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How do I know that?
Well, I ain't no business head, but around here, the failure rate of new restaurants is brutal...
Jim wrote: <"If you're a hobbyist, and you play gratis or for some sort of deal that involves little or no money, you are potentially messing with gigs a professional player may take." >
I can't see how there's a gig there that a pro might take ?...
Stringswinger wrote : <"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.">
Well, I'm out playing for the love, or for drinks, even occasionally for a nice paypacket,
although I'm not really "pro level" , and I doubt I'm "moving the music forward"
So what are you going to do ? call the Jazz Police ?
My thinking is it's always been like that in the restaurant business. I think the big part of why restaurants are closing doors soon after they open, is a lot of people jump in it with thinking it can give a good profit without a lot of work. Which it can and it does. But, again from the mouth of my buddy, for the restaurant to see a success it needs to become your life, 24/7. Way too often people think they can come up with a good concept, great interior design, well created menu and then go home and reap the profits. But it takes years before you can, as an owner, put a place on auto pilot.
@AndyW I hear you Andy. I don't think anyone that posted here would say they do it for the money and then because they love doing. We all play out because it's fun. I played my fair share of gigs for a drink or two and a tip jar. It's not a problem. Non-profit or charity events are a given that I'll offer my time, as long as I support the cause. But look, there are musicians like me and you (hopefully I'm not underestimating you) that are good enough to get hired but not really good enough to make gigging your full time profession. There are also people who made it in their respective genre. Well, in GJ I doubt anyone is getting rich. But if you're at the top of your game, you tour several months out of a year, your own country and internationally and there is usually a decent pay while doing that. But then there are people who are just a step behind the touring acts. Maybe their skill set is there already. They tour some but not enough. Maybe they just haven't been able to get their name out there yet. With this skill set you expect that you can make a living playing music. If too many people from the first group of musicians where you and I are presumably, are willing to take and are taking gigs like that; a few drinks, a tip and some food, then that culture is being developed and spread throughout the community and bars and restaurants, some festivals etc..., come to expect it. That puts musicians from the last group in a very awkward situation. They have the skill set but very few places are willing to pay the rate that matches their skill set.
Oh, and it just becomes damn annoying when a lot of these places are obviously taking you for granted... at the same time they use you to make more money.
But why would music be any different than any other profession? I used to install audio video equipment for a living, distributed AV, home automation, home theaters etc... I loved, loved what I was doing. Especially when I started my business there was not a single day that I was dreading going to work. Does that mean I was willing to give away my work for pennies? Well no. I did plenty of free work for friends, that's different. A few free jobs for non-profit organizations that I cared about. But I expected to be paid a fair going rate for my work. Now suppose there are hobbyists out there who's skills aren't quite up to mine, but say they'll get the job mostly done for quarter of what the industry rate is? And say there are enough of them where a customer actually has a choice of who to hire. Now substitute this for your own profession... If that fair?
By the way, there are places that offer tips and drinks only and are still able to do a great job for the band. They actively remind people that the band is playing for tips and to tip the band are go around the room with a bucket. If everyone (or close to it) chips in just a little bit, it can go a long way to put the band ahead. A couple of places I played that do that, I actually made a nice buck.
Buco wrote- "I always found it hilarious when people would tell me after playing at a corporate event or similar, something like "we were afraid of tedious music when we heard they hired a jazz band. But I like this kind of jazz! What kind of jazz is this?". Happened a couple of times. My answer to non-Django crowd is usually that it's acoustic swing jazz in an old school tradition. Then if we continued a conversation I'd expand, telling about Django and so on. So yeah, our hire-ability is definitively ahead of the curve when compared to straight ahead jazz."
Haha, I always tell them I invented it. :-)
Of course, then I tell them just kidding, then they get the 10 second GJ history lesson.
I own a restaurant/bar. In my profession, paying for live music is a very sensitive subject.
When we opened, my wife and I agreed, "no live music." Why? In our years of experience, it is a rare occasion when both the artist and business are mutually happy with the agreement at the end of the night.
Then there's that, hahaha. Of course, there are always two sides. Thanks for chiming in man.
Here is another side. Just finished playing this beautiful restaurant for 10 weeks. Worked Fridays, always a good crowd but not sure of the other nights (they also had music on some other nights). Started as a duo moved to a trio at managers/owners request. Paid 100.00 for 2 hours each (in a restaurant I'd call that quite good). Also basically got all the food (terrific food) and drink we could stomach (I tried not to take too much advantage of this). Place went under last week. There is a line somewhere where it hurts the owners to get paid well though it obviously is a case by case basis. I also saw the manager/owner comping dinners for others so I have no idea how much is at play but there is a point if it hurts the owners pocket too much it may contribute to them closing and then there is no place to play.
I am bummed as we lost a place to play and for the owner who treated us so well, hopefully I have read the situation incorrectly but I can't imagine the owners generosity helped keep the doors open.
In my experience many of the smaller bars and cafes will be literally losing money to have live music, and the owner or manager does it because they like music and want to support musicians. This does not mean you should offer to play for too cheap, and certainly never working for free or just food/drinks. If a bar can not pay the musicians a livable wage then they should not have live music, it's as simple as that.
That's been my experience as well. Restaurants and bars generally only maintain live music for one of two reasons:
Managers who bring in music for any other reason are usually doomed to fail. Often, I've found the adoption of live music is a last ditch attempt by the management to save a dying restaurant. Of course, that never works because people will ultimately go to the restaurant primarily for the food. If they've already failed in that regard, then music won't save them. Honestly, even if Bireli was playing at some of these places 7 nights a week, it would just be crickets.
Other times, we've had gigs that were successful for many years with patrons consistently commenting on how they enjoyed the music. But then a new manager or accountant came in and couldn't quantify the ROI on music and promptly axed it.