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  #1  
Old 04-01-2012, 11:12 AM
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Default Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

Just saw this blog about the ever-present problem of musicians being woefully underpaid and somehow putting up with it; I know this is not exactly a new topic, but it's the one that burns me the most about this whole business of music and drumming and I found the piece to be quite well written.

http://www.publicemilie.com/post/20223649899

P.S. Gotta love the comment from the smart-arse who asked the author if her blog was undercutting professional writers . . .
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:02 PM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

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Just saw this blog about the ever-present problem of musicians being woefully underpaid and somehow putting up with it; I know this is not exactly a new topic, but it's the one that burns me the most about this whole business of music and drumming and I found the piece to be quite well written.

http://www.publicemilie.com/post/20223649899

P.S. Gotta love the comment from the smart-arse who asked the author if her blog was undercutting professional writers . . .
Read the whole piece, & the comments. Pretty good stuff, & fairly logical. Thing is, that balance isn't going to change anytime soon, but you can make things better for yourself, & in turn, improve things for other players. I make no apology for pushing up fees locally. We're in the lucky position of being a band that puts bums on seats. Also, we only want to play 2-3 times a month, so turn down more than double the offers we get. We get paid at least twice the going rate, & we get that by getting the act right. That's the whole deal, including high standards of audio & lighting.

I was thanked by a local artist last week, for pushing local prices up. He said his take had increased in two venues where we play, as the landlord had changed his policy of hiring acts to reflect the act quality, & ultimately the fees paid.

As a counter to this, I saw a band last night who were, frankly, crap. They could play, but the time & energy devoted to getting numbers tight, slick song transitions, personal appearance, PA & lighting quality, was zero. They were complaining about the fee they received, well, what did they expect.

Get good, get very good at everything to do with putting on a show, start filling venues, then the tables start to turn. Yes, it means putting the work in up front. Yes it means putting investment into gear up front, but you have to speculate to accumulate. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's not called the music business for nothing.
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:43 PM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

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Get good, get very good at everything to do with putting on a show, start filling venues, then the tables start to turn. Yes, it means putting the work in up front. Yes it means putting investment into gear up front, but you have to speculate to accumulate. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's not called the music business for nothing.
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Old 04-01-2012, 02:48 PM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

It seems the writer wants amateurs to charge pro rates so as not to impact on the pros ... might be hard for the students to get gigs.

Supply and demand ... noise laws, gaming machines, DJs and drink driving laws ... it's a shame but times change and musicians either adapt or perish.

The café scene seems a good source of gigs for small outfits, and then there's YouTube heroes and others monetising the web. Probably some other types of opportunities I haven't thought of.
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Old 04-02-2012, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

But isn't this why we have a Musicians' Union?
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Old 04-02-2012, 12:25 AM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

This article doesn't make sense to me. Is she calling for a sort of musician's cartel to keep fees high? I would prefer a free market situation myself.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:35 AM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

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But isn't this why we have a Musicians' Union?
Perhaps unions behave differently in other regions, but in the UK the MU is pretty toothless when it comes to this sort of thing. As the author of the blog writes:
"There is currently no fair-wage regulator for small-medium music venues to sign up to. The Musicians Union have made some attempts but they can only be enforced if you are a member and are mostly ignored by the musicians themselves."
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This article doesn't make sense to me. Is she calling for a sort of musician's cartel to keep fees high? I would prefer a free market situation myself.
I don't think she's advocating removing a free market:
"Anyone has the right to play music to earn cash, regardless of ability and experience as we are in a free market and music is subjective. But there is a responsibility that comes with charging a fee and all musicians should be aware that by undercutting the going-rate, or working for free, they are affecting the profession of music."
I think the problem comes because so many musicians who work for any kind of fee are self employed. If you can get a salaried job as a member of a long established orchestra or be part of one of those bigger West End/Broadway productions then you're more likely to get paid on a more equitable level according to the amount of work you're actually doing; largely because such large companies are subject to the kind of employment laws that everybody else is. If you're trying to sell your own act as a teacher/function band/original artist etc and you can survive on playing for nothing or very little, all well and good. If not, there are consequences for everybody, not just the starving artist.

