i will not play for free - none of us should.

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
I don't take issue with playing for free for charity events - provided that every professional involved is likewise, not paid. My litmus test is the sound engineer. If the sound engineer is being paid, then I would also like to be paid at a fee relative to my time and expertise. I would expect for them to cover my costs where possible, i.e. transport and hotels. That's a basic common courtesy.

The 'future exposure' moniker is basically bull. No band should fall for that trick. It is up to bands to act professionally, however. Bands should try to produce a demo CD to send to promoters in advance of any booking or have a website with example tracks.

It is up to bands to be professional if they expect to be paid but I generally agree. Bands should not play 'for free'. A good band should expect to be paid a good fee for their hard work, just like any other artist or professional.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I just turned down a benefit. They wanted one of my bands to play for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
The other members were on board, as the rest of the guys barely gig at all during the year save for the 6 or 8 gigs a year that band does. I declined, saying that by doing an annual benefit this year, the reward is that you get to keep doing them. I stated that I didn't want to feel like I'm on the hook for a free gig every year, and that these people can afford to pay. The only benefits I do have to be close to my heart, I have to care about who it's for. Sorry, but I don't think they are interested in curing JD, it's too much of a money maker. I mean I remember the Labor Day Telethons for Jerrys kids when I was a child in the 1960's. If they can't cure that disease in all this time, either they're idiots or there is no real interest in a cure, just the money. Yea F that. We are the ones responsible for the state of things, as we help maintain the status quo by playing free. Future gigs and exposure is the biggest crock I've heard. They mean future benefits.

When this band was getting started, we'd play for free sometimes. Now that I'm gigging steadily, I enjoy my time off...it's a real inconvenience. Rooms are rented, food is purchased, local radio people are emceeing, cmon, no one else is doing this free.

Not only that, but the music is just background stuff. No one is going there to see a band. No is a great word.

The leader of that band told me I've changed. I have. I'm playing too much now and it's not worth it at all to me to play for a JD benefit, or any other faceless benefit.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
drumming and teaching are my only source of income and are what pay my bills and supports my family

I do not have a problem with playing the occasional gig or doing the occasional recording session for free

playing sessions for free has brought me a lot a really good paying gigs

nothing wrong with it whatsoever
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Agreed!!


Only exceptions I can see...

1) A well known act/musician wants me to play for them...and I don't already have working with them on my resume'(yeah, right...thats gonna happen : )

2) I need a tax deduction and my charity donation allowed deductions are not maxed.


...though all of this is easy to say if you are already established and known/getting calls for work.

Hard to fault someone who is trying to make a name by giving away some sample playing engadgements...but it does hurt the general employment environment.


(Larry, I might get behind a charity trying to make corn syrup additives to child marketed products illegal...but I gotta agree about the JD cause...to much money made selling insulin and testing products)
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

My kid is a juvenile diabetic, Larry, so I really do hope that you are wrong and they find a cure.

On the thread topic, I think the world is savvy to the fact that a musician's most basic & fundamental need is to find a stage and an audience. They also know that he or she can always be emotionally blackmailed into playing for peanuts...eventually.

Amazing that people are happy paying for catering, flowers, sound, hall rentals, invitation cards, beer, but it kills them to pay for music..

...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Vin, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be callous. My niece has type 1 diabetes too.

I think the last disease to be cured was polio. Really, cures aren't profitable, and that's the way it really is. It's completely sad.

It's funny that only in our profession does this issue survive. You don't see just starting out bankers, lawyers, doctors, tradesmen, chefs, or anyone else for that matter working free. Only musicians, because we allow it to happen, bottom line. No one to blame but us. And yes it's easy to understand how it got here. People want to show off basically. It hurts us in the long run. I don't see it changing either, there will always be the young and green ones willing to play free. For the status quo to change, there has to be real unity, and I don't see that happening. From now on I will act extremely insulted when asked to play free for something I really don't care about, and I will put it right back on them. What are you donating free? Let them squirm.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
I agree 100%.Back in the late 60's and into the 70's if a band was asked to play for free,it was a charity event or a fund raiser...and thats it.We would laugh in someones face with that whole "exposure" nonsense.or the percentage of the door bull.

I really have to say,I believe musicians/bands created this whole predicament by agreeing to these terms either actually believeing this BS or just undercutting the competition by thinking if we play for free this time,the next time we'll get paid.More BS

This is fairy tale land kiddies.No pay....no play...period.There are some exceptions,but the exceptions are becoming the rule.

