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Some Gigs are worth playing for free

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by wilberthenry, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. wilberthenry


    May 12, 2009
    I have read that Bruno Mars and most performers who have played the Super Bowl did so for free. The exposure these performers get is supposedly so valuable it is worth it to them. I am in a band that has been booked at a fairly large festival in my area (10K plus people with multiple stages). We are not getting paid other than extra tickets and food/beer. The gigs we have gotten since we have been added to that lineup have been better/more lucrative AND more people are checking us out online and coming to gigs. While playing for nothing is usually a bad idea, it is not always so.
  2. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    I would say that if any of them actually "played" that gig- None of them did - the instruments and drums were NOT live. Period. Sell out crap. In which case, why not just show the RHCP Give it Away video on the big screen for half time??
  3. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    I have no problem playing a gig for free if it can possibly lead to bigger things. I'm willing to invested a few hours of my free time into something that could possibly pay off down the road. Having said that, playing music isn't my career or the way I earn a living. However, I would never "pay to play".
  4. Bow tie

    Bow tie

    Jan 9, 2014
    Upstate NY
    Y'know I'm against playing for free in general - but I agree that sometimes it's worth it. A friends wedding, or something for a good cause. But unless it's going to be a huge boost for us I still want some money - at least to get justified for all the hauling and set up if nothing else:)
  5. Free is fine for me if:
    1 - it's a fundraiser or a really great cause
    2 - huge exposure to new audiences
    3 - it's great for Networking.

    If all three then I jump at it! I've made lots of incredible contacts and even friendships thru Fundraiser, Charity & Community gigs. A lot more work and new bands have come from it.
  6. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Yes, I would play the Super Bowl for no cash payment, but not free. I'd settle for all travel expenses, lodging and meals paid plus four good seats. :p
  7. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    I have a friend that have been open for Metallica, G&R, Iron Maiden and few other bands..always for free and I dont blame him for doing that :)
  8. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Agree. We do play gigs for 'free' on occasion. Benefits, festivals and occasionally opening slots for theater shows and such. We also have enough bread and butter gigs that ARE paying that we can pick and choose though. We DEFINITELY benefit and consider these kind of shows 'loss leader' and 'investment' shows. And often we're rewarded by additional bookings and expanding our fanbase.
  9. kikstand454


    Sep 28, 2012
    I saw on the ticker on TV that Bruno mars recent album sales jumped 126% after the SB performance.

    Doesn't sound like it hurt him much.

    We do some free gigs for charity and such..... it has ALWAYS benifited us later. 100% of the time we get a paying gig from it somehow.
  10. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    I heard there was also a football game at the Bruno Mars concert. :D
  11. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Not much of one....

    Not everyone on TB is a working pro or a full-time pro. While some of my gigs pay, a good many of them are free. I play music so my head doesn't explode at work. I'm busy with numerous projects and gig frequently, but only rarely do I make any money at it. For me, the payoff is that I like to play out. Everyone has a different definition of 'success' in music. If I can play regularly and not lose any money, I'm good. Everyone's mileage will vary as everyone's situation is different, but I'd be willing to bet that fewer TB members are making money at this than not.

    I completely respect the opinions of those who are in a position to only take paying gigs and I recognize that a majority of them got into that position through hard work and perserverance - lots of both - but most people who play music are "semi-pro" at most. As one of that group, I see nothing at all wrong with playing for free.
  12. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I have a day job. Music will NEVER pay my bills. If I could play the music I want at a venue that would promote that music, I'd play for free. Absolutely.
  13. IMHO, anyone that would turndown a super bowl halftime gig would have to be nuts!!!
  14. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    deviated prevert
    Also note that all the songs played by Mr. Mars were written in whole or part by him, so he'll get residuals from all the broadcast outlets, radio stations, et al, that aired clips, in addition to spurring album sales and downloads.

    Sounds like he's getting paid somehow.
  15. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I'm not sure If I'm buying that Bruno Mars or RHCP did the halftime show for free. Please post a link from a reliable news sources that confirms this.

    Bruno Mars and RHCP don't need more exposure. They literally couldn't be more exposed then they are or have been. Both are Grammy nominated acts; it doesn't get "more exposure" than that.

    As for me and my band, if I was asked to play a benefit locally for free, for a cause I was down with, I'd do it. If I had the chance to open for a band that I really love, I'd do that for free.
    Actually, as I think about it, every bar/club gig has been free or pay-to-play, so I guess the point is moot. I'm a show slut that will play any decent venue on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
  16. The RHCP expenses were paid and they got awesome seats at the game, the best media coverage, more fans, record sales, etc, etc - so its wasn't really completely for free.

    Except for a super bowl halftime gig. ;) :D
  17. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Um disagree. I've read tons of posts on TB by members who had not heard of Bruno Mars before that show... and that's among musicians. I've heard his songs but had never seen him before. Millions of people met him for the first time last Sunday. Probably doubled his public awareness.
  18. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Some gigs probably are worth playing for free. Some aren't. Seems like it would be helpful to know the difference.

    The weekend warrior band I'm in has a few guys who are known in the area and play in other known bands....we get our gigs that way. We do very little self promotion. So it's all paid and the attitude is pretty much "no pay, no play".

    I put a lot of time into a church gig as well. Free.
  19. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    There are also a bunch of people that believe in angels, think Big Foot is real and think Elvis is still alive somewhere. I have no positive words for those people.
    I'm not a pop fan AT ALL but I don't live under a rock either. Mars has been on SNL, every major Late Night show and every music award show I can think of. He's a top 40 artist that is on regular rotation on any pop radio station. If people don't know who he is, they just aren't paying attention.
  20. +1. Yep, I saw that too.