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  #1  
Old 09-02-2010, 11:54 PM
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Default and what is the pay . . .?

My jazz band came up with a scheme to get gigs by dividing the boroughs up between our members, each member being responsible for getting gigs in his area. Today a gig breaker was, "how much does this gig pay?" It's interesting to weed through the BS and the no nonsense, the guys who want to talk for twenty minutes before they negotiate and the guys that tell you the bottom line, and the guys who have five things going or are always going to get back to you. I was wondering, techniques, ideas or approaches that people have used to get well paid gigs and what works and what doesn't.
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  #2  
Old 09-03-2010, 01:21 AM
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Default Re: and what is the pay . . .?

It is interesting how many of the people in the position of hiring the bands would expect the bands to play for nothing.

Afterall (especially for you in New York), you have to pay for everything. It's like walking into McDonalds and expecting to get your food for free. Legitimate businesses are in the business to make money. For some reason, people think musicians are in the business of playing music.

Lately, when people have asked for my services, I give it about 45 seconds of chatter about what they need and then I jump into price negotiation. Unfortunately, I've had to adopt a "nothing is free" attitude and if that meant I don't get the gig, then that's what that means. I've met enough people who hire musicians to know that when they don't spend the right amount of money, they're complaining about it later on down the road, so I think the message does get through to some of them.

I have found that if I don't appear too desperate that usually works in my favor. If they get the vibe that I don't need their gig, they would rather have me for their gig. Thankfully, I have another career that pays the bills.
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Old 09-03-2010, 01:44 AM
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Default Re: and what is the pay . . .?

What kind of gigs are you looking for, Ken?
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:05 AM
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Default Re: and what is the pay . . .?

Jay, I am looking to take the band to the next level. As you can imagine, we went through a stage where we were playing any club in Manhattan just to get out there and play. As of late, we've been playing a lot of dinner clubs; but as we do a lot of electric jazz fusion, this can at times not be conducive to the atmosphere. We were supposed to have a regular this summer that fell through. In other words, we got screwed; but we made the best of it playing at a World Cup event before 700 people and we have a jazz fest gig. The guys in the band are less open to continuing in the dinner club circuit, so I am looking for alternatives, esp since we are a quartet and many of the clubs do not have a cabaret license and cannot use more than 3 musicians.

They say NY is a bebop town, so how do you market a jazz fusion band?
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:18 AM
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Jeremy Bender Jeremy Bender is offline
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Default Re: and what is the pay . . .?

This is just the sort of topic I was discussing this evening with an old friend of mine.
It has alway been so bewildering why the subject of money (in music) is almost taboo.

We spend thousands of hours practicing, thousands of hard earned dollars buying gear, analyzing techniques of other players, transcribing beats to songs and solos, discussing every possible detail regarding drums, cymbals, hardware, electronics, heads, sticks. Hell, some of us are loyal and passionate about our drum cases.

I can't imagine any other profession on this planet that requires such an in-depth knowledge but will not discuss income. Imagine this...12 years of medical school then another four years or more of residency and not ever focusing on your careers income!

I once asked a drummer many years ago when I was younger, what a professional like himself could expect to earn. I was told to "mind your own business". Ridiculous...
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Old 09-03-2010, 08:24 AM
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Default Re: and what is the pay . . .?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy Bender View Post
This is just the sort of topic I was discussing this evening with an old friend of mine.
It has alway been so bewildering why the subject of money (in music) is almost taboo.

We spend thousands of hours practicing, thousands of hard earned dollars buying gear, analyzing techniques of other players, transcribing beats to songs and solos, discussing every possible detail regarding drums, cymbals, hardware, electronics, heads, sticks. Hell, some of us are loyal and passionate about our drum cases.

I can't imagine any other profession on this planet that requires such an in-depth knowledge but will not discuss income. Imagine this...12 years of medical school then another four years or more of residency and not ever focusing on your careers income!

I once asked a drummer many years ago when I was younger, what a professional like himself could expect to earn. I was told to "mind your own business". Ridiculous...
That's too bad you were told that. You could actually see how much musicians get paid by looking up the Musicians' Union online. They have different rates depending on if you're just a sideman, or a mid-leader, or a full-leader (I think that's what they call it). Back in the day (almost 20 years ago now, wow) as a sideman at Disneyland, I was making about $180 a day take home (so your gross is more). I've never been a leader but I understand it jumps up 50%, I have to look it up.