How much time did you devote to learning your instrument?How much did it cost initially,and how much to maintain and add on to occasionally?.How much for lessons,books abd DVD's?

If you're going to say..its ok..I like to play in front of people,it gives me pleasure to make other people happy with my music....they have medication for that now.

What you're doing here is just cutting out the working musician/band who does this for a living.Why should a venue pay a working band..when they can get you for free,plus a couple of drinks maybe.

Your just stabbing your fellow musicos in the back,to satisfy your own ego.There's no way around this,and until venue owners can't get free music anymore......it will never stop.

You're either part of the solution...or your part of the problem.

Steve B
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Well said Steve. What it takes is self respect to turn down askers. And you're right, it hurts the full timers in a huge way, unmeasurable too. It just drags the whole music thing way down. I do love playing. But between the time spent driving both ways, and the fuel, and the hauling, and the heartfelt playing, and all the other stuff we have to endure to play for a night, I want to be compensated, just like anyone else would. I feel this way because of guys like Anthony who do this full time. By me undercutting them by playing free, I am hurting my brothers and sisters, and the whole industry as a whole. The big picture needs to be considered.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Amazing that people are happy paying for catering, flowers, sound, hall rentals, invitation cards, beer, but it kills them to pay for music..

...
Ain't that the truth!

Also, I get treated like crap when I play for free - the organizers get gaga with the ability to get bands to play for free, so they line up as many as they can. As a result, each band gets less than a half-hour, less time than it takes them to setup and takedown. So much for the "great exposure." At free gigs, there's rarely accommodation for parking, meals, load-in or a nice thank-you.

On the other hand, when each member of the band is getting $300, you're treated like kings! Parking passes, a meal, beverages and three, one-hour sets, help with moving and more.

I don't get it.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
Exactly Larry.Compensation is the name of the game.Would it be reasonable to expect a professional to do something for you for free?Try calling a plumber on a Saturday night,and tell him you have a leaking pipe and you want him to fix it,but you can't pay him.But you promise to tell all your friends about him,so the next time they have a leak.....the'll all call him.

Sound ridiculous right?Same thing with a lawyer,doctor,accoutant....the list goes on.Why should music be any different?

Because it's art is the argument.Artists don't get paid?Paintings are given away for free?Jon Bonjovi dosen't live in a mansion in NJ?

If anyone truly believes in that argument,then you're smoking rubber bands.I also hope you have a good job with benefits,because they don't take drum solos as payment in emergency rooms.

Time to wake up kiddies.There's only one world....the real one.

Steve B
 

Bad Tempered Clavier

Silver Member
Name me one major act that spent the first few years playing crappy venues for no money. It leads to nothing. Good thread - I got that link from the MU this week: I couldn't believe that Cafe Rouge scam. Utterly shameless.
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
i've paid charity gigs where the punters are paying in £30 but if i play free i'm losing out on £150! i'm quite prepared to pay for £120 and make the same contribution as the punters.
last year i played a charity gig where we were paid: £180 for the three of us ... so fair enough, until backstage we were chatting to the other hirees:
a keyboard player for the soft back ground music had charged £500!
a photographer charged £800
we played three one hour sets and provided lighting and DJ services for the dance portion of the evening. my singer negotiated this traversty.

there is a good side to this story - in february my stupid singer again underquoted us for another charity event. but the organisers - bless 'em - instead of going 'yes well pay you that much' immediately rejected his first price by telling him that they had hired a duet for the other hall for twice his quote and would not consider paying us less them them. my guess is the hirer is probably a musician themselves.
j
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
Sorry, but if I could find the other musicians to play straight-ahead jazz, that would be payment enough for me. Peace and goodwill.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
Exactly Larry.Compensation is the name of the game.Would it be reasonable to expect a professional to do something for you for free?Try calling a plumber on a Saturday night,and tell him you have a leaking pipe and you want him to fix it,but you can't pay him.But you promise to tell all your friends about him,so the next time they have a leak.....the'll all call him.

Sound ridiculous right?Same thing with a lawyer,doctor,accoutant....the list goes on.Why should music be any different?

Because it's art is the argument.Artists don't get paid?Paintings are given away for free?Jon Bonjovi dosen't live in a mansion in NJ?

If anyone truly believes in that argument,then you're smoking rubber bands.I also hope you have a good job with benefits,because they don't take drum solos as payment in emergency rooms.

