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Should we quit this gig?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by dlargent, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. dlargent


    Aug 7, 2003
    Carrboro, NC
    In addition to being a bass player, I'm also a jazz organist.

    I lead a jazz organ trio which has been playing at a local bar every other week for three years. Our deal was that we made $50 cash, and a $50 bar tab. Along the way, we got a nominal raise to $60 cash. Each gig, we gave all of the cash plus tips to our drummer because he is a 'hired gun'.

    About two months ago, the bar hired a new booking agent. He wanted us to switch from two Thursdays a month to every Wednesday. I had a conflicting gig as a sideman on alternating Wednesdays that paid me $100, so I told him we could do it if he could pay the band $100 instead of $60, and I could bring home half of that ($50 a week.)

    He agreed to it, and we got the raise, and I gave up my other Weds gig to a different organist.

    Last week, they fired this booking agent and re-hired the old one. She called me and said that she was cutting us back down to a $50 gig every other week- which means I would be back to walking away with no money from the gigs after paying the drummer. She says the budget wont allow a band to be paid $100.

    I'm leaning towards quitting the gig, but I'm trying to figure out what to do based on:

    1. The guitar player of the band booked the gig originally years ago, and he says he likes playing there and we should wait and see what happens.

    2. I lost a $200 a month gig based on the promises of the interim booking agent (and I make my money solely from playing music)

    3. I try not to let my ego get in the way of things, but it feels rotten to be demoted after playing for free for several years. And hanging posters, etc. faithfully every week.

    4. The $40 a week they save seems extremely petty, especially in light of how much business we bring, although she says other bands which play for free bring more people out than we do. Which leads me to...

    5. Feels bad to be treated purely as a commodity, to be bought cheaply as possible and exploited as much as possible for their gain. Although the pay-to-play thing is very common in Chapel Hill/Carrboro. I'd almost be happier to play for free at a 'cooler' club elsewhere.

    Thanks for letting me rant, and I'd appreciate any thoughts!
  2. kellyrojo


    Feb 16, 2011
    South Carolina
    Quit! Why are you playing so much for free in the first place...or at all? I never understand this? In what other capacity do people work for free over and over again? Why don't you ask the restaurant owner to come cook you a meal for free someday? Just my opinion! Good luck!
  3. Hmm. That's a bummer.

    Lesson learned - get everything in writing!!!

    Yes!!! Personally, I wouldn't work for free.

    I'd be very nice about it - but, I'd tell her "thanks, but no thanks"!!!
  4. Quit giving it away.
  5. Runlikegregg


    Dec 31, 2011
    you should quit.
    i can't imagine you'll feel very good about playing this gig in the future.
  6. I would say if you have something better to do, go do it. Buzzard's gotta eat, same as worms.
  7. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    Run Forest run!!!!!
  8. tbirdsp


    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    Awesome movie ;)
  9. Flabass


    Aug 11, 2008
    St. Petersburg
    Quit. You've been making them money and they want to cut you back. Forget about it.
  10. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
  11. nojj

    nojj Guest

    May 20, 2013
    We quit a steady weekly gig we had for 7 years,
    after the owner died and his son decided to cut the pay (a lot)
    It was freakin' insulting.

    If you decide to continue with the cheapskates,
    you and your bandmates will not be gruntled.
  12. dlargent


    Aug 7, 2003
    Carrboro, NC
    Yes yes, we all hate working for free, but none of the places around here pay.

    Could you suggest an alternative?

    I lived in NYC for several years, where pay-to-play is the standard at rock clubs. I know bands would jump at the chance to play for free. I don't know any examples off the top of my head, but I bet a lot of famous bands that worked their way up probably had to play for free many times before making it.
  13. dlargent


    Aug 7, 2003
    Carrboro, NC
    Ha! Yeah - I'm not gruntled right now !

    Sounds like a similar situation to ours. Thanks for the advice!
  14. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    You're being taken advantage of. If that's OK to you, some think it is just to be able to play, then by all means keep playing for peanuts. If not, name a fair price to the bar owner and be prepared to lose the gig if he's too cheap to pay.
  15. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    This. Why are you guys paying the drummer all of the money? I get that he's a hired gun, but you guys need to be compensated for your work as well.

    Here are the options as I see it:
    -Talk with the current drummer about splitting the money
    -Hire a new drummer that will split the money
    -Quit the gig
  16. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Unionize. Make friends with the musicians who play at all the clubs for free - I'll wager there's less than 500 of them. Stage a mass walkout, and the clubs will either switch to DJs/iPods or hire you all back at decent wages.

    Alternatively, start your own club. Run it with music as the main attraction, and make a big deal of paying fair flat wages to your acts. If it really is 'every place in town' that doesn't play well, the very best acts will FLOCK to your venue, you'll print money, and life will eventually be happiness and unicorn-giggles.

    Be the change you want to see in your own scene.
  17. Hmm. Bummer - another race to the bottom!!! :(

    +1. :)
  18. audioglenn


    Jul 14, 2012
    If you don't put a value on your product, then how do you expect anyone else to put a value on it. Yes...leave the gig. Do so professionally, and, as everyone else stated, stop playing for free. If the band draws a good crowd, they can definitely afford to pay you more.
  19. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    I keep hearing about this fabled land where bands get paid to play original material. I've yet to find it anywhere around Los Angeles. I'll keep looking though, I know it's got to be around here somewhere...
  20. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    The drummer isn't working for free...

    What makes him so much more valuable than everyone else?

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