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Sidemen compensation?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Freddels, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    After reading the post from Marco that he is playing in Seattle with Eldar, it got me to thinking about compensation for touring.

    Is transportation taken care of (paid for)? What about accomodations and meals? Is it per diem?

    What about transporting your bass? Who pays? Does it come out of your pocket?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    I guess these are general business questions and I figure the more experienced can answer these without getting into specific dollar amounts.
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    It depends on the scene. Touring with somebody who has label support is different from touring with somebody who has a record out but no support is different from touring with a self produced CD but gigs etc etc.

    And then there's the shows...some offer good salaries and a per diem and housing allowance, some offer crappy salaries and a seat on the bus.

    But there's room for negotiation, if the money ain't great you should ask for them to cover instrument transport, or rooms or meals or whatever.
  3. jazzbass72


    Jun 26, 2003
    New York, NY
    It totally depends on the situation. However, as far as I am concerned, I will only say yes to going on the road if 1) the money's decent 2) transportation and hotels are all taken care of, doesn't matter if it's a first class ticket and a stay at the Hilton, or a coach ticket and a stay at a Days Inn 3) any bass oversize fees are also taken care of, even though I have seen *very* few of those since I started traveling with the Czech Ease bass.

    Per diems are not dispensed all the time, but your meals are taken care of 95% of the time. In some cases, like at the Kennedy Center in DC last month, there's a glorious food buffet awaiting you in your dressing room at the end of the soundcheck, which makes for a better performance indeed.

    Truth is, being on the road wears you out like crazy. If your plane to your next destination is at 6am the following day, as often is the case, you get to sleep 2 or 3 hours per night, if you're lucky. I still wonder how the hell the great Ray Brown was able to withstand the rigors of the road until such a late age. He must have made some REALLY great money (and comfy first class tickets all the way) in order to let his body endure all that.

    I am going to copy and paste some words of wisdom from bass great Todd Coolman about life on the road. I downloaded them from his website. Quite an interesting read, enjoy!

    Life on the Road
    It went like this: I recently had a gig with the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. We were to perform at the Bern (Switzerland) Jazz Festival. I got my itinerary and noticed that the flight left Kennedy (NYC) at 6:00 p.m. on a Friday with a lay over in London, connecting to a flight to Zurich, connecting to a 2 hour drive to Bern. I live in New Jersey. Why not take a direct flight Newark-Bern? I was told that the promoter could save a few bucks the other way. Par for the course......
    I leave my house at 2:00 p.m. Get to Kennedy at 3:30 p.m. and check in. Board flight at 5:30 p.m. Flight delayed 2 hours due to air traffic congestion. My experience has taught me that one's greatest ally on the road is sleep. I took earplugs, eye blindfold, and melatonin. I zonked out. Nonetheless, we arrived in London too late to make the connection (the one we wouldn't have needed had we flown direct) and saw our 1 1/2 hour lay over turn into a 4 hour layover as we had to be rerouted to a Swissair flight.
    We arrive in Zurich Saturday afternoon and drive 2 hours to Bern. Our rehearsal that was scheduled for that evening is cancelled.........the only reason we went a day early was to rehearse! One entire day shot. I have a little dinner and go to bed. Rehearsal is slated for 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning.
    We rehearse 9-12 the following morning. A pretty good rehearsal despite communal jetlag. Back to the hotel. Then, to the performance venue for a 4:00-6:00 p.m. Soundcheck/rehearsal. A quick dinner and then back for the gig. We play 90 minutes. Back to the hotel to pack and to bed by 1:30 a.m...
    Following morning lobby call is for 7:30 a.m... I wake at 6:00 a.m., shower and breakfast in the hotel. Bus shows up for trip to Zurich. Other bands have joined us to take same flights home. Bus company did not account for extra personnel. We now have, among other things, three double basses in their huge flight cases. We have to take bus #1 and some last-minute vans to bus depot in Bern to get a larger bus. We have to offload from bus #1 and reload bus #2. The morale is sinking fast.
    We get to the airport just in time to check in but all of the good seating on the flight is long gone. I get stuck in middle seats all the way home. I am 6'2" and weigh 210 lbs. at present. I am a sardine for the next 10 hours or so. I kick up the melatonin to 3 mg. in desperation. The two guys in front of me are the two most obnoxious people I have ever had the misfortune to fly with. They are speaking a language I cannot remotely understand (Lebanese? Syrian?). They haven't bathed in a week. They reek. They constantly yell at the top of their lungs because their friends are six rows ahead of them and they wish to converse with them. They do so without regard for others. The flight attendants do nothing. We are now having big fun.
    We get back to NYC at 5:00 p.m. on a Monday. Perfect timing for peak rush hour! I get home at around 8:30 p.m. Unpack, wash clothes, light meal, shower, bed.
    Next morning up at 7:30 a.m., leave for Manhattan at 8:00 a.m. for a recording for a Mirimax film score beginning in midtown at 10:00 a.m. Eight hours of whole notes. Beginning to wonder which was worse, the tour or the film date.
    This trip, in my experience, was typical. I was away from home for 31/2 days to play for 90 minutes.
    This is why I have two prerequisites for going on the road at this stage in my life/career: GREAT money, GREAT music, or both. Nothing less.
    So you want to be a jazz musician and go on the road? Think about it.