100 tops and that's about the top end of what any good bassist on that scene is pulling down.

    Keep in mind, you have to move to this new city, but whether or not you keep playing is completely up to you. Would you take your friend up on the offer and keep playing in your new market -- even if for only half of what you were making before -- or would you just hang it up?

    I realize this is basically just a convuluted way of asking "what's your minimum" but I've been blessed to be in a market that pays pretty well and I've always wondered what I would do if that were suddenly not the case.
  2. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Yeah sure, I'd keep playing. The only other options are to play for free, or not play at all.
  3. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    how do you know that really is the ceiling? there are $200 gigs and $100 gigs in my area, too.

    maybe your friend is just not getting the $200 gigs.
  4. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    I will always keep playing.

    In this particular hypothetical situation I would find a way to lead the change in the market.
  5. Keep playing. As a weekend warrior, it's not really about the money. But the money you can earn is a good indicator of the quality of the band/music you're making.
  6. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Yeah... I'm pretty sure I'd take the opportunity and keep playing. For sure I would not dismiss it out of hand. It would be a tough adjustment to take the lower pay initially though, even if it was considered "good" pay for that area. I would feel like I was stepping back 20 years in time, and it might make it a tougher sell with my wife. And because of all that I would probably require that the rest of the situation (outside the money) be really good, i.e., fun and frequent gigs, good songs, bandmates who were decent people and good players.

    If the situation offered were $75 a night to play worn-out classic rock with hack players in dive bars, I'd probably say no thanks.
  7. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    Well, if you are being transfered for your day job, is there a big enough pay raise from the day job to make up the difference? For me I would keep playing as money is not as big as motivator as the band scene is.
  8. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Good point.
  9. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    If you are a musician you keep playing. If you are someone who plays a musical instrument for money then you probably don't. There's a difference between playing for $75 a night when everyone else us getting $150 and playing for $75 a night when that is the going rate.
  10. I have no idea what you are saying here.


    I read this as "If you are an amateur, you keep on playing, if you are a pro you quit" ?
  11. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    He/she's saying if you're playing for the joy of playing it won't matter what you're getting paid but if it's important to you that you are compensated at x rate or higher, then it will matter.

    It would be very interesting to hear from anyone who was ever actually put in this situation, what you chose to do and how it turned out.
  12. I used to be well compensated to play my main instrument. Since moving 8 years ago I have used it for 6-7 gigs. 3 were in front of an orchestra as soloist, 2 were theatrical productions, the others were random calls that were interesting.

    Before moving here, I averaged 150 gigs/year all decent paying.

    I still gig, but not on my main axe. For the kind of money paid around here, I'll watch TV before I'll play it for that kind of money.
  13. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I don't play for the money ... although it's nice! I play because I must, even if I'm sitting around someone's kitchen or front porch. As for pay, I absolutely won't play for free if the place is making money, but you get whatever the market will bear.
  14. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I had a similar thing happen when I moved from Chicago to Denver in the 90s. The pay and number of opportunities decreased, but I still managed to work alot. But in the end, the lower cost of living kinda compensated for that. Even though I got paid less, I was able to earn a living playing music full-time because my rent and other expenses weren't as much as it would have been if I lived in Chicago.

    Now moving from Denver to DC, I saw my pay and opportunities increase. But, to be able to afford living here solely playing music seems nearly impossible.

    In simple terms.....
    Chicago paid $1.50 but the rent was $2
    Denver paid $1, but the rent was $1.
    DC pays $2, but the rent is $4.
  15. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Working at the edge of my recollection here, but I (think I) remember a comment from the late Tommy Tedesco way back when in the column he used to write for Guitar Player, about factors influencing the decision to take a gig. He identified them as (1) what you'll learn doing the gig, (2) how much fun you'll have, and (3) the money you'll make. Something like that, best I can recall.

    The way I look at it, all three things are compensation for doing a gig. And a high value on one offsets a low value on another.

    YMMV, of course. This kind of trade-off is personal, yeah.
  16. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    You read it backwards.
  17. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    75-100 a night is pretty descent considering the status of live performances. So take it. I know bands that do $50/person a night and consider that descent for a "weekend warrior" these days.
  18. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    It's at least worth trying it out. Who knows, you may luck into something that will pay more..... or if it sucks and you're only playing dives for nothing then you can hang it up.
  19. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Yeah Man. I'm in that situation now and I'm going to keep playing until I die.
  20. audioglenn


    Jul 14, 2012
    Keep playing...you'll regret hanging it up and then you'll have to start back at playing for free.

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