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Why do you gig?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by puddin tame, Aug 25, 2012.

  1. puddin tame

    puddin tame

    Aug 14, 2010
    I got to thinking this lately. This applies to non-professionals only.

    If you are not making money (doing it for a living, or partial income) then is gigging not merely just an exercise in ego? The difference between jam buddies and a gigging band is night and day. I feel the first is musically more satisfying and much more fun, but the second seems to be a lot more people for strangely non financial reasons.

    Is it all just a big ego trip? I've been asking myself this question lately. I believe ego should have no place in music. So then, i'm doing this (ideally) ego-less thing, in a format that exists seemingly for the function of feeding my own ego (playing gigs). Or, at least, that just what i've got to thinking.

    I notice a pattern with the bands i've been in. My last two bands have started as good friends jamming, we enjoy the music we're making so much we decide to go official with it (proper band that books gigs) the fun drops right out. Well, not right out, but a lot of the magic goes. We go from making freely the music we want, not worrying if that solo should be 4 bars shorter or if the rhythm is danceable or are there enough venues for this genre etc, to suddenly worrying about this stuff. We go from playing what we want, when we want, and enjoying the hell out of it to following practice agendas and all that business. So instead of hours and hours of fun, it's then hours and hours of quasi-work to a few hours of proportional fun.

    You're probably thinking I should shut up and mind my own business! How does this affect me, you ask? Because this whole "gigging" fad is stealing all the good musicians!

    Anyway, I want you guys to really think about it... why do you gig? The common answer I think is that it is fun to see people digging into the music / to entertain people. But what good is that? Those people would be having a good time without you there, and how does it help you? Is a street performer or a comedian then not doing the same thing? It just doesn't seem like a musical exercise to me. It's an entertainment exercise. But then why is every musician so eager to make the leap to entertainer? It just seems to be the thing that is done, so people do it.

    This thinking i'm developing also might be a side effect of being in a somewhat frustrating market. I'm in a very small country, so there just is not a very large market. There aren't that many people out there to come to the gigs compared to other places in the world. I know kick ass prog rock bands that have been building a name for years and years who are still playing shows to 6 people. There just ain't the numbers down here to support deviation from the most popular stuff. This is possibly making my gigging efforts a much more frustrating experience than perhaps some of my international readers...


    Why do you gig? Is it just an ego trip that ultimately results in a lot of fun being sucked out of the musical process?
  2. I gig because I have to. It's in my blood. I dont jam, never have, never will. I have gigged since 1963 and I dare say I will till the day I drop. Maybe it is a bit of ego, I dont know, but it's also the buzz, the high of a good gig that people enjoy. I play in several bands, all of different genres, so that keeps it fresh. I also sub for another band with over 2000 (!) songs, many of which I have never heard before. There is no rehearsal so that is a challenge, which also keeps it fresh. I believe the ingredients for keeping it all fresh and vital are
    *dont limit yourself to one band.
    *play as many diverse genres as you can.
    Currently I am gigging with three bands on a regular basis and two others on a very sporadic basis. Genres are classic rock, reggae, blues, country, swing, jazz and rockabilly. in the last couple of decades I have also played latin rock, Irish, big band jazz and top 40. Prior to that I played hard rock, 60s R&B, rock n roll and punk.
  3. Rush-2112


    Dec 14, 2008
    New York City
    I'm going on 5 years with the band I'm in, and we have always had gigs (as well as jam sessions, rehearsal, etc.) I think the primary purpose gigging serves is more exposure of one's music to the general public. I mean, isn't that how all the big bands got started in the first place? I wouldn't say it has very much to do with ego; it's just, you write some music and decide you'd like to share it with people, no charge. So that's how I've always thought about it, to get your music "out there" because no matter where you're playing, you never know who's listening (producers, etc.).

    On top of that, I love gigging because it's just plain fun :bassist:
  4. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    This. I'm not even sure you and I are on the same planet.

    Gigging is fun. Playing a gig to a crowd who are having a good time only makes your own experience more rewarding. Until you've played a great gig, I'm not sure there's anything we could tell you that could describe it.
  5. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    Gigging is best of both worlds.
    Can be fun and can be not, but you can fix it when its not.
    i gig because i like the atmosphere, i like being on stage enjoying our music with others, i like hanging with fellow musicians and new people and getting to grow friendships with people we are meeting.
    its not about look at me.
    its about brotherhood.
  6. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Gigging isn't my main reason for playing music, however, it's one of the reasons that a lot of other musicians get into music.

    Most of the musicians that are worth playing with (IME) want to gig. They see it as a step along the progression towards success if not a quick cash influx. If it's a carrot for them, then use it. Let it be a motivator to tightening up the band. Deadlines can be highly useful tools for focusing things as easily distracted as musicians.;)
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I just like a little attention...
  8. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    First thing, I derive great pleasure from making booties shake and feet tap. It's a communion transe.
    Another factor is, I like to bring out my creations into the world.

