Anyone ever done musical gigs?

wsabol

Gold Member
I've done one, and I've been offered another, but don't know whether to accept.

I'll freely admit that I like musicals, despite what this does to society's idea of my "manhood". Even more, I like lending my playing ability to young people who want to act their heart out and develop an expressive skill and add meaning and value to their lives and the lives of others.

I'd really like to agree to do this gig, but the pay is terrible. Its $50 per call - a call being a rehearsal or performance. Rehearsals can run up to 5 hours - like 6 to 11pm - that's less than $10 an hour, and 5 hour rehearsals are really exhausting. There are 13 calls, so total I'll get $650. To put that in perspective, that last musical I did I got over $1000 at the end, and it was from a smaller kids production studio.. this one I'm considering does higher level level productions, and is located in a far more affulent part of town.

Should I just do it and enjoy it and not worry about it so maybe I'll get another better call? Part of me says yes, but I have a day job and a kid, and other gigs I'll have to back out of to do this. For the record, the wife doesn't mind either way and would actually want me to do it if the price was right - but the price is not right.

Need advice. Thanks guys.
 
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AzHeat

Platinum Member
That depends. I don't think I've made $200 for all of the gigs I did back in the day. Others somehow seemed to get paid, so there was definitely something shady going on. For the most part though I was having way too much fun to care. I'd do a musical in a heart beat, but the 5 hour practices would be deal breakers. It's why I don't gig now.

Musicals and the like are way different than a standard set and in my book far more challenging. There's just more to pay attention to and finesse really counts.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Disclaimer: Nobody's ever paid me to play music, so take this whence it comes.

Your time has a value.

The price you put on your time (which is a subtly different concept) is also impacted by how much fun you're having.

Some things are so much fun that they are worth doing for free.
 

wsabol

Gold Member
For sure AzHeat.

Another variable in this is that the instrumentation may be weird. The score is written for a standard big band of course, but it may just be a rock quartet, or trio, doing Elvis covers.. and I'll most certainly be playing exclusively with hot rods and brushes. Maybe I should be thankful I'm on actual drums rather than an electronic kit, but still.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Normally, a musician shouldn't turn down an offer to work. But that assumes that the musician plays for a living, and that 'work' means a paying job that nets some money after expenses. That is, don't drive 300 miles r/t to be paid $50 for the gig, if you car gets 20mpg.

Inasmuch as you have a job and can afford to cherry pick your gigs, I'd say the pay isn't worth the time it takes from your schedule. The reward just isn't worth it.

If you didn't have the steady source of income, I would say take the work. Some money is better than no money.

Bermuda
 

wsabol

Gold Member
Normally, a musician shouldn't turn down an offer to work. But that assumes that the musician plays for a living, and that 'work' means a paying job that nets some money after expenses. That is, don't drive 300 miles r/t to be paid $50 for the gig, if you car gets 20mpg.

Inasmuch as you have a job and can afford to cherry pick your gigs, I'd say the pay isn't worth the time it takes from your schedule. The reward just isn't worth it.

If you didn't have the steady source of income, I would say take the work. Some money is better than no money.

Bermuda
Solid advice. As always. Thanks bermuda.
 

Dutch

Senior Member
I like lending my playing ability to young people who want to act their heart out and develop an expressive skill and add meaning and value to their lives and the lives of others.
I thought you had already arrived at the answer..

Dutch
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Amateur musicals in my city pay less than that, typically $20 per call, which is what I used to earn for these shows in the 80's.

I direct school musicals sometimes, and we pay $50 per call for extra players in our orchestras.

I guess it depends on the level of the show, and whether or not they're ripping off the band...
 

STXBob

Gold Member
Hell, I've never gotten paid for amateur productions, whether as part of the pit orchestra or treading the boards. I still think it was worth it.

Truth is, being told, "OMG, you're a drummer who can read music!" was worth about $50 an hour right there! :p

Dutch highlighted your answer a couple posts up. Do it to share your skills and make a more valuable experience for the cast and crew, and thank your lucky stars you're getting paid at all.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Interesting question, and good replies!

Here are a few things to consider:

1. Could this gig lead to other higher-paying gigs?

2. What do the other musicians get per call?

3. Could you actually ask for more money? If your town is saturated with good drummers, I'm sure it wouldn't be good to ask; however, if this is a big fish/little pond scenario, then maybe you could ask for more.


I'm sort of in your situation in a way. I'm married, and I have three kids (ages 5, 7, and 10). I also have a great job, but I commute 45 minutes each way every weekday. My time is very, very precious to me these days. I play at church every other week, and I have a couple of music side projects right now. With that said, my family always comes first. I quit doing music altogether for a few years after my third kid was born. It was just too much. While I'm just now starting to get back into it, I was doing 4-hour hammered dulcimer gigs every other Saturday at a local general store. While I didn't get paid, I would usually do pretty well in tips and CD sales. However, what started out as a fun gig ended up feeling like another day of work. I took about a 3-year hiatus from it all.

You are going to just have to answer whether or not it's worth your time. To me, it's not...but I'm not you. :)
 

Frank

Gold Member
I think it all depends on just how much you enjoy it, and if you have the time to do it.