I believe the main gist of her argument is that if, from now until Doomsday, we all want to have DJs playing recordings of gradually ageing music at our weddings/clubs/arenas/outdoor festivals with nothing new coming up behind and have our children take music lessons from Expert Village because aspiring musicians, teachers, and composers have been priced out of the market - then fair enough: that is indeed the essence of capitalism. If we would rather that weren't the case, then I guess we better do something about it; after all, our favourite pop and rock stars ain't gonna live forever - despite what the kids from Fame think.
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:03 AM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

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"Anyone has the right to play music to earn cash, regardless of ability and experience as we are in a free market and music is subjective. But there is a responsibility that comes with charging a fee and all musicians should be aware that by undercutting the going-rate, or working for free, they are affecting the profession of music."
So what are the amateurs undercutting the pros supposed to do? Charge pro rates? Might as well quit music school and go back to the den to play covers with records.

As I said before, this is small potatoes compared with the other forces working against live music these days.
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:38 AM
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I'm always hearing stories reciting gig fees readily available in the 70's, 80's, etc. I know, I earned my living in those times. It's true, gig fees haven't kept pace with inflation, that's for sure, but hang on just a minute, there's a bigger picture than just venue cost cutting and/or exploitation. The author is excluding the greatly diminished value of live performance. Back in the day, people didn't have anything like the availability of instant entertainment they have today. If you wanted to listen to a song, you went out & bought the record. Either that, or you recorded it from one of your mates. Videos of live concerts were few & far between, & you were pretty much limited to watching whatever the 3 or so TV channels decided was worthy of air time. The live concert was a big deal. Live music was a big deal. It sounded so much better than recordings of the day. It was a total experience, both audibly & visually, & then there's the sense of occasion.

Of course, these days, you can get hold of pretty much anything you want. The audio & video quality is in a different league to that of a few decades ago, & most content is free, or close to it.

What I'm getting to is this. You used to be able to set up your kit, a few amps, maybe a light or two, & jam out a gig. Now, people expect more, much more. The game has moved on. We're competing with crisp audio, clear video, fully mobile music access, so setting up in a corner & delivering a budget sound just doesn't cut it anymore. People want & expect a total experience, & those who deliver that get the best piece of the pie.
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Old 04-02-2012, 11:38 AM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

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The author is excluding the greatly diminished value of live performance.
Agree. In the 70s and 80s, a great night meant going to to a gig (or playing one), getting mellow, some flirting, pizza or hamburgers afterwards and then back to someone's place for post mortem and further loss of brain cells.

My 20yo nephew next door has tons of his friends over and I chat with them a lot (apparently I'm a "cool auntie"). The only time they go see live music is at the big festivals (how much attention they're paying to the music is another matter). One of the girls said her dream was to be a DJ ... it made me wish I had one of those old KEEP MUSIC LIVE t-shirts that were around when disco was taking over a lot of the old venues.

These young guys and gals go to bars to play gaming machines, they go to raves, they go to dance clubs, they get drunk at someone's place to watch the football or play online games all night ...

Competition for the entertainment dollar is far more intense than in the past.
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:01 PM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

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Supply and demand ...
And this is what consistently keeps the balance of money in favor of the venues and promoters over the band.

As much as everyone claims to hate "pay to play' clubs, they all are booked with 5-6 bands a night, 6-7 nights a week, with no problems finding eager and willing musicians who will work for free, or even lose money, just for the opportunity to appear live.

Even on bigger tours, opening for name acts, the opening band might get paid to be there, or there is a chance, the band paid the headlining act for the chance to open for them. Why? Because the supply of bands willing to do anything for fame far outweighs the demand for new bands.




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I'm always hearing stories reciting gig fees readily available in the 70's, 80's, etc. I know, I earned my living in those times. It's true, gig fees haven't kept pace with inflation, that's for sure, but hang on just a minute, there's a bigger picture than just venue cost cutting and/or exploitation. The author is excluding the greatly diminished value of live performance. Back in the day, people didn't have anything like the availability of instant entertainment they have today. If you wanted to listen to a song, you went out & bought the record. Either that, or you recorded it from one of your mates. Videos of live concerts were few & far between, & you were pretty much limited to watching whatever the 3 or so TV channels decided was worthy of air time. The live concert was a big deal. Live music was a big deal. It sounded so much better than recordings of the day. It was a total experience, both audibly & visually, & then there's the sense of occasion.

Of course, these days, you can get hold of pretty much anything you want. The audio & video quality is in a different league to that of a few decades ago, & most content is free, or close to it.

