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Solo or Small Group Gigs...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by txbasschik, Aug 23, 2007.

  1. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Do any of y'all take gigs as a single, or with a small acoustic group, say, two or three people? If so, what types of venues book you? If you feel comfortable doing so, please say how much you earn, on average, from such gigs.

    Reason I ask?

    I hate my day job, and my day job hates me. It has been *years* -- over a decade -- since I've had an office job where I felt comfortable, and not like a bug under a microscope, with a boss just waiting for me to make a mistake. I can't take much more of this b.s.

    I'm looking into doing temp office work, taking little jobs like being the sample lady at the grocery store, etc. I would like to use music to supplement that. Yeah, I have my regular band, but we're fixing to take a long break. In addition to regular, "bar" pickup gigs, I would like to do things like restaurant-and-bar happy hours, luncheon sets with very mellow music, small acoustic country sets, etc.

    In addition to bass, I can also play the keys, and have a passing knowledge of mandolin chords, which I can easily expand upon, given the time. I also sing. If I can get ahold of a flute, it wouldn't take long for me to get my chops back on that. I have two ladies who can work with me on this. They also sing, and play more than one instrument.

    Any advice on this is welcome! I need to break out of the rut my life is in, and if I can use music to help me do it and to supplement my income more than the regular band does, I'm all ears!!!

    Cherie :bassist:
  2. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Have you thought about teaching lessons? My housemate gets around $50 an hour for teaching guitar. Private lessons (or an actual teaching job) are the most reliable way to make a "steady" income.

    I feel where you're coming from though. I do IT support for a day job.. Not exactly living the dream here :) Yet!
  3. Silas Martinez

    Silas Martinez

    Jan 17, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Hey Cherie,

    If you haven't yet, I'd have a look at the Cover Band 101 thread.

    May not be what you're into, and may not be feasible for you, but there is a pretty big discussion on effective ways to make money with music. Something to consider, especially if your current band is looking at going on hiatus for a while.

    I'm in a similar situation to you, in some ways. I hate office jobs. I have one, and it pays the bills, but I'd like to get away from it. Playing in a 'money band' is one potential route to doing that. It involves playing a lot of music you don't necessarily rate on your #1 fun list, and treating a band like the business it has to be to be successful, but it may mean making enough playing your instrument to not have to go the 9-5 route.

    Just a thought, and I apologize for it not directly relating to your question.

    G'luck to ya!
  4. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Well...this boss treats me like an idiot. Good work is never rewarded...not even with a "Good job!". But if I make any mistake, no matter how small, it is blown up into a disaster, and I get chewed out. He speaks to me so ugly...with contempt. The last three bosses have been like this, and I just can't do it anymore.

    Don't know if I know enough to teach lessons. I would need to know my theory better, I think. But I do know a guy who gives lessons at a local private school. Maybe I could assist him?


    Cherie :)
  5. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Thanks, I'll read that thread! I can't travel with music...kids still at home...but I *can* play out up to three nights a week. Since my band will be taking at least a month off, starting in October, I feel like that's a good time to cultivate side projects that won't cost much, but will bring some money in.

    As far as playing music I'm not wild about...I've had that in every band. Gotten used to it. So long as I get to play *some* things I like, I can hang with playing stuff that I'm not crazy about, if I'm getting paid.

    Thanks very much!

    Cherie :)
  6. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA

    Sorry to hear about your work hassles.

    One of the groups I work with is a trio that specializes in acoustic rock for events (college reunion luncheons, country clubs dinners, graduation parties, rehearsal dinners & receptions, etc.).

    The pay is usually not what you'd pull down in a full party band (we typically clear b/w $100-300 per man). However, IME the gigs are easier to come by, and can be had w/o a ton of sophisticated promo and booking effort.

    If I were in your situation just looking to put together a base income from music, I'd be thinking about a keys/vocals solo act that could sell mood music to events/venues that aren't necessarily looking for the music to be the focus of everyone's attention.

    It would be nice to draw in the friends you mentioned when certain gigs call for it, but if you can sing and play keys, you are much more nimble about bookings etc. as a solo, and you make better money.

    I wouldn't think the mando or bass would be meal tickets for you, but if you can find your way around a guitar, that can add some variety to your set.

    Obviously, this isn't the gig you do for love, and the money's not great, but it would beat working for a boss you hate.

    BTW, +1 to the teaching suggestion -- probably the most reliable money in music, although it takes its own chops.
  7. mjolnir

    mjolnir Thor's Hammer 2.1.3beta

    Jun 15, 2006
    Houston, TX
    Hear hear for IT! Gotta love it, huh?
  8. There are a lot of teachers out there who would prefer to only take advanced students. Students who want the hard-core theory/technique development. Those teachers tend to prefer to not take on beginner students. So there is plenty of room for teachers whose primary focus on entry-level stuff - proper hand position, basic technique, etc... Very non-theory stuff.

