Working for No Pay - How far would you go?

Mighty_Joker

Silver Member
I recently was contacted by an artist in my local city who needed a drummer for gigs and things. However, he had an issue with my hourly rate, asking if I would charge for actually being a band member, and conducting pay on a gig-by-gig basis.

I am a little torn on how to proceed. On the one hand, I don't want to turn down any opportunity to gig and play with other musicians, and make a few contacts. On the other, I need to pay the bills and I already have a main band, so I'm not sure how much of myself I should commit to this guy.

Any advice from someone who has been in a similar situation?

Cheers
 
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Meat the beat

Senior Member
I recently was contacted by an artist in my local city who needed a drummer for gigs and things. However, he had an issue with my hourly rate, asking if I would charge for actually being a band member, and conducting pay on a gig-by-gig basis.

I am a little torn on how to proceed. On the one hand, I don't want to turn down any opportunity to gig and play with other musicians, and make a few contacts. On the other, I need to pay the bills and I already have a main band, so I'm not sure how much of myself I should commit to this guy.

Any advice from someone who has been in a similar situation?

Cheers
Hey I guess you need to ask yourself why you play.
For me I gave up thinking I could make a living from playing years ago, so I play essentially for my own pleasure - money I do make is for my slush fund.
If thats you & you have the regular paying gig, then it might be a great opportunity for the reasons you mentioned... sometimes from a business point of view it pays to invest time in stuff thats really a "loss-leader" financially.
If you do only play to earn - then the frustration will make it a short - lived situation!
All the best.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Potential, that's the key here. Do you envisage this opportunity offering increased exposure? Possibly paid session work? Put simply, if the time you'd need to devote to this new opportunity is currently not yielding an income, go for it, if it has more than face value. If, however, you need to devote time that already pays, the new opportunity must yield something you don't already have.
 

Mighty_Joker

Silver Member
I guess that's the sort of thing I was already thinking. As far as I know, this guy has already played plenty of gigs, so there is certainly potential for growth and exposure.

I think overall it will be good opportunity. I hate talking about money with other musicians, but unfortunately it's a harsh reality. You have to pay the bills.
 

tbmills

Gold Member
think economically my friend.

opportunity cost.
just like a hotel or an airline...
if you have the time, and are willing to play, any money is better than none.
and, exposure is great.

i am currently playing full time in a touring band and make only enough to survive, literally.
with that said, theres is nothing a would rather be doing. i love my bandmates, my music, and my job.
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
I know this is more of a semantic related response but this point of view has helped me keep a good attitude over the years.

I never "work" for no pay. Never.

If I perform the same task that I normally consider work and there is no compensation then I always make sure that those that asked know that I am doing one of the following:

My time is a gift so don't worry about the money.

I'm volunteering because it's worthwhile.

I'll participate for the opportunity and experience.

-----

At least if I communicate this I don't have any regret about putting in the effort without getting paid. If I really need to be earning money from my time spent for non musical reasons then I politely decline.

In your particular situation, I would be non committal and check it out. You never know what musical opportunity will come out of it. If he's not offering to pay then you don't have to commit at the same level as if he is paying.

If you're making your living as a professional musician then you have to ask for money. It's part of being professional. Sometimes people don't offer to pay as a way of passively negotiating, so hold out for some money and if it's not there, you can make your choice on a personal level.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Potential, that's the key here. Do you envisage this opportunity offering increased exposure? Possibly paid session work? Put simply, if the time you'd need to devote to this new opportunity is currently not yielding an income, go for it, if it has more than face value. If, however, you need to devote time that already pays, the new opportunity must yield something you don't already have.
^ This.

I was once involved briefly with several musicians playing their local bar scene, and everyone was only concerned over how much the gig paid, to the point they'd get a sub for a gig they had if the opportunity arose to get an extra $20 from a different gig.

And while money is important, what struck me was no one seemed the least bit concerned of where their careers were heading, only if there were going to get $50 or $75 of $100 for the night.

It seems to me, the potential and the situation should be considered.

I've played in a lot of original bands, where for the most part, the band never gets paid. But we were working toward a bigger goal of record contracts and album sales.

I've done cover band gigs where the basic concern was picking up some extra cash..

The situation here seems to be somewhere in between. You're not really toward something, but it's not a cover gig either.

You can always agree to do x number of gigs at the "introductory price" they're offering, and then see how it goes for you and the rest of the band. Maybe you'll like it and want to join as a full member, or maybe you'll hate it and walk away with no hard feelings because you only agreed to x number of gigs.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I occasionally do freebie gigs and recording sessions for friends or acquaintances. People that know me have this idea in their head that my time and services are extremely valuable, so they don't "over-ask", but they also know that I'm generous as well, so they feel comfortable enough to ask. It's a good balance. I just love to play, and if I didn't have to pay bills (or were married, have kids, have a house to take care of, etc...), I'd be playing all the time with everyone, and teaching whenever and whomever I could.

Realistically, if your bills are taken care of with what you're currently doing, it's a great thing to "give back" a little and have more opportunities to do what you love. If you're just in it for the money, well then there's your answer...
 

BGH

Gold Member
I love playing, but never liked playing for free unless it was an original music situation as DED stated. If you're talking about 'commercial music,' someone is benefitting or making money due to your services. Therefore, there should be financial compensation.

On the other hand, I know guys who are set in their careers (non-musical), who now play for the love of music and the comraderie on weekends, who don't need the money and go into the situation knowing that. For me, if I'm going to play, I might as well get paid for it, unless there is some other possible upside to it.

In my experience, no pay usually meant small crowd and not much fun.
 
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