Should harmony vocalist get equal pay?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bassman8416, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. Baron Von Vik

    Baron Von Vik

    Jun 11, 2010
    Somewhere in Arizona
    Mojo FunkBasses
    NOPE. A working band is not an exercise in socialism, it's a business and should be managed as such.

    I bring thousands of dollars worth of gear to the gig, and play instruments that I have spent months customizing. I practice for hours so I can confidently play every song in the set and justify my cut of the pay.

    On top of that, I help lug EVERYONE'S equipment in and out of the venue (not just my heavy-a** stuff) and set up sound and lighting as well. We all pitch in.
    If all someone did was waltz in and plug in a microphone, why they would have some "larnin" meted out by the other guys.

    When your backup singer expends the same amount as the rest of the band in equipment and effort, and takes a more invested role, then she gets full band-member pay.

    Right now, she is earning back-up vocalist pay; and IMHO you are paying her too much already.
  2. Bassman8416

    Bassman8416 Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    Long Island,New York
    Thats what I was thinking originally. Interesting discussion.
  3. no equal work no freeloading
    its not like 120 is alot any ways when you factor in time spent at rehearsals
    setup and tear down time. not to mention fuel other expenses related to gigs ( strings cords etc.
    id tell her 50 a night or she needs to sing more and then maybe 80
    if she starts helping setup and tear down and there are lots of things girls can do cords and plugging stuff in come to mind then equal pay.
  4. VincentGrim

    VincentGrim Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2008
    As has already been stated, if you guys consider her part of the band then she should get the same pay. Imo, helping out with set up/tear down is part of what being a bandmate is. If you didn't have someone who does that stuff for you, I'd say to re-examine what you guys consider a bandmate to be, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

    If what you say about the club owners digging her is true, then it is likely that you're getting more shows with her in the band than you would without. I'd consider giving her more lead roles to work with. Imagine if you had to share bass lines with the keyboardist and they were considering undercutting you because he/she was there first and probably has more additional sounds beyond bass at their disposal? Just my viewpoint.
  5. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    I feel the same.

    The GP & I could go out on a Wednesday or Thursday night and hit a bunch of karaoke bars and find a couple of female background singers that are ok singers and look nice that would be more than happy to get on stage with us.
    For free or next to nothing.
  6. k2aggie07


    Jul 6, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Negotiate. Start her at 50% and work from there.

    Charge her the least amount she'll work for and sell her services for the most that the market will bear. That's capitalism. :D
  7. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't think the amount of gear (or lack thereof) should be a determining factor in the equal pay argument, but effort definitely is. If she is just showing up after everything is loaded in/out and setup/torn down, then you've got an issue. In that case, if she is to be paid equal to the rest of you guys - she has to lug it or at least put forward the effort to help in any way she can just like the rest of you.

    If that's not the issue, and she is pulling her weight in set up/tear down and moving of equipment - then you owe her some more money, plain and simple. As said before, she shares the stage with you....

    You should approach it nicely if she is a singer you want to keep around. Apologize for sticking her with less pay, but also kindly demand that she needs to help lug gear, and/or put forth more effort OFF of the stage.
  8. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    This is also kind of an interesting dichotomy.

    I play in an all originals band that basically plays for pennies (we get paid, but nowhere near the money that cover bands make for sure), a free beer or two, and the fun of it.

    Although part of me is slightly jealous about the actual "getting paid" thing ;) ... I'm glad that I've never had to determine which guy shouldn't get paid less because I decided his playing wasn't as important as mine. Likewise, I'm glad the other guys have never done that to me.

    Just something interesting to think about, I guess...
  9. Bassman8416

    Bassman8416 Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    Long Island,New York
    She does not have the ability to step up and sing out front more, that is the bottom line and her harmonies as I said "good enough". She just shows up and plugs in a mike. She is on stage probably more like 70% of the time. She does go to rehearsals. We would get just as many gigs with or without her thats for certain. We have a fairly big following, there are some guys that dig her, for obvious reasons and one of the owners to be sure.
    I play in another band that is lead by a woman that would mop the floor with her.....she fronts the band and owns the PA, we all set up and break down together, including her,
    we split it all down the middle...PA is her problems.
  10. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    If that were the case, and it was my band, we'd be a 5 piece and everyone would be going home with another $20 in their pockets. It sounds to me like she isnt really bringing anything to your band.
  11. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    'pay scales' within a band will cause friction. as will people not pulling their weight.

    her talent is not the issue since you say she gets the job done. and her looks are (or should be) irrelevant to her pay... let's not go there!

    i'd give her an equal share on the condition she behaves like an equal member and pitches in.