I don't earn my living with music. [That was a good thing for my family. :) ]
I did two musicals many years ago for just a stipend. It wasn't even per rehearsal/date. It was just one small stipend at the end.

But I loved it so much, I didn't care. I really loved the experience.
 

Smoke

Silver Member
"Pay" can come in more forms than just money. That being said, you need to decide if the "pay" is commensurate the commitment.

Mrs. Smoke is a clown - balloon twisting, face painting, the whole bit. Most of her gigs are pro bono benefits, though she typically nets enough from paying gigs to feed her hobby/habit. Yes, sometimes her benefit gigs cut into family time, but for her, the rewards are big. And, yes, she'll occasionally decline a benefit gig, but always refers the client to a competent alternate, knowing that she may be flushing an opportunity next year. I remind her that the cream always rises to the top, so "be the cream."

Evaluate the total package - you'll know what to do.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
You have something better to do than play the drums for money? More lucrative calls? What are we doing here? Take the job.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I have mixed feelings on things like this. I played for a Buddy Rich tribute program at a nearby high school, and I had to go to one 2 hour rehearsal, and then play the actual show the next day. Some of those arrangements are no joke, and I'm not used to the over-the-top swing solos... I'm more of a jazz guy.

I got $100 total, which isn't great pay. However, I make my living playing music, so in some ways, a paycheck is a paycheck. Also, it's a great networking opportunity. I met tons of great horn players, and got a few club gigs (at regular pay) out of the deal. Plus it was an early gig, on a Wednesday, so I probably wouldn't have done too much anyways. Also, it's always a good idea to help support the community and kids that are interested in the arts.


If it's relatively close to you and won't put you out, then I'd do it. If you really don't need the money, the networking, or the karma.... or it's just a hassle, then you can skip it.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
An old friend of mine up in DC got into some orchestra pit work, which at the time sounded rather different for him, but he dug it, stuck with it, still does it and hooked up with quite a few other ventures because of it. Now he's doing lots of studio work, jazz ensemble work etc... the networking out of the pit work was quite extensive and opened up many opportunities that wouldn't have materialized otherwise.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Current pay scale for musicians still blows my mind. My first paying job was playing for a musical. I got the gig through my school's band director, who recommended me because he knew I was a good reader. I was 14 years old and got $20 a call. In 1978.

OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way - I'd pretty much follow Bermuda's advice. I have gotten to where I rarely take gigs, because I don't try to make my living as a musician. If I do take one, it has to be worth my time, either monetarily or for the fun/karma factor. Mostly I'm happy with this arrangement, but as you can imagine, the more gigs you turn down, the fewer you are offered. If there is something down the road you want, it may go to someone who is more active. I'd figure that in my decision, too, because in my personal experience, I have lost out on some things I wanted to do because I've been so picky, and that's been tough to take sometimes.
 

moxman

Silver Member
I'd say if you're having fun doing it - and - it's an experience thing with the possibility of getting your foot in the door and getting known - and a good chance of moving up to higher paying gigs.. then go for it. Not sure what town/city you're in but if there's a thriving community going (like NYC) talk around and see what the potential is moneywise.. if the outlook is it's always going to be less than minimum wage then I'd pass.. more lucrative playing bars/events/festivals/corporate gigs etc.
 
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Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I've done one, and I've been offered another, but don't know whether to accept.

I'll freely admit that I like musicals, despite what this does to society's idea of my "manhood". Even more, I like lending my playing ability to young people who want to act their heart out and develop an expressive skill and add meaning and value to their lives and the lives of others.

I'd really like to agree to do this gig, but the pay is terrible. Its $50 per call - a call being a rehearsal or performance. Rehearsals can run up to 5 hours - like 6 to 11pm - that's less than $10 an hour, and 5 hour rehearsals are really exhausting. There are 13 calls, so total I'll get $650. To put that in perspective, that last musical I did I got over $1000 at the end, and it was from a smaller kids production studio.. this one I'm considering does higher level level productions, and is located in a far more affulent part of town.

Should I just do it and enjoy it and not worry about it so maybe I'll get another better call? Part of me says yes, but I have a day job and a kid, and other gigs I'll have to back out of to do this. For the record, the wife doesn't mind either way and would actually want me to do it if the price was right - but the price is not right.

Need advice. Thanks guys.
Which show is it? The drum parts and music are much better in some than others.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I have done several musicals, and in all cases I have done them for a flat fee encompassing all rehearsals and performances rather than by call, but this is for limited runs in community theater. When I start spreading out that amount over the number of hours spent behind the drum kit in the theater, the hourly rate isn't always that great. If I also account for the woodshedding prior to pit rehearsals, it gets really, really tiny per hour.

But theater gigs are by and large the best gigs I play. The folks I work with in community theater are some of the best people I know - wonderful, generous, and very mutually supportive. The scores are always interesting and challenging (I once got to play a first run of a musical with the composer as the musical director - no pressure!) I find the whole experience way more rewarding than slogging through three hours of classic rock covers, to be sure.

So if the intangible, non-financial benefits are worth it to you, take the gig. If you don't have the same sort of experience when doing musicals, then it may not be worth it at that rate. Your mileage will probably vary!
 
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