What about when the money does matter?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Rootbeer, May 27, 2022.

  1. Rootbeer


    Aug 10, 2018
    I'm going to retire soon and I've been a weekend warrior for the past twenty five years. I've gotten very used to the extra income and wish to continue on as long as possible. My issue is that while I love playing out I've come to view the band as more of a business proposition that has me dealing with issues that at times are trying: same songs, scheduling mess, high volume of gigs to make up for mediocre pay. All fixable but heavily ingrained into the working band culture around here. That said there are a lot of pluses. I'm sure a lot of people would like to take my place. I love to play my bass and I just show up and do it. I don't book, it's not my P.A., I'm not the front man. Very low pressure and I am grateful for it but at the same time I wonder how many of you are in the same boat? How many say "I gotta work tonight" instead of "I'm playing tonight"?
    Fuzzbass, roccobass, DJ Bebop and 6 others like this.
  2. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I get it. Been playing since 1967, with the current band since 2010. I often leave the house thinking "this is getting old" (actually, it's just ME getting old I fear). But once the music starts, it's just a few easy hours with friends. We get $100/man for a 3 hour gig, same as we did 10 years ago, which is food for thought. Since I retired in 2009 I've done a lot more than just the band, which was steady 2 or 3 times a month, usually weekends. I was gigged with a trio for a bit on upright, gigged and recorded with a singer/songwriter, had lots of sit-in and sub opportunities and had a solo act (acoustic guitar and vocals). The variety helped get over those "I gotta work" moments. Like you, I prefer to be a side man. I don't care to deal with booking, scheduling and the business end of the band. Tell me with who, what genre, and where and I'll show up on time, with good gear appropriate to the venue/genre, and an enthusiastic attitude. Seemed to lead to more work than I wanted at times. I've slowed down since Covid, but I still play with the band every other weekend and we pick up other gigs during the year, too. I don't miss the hours on the road, late nights, and all the hassles. What I have now suits me fine.
  3. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I've considered taking a more active role in promotion & negotiation. It could net me more money but it will also definitely be more work. It's something I don't enjoy very much and I'm not particularly good at, so I'm glad to leave it to others.
    I do provide PA for some groups and usually don't charge. I think of it as fair exchange for the often-uncompensated extra work the BLs do. (Some do offer me a few extra $$ from time to time and I don't refuse.)
    If I had it in me to do a solo act, I would probably never play with a group again!
    I do at least have versatility as a side man. I didn't recover from the lockdown as quickly as some of the self-promoters did, but now I'm getting all sorts of calls from all sorts of groups.
    I also have a day job that is creative & low paying - kind of like music. It lets me stress less about music revenue, without having an imperative to retire. (I'll keep doing both for as long as they let me...)
    spiritbass, Goatrope and Rootbeer like this.
  4. Goatrope


    Nov 18, 2011
    Sarasota Florida
    Similar boat to @Rootbeer. I retired from my traveling day job over three years ago. The gig money has paid for all my gear, and helps pay my quarterly tax bills. And yes, the repetition of a steady gig can allow the mind to wander.

    I’ve been with the same rock cover band for eight years. There is no shortage of gigs, and I still love playing, but when things get too comfortable, I had those “gotta work tonight” thoughts.

    I think I’ve helped drown out those thoughts by offering myself up as a sub, which forced me into learning songs outside my typical genre. And I find I enjoy the process of learning sets of new songs in a short amount of time quite enjoyable in itself.

    More recently, I joined a second band. Well, “joined” is a strong word. I was subbing for them on a regular basis, while they were actively looking for a permanent guy. Ultimately, they stopped searching, and even though I’m very busy with band number one, they just said they wouldn’t book if I was already busy. So I ended up in the band by osmosis. But I digress.

    It’s the variety of songs, personalities, venues, learning assignments, that reignited my desire to do more. It feels less like a job when you’re distracted by all these variables. And additional gig money doesn’t hurt.
    filmtex, Fuzzbass, Dynacord and 8 others like this.
  5. kevindahl


    Aug 21, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    I am close to retiring and play once or twice a month, usually one night only so that would be max 2 nights a month. However, we still rehearse once per week.

