treason in Harrisburg

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by tww001, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. tww001


    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    I recently found out that I lost gigs with a band in the Harrisburg, PA area when I read in the news paper that they were booking dates that I didn't know about with another bassist (a family member of the drummer). I'm not upset about losing my spot with the band (I never did really enjoy playing with them all that much, and had plans to leave once the school year started back up), but the thing that really irks me is that they never contacted me.

    My teacher tells me that it's a good thing I did get out of the group though, for they seem to be upsetting a lot of the local working musicians in and around Harrisburg. They are weekend hobbyists, not full time musicians, and they have apparently been cutting their prices in order to get work since I last played with them in early June. This is, of course, upsetting (to say the least) a lot of the older groups in the area who make their livings playing full time. Has anyone else had any experiences similar to this?
  2. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Happens all the time. Kids will play for little or nothing "for exposure" and just because stage time is still novel to them. The more experienced players are constantly irked that they don't realize what a disservice they're doing to the music community at large.

    The real blame goes to the club owners who will hire the cheapest band, regardless of skill and talent.
  3. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    There's a sax player in my area who does this. His day job pays very well, so he'll take a job for $150 and not pay himself or his kid (who also plays in the band), and hire two ringers for $75 a man (not bad bread for a weeknight around here). And he hustles this thing all over town, making the club owners wonder why they should pay $400 for a band when he can get another with the same number of guys for $150.
  4. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Yeah, and people die of exposure.
  5. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Welcome to the music business. Not to get all dark (and I mean that, because I'm not at all dark on playing music--it's why I get out of bed in the morning [well, that, and to hit the john]), but I would guess that all of us here at TB who work as professional bassists (in whatever capacity that may be applied) have run into crap like this. Idiots abound, perhaps especially in the music biz; once you identify them, just avoid them.
    On the bright side, experiences like this can only add to your overall savvy and shed light on your commitment to/motivations for playing music. Like sharpening a blade by removing excess matter around the edge...
  6. Yeah, I had a similar experience with a band here in Lancaster. I worked with them for over a year, then suddenly, nothing. Called the leader, he told me they were on "hiatus". Then I see in the local rag that they're working, but using another bassist.

    Loosing the gig kind of sucked, but being lied to by people that I thought were friends hurt.

    I got over it.
  7. I had a summer of playing all set up with a local manager but I guess the leader wanted to use someone else, I wasn't notified and held dates just to find out I'd been replaced. How they conduct business is their own "business" but at least they could have some respect for our time and scheduling needs. I don't think it was a matter of money because the $ they paid in the past was solid.
  8. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    I get a lot of crap like this for private parties. It's especially true for younger cats and because I get a lot of gigs through school. People expect you to play a three hour wine and cheese party for $100 for the whole trio. And some guys will. To me, it's not worth the time and effort it takes for such little bread. It's also not worth dealing with people who are musical midgets and ask you stupid questions like "You guys aren't gonna play rock music, are you?" when you walk into a catering hall holding an upright bass. You gotta choose your battles.

    As far as loosing gigs, if the guys you play with aren't smart enough to deal with you professionally and tell you they don't require your services anymore, your better off without the idiots anyway.
  9. Not to get way off the subject, but what does the average gig pay in New York City? I'm sure it varies from place to place but what are you cats out there makin, if you don't mind.

    Back on subject. I feel real bad for the cats who aren't makin the bread but I can kind of understand from the owners view. He is still a business. It doesn't make it any less wrong but I think more of the blame should be pointed on the cheap "players".
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I disagree. You take a cat who goes to the expense of choosing a high quality paint or wallpaper, quality of raw ingredients, trained kitchen and waitstaff; they do that because they have an expectation of return on their investment - if I cook good food well and serve it in a pleasant atmosphere, they will come.
    But they either can't tell or don't care about the difference in the way a group of great players sound or mediocre ones or even bad ones. Eventually the mediocre and bad players end up killing the gig and the boss just can't understand why nobody liked the music. There's a difference between a bunch of players up there trying to achieve a moment of sheer poetic beauty and a bunch that are trying to get through reading a tune in the Real Book without ****ing up the form that's NOT just how much more one charges for an evening's performance...
  12. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The main factor I see in musicians willing to work for low $$$ around Boston is just supply and demand. Way too many players for the available work.

    I played a few times as a sub with a band that was geting $75 plus a meal to play a "name" room. That's $75 period, not per person and the band was a quintet! Even so, bands were lining up to get in there just because it was an "exposure" gig.