But I think alot of people don't like to talk about it because either they're not making as much as they'd like, or they're working out side of the union and taking whatever they can get, which could be more, or they're not working at all. As you get older, working outside the union means you have to be able to pay your bills, and that means making enough to take care of your health care and to put in to your retirement if you're lucky. You also need to be paying your taxes. Life gets really rough when you're not doing those things and you're getting into your 40s.

I would just calculate out how much you need to live comfortably and make it your goal to provide that number with your drumming. Take into account everything (health care, insurances, cars, housing, food, etc.) Once you're comfortable, that's how much money you can expect to earn as a professional musician! I earn roughly $70K a year as a sound engineer and the wife has an income as well, and that's 'ok' comfortable for me. It's not extravagant by any means. And what I do earn as a drummer is all fun-money. It pays for the care and feeding of the gear, and new gear. I don't know if at my age I'm willing to tough it out on a cruise ship for weeks on end or traveling around the country in a bus with a bunch of guys. That's what you do when you're young!
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:33 AM
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Default Re: and what is the pay . . .?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deltadrummer View Post
Jay, I am looking to take the band to the next level. As you can imagine, we went through a stage where we were playing any club in Manhattan just to get out there and play. As of late, we've been playing a lot of dinner clubs; but as we do a lot of electric jazz fusion, this can at times not be conducive to the atmosphere. We were supposed to have a regular this summer that fell through. In other words, we got screwed; but we made the best of it playing at a World Cup event before 700 people and we have a jazz fest gig. The guys in the band are less open to continuing in the dinner club circuit, so I am looking for alternatives, esp since we are a quartet and many of the clubs do not have a cabaret license and cannot use more than 3 musicians.

They say NY is a bebop town, so how do you market a jazz fusion band?
Ah, I see. First of all I wouldn't call New York a bebop town. And if you want to make any money I'm going to suggest that you stay away from that scene, such as it is. For one thing, as a fusion band you won't be able to "compete," and secondly why would you want to? Jazz is as dead in New York as it is anywhere else. Sad but true.

It's tough to figure just where to put your band up to take it to the next level. Are you guys writing music and getting your own unique sound together? Because if you're only doing covers then you're going to be really limited as to getting gigs that pay, unless you're putting a very unique take on those songs and you've got a lot of...I don't know, PR skills and an absolutely fantastic CD quality demo.

You don't need me to tell you that the number one customer you need to please is the club owner/manager. But who is that guy, and, as you say, what's he willing to pay?

How about playing at places like the Bowery Poetry Club or the Knitting Factory, for example? At least you'd be on the way to building a following. You're not going to want to play at, say, the 55 Bar. Nobody goes there and they don't pay shit, just ask Vic Juris.

It's a tough nut to crack, but I do wish you very well indeed.
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Last edited by con struct; 09-04-2010 at 04:45 AM.
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  #8  
Old 09-04-2010, 05:15 AM
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Default Re: and what is the pay . . .?

You actually sound like me, I've been saying this to the band for a while now.

We are starting to write more and develop our own take on things. As well, we need a better demo. When that happens we can think about The Knitting Factory or maybe even alst night at one of the bigger clubs.

Several of the tunes we do are more through composed pieces like Birdland, Phase Dance or Spain. it's really hard to find new ground with them. They are also crowd pleasers. But we ave really found ground with working through other Weather Report tunes, which really exist as bare bones on the recordings and seem to lend themselves for branching out.

Things went well today. I think I may have us some steady work for the winter.

thanks for the feedback!
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  #9  
Old 09-04-2010, 05:17 AM
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Default Re: and what is the pay . . .?

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Things went well today. I think I may have us some steady work for the winter.
Wow, that's great! Squeeze it, man!
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  #10  
Old 09-04-2010, 06:04 AM
Kevin Jorrey Kevin Jorrey is offline
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Default Re: and what is the pay . . .?

Quote:
Originally Posted by con struct View Post
It's tough to figure just where to put your band up to take it to the next level. Are you guys writing music and getting your own unique sound together? Because if you're only doing covers then you're going to be really limited as to getting gigs that pay, unless you're putting a very unique take on those songs and you've got a lot of...I don't know, PR skills and an absolutely fantastic CD quality demo.
Wow that would be something. Where I live it's the cover bands that make the most money. No one really comes out to see original bands of any genre. It's really sad but it is what the people are doing.

Cover bands that are any good here will make $400-$500 a night. Of course I live where the economy dropping is hitting the worst. People don't have much money and it really shows when at a venue.
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