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Unpaid gig participation

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by intheory, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    I haven't seen this particular scenario mentioned before (though it's entirely possible that I missed it); I have a situation with my current band that I would like some advice from fell TB'ers on. I am in an established gigging band-we play an average of 8 gigs per month currently-we were at 12 a few months back, but lost a weeknight venue.
    Recently we have acquired a new weeknight venue, but the venue is running this weeknight gig as a sort of trial, and are paying a lower price than our normal (we are a 5-piece and generally make $600-this gig is paying $300). Because of this we have the front man (singer), keys, and drummer playing the gigs (incidentally, my son is the drummer, so I'm glad for him as he is a full time student and the band is his only income).
    Okay, here is the dilemma: I volunteered my free time for the first few gigs, hoping to sort of "kick-start" the weeknight event and get some positive buzz in hopes that we could turn this into a full pay gig. It hasn't happened, so I stopped going out as I'm paying for gas etc without getting any gig pay.
    So recently my bl asked if I could come out to a few more of these as a sort of extra time to rehearse with the band. I'm just struggling with being the only person there not getting paid (our guitarist hasn't/won't do these gigs as he lives considerably further away). I sort of set a precedent by participating the first few weeks, but have not gone to the last few.
    So am I being a baby and I should "take one for the team?" This isn't a big argument issue or anything with the bl-I'm just a little "butt-hurt" that I'm being asked to donate my time while he and the other guys get paid. :)

  2. No and No.
  3. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    Thanks old school-appreciate your input :) My gut instinct says the same :)
  4. rotis

    rotis There is more

    Dec 28, 2011
    If you were that important and taking one for the team was the mantra of the band, somebody would have taken one for the team and given you their pay.
  5. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    Rotis, well-said.

    I don't have complaints in general about my band situation, but I think there is a degree of presumption in this particular request on the bl's part.
  6. mizedog


    Feb 12, 2008
    I used to run in these situations. What it seemed to boil down to is the venue/bar owners were just really looking for a freebee. It used to drive me crazy that that they'd romance a bunch of good people, new to the business, that they were getting their "big break".

    We play a couple of free ones, but realized that we could get paying gigs at other, more respected places. Besides, those places offering the "big break" for free probably watered down their drinks. The house was never full.

    What's funny is that I'm now playing 100% free gigs for church, but I guess that's different. I'm hoping you can find a replacement mid-week gig that pays. Look for the biker bars (depending on your genre). We pulled Spaghetti Wednesdays at a famous Orange County biker handout (Cook's Corner). Still paid decent, great people, fun, and ended at midnight.
  7. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida

    Thanks mizedog, some good advice there. This particular situation is somewhat unique venue-wise in that this is a venue where we have a dedicated Friday-Saturday gig once a month at full-pay. They threw the weeknight gig at us as a sort of "extra," but it's just not worth splitting more than 3 ways.

    Your advice still translates in this scenario though, and I appreciate it :)

    As far as biker bars...probably not so much, as we are funk/r&b/motown (not that it wouldn't work in some biker bars...)
  8. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    What's the upside? I don't see one.
  9. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains

    If they want you to come out, they'll all take less pay to make you an equal member getting paid the same rate as them.

    If the gig isn't working out for the band as a whole, drop it.
  10. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    No & no. If the venue has no business it probably won't get any.
    Ask the plumber to come over for free and see how often he shows up.
    Hell ask the BL to show up for free, see what he says.
    Bars are always doing this & getting away with it.
    Jams are another scam by bars to get musicians for free.
  11. I'd say you're interested but only if you get a fair cut of the pay. Chances are, at the new rate of pay for everyone, the band will agree it's not worth it.
  12. jmac


    May 23, 2007
    Horsham, Pa
    I really don't understand why some members are getting paid and some (one isn't) aren't. I get that the gig pays half of your normal rate, but the reduced pay should be divided equally by the number of band members. Problem solved.
  13. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    thanks all for the advice. I guess this sounds as crazy from the outside as it did to me... :)

    And in fairness...I did set an early precedent of playing for free the first few times, but then stopped, so I get where it's coming from to a degree...but if I agreed, I think I would be reinforcing a really poor precedent... "oh yeah, our bass player doesn't need to get paid every time..."

    No thanks!!!
  14. bassfran

    bassfran Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2012
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    Many gigs pay per person, so $300 for the trio won't undercut your value on the weeknights. If you already have a solid booking there as a full band on weekends the club can't really fault you for this.
  15. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    Thanks, well-put. I don't believe there is any pressure on this topic from the venue, so that is a positive :)
  16. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    A trial, to me, is 1 or 2 times? How long has this 'trial' been? If more than that......it's NOT a trial. Full band pay or move on to another venue. Just my opinion. If you're a good band, they'll call.

    I'm just not playing for free. So wait (reading the above post), are you getting paid or not getting paid? Not the band......you?
  17. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    so we play at this venue for full pay 2 days per month...and then we have this new weeknight thing (weekly) where they are paying for half of the band. In the weeknight scenario, bl has asked me to join periodically (without pay while the 3 other members present are paid) to sort of reinforce new songs that we've learned in rehearsals.
    So I would be the one not getting paid. As stated earlier, I played the first 3 weeks on the weeknights for free to support the venture, but have sat out for the past 3.
    I think I sort of brought this on myself, but wanted to get some advice on if turning down the "offer" was legit on my part ;)
  18. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    so to recap what I've learned from this thread from all of you, my awesome bass brothers :)

    1. My head is on right in feeling that rejecting this request is warranted on my part
    2. My head was wrong to even entertain the idea or feel bad about rejecting it
    3. Ibanez basses are the best for metal...

    sorry, had to throw that last one in... ;)

  19. the yeti

    the yeti Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    rehearsal is for the rehearsal room.
  20. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    very true...I'd like to think that this is code for my bl "misses me." :)