Time to wake up kiddies.There's only one world....the real one.

Steve B
Actually, lawyers, doctors, accountants and plumbers do stuff for free in the right time and place and music should be no different If you are running an orphanage and tight on money and you have a good relationship with a plumber, you may indeed be able to call him on a Saturday night for an emergency repair.

With music, however, it's gone way, way overboard. In the minds of many, it's just expected that you'll donate your time to a fundraiser on request - and that's wrong. The lawyer, doctor, plumber and accountant need to be very selective in how they donate and do it simply because they want to give a gift of talent. Musicians should be no different. I do a few free gigs for causes I personally support. If Hope For Seeing Eye Dogs That Have Gone Blind Inc. asks me to play for free, I will decline.

You know you're being taken advantage of when others involved in the event are getting paid and you're not. If they could, you know the organizers would take advantage of the sound man, caterer, security and anyone else they could. Usually, though, they can just do this with the musicians.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
It depends on whether the band is playing commercial music or not. If you're playing dancing music then you'd expect to be paid but maybe not if the music is off the beaten track.

As for doctors and lawyers, if they are practice medicine and law as an enjoyable hobby that can augment their income, then maybe they won't be fussed about being paid?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I agree with Larry, but then again, I'm in this enviable position of being paid for everything in entertainment that I do. I remember being in college and just being able to go out and play somewhere other than in a practice room was a treat. So I'm kinda' on the fence, but not on the fence about the whole issue.

What I did think about was, that these issues are really what push people out of playing music altogether. I love drumming and playing music, but incomes must be met, so it pushed me into audio engineering, computer music production and photography too. In fact, there aren't too many guys out here in SoCal who are gigging and doing things for almost free into their 60s - I think at some point people figure out they don't want to poor anymore so something has to give. If you can get paid for your drumming work that's wonderful, but it isn't going to be that way for everybody.

Musicians Union's do exist (of which I'm a member), but unless there's some fundamental change in how society treats musicians, this issue will always be present. And right now I feel a slight shift in how people feel about unions in light of how the Hostess Company (maker of Twinkies) was brought down.

But "no" is a good word to use. I use it all the time.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
please get involved and stop degrading live music by pandering to greedy venue owners and charitys.
I don't ever work completely for free, unless it's a favor to a friend/musician. And in those circumstances, it usually involves minimal effort on my part (such as bringing a djembe, or playing a house kit) and dinner or transport is typically involved. But I can only list a couple of those sitiuations that might even qualify as 'gigs' at all.

With all due respect to club & bar owners, they're not all greedy. Looking around at some of the crowds I've played for, I'd be amazed if they could offer the band a guarantee, say even $200. But in those cases, they shouldn't be attempting to have bands anyway. If a band can't draw any more people than a bar's handful of regulars, then it's a waste of everyone's time to even have live music there.

And where a band draws a crowd that spends money at the bar, they are usually paid accordingly, so you don't hear much argument from them.

Nobody gets rich when a band plays bars & club. The idea that a club owner necessarily profits by having bands is rarely true, and for bands to attempt to squeeze money from a stone is just as unrealistic.

But I agree that nobody should play for free. If there's value in having a band, they should be compensated in some manner. Just like with recorded music - if it possesses enough value to download, it should be paid for. And I know that a lot of musicians think nothing about sharing and downloading for free, so I can't feel very sorry for them when they claim their talent has value and they need to be paid. Hipocrites.

But I pay for all of my music, and I get paid to play, so all is well in my universe. :)

Bermuda
 

StaggerLee

Silver Member
I think I would be on 3 opinions of this.

1) If i was back to being a student despo for gigs and exposure, id do free gigs. Both for pubs and charities, but then again i actually love drumming, i enjoy music. Being paid for something you enjoy is a privilege, those who instantly go NO I WILL NOT BE PAID FOR DRUMMING sound really insensitive and selfish to me...
2) Where I am now where its a source of income I am less inclined to play for free. But if the charity is either something I personally believe in or will further my image then I will still do it. Same with some friends or family members or as favors.
3) If i was a really high profile artist, I would be fine doing free things again. The happiness it would bring to randomly turn up at some terminally ill child fans birthday, just the smile would be worth it. Id make sure I would be able during the year to have enough money to exist, but yeah It would increase the public's image of me and make people happy, why not?
I find a lot of the remarks on here as being obscenely selfish :/
 
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