    So you could go find one of those advanced teachers and make a deal with her/him that they send you the beginners that they don't want to take on and as you get them up to speed, you will send them on upstream when they require more advanced training. That way they don't have to turn anyone down and you don't have to be too concerned about not being able to provide the advanced stuff.

    That was you could bring in some $$ getting kiddies (and other beginners) started off in the right direction AND doing some nice tag-team teacher networking to boot.
  9. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Cherie, I have no idea what your area of the country is like, but up here in NJ there is a pretty active duo/trio lounge/restaurant/bar scene. I currently work with a female acoustic guitarist and also work with an acoustic trio (piano, viola and bass). In both settings the majority of the work is very quiet background music for exactly what you 1st stated, happy-hour and brunch settings. Maybe an occasional coffee shop deal ...

    With the duo, I play a 7 string, doing a lot of chording and looping using a Boomerang. I also sing some harmony. With the trio, I use a Barker fretless 5 or my FBB fretless 6 playing through a very small combo (Hartke Kickback). In both cases, volumes are very low and the music is not meant to be "entertainment" in the usual sense of the term.

    Pay in our area ranges from $150 for the duo for a 2 hour gig to $300 for the trio on a 3 hour brunch gig. So definitely a lower pay scale than most of what I do, but it's usually on a weekend during the day, no pressure, very relaxing. You just have to adjust your thinking to the idea that you usually won't be getting applause, and you have to really keep the volume low, low, low.

    There are lots of venues for this type of work up here, but most of it is locked up tight. But it's easy stuff, all close to home .... I take as much of it as I can get .... :cool:
  10. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    pm sent
  11. While I can't speak for other areas of the country, around where I live there are small venues/bars/clubs that frequently host acoustic duos or piano/bass duos (for those in the Salt Lick City area, check out the calender at the Zanzibar. They regularly have a great duo that plays there).
    There's also a bluegrass quartet that plays for tips at a Border's bookstore cafe twice a month.
  12. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Thank you all so very much!!! You have me stoked for this. I am going to save the thread and print it, and will keep checking back. Excellent advice from all posters, and home-grown advice is often the best, imo. :)

    I spoke with my husband, and he's cleared me to quit this job at the end of my pay period. He's even been hearing on the town grapevine how bad it is, and wants me out of here as soon as we can get me out. I love that man!

    A musician colleage has given me a reference to a company where I can get more-flexible day work, and we are set up to do a duo gig at a local eatery next Wednesday. I will be brushing up on my bass theory skills and getting together with my teacher friend...I like the idea of taking beginner students, then sending them to him when they're up to speed. Really, really like it! Will also be spending the next month getting the piano and mando chops back up to snuff, and seeing how many guitar chords I can learn. The singer/guitarist in the main band is happy to teach me anything I can't figure out on my own. She's eager for me to get these skills up to speed and use them in our band, as well as for myself. ;) Also, learning to use the bass effects box that I bought second-hand, but never have really learned to use properly.

    Your ideas and suggestions have given me a great place to start from. Y'all rock!!!

    Cherie :hyper: :bassist:
  13. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    One of my old colleagues has a very strong background in bluegrass. I'll bet I could get her and her bro to go out on something like that with me.

    Cherie :)
  14. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    what's up, stranger?? :)
  15. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Hangin' in, sugar...hangin' in. I'm trying hard to find other ways to make money with music, so I can get out of the office gig. I'd rather prepare sausage samples at the grocery store than do the admin support deal anymore. Any way to fit more music into the money-making, I'm checking into it and making plans.

    How you, hon?

    Cherie :) :bassist:
  16. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Well...so much for last night's attempt.

    An old bandmate asked me to come help her out at an acoustic gig. I need money, so I did it. A free meal and two drinks for each of us...ok. $50 + tips...ok. Except that she did not tell me she would keep *all* the $50, and *half* the tips!

    I feel that, since I contributed as much as she did, I should have at least gotten all the tips, since she was keeping the pay.

    Lesson learned. She's not ever going to give an even split.

    Considering doing the gig every two weeks, however, just for exposure. I am not allowed to sing with my regular band, but at this gig, I am encouraged to. The numbers I did were *very* well-received. Maybe if it gets out that there's a female bassist in the area whose got the pipes to sing, too, I can get better work via reputation and word of mouth?

    I'm going to make up some business cards for myself...not for my band, but just for me as a musician. That way, I can advertise my own skills better.


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