What I'm getting to is this. You used to be able to set up your kit, a few amps, maybe a light or two, & jam out a gig. Now, people expect more, much more. The game has moved on. We're competing with crisp audio, clear video, fully mobile music access, so setting up in a corner & delivering a budget sound just doesn't cut it anymore. People want & expect a total experience, & those who deliver that get the best piece of the pie.
This, of course, is the other aspect of it.

I know grown adults who have never seen a band live. It blows my mind how many people just have no interest in live music. Clubs with Djs or just sitting on youtube is enough for them. Personally, I get twitchy if I go too long without seeing a live act.
Yet for so many others, if you give them a choice of going to see a live band or going to a club where a DJ will play familiar music, they'll choose the DJ every time.
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:11 PM
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So what are the amateurs undercutting the pros supposed to do? Charge pro rates? Might as well quit music school and go back to the den to play covers with records.

As I said before, this is small potatoes compared with the other forces working against live music these days.
Please do, kiddies! Part of the reason going out to see music is so unattractive are the garbage 12 year olds playing Nirvana covers with hot rods in the local coffee shop. They should NOT be getting gigs. Theyre undercutting cost and damaging venue reputation. I did this when I was 15. We literally stole a gig from local jazz musicians who were hundreds of times better than we were at the time. I didn't know we were undercutting (the POWER of education, I let all my students know how I feel about this and what they should be asking for when it's time to start gigging), but the jazz club went out of business and I think to a large degree my garbage high school jazz band was responsible. I wish I would not have done that. I had no idea I was doing anything wrong at the time, I didnt know the going local rate, I just selfishly wanted to play. SO get the word out, tell the kids, NO free gigs. You're not good enough to work yet? No problem!!! Dont work then! Keep it in the shed with your dudes, get tight, get killin, and then you can start to worry about venues. But just because individuals choose NOT to do this for a living and thus dont really need to practice or get to a certain level, doesnt mean they have a right to undercut me and then blame ME for having some form of pride in something that Ive worked my a## off for. It would be like putting an ad in the paper that said "Toilet broken? Call me, Ill fix it for FREE!" Plumbers probably wouldnt dig my little "just for fun" operation so much.
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:22 PM
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Please do, kiddies! Part of the reason going out to see music is so unattractive are the garbage 12 year olds playing Nirvana covers with hot rods in the local coffee shop. They should NOT be getting gigs. Theyre undercutting cost and damaging venue reputation. I did this when I was 15. We literally stole a gig from local jazz musicians who were hundreds of times better than we were at the time. I didn't know we were undercutting (the POWER of education, I let all my students know how I feel about this and what they should be asking for when it's time to start gigging), but the jazz club went out of business and I think to a large degree my garbage high school jazz band was responsible. I wish I would not have done that. I had no idea I was doing anything wrong at the time, I didnt know the going local rate, I just selfishly wanted to play. SO get the word out, tell the kids, NO free gigs. You're not good enough to work yet? No problem!!! Dont work then! Keep it in the shed with your dudes, get tight, get killin, and then you can start to worry about venues. But just because individuals choose NOT to do this for a living and thus dont really need to practice or get to a certain level, doesnt mean they have a right to undercut me and then blame ME for having some form of pride in something that Ive worked my a## off for. It would be like putting an ad in the paper that said "Toilet broken? Call me, Ill fix it for FREE!" Plumbers probably wouldnt dig my little "just for fun" operation so much.
Absolutely right! I see both sides of the fence. Playing used to be my living. These days, I'm playing for my own enjoyment, but taking getting it right very seriously. There's no way we'll play for reduced rates in a commercial setting. Quite the reverse actually, as we're all acutely aware of the affect on others, & especially those earning their living on the circuit.
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:26 PM
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I try to get what I can when I play, but I'm not much of a complainer. Around here, you're lucky to find a band that needs a drummer or a guitarist or a vocalist or whatever.

Last gig I played, I filled in for their drummer, and we all went home with $30 each. That included my gas trip up to the town which was $20. But I had a blast. And the other two members were good friends of mine.

you can't put a price on a solid St. Patrick's Day memory!
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:28 PM
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Default Re: Why Musicians Shouldn't Work for Peanuts

Good point about the plumber. How many occupations are there where workers look for places to do their work free?