    It's not "part timers" causing the problem because these people are TRYING to do music full time. If you're new on the scene and you want to play, you'll take anything and if that means taking $15 to play 3 sets that's what you do.
  13. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    what was the moral of the story "the pied piper" ?
  14. Point takin. I didn't really think of it that way. I was just more thinkin of it as the expenses of running a club or resturant itself. The cost of buying all those things that make it a great resturant or club I would imagine is a lot, so instead of taking away from the quality of food or drink that is really making you the money to pay for a band, I could see where they would look for a lower cost band so that they could atleast break even themselves. I'm not saying that the band doesn't bring people in to but I don't think the common person would not come back if the band wasn't so great but the food was amazing. I do understand your point though Ed and I agree with you but that is just what I was thinkin.
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Not to FADH, but yeah, that's the point. The Hardy Entrepeneur, who has spent their hard earned bread on only the best they can afford at this point, looks to the entertainment and decides he wants jazzmusic. He looks at his budget and decides he can afford to spend $150 a week. So instead of doing the same thing he did with his produce supplier, i.e. finding the supplier(s) that will give him the greatest quality in his price range with the greatest consistency, he decides that quantity IS quality. Instead of getting a single pianist or guitarist who is more than competent for one night, he hires a quartet backing a singer that will work for a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night for the same bread. To me that's like buying rotten or bruised produce, cause you can get more of it for your money. And if you hire a kid that used to be the prep cook at Denny's, hey so much the better.

    Sure everybody has to watch their budget. And hey, maybe you can't afford music. And maybe there is that confluence of low budget and somebody who doesn't really CARE about how it sounds, they just want to give fledgling musicians a chance to start working. But we ain't really talking about that here. Nor are we talking about market glut, that works for stuff besides musicians. But we all need to value what we do, we need to objectively realize our marquee value and we need to respect each other enough not to **** each other over.

    If you either don't have the skills or the marquee value to get a gig at VENUE X, don't undercut folks who are playing there, cause that's eventually gonna happen to you. Ifyou want to play out, there are plenty of ways to do that without screwing somebody.
  16. Coming form a band of part time wannabes, undercutting others and destroying the market for those trying to make a living is a discussion point almost every time we get a gig. We just don't want to do it and wont by either price or being crap. I agree with Mr F that there are ways of playing out without screwing soembody but you do have to make a little extra effort - like finding a venue that doesn't normally put things on and talking them round. In a way its better for your development as when do this they soon tell you what they think.

    Pub/bar owners want it all for free round here more or less it seems. In fact, some would rather have an empty pub than a jazz band because the substantial audience for local top players doesn't drink enough even though the band is free to them and living off the pot being passed round. I can name names.

    Live jazz is something they like to advertise but musical taste is a gene that doesn't seem to exist in 90% of bar owners. I hope its different elswhere. When the jazz fails karaoke appears and then a quizz nite and then the management changes and it all starts again. Singer songwriter nites can be popular but they drink less than the jazzers, as they might have 2 pence between them, which is just as well because they'll do anything to expose themselves in front of an audience of barstaff :).
  17. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I recently graduated high school. My school's jazz program has a good enough reputation that tons of gigs came my way. Usually each musician makes $35/hr, with a minimum of $50 for the night. Often I'll play a gig for some private party. Let's say it's 3 hours. I end up playing for 2 out of the 3 because they're always stopping us to make speeches/toasts. I get a nice free meal. People come up constantly and tell us how great the music is. Then at the end someone hands me an envelope with $500 in cash. I split it among the 4 of us and go home.

    My bass teacher is very involved with the musicians' union. I think it upsets him to know how much work I've had as a high school student. But... that's the way it is. To the average tone-deaf non musical goofball, my vibes trio sounds just as good as anything else. And we charge less. So everybody wins, except the professional musicians who get the shaft. I figure what goes around comes around. I've had my high school glory days, now if I ever try to live as a working bassist there will be other kids taking work away from me.
  18. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts

    $500 for a quartet playing a private party is not undercutting anybody. That's $125 per player which is pretty typical in my experience. Not every party has a $2000 music budget ;)
  19. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    You've got more people wanting to play gigs than there are gigs and money for gigs. Bar owners get away with paying nothing because people will play for nothing. Can the bar owner tell the difference between good quality and bad quality music? Can the audience? Probably not. The fact that music quality factors so low in this calculus is a sign that this is an economic thing that's going on. There are too many people who wanna be musicians who will play for free or close to it. An oversupply of musicians. This might be an oversupply of lousy amateur musicians -- let's add in unethical, too, because they won't defer to their better-playing professional siblings -- that bar-owners will happily choose over better ones, but too many musicians nonetheless.

    I guess you'd have to add in another factor, alluded to above: an oversupply of folks willing to pay money (directly or indirectly) to musicians who play bad.

    I think anybody who wants to play and perform music for money should be free to do so. The musical competition amongst musicians should raise all boats over time. It would be heavenly icing on the cake if, on every corner of every block on every night of the week audiences crowd venues to pay big dollars for high quality music, but they don't. And pigs don't fly.

    When you get a venue-owner who is a fan of music and who employs a lot of musicians over time, you've got a gem. Keep buying his pizza and beer.