    Art only exist with an audience to appreciate it.
    I see gigging as what differenciates an evening hobby from truly making music as an art.
    Much like what differenciates publishing a book from writing a journal or painting in the attic from exposing in a gallery.
  9. gjbassist

    gjbassist Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2005
    Kansas City, MO
    It's what I do for fun! I don't play golf. I don't hunt or fish. I don't go out drinking with the guys or play poker. I make music. And yes I do like the ego boost I get when someone tells me how good my band sounds or that they like my voice.
  10. Art and other creative endeavors are meant to be shared, for the benefit of those who create it and those who consume it.
  11. pgolliher


    Apr 27, 2010
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Yes, there is some ego involved and for me, there is an element of escapism but as others have mentioned, when you have a great gig, the energy from the crowd is one of the parts that create the synergy. The crowd and the band feed off of each other, just like musicians feed off each other in a good jam that elevates the music. it is totally rewarding.
  12. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    Quite simply,I gig because I enjoy it. My bandmates and I would(and have)play for free,but you gotta admit, it's a nice bonus to get paid for something you love to do. I don't gig to feed an ego,garner attention,or gain exposure. I do it for the love of playing..
  13. Although I am a professional musician, in the sense that I have earned almost all of my income from music since I turned 18, I might weigh in here.

    I gig mainly because it is a very pleasurable experience. True, there are gigs I take for the money - but I try my best to keep that to a bare minimum at all times. I also work in the studio sometimes - but that is not my main interest either (although I do a lot of home recording on my own for pleasure).

    For me, a live gig in front of an audience alongside talented like-minded musicians, is an incomparable experience. It just isn't like anything else I've ever done.
  14. lmfreeman9

    lmfreeman9 Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2007
    Good post. I have yet to really enjoy gigging in my limited experience. (10-15 gigs)

    When forming groups the group goal always seems to be to play out. Maybe because you need a goal or people think it will make money. Going public always seems like a tripping point.

    For me, the goal is to improve personally and as a group and if you just stay in the garage, it seems to eventually go to ruin.
  15. mrjim123


    May 17, 2008
    Elkhart, IN
    For me its always been ALL about the music. My mom took me to see the movie Stars and Stripes Forever (basically, the biography of composer John Phillip Sousa) when I was something like 5 or 6 years old. She said it was all I talked about for the next week. Music has always blown me away. I can't imagine not playing. I play to make music; everything else - money, fame (if you wanna call it that), etc. is secondary and, at the age of 61, groupies are :)() a distant memory.
  16. Fun, girls, adrenaline... That's all
  17. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    The only gig I have is about once every 3 weeks or so at church. And as simple as that may sound my life would be a bit easier without it. I work a TON of hours and have next to no free time for myself so when it's time to learn songs it's like a big, crash course with the help of a lot of coffee and no sleep.

    So why do I do it? Well, this I can tell you. I'm 59 and feel like I have nothing to prove. It's not about ego either because I know for a fact there are guys and gals in thier 20's who can do it all better than me. And if I left and one of those youngsters took my place I'd be forgotten very quickly. Life goes on without you.

    I do it because I feel like I'm saying thank you to God for His blessings upon me. So many families have lost everything and here I am, a single guy who's still rolling along. Got a job, a bit of money in the bank, food and a roof over my head. Jeez...how in the world do I rate? I also feel like I'm doing something positive for our community by playing there as well.
  18. iovar


    May 7, 2011
    Chania, Crete
    I think you've got it backwards.
    Art is expression. A language if you may. What good is talking, if none ever hears you?

    If you only jam with a few friends, just to appreciate your musical skills, then you have become a prime example of elitism.
    On the other hand, if you understand that art is a social function of our species, then you will have to take into account that it is not only about what you want, but what your listeners want , too. This is an exercise in humility, not an ego-trip (especially for bass players).

    And being proud of what you do right (job, art, sandwiches) is ... normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

    Also, I've had encounters with jam-only, my-art-is-too-sacred-to-be-performed-in-front-of-a-crowd "musicians" and if anyone ever took an ego-trip it surely was they.
    Most of them are bad musicians or used to be good but have fallen out of practice. And somehow, girlfriend candidates would always find their way to the jam-session. Also a couple of friends would be there from time to time, just so the "artist" tag would be verified in their social circles.

    In short, I've found these types of people to be extremely self-centred and not worth of my time.

    Of course all that doesn't mean that there aren't a whole bunch of people that gig only to promote their egos.

    Anyway, I gig because I'm a musician (and that's what musicians do).
  19. Bert Slide

    Bert Slide

    May 16, 2012
    Louisville KY
    I gig because it's the only way to get really fresh frog legs. :p
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Why do you gig?


    Certainly not for the money ...

    A gig has to be fun ... if not then I am outta there ...

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