How I wish that I could get a lawn service to care for my yard for free. I'll give them free drinks. Heck, they can even put up a lawn sign advertising themselves while they're here.

We must be crazy for doing what we do for what we do it for.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:06 PM
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I try to get what I can when I play, but I'm not much of a complainer. Around here, you're lucky to find a band that needs a drummer or a guitarist or a vocalist or whatever.

Last gig I played, I filled in for their drummer, and we all went home with $30 each. That included my gas trip up to the town which was $20. But I had a blast. And the other two members were good friends of mine.

you can't put a price on a solid St. Patrick's Day memory!
A wise, wise man once told me of the gig acceptance tripod and Ive used it as a personal philosophy for years. The three legs are the music, the money, and the hang. And it breaks down like this, two of the three legs need to be there in order to take a gig. The music is great, the people are great (the hang), but the money is not so hot; take the gig. The music is great, the money is great, the hang is not your favorite; take the gig. The music is not your favorite, the money is great, the hang is great; take the gig (however, this particular combo has caused me stress in the past, I try to avoid playing bad music in general... Money and folks have to be EXCELLENT). I'm not a complete capitalist pig of a mercenary, I'm also an artist and a person :)
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Old 04-02-2012, 07:03 PM
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So what are the amateurs undercutting the pros supposed to do? Charge pro rates?
In a word: yes. If a gig takes place on licensed premises and people are being charged for walking through the door, then the band should be paid: and paid well. If the venue doesn't make a profit on the night - that's their problem. If the venue considers itself a professional enterprise then I don't see why any act performing there should not consider itself similarly. I don't walk into a pub and expect to get free beer in exchange for telling a room full of people how great it is.

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tell the kids, NO free gigs. You're not good enough to work yet? No problem!!! Dont work then! Keep it in the shed with your dudes, get tight, get killin, and then you can start to worry about venues.
This sums up very well what I feel the author of the article was driving at: I think the lines have been blurred for too long. Ain't nothing wrong with a bunch of beginners (or even experienced players) stepping onto a stage in front of their mates and rocking out for no fee - but if you just want to play for the fun of it then it's perfectly easy to do in a setting where there is no money involved whatsoever. House parties, church halls, community centres etc . . . great places to put on a free concert where it's all about fun and nothing else.

Once you bring money into the equation it's a different story. Premises that pay a license for supplying entertainment should properly cover the cost of that entertainment or not expect to be able to provide it at all. How many people on this forum have played or at least been offered one of those "it's-£5.00-per-person-on-the-door-but-each-band-doesn't-get-anything-unless-they-bring-at-least-20-people" gigs? If all bands in a given area agree to that then logically one could have a gig where 4 bands each bring 19 fans through the door: the venue pockets £380 plus whatever they take at the bar from those 76 people and the bands get sod all. They pay the alcohol license, the entertainment license, the bar staff, the bouncers, even the idiot sound man gets paid - but the band? Nah, bollocks - they'll do the gig for the sheer love of music . . .

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the gig acceptance tripod [. . .] The three legs are the music, the money, and the hang [. . .] two of the three legs need to be there in order to take a gig
Great little motto - must remember that.
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:52 PM
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And this is what consistently keeps the balance of money in favor of the venues and promoters over the band.

As much as everyone claims to hate "pay to play' clubs, they all are booked with 5-6 bands a night, 6-7 nights a week, with no problems finding eager and willing musicians who will work for free, or even lose money, just for the opportunity to appear live.

Even on bigger tours, opening for name acts, the opening band might get paid to be there, or there is a chance, the band paid the headlining act for the chance to open for them. Why? Because the supply of bands willing to do anything for fame far outweighs the demand for new bands.
Yep. It's always too many musicians who want to play out as compared with venues.

Pressuring inexperienced players to forego the chance to gain experience makes as much sense as pushing DJs to cease and desist because they undercut bands. The world doesn't owe anyone a living (apart from banks).

This straw being clutched at is doomed to failure unless you can talk government into regulating minimum payments for live music, but that would kill off even more live music venues.

The plumber analogy only works if kids dream of becoming great plumbers (some hoping to become glamorous plumbing stars), who assiduously practice their plumbing, live and breathe plumbing, and who plumb every chance they get. Sometimes they carry around a plunger so they can practice when they travel.

