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Why do you play for free?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by glocke1, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    THis does not apply to original acts or benefits...

    A group of people I play with that have a cover project together are a little butt hurt because a festival that had them play last year is not having them play this year..

    Honestly, it's not that great of a festival, and unless you are from the immediate area you are likely to never of heard of it. ****** time slots, no pay unless you sell the tickets that they give you to sell (last year the guitar player gave them all away to his friends).

    I had pretty much already said that I wasn't interested in playing given the fact there bands aside from the main headliners are not getting paid, and the fact that bands are given tickets to sell...To me, thats really just taking advantage of the acts in order to fill up the hours preceding the headline acts.

    Bottom line for me is that given the amount of time, effort, and money musicians put into a band, playing for free is an insult.

    So, what are your justifications for playing for free?
    PortlandBass77 likes this.
  2. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    If I really like the music and the team involved in a startup project I may do a gig for free.
    Hasn't happened in years however.
    If a friend asks me I may also do it for free...has happened at times and does. Those are often Fun and a real nice get together. They are also a chance for me to repay favours
    Dug2 likes this.
  3. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I can only think of exposure and experience for the band and if they give you tickets to sell and the only people who buy them are your friends and family or you have to give them away then maybe you aren't ready? now if people are begging to see you and you can potentially sell every ticket you can get your hands on then by all means you should be paid these small festivals operate on tight budgets and even the headliners aren't exactly getting rich doing them but it would be foolish to pay the acts that can't draw anyone.
  4. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    But at the same time these acts are providing a service to the promoters by providing entertainment in the hours before the headliner appears..Sorry, but that logic does not hold up. The festival is sold out or almost sold out, people are there camping for the weekend and want to be entertained...the promoters are taking advantage of the bands "eagerness and enthusiasm" is how I see it.

    Its like having someone new to the painting business come over and paint your house for free because they don't have a customer base.
  5. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I based my answer on what you said in your initial post if it's a bigger festival then I see your point if it's some little town festival not so much.
  6. I DON'T. Yes, I typed that in caps. The ONLY few times I've done it, was for fundraiser/charity work. Anything other than that? PAY ME, language edit - ~Mod. . I've been in this game way, way too long. Our band is too established, and we have lots of money is invested in the band.
  7. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    Benefits, a very brief audition or maybe a party jam with friends aside I can't think of a single reason why any cover band would want to play for free. Originals bands often do it either to promote a CD or because they have to. If you're a cover band the only CDs you're selling are someone else's. So what does any cover band gain from freebies?

    IMHO it's unprofessional to offer your services to others who are making money through your efforts. Tradesmen don't work for free and as musicians that's what your are, tradesmen with skills and your own set of tools and supplies to do the job correctly. If you don't see yourselves that way then give way to other bands who do and stop giving away your product so that others can make a living off of theirs.
  8. BillyIVbass


    Sep 24, 2008
    Gear Reviews Guitar World Online
    3 reasons I'll play for free;

    1. Occasionally there are those awesome friends who come out to countless gigs and spend their hard earned cash. Next, they ask you to play their party/BBQ etc. Usually I'm happy to bring out a small rig, play a few songs and eat my body weight in food.

    2. If there's really great musicians or music involved. What bass player doesn't like playing with a top notch drummer?

    3. It's to schmooze for a future paying gig. If a new club/bar opens up, I'll hit an Open Mic etc. with hopes to book a weekend gig there.
  9. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    Two scenarios in which I'll play for free: a) for a charity, church, or fundraiser, and b) when I've been taken for a ride ("Yeah man, it'll be a door deal. We'll get, like, 200 or 300 through the doors tonight, easy.")
    bolophonic likes this.
  10. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011

    We put a LOT of time & effort into making damned sure we didn't suck before anyone ever heard us. We've earned (and are worth) our fee.
  11. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards

    The only time I play for free is to benefit a good cause. I have done many shows to raise money for people who lost loved ones during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, fund raisers for mentally challenged children and for organizations raising money for cancer research. My band was just asked to perform at a cancer benefit in June. We said yes. I actually have more fun doing these shows than I do at many paying gigs.
  12. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    I do it just to piss off all of you "pros".
  13. pipFunk


    Feb 1, 2005
    There can't be many times where, if you agree to play for "free", you're not actually playing for "minus".

    Unless you happen to have all your kit in your car, and you're passing the place on your way somewhere else then at the very least your're out gas money!

    That makes "free" gigs "pay to play" ...

    *ahem* :oops:)
    sleeplessknight likes this.
  14. radioface


    May 2, 2013
    Because no one can afford me.
    exidor likes this.
  15. tfandel


    Dec 21, 2005
    I agree with everyone else. A charity event is one thing. I am willing to do my part to help out a family in need or a good local organization. If you're having an event for profit or want me to play at your club then SHOW ME THE MONEY! I've been doing this for too long to be expected to play for free. All of the money I have invested in gear, time in rehearsal, gas to the gig and you want me to hump my gear to your venue and play for free. I don't think so. Tell the bar owner you'll play for free if he donates the night's profits and his paycheck to charity.
  16. rubendlr


    Mar 10, 2012
    Austin, TX, USA
    For the love of playing and being heard and appreciated.
    When I was younger and more religious, I did it for the glory of God.
    Not that I'm older and not so religious, I will play for free beer.
    Last but not least, as long as I'm having a good time, I don't mind not getting paid.

    I might play with a friend doing a showcase at SXSW. But I probably won't see a dime. If I do great, if not, as long as I enjoy the music, it's cool.
  17. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Bands that play for free for gigs that should pay are either business failures or else they realize that what they have to offer musically isn't worth anything.
    sleeplessknight likes this.
  18. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    not all bands are businesses.
    bolophonic and exidor like this.
  19. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Chin up Norty, just keep practicing and maybe someday you'll get good enough to get a paying gig.
    sleeplessknight likes this.
  20. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    not all bands are worth anything either. If you don't have the cajones to ask for pay from a bar gig then stay home.