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FranVac shaneb stylist

Make sure you're getting paid well for your hard work.

in Welcome Posts: 2,807

As @BluesBop Harry said above. And I added: playing music, professionally or otherwise, is one of the very few endeavors where you're not being paid while you're learning or getting better at your skills. Thus, when going out to play a two hour gig, what's hidden from the eyes of the audience and the person hiring you is countless hours of work that brought you there. Audience may take it for granted and that's fine. Establishment taking it for granted is not. We just got offered a $25 per person plus dinner and tips to play a two hour set at the French restaurant on July 14th, the Bastille day. I don't see that being a slow night. One problem is that the establishments feel it's OK to pay a musician $12.50/hour plus tips and Bouillabaisse. But even more of a problem is when we said that it's not enough, the owner simply said "it's OK, there's a guy that plays a guitar that we usually get, he'll do it".

How did it get here?

Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel


  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2019 Posts: 649

    There is a French Festival this weekend here in Santa Barbara and we are the GJ band in Santa Barbara but we refuse to play the gig as it is for tips only. Some guys just want to play and some may even read this who are coming up here and going to give the organizer what he wants free music. I realize some musicians really want an audience but at the price of undercutting other musicians and themselves...lets just say...I won't do it.

    BucoJoseWim Glenn
  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew Martin Tremblay Grand Modèle Busato
    Posts: 209
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 544

    I have played many styles of what I would call non-commercial music, in every venue imaginable, for over 40 years. That's to say, music where there isn't much interest outside the players world. Here's my take on all this: if the audience is coming to see YOU, or if it's a government job, or you get a good spot at some kind of a music festival, there is a good chance that you'll get paid a fair wage. If the audience is coming for anything else - wedding (unless you are a professional "wedding band"), restaurant/coffeehouse, museum or any other kind of "arts" gig, you probably will not be paid a fair wage. Which really isn't entirely unfair since almost no one at these kinds of noisy gigs pays any attention to what you do anyway. It's why I never spent much money on a stage rig. If the gig is any good, they'll almost always provide good sound reinforcement.

    I've had other avocations that took a lot of time and cost money that also had a zero ROI. I have a friend who's a professional DJ and he makes a lot more playing weddings that I ever did. It certainly seems unfair after you spent all that time and money getting good at something, and it is. For most of us, it's best to keep the day job, enjoy the personal satisfaction you get for a well-played gig, and be grateful for the extra $100 every now and then.

    Final note: unless it's for a non-profit, never ever play for free.

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 252

    Talk to a freelance writer some time.

  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited July 2019 Posts: 2,889

    Hey Score, Yeah I did that French festival one time I think way back when with Nick just because it was the French fest and we wanted GJ to be represented. The organizer seemed to me like he was trying to take advantage of the performers. He called us back the next year but we blew it off. Oh yeah, I'll organize a party and then "invite" a bunch of bands to come and play for free. Geez...what's the saying, something like "people die from exposure" :-)

  • JoseJose Minneapolis New DuPont MD 50
    Posts: 33

    So.. how do you get properly paid when you are new band in town? Do you rent a place and promote your shows? Gigmasters? Or simply go busking and hope for the best?

  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2019 Posts: 649

    Have a video ready or CD...research where there is music or go to a bar or eatery where you think the owner might be receptive. There are a lot of ways but you have to make contact with the owner of place first and have product to sell. If he wants to see you live invite him to a rehearsal. Maybe most important when playing in a bar or restaurant realize the owner is not there for you, your job is to help his/her place succeed. I always come in with that attitude. Most musicians I know feel they are owed respect for their music when working in a bar or eatery. The best way to get respect is to be on the owners/managers team and earnestly want them to do well. I am grateful when a place hires me to play, they are taking a financial risk with no sure return and I want to help them do well. I know you did not ask for this info but I have seen so many musicians gripe about the owners and lose jobs and it did not have to be that way.

    JoseBonesBucoWim Glenn
  • stuologystuology New
    edited July 2019 Posts: 73

    I see it from both points of view as I gig and I also occasionally work as a promoter. I’ve always paid musicians but getting audiences, particularly for niche genres like gypsy jazz, is hard, hard work and breaking even is a win for me.

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,889

    Yeah niche genre for sure. Jazz in general but especially GJ. Catch 22. Wish I had the answer.

  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 414

    If you are working for less than minimum wage, both you and the venue owner are breaking the law.

    If you do not have the skill set required to get a paid gig, you should be at home woodshedding. Playing out at a less than pro level standard will not move the music forward.

    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
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