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when to start asking for pay per gig

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Shawn Cav, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. Shawn Cav

    Shawn Cav Guest

    Hello TBers I am new to posting but have been a reader of the forums for a long time now and I have a bit of a situation I'm in.

    I've always played with bands as a full member. I still play with a 60s/70s cover band in the area and we all split the money evenly per gig. which has always worked out great.

    I do some solo bass performances in the area but again its simple to work out the money due to the fact that its just me.

    this past year I have been asked by other local musicians (solo artists or bands) to help fill in frequently. now I have been looking at this a couple different ways.

    1. I ask for the money split evenly and basically just be a back up for them but this makes me feel as though I am just in the background and does nothing for my music career.

    2. I don't ask for money but instead everytime I perform with one of them its "so and so featuring ..." and I get some spot light to showcase myself.

    so far #2 has worked out GREAT. I've gotten recognized as more than just a bassist and more of an asset. it's a great feeling when people come up to you and want to have you be apart of their musical idea. which brings me to the whole point of this rant. I have so many projects being sent towards me that I feel I should require a min payment per gig. like a percentage of the total being earned for the night. I don't want to seem like I'm a big shot and my head cant fit through the door. but I still want to value my time. I was also considering if it was a large media coverage type event I would either ask for less % since the coverage would benefit me in the end anyway.

    I love playing with creative and dedicated musicians that are able to put these projects together and not just talk about it. I just don't know when to ask for payment / how to go about asking for a rate.

    this past year has been so busy with music projects, gigs, and events that I don't want to let people think I will do it all for free all the time.

    I hope this wasn't to hard to follow/understand any advice or knowledge will be greatly appreciated. thank you
  2. I'd say it's fair to ask, after being asked to play, what does it pay? If it doesn't pay, then you need to think if it's worth your time or if you believe it will help advance you in some way.
  3. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    Right. And it hurts musicians'-economy if you play for free.
    JimmyM likes this.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    Wthout making a whole lot of assumptions, I'm going to guess that one of the big reasons you're getting as many gigs as you are, is because you're playing for free. Start charging and the gigs will start thinning out.

    I think this one's gotta be your call, and the only way you're going to know is once you start doing it. Bottom line IMO is deciding what's more important to you, money, or playing. And if not that, then deciding between the few bucks you'll make at local gigs, or the investment in the possibility that you'll one day land a really big, super sweet paying gig.
    Remyd likes this.
  5. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather


    Please don't play for free!!
    JimmyM, Remyd and Staccato like this.
  6. Shawn Cav

    Shawn Cav Guest

    Thanks and this was exactly my thoughts if the exposure overtime of playing for a few bucks here and there lands me a bigger better gig opportunity then it was all worth it in the end.

    and I also agree with the other above statement that if I was to start charging the musicians asking me to play the gig opportunities will probably thin out. Ill have to find a comfortable balance between paid gigs and gigs for exposure to further myself. I appreciate all your help!
  7. nemo


    Mar 19, 2004
  8. Thumpinshelton


    Apr 10, 2010
    You are unfortunately setting the standard for you future if you keep this up. Once you start asking for pay you will see the gigs slowing down. I probably do 1 or 2 fundraiser or charity gigs a year. But, very rare.
  9. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Pay is one filter for what gigs to take. I'm pretty confident I could play out a whole lot more, and be involved in more projects if I were willing to forgo getting paid. But, if I did that, my wife would kill me. So, I need to get paid so my wife doesn't kill me.
    BassCliff likes this.
  10. My personal rule is simple - "if anyone makes money, so must I".
    JimmyM likes this.
  11. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    Honestly, the guy filling in should make MORE than the others. There's so much more work involved for that fill in. I do a lot of fill in work as well, and often I find myself having to learn 4 hours of music in a day or two. I'll only take even pay if I'm playing with friends of mine, as I consider it a favor and those gigs are usually a lot of fun.
  12. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    For those one-off gigs I get paid my rate (which varies by the earning potential of the band or performer) ... and someone damn well better mention my name in the promotional material and, at the very least, on stage. That's worked for me.
  13. Tampabass

    Tampabass Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    I know you are, but what am I?
    You made a funny -- had to laugh at this response. My wife wouldn't be real happy about me going that way, either.