The arts are different - people do it for love, and that results in a skewed supply/demand situation that forces payments down. Ask any designer. They need to be FAR more experienced, knowledgeable and skilled than, say, an accountant or lawyer to make the same money.

Sorry guys, expecting people to make sacrifices with no return is just naive. There are much bigger forces at play.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:39 PM
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The plumber analogy only works if kids dream of becoming great plumbers (some hoping to become glamorous plumbing stars), who assiduously practice their plumbing, live and breathe plumbing, and who plumb every chance they get. Sometimes they carry around a plunger so they can practice when they travel.
.
I agree it only works if said person dreams of one day being on the cover of "Modern Plumbing" magazine, unclogging toilet's in front of a sold out crowd, and hoping one day adoring fans will one day ask for their autograph, and perhaps get an endorsement with a really good plunger or copper pipe company.

At same time, people who do go into plumbing/trades, usually start off as an apprentice, getting paid little to start with. People take non-paid internships in a variety of fields. So the analogy of the beginner working for peanuts is not without comparisons.
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Old 04-02-2012, 11:55 PM
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The arts are different - people do it for love, and that results in a skewed supply/demand situation that forces payments down.
I totally agree, the very reason why I play drums, draw, paint, create as an artist and as a musician, is first and foremost for the love of doing it, if by any chances, there's a financial rewards for anything I play or/and create is just an added bonus :)

From my own experiences, being a wanderer and moving across a few countries as certainely jeopardise my dedication to any arts making, and thus, any prospect at making out money, including music, being a family man, other priorities are "more" important when establishing yourselves in a new environment, so everything "arty" is somehow put in the background, and when you're finally ready, it's like a new start altogether, the not so good gigs, the tiny venues, building a reputation (again), and when you start to get where you could be in a position, where you could assume a decent rewards as a musician (or a band), you move away again, and you start all over again, no big drama, I choose this way of life incidentaly and for the love for my family, but it is my love for music and drumming that keeping me doing it all these years, I couldn't be without it :)
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:12 AM
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It seems the writer wants amateurs to charge pro rates so as not to impact on the pros ... might be hard for the students to get gigs.

Supply and demand ... noise laws, gaming machines, DJs and drink driving laws ... it's a shame but times change and musicians either adapt or perish.

The café scene seems a good source of gigs for small outfits, and then there's YouTube heroes and others monetising the web. Probably some other types of opportunities I haven't thought of.
Wise words. That's the right attitude. Like it or not, you're either desirable by a large enough segment of the market, to get paid well for what you do, or not. If you're not, there isn't anything you can (or should) do about it, aside from improving as a musician, playing with better musicians, and creating better music.

The music industry can no longer enjoy milking fans for *copies* of albums, forcing the whole thing down consumers' throats, even if 9 out of 10 songs on the album are crap. The internet has decimated the protectionism that IP laws have forcefully held in place, for far too long.

This is my opinion, BTW...I don't wish to debate whether or not Intellectual "Property" is a good idea. Please, let's pass on that subject for now.

Today...we're in charge of our art and that's exactly how it should be, IMO. It's the difference between being self-employed or being just another corporate employee. I thoroughly believe if you have a marketable product with broad appeal, and you put the work in that's necessary to propel you to success, then there is still plenty of opportunity out there. Whatever replaces the crumbling music label empire is surely going to be an improvement.

My goal; just have fun and make (what I think is) great music. The rest is a bonus.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:33 AM
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But isn't playing live how you guys cut your teeth and get better? I've never seen vast improvement achieved by playing in a bedroom on your own. It always comes from slogging it out live in front of an audience....the ultimate test and quickest and most brutal learning curve I know of. That's where the real improvment is seen IMHO. If you're encouraging kids to sit at home until they're "pro" enough to get out amongst it, they'll be there forever.

Everyone has to start somewhere. All this "taking money out of my pocket" talk is a bridge too far. When I was starting out and still playing at a "garage band" level, we didn't get the big gigs....simple as that. We played in dives to 10 people including the bar staff on a Tuesday night for a percentage of the door. You can't honestly tell me that is any threat to a working pro?