    IMO of course ;)
  12. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    The band should have addressed the issue initially. Hiding it makes everyone look like douches.
  13. Bassman8416

    Bassman8416 Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    Long Island,New York
    Unfortunately, this is a dysfunctional band, communication is a weak point. I actually made a point about this splitting the money thing and how its always weird after gigs and that everything should be made clear....I got into it with one of the guys and almost left the band. They were like why should I care as long as I get the big cut. Now I don't even say anything about it, just wondering what people thought out there. I do believe they are going to make it all clear at an upcoming will be interesting.
  14. Interesting discussion - I think there's many right answers.

    I know when band members used to lug PA, their own instruments and amps to a gig - only to watch the singer just bring in a mic - it used to cause resentment. So we forced the singer to supply the PA :) for vocals-only-through-the-pa gigs.

    I think setup and loading is a small factor in the scheme of things. If she's at rehearsal with you guys that means she's giving up travel expenses and time and is part of the band. I'd pay her equally and get her to help out as much as she can (either by loading in/out or, if she's cute and has good people skills, doing the 'meet and greet with guests and management' - that's as important as anything else).
  15. Do you know how much all of the people in your work place makes?
    Would you tell everyone that worked for you how much the others make?

    two schools of thought here. I've worked as a sideman and I've worked in bands where it was all for one. I actually prefer to be a sideman, or a band leader and have people work for me.

    As a sideman, I show up, play, am responsible for my gear, and get paid an amount that the band leader and I decide. The amount of which is nobody's business, nor is it my business what anyone else makes. As a band leader, I pay players a discussed rate dependent on a negotiation and their value to me and the organization. The responsibility of PA, booking, collection et al, falls on me, and my pay from the club is none of their business. Either way, the responsibilities are clearly laid out, and there are fewer issues that need resolved.

    The all for one thing is fine until the PA blows up and only one guy has money to fix it, or a guitar player is always late and never helps to set up but still gets the same pay, and the bass player always leaves as soon as his own gear is packed up. Way too many things that "don't seem fair."

    The chick is making 100.00 bucks a night to walk in and sing. that seems more than fair to me, and must have been to her too, because it wasn't a concern until she found out it was.
  16. Martin89


    Nov 8, 2010
    Glendale, AZ
    Unofficial Endorser: Ibanez, D'Addario, Zoom
    I need to get $100 singing gigs to supplement my bass gear. What an easy out, keep my bass gear looking new in my room ;)
  17. Bassman8416

    Bassman8416 Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    Long Island,New York
    Many good points here.
  18. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Yes but you have to wear a nice mini skirt and FM boots, oh, and get your hair done
  19. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004

    do those customized instruments add to the number of people who show up when you play?

    There's a point where the low dollar value (and arguably the quality) of a musician's gear can affect the sound to such a degree that people stop coming to hear him/her. There's a point of diminishing returns where the high dollar value won't make a musician sound so much better that more people come to hear him/her. If the thousands of dollars worth of gear and the customized instruments you bring to a gig are necessary for your band to keep that gig and get others, then you have a point here. OTOH, if any of that "thousands" is because you simply wanted MIA instead of MIJ/M/K/I or because you wanted one brand over another, less expensive but just as reliable one, then the singer isn't responsible for that financial outlay.

    If --example-- that Custom Shop '55 P-Bass or US '75RI doesn't bring the band any more money than a Sting or Geddy, then the difference ought to be your responsibily and not the band's. If, OTOH, you're losing gigs or not getting them because the bar owners won't hire a band whose bassist plays an SX or a Squier, you may need to spend more money and can justify that extra expense. It's a business and should be managed as such.

    I understand fully that by "thousands of dollars" you may be referring to $2000 or $20,000, so only you can answer this for yourself.

    If she's not getting done the job she's been asked to do, she doesn't need to be there at all. If she is, this is a moot point.

    1) She's a woman, not a roadie. Are you asking her to help plug things in, turn things this way or that, put stands in place, etc., or are you saying that she ought to help lug in a bunch of 2x15s or 8x10s? I don't know how big or strong this vocalist is, but unless she volunteers, she doesn't have to do the big stuff in any band I'm a part of. You shouldn't even be asking that of her.

    2) She's a vocalist. How many singers can --or need to-- match a musician for gear weight/bulk/expense?

    See #2 above

    Should have been dealt with up front.

    Because it wasn't dealt with up front, I'd say pay the woman and forget about the difference in you own take-home pay.

  20. Martin89


    Nov 8, 2010
    Glendale, AZ
    Unofficial Endorser: Ibanez, D'Addario, Zoom
    Good thing actively moving bass cabs have kept me nice and fit to look good in the mini-skirt ;)
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