    But, yeah, don't play for free.
    Being a sub is more of a challenge than playing in your own band, as someone else posted. And why you should make less than what the other guys in the band are making? After all, you're doing them the favor of filling in, probably not with a lot of advance notice.
    So, just don't play for free.
  14. Tampabass

    Tampabass Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    I know you are, but what am I?
    The other thought is: Yeah, some of the gigs initially will start falling off. But that means you can focus on the ones that DO pay and, if you're doing a good job, word will get around that you're the guy to call (and pay) if/when a band needs a good sub.
    My guess is that before long you'd be as busy as before, except this time you'd be getting paid for your services.
  15. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Unless I am playing in church, I have always assumed that I was getting paid. Even my very first gig was a paid gig, a high school dance in 1969.

    Don't get me wrong, I have played for free plenty of times, for the right event, for the right reasons, for the right cause, etc. But people don't call me thinking, "We need a bass player and we won't have to pay this guy." They call me when they need a decent bass player who can sing lead and harmonies, knows lots of songs, and can read music. I don't have to be the star or the featured artist. If I do my job well enough, the right people will notice.

    Have business cards ready to hand out. ;)

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  16. Signs

    Signs Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2011
    Muskegon, MI

    How true. When we play out with our three piece band, we charge $100 per man to play four 45 minute sets with 15 minute breaks between. So we are playing from let's say 9 pm to 1 am.

    Bars don't mind paying this on a Friday or Saturday. When we are trying to get our name out in a new area or some new places, we might go to an open mic night, where they pay a house band to host it. Now the house band might have to be there from 4 pm to 10 pm, and the "jammers" come in and use their amps, mics, just bring their own guitars. But this will be on a Sunday night or Thursday night, never prime time. We can come in and play a set for free but the bar owner sees us. I would rather do this than be the house band that gets maybe $200 total and has to be there 6 hours. I would rather play for free here and go home when the set is done, than make $50 for 6 hours. But someone is getting paid (house band) so it isn't a freebie and not devaluing musicians. Playing for free or cheap makes it hard for everyone else to get gigs. $100 per man is standard fair Friday or Saturday night regardless of how many are in your band...
  17. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    You have a ton of gig offers because you're not playing on a level field with other musicians. Of course they want you - they don't have to pay you! You've sold yourself way short my friend. As a good sub, you should be making at least as much as the other players.
    You're not furthering your career by establishing a precedent for always playing for free.
  18. Marginal Tom

    Marginal Tom

    Apr 28, 2010
    O'Fallon, IL
    By now, these gigs should have established your visibility and image within your local market. If you continue to play for free too long, your image will be "the chump who plays for free."
  19. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    The gigs might slow down. But the money might pickup.

    It sounds to me like this OP has paid his dues and now wants to be member of the club.

    If you're doing this as a hobby that's one thing. If this is a career it's quite another.

    As soon as the gig is offered, assuming no pay is offered along with the gig, ask then.

    Point out how popular you are. If you are at the level you can just sit in on a gig you have thousands of hours invested in that skill set.

    Lawyer tend to get retainers. I really have no idea what that is but another way of getting money out of my pocket. But look into it.

    Most consultants get paid between 125 and 250 beans an hour. Musicians seem to get the short end of that stick but point out what a lawyer gets for an hour's work. Or a plumber.

    And here's one of the hardest things to know about life.

    An individual isn't going to ge the deal they deserve.

    They will get the kind of deal they negotiate.

    And all those night of Featuring *****. That was you developing a skill set as well as an audience bass.
  20. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    Good advice. Even if you're not married use this one. Replace with GF, Sig other Dog etc.