    I find that is plenty for me, especially physically. I don't prefer the late nights and standing with a heavy bass can suck as well. I also think I wouldn't enjoy it as much. The cover band live scene where I live is not great. More often than not the crowd is not too interested in what we are doing.

    The cash is not important to us but we won't play for less than $100 per guy.

    Two reasons: We work hard and have put many hours on our individual instruments and with the band. We believe out of respect for other musicians not to low ball and bring the wage down even lower. I was making the same amount 20 years ago.
  6. Hurricane Jimmie

    Hurricane Jimmie Supporting Member

    So Anyway, a lot of wisdom and experience in the above posts. When I retired I was able to start saying 'Yes' to a lot more music opportunities. I was in 4 different band for a few years and also subbed quite a bit. As with the OP, I'm always the 'sideman'...I'll help with some of the admin of a band, but someone else will have to book the gigs and deal with the owner. For me, that's just too much like work.

    I was able to play a lot of afternoon senior center gigs, happy hours, community park concerts and Moose/Elk/KC dances. I don't care to play past 10 PM... and I doubt if anyone out that late is interested in a band I'd be in.

    Good Luck and enjoy your retirement.
  7. Rootbeer


    Aug 10, 2018
    Have you tried a Slider strap for the weight? I's not perfect and Damien Erskine came out with something a little better but way more expensive. All I use now because I have the dreaded "triple D"...degenerative disc disease. All us old fellows have that to look forward to to some degree.
    Exploiter8, MrLenny1, JRA and 2 others like this.
  8. kevindahl


    Aug 21, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    No I haven't but I will check it out...thanks
    Rootbeer likes this.
  9. Hurricane Jimmie

    Hurricane Jimmie Supporting Member

    You might want to look at a Slinger strap. They put the weight on you hips.
    I use them and it makes the gig and the day after a lot more enjoyable.

    Good Luck to you.
  10. Rib 13

    Rib 13

    Jun 20, 2006
    Im opposite: I was a working bass player for a bulk of my life....now Im doing it for a goof....there is something to be said for "doing it because I want to" instead of "doing it because I have to"...to be fair, theres plusses and minuses to both
    MrBeta, Bunk McNulty, pcake and 5 others like this.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I love playing music, but part of the reason I play gigs is for the cash (not to drink beer or buy more equipment).

    Part of that comes from being a business owner - for years, I never had a weekly paycheck.
    JRA and Rootbeer like this.
  12. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I play as a volunteer at a bunch of churches - I literally play every weekend, and a few times here and there on weekdays. I play much better music, with much better musicians, the hours are better, the audiences are bigger, the drama is almost non-existent, nobody spills beer on my gear. Taking money out the of music equation was one of the best decisions in my life - it's so much better dong this than playing bar gigs for a few dollars.
    Bobro, jbasedig, Mighty Thumb and 3 others like this.
  13. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    When i did wedding gigs, that was work. Fun work sometimes, but still work.
    Vinny Vincenzo and BrotherMister like this.
  14. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Of all the musicians I have met and played with maybe 5% actually made most of their income from playing.
    And those who did got most of the income from weddings and coporate gigs. Weddings were always the biggest paycheck I ever received.

    ergo, if it's all about the money, play weddings.
    Lazylion, pcake, HolmeBass and 2 others like this.
  15. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1 Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I got back into giging when I retired. Did a few bands that only lasted a year each then did freelancing trying to pickup another gig and got burnt out.Same old pay that I got 15 years ago and same personel issues, booze, drugs & egos.It’s a lousy business & very hard to move up to better bands.
    King Harvest, Dust2Dust and Rootbeer like this.
  16. J Wilson

    J Wilson

    Apr 22, 2022
    An Undisclosed Location
    About ten years ago, after 20+ years on bandstands from very nice to dreadful, I got to the point I'd have sooner taken an ass whipping so I could stay home and not stare down a room of drunks and playing the same rote set lists one more time.

    When my obligations to the band were over, I quit. They had a three week gap and wall to wall bassists looking for a gig, so it worked out for both of us.

    I do not miss that stuff at all, and frankly, it's a far more dangerous world now, so I'm glad I don't run the 3AM Express coming home after the gigs.

    Glad I walked when I did.

    I retired from my day job, only to see the price of everything go up faster than one of Musk's rockets, so I'm going back to at least part-time work, but not gigging. I just don't have the guts for it any more.
    Last edited: May 27, 2022
  17. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I had a really enjoyable run when I turned pro. But after about 15 years, most of the magic was gone. My solution was to quit playing bass and run audio full time. Had a blast for a few years and then promoted up into the leadership ranks (military band).

    At this point I am retired from the military. I have a bunch of music gear. I play bass on most days, but it's usually noodling and playing through Real Book change while I watch TV. I think I would still enjoy running sound, but not dealing with the BS. I don't have much interest in being in a band and dealing with even more BS.

    As far as doing it for the money. In my experience bar bands don't generally pay enough for you to really make any sort of profit. After pay for gas, food, drinks you are lucky to break even. The only reason to do this sort of gig is because you enjoy.

    In my experience the money is in what I would call a corporate band. I worked occasionally in a corporate band before I stopped gigging on bass. The band leader was in a family that owned an entertainment company. He maintained a book of music and hired freelance musicians for each gig. His first call (A listers) was to people who were reliable and good musicians. I think I was about his C call. He would have called me more, but my military performances took priority, so I had to say no a lot.

    The band was hired for weddings and various types of company events. Gigs were typically performed in hotel or event-center ball rooms. Parking was usually provided. Gig sequence: arrive, setup, short sound check, take a break, do the gig, pack up. While I was breaking down my rig, the group leader would sit down and write checks for everyone. They always cashed. The group leader hired a roady to deliver and set up his keyboard gear and the PA, so the musicians only had to deal with their personal equipment.

    It's been 15-20 years, but I believe he paid about $75 for a 1 to 1 1/2 hour service. These were background music gigs so I could use my smallest rig. I believe he paid about $160 for longer gigs of 3-4 hours. These started as background music and then transitioned into dance sets. Sometimes the patron would want an extra set and we would get another $25 on top. The bandleader liked his band mates to drink with him so he would buy well drinks for us. Beer was not allowed as it was obviously alcohol.

    For the dance sets I needed to bring an extra cab. Nobody complained if I used my small rig, but it was not enjoyable because I felt buried in the mix.

    If I were his A call, I probably would have worked about 3-4 times a week minimum. So I would have been pulling in $300-$450 or so on a regular basis. This is not huge money and I would still need to pay travel and meal costs, but at least I would break even. If I was really in it for the money, I would find a way to forego the meal cost. But I was in the habit of getting a bite to eat between sound check and longer gigs.
  18. FatherTrucker


    Jun 9, 2017
    I love playing but if the money wasn't as good as it currently is I wouldn't continue doing what I currently do. Way too much time and effort to not be compensated.
  19. Datsgor


    Jul 29, 2000
    I've been through "ruts" like thinking it's a bother to go play....but after having a falling out with the band I was in, I moved on to some other things and quickly found out I loved what I was doing again. So it was the band that was dragging me down. I had been with them for 10 years. Now I have a rig that fits on the back of my motorcycle and I just can't believe how dang lucky I am to be riding my motorcycle to go play music and get paid on top of it. The music I'm playing now is what makes me happy, plus I play with a fantastic drummer mostly. That makes all the difference.
    EddiePlaysBass, bassb66 and Rootbeer like this.
  20. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    My hope is to play gigs after I retire, for the same reasons I enjoy playing now: it’s decent pocket money; it keeps me out of my bank account; and it helps keep my brain sharp, because, well, music. My needs are modest. Playing is playing. If I fall into a scene full of pricks, there will be others I like better, because I can play. Vote with your feet.
    Datsgor, jbasedig, bassb66 and 4 others like this.

Share This Page