Seems many of you have forgotten where you came from, to me. How else are these kids supposed to improve if you're all moving to deny them the opportunity to do it in the first place? In a normal course of a working life outside of the music scene, I've never seen a "master" threatened by an "apprentice" yet.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:13 AM
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How else are these kids supposed to improve if you're all moving to deny them the opportunity to do it in the first place?
I ain't trying to stop anybody doing anything: what I'm saying is that all musicians, whether beginner or experienced, are guilty of allowing their trade to be devalued if they are accepting gigs from venues who charge an entry fee but don't pay the band. The upshot of this is not only impoverished musicians but also a small-venue scene that is stuffed to bursting point with crap bands. I don't mean "that's not my cup of tea" crap - I mean they can't tune their instruments, they show up late, they can only manage about 25 minutes worth of material, and they have all the charisma of a bucket of wallpaper paste.

I'm advocating that all gigs that involve money should include adequate payment for the performers: if the promoter/whoever decides that any given band isn't good enough - whether they're greasy teenagers or wrinkly old farts - then I guess they don't get the gig. As I've already said, there's plenty of opportunities for bands to polish their acts that don't involve any money for the band or venue; But it astonishes me how many venues are run by people who simply put no value in music at all. If that's the case, fine: DON'T HAVE BANDS.

I cannot accept that it's part of paying dues to allow venues to rip off performers. Surely it's simply not good for one's self esteem? It's no coincidence that as popular music has lost a lot of its monetary value via various routes it has become more and more boring. I believe if you don't have a sense of worth about your music then you'll never excite an audience enough to provoke any kind of reaction - let alone a positive one.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:51 AM
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Once you've pushed the kids who aren't very good out of the way how are you going to get rid of the DJs? How about the poker machines?

If the "pros" in the bar scene picked up their own acts and learned to sight read at a high level they might pick up gigs at shows, with orchestras, on tours etc. Since the 70s (and no doubt before) bars have always provided lean pickings for all but a precious few.

Look at how the real culprits have pushed things to the point where musos turn on their own. Why should we attack young people just wanting to gig? Not good.

It would help far more to attack the real biggest source of our problems - gaming machines.

Maybe musicians could band together with like-minded lobby groups and campaign against gaming machine laws that make them so much more attractive to bar managers than music. It's more work and maybe less fun than picking on kids, though.

DED, there is only one plumbing superstar - Kenny, the self-proclaimed Dalai Lama of Waste Management - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yM5a5QM4R8

Modern Plumbing magazine haha ... nice ring to it, DED. It could catch on ...
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Old 04-03-2012, 02:16 AM
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Please do, kiddies! Part of the reason going out to see music is so unattractive are the garbage 12 year olds playing Nirvana covers with hot rods in the local coffee shop. They should NOT be getting gigs. Theyre undercutting cost and damaging venue reputation. I did this when I was 15. We literally stole a gig from local jazz musicians who were hundreds of times better than we were at the time. I didn't know we were undercutting (the POWER of education, I let all my students know how I feel about this and what they should be asking for when it's time to start gigging), but the jazz club went out of business and I think to a large degree my garbage high school jazz band was responsible. I wish I would not have done that. I had no idea I was doing anything wrong at the time,.
Blaming yourself is a bit mis-placed though. Shouldn't the venue have known the other guy were a hundred times better and worth playing more?

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You're not good enough to work yet? No problem!!! Dont work then! Keep it in the shed with your dudes, get tight, get killin, and then you can start to worry about venues..
But do you think the average kids listens? On average, a good majority of people tend to think they are ready for more than they are.

If there are gigs to be had, kids will take them. People tend to have a hard time looking at their own music objectively.

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if the promoter/whoever decides that any given band isn't good enough - whether they're greasy teenagers or wrinkly old farts - then I guess they don't get the gig.....

But it astonishes me how many venues are run by people who simply put no value in music at all. If that's the case, fine:
And from my observation, that is where the real problem lies. It's not musicians under cutting each other or venues simply not willing to pay, it comes down to so many venues do not take "quality" of the bands into the equation. And because they don't, they book bad bands that drive customers away over the long run, just because the band promised to bring in x-number of paying people, or worse, fronted the money to the venue for customers that never show up.
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Old 04-03-2012, 01:14 PM
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Now a days if you want to play any club in my town, you will most certainly play for peanuts or free. This is where it's evolved to over the few decades I've been doing this. Prior, the money was actually great. Then came DJ's, stiffer DWI laws and no public smoking.

If you choose to participate in one of those options then you understand what it means. For me, I've burned all need to ever play live again - though I do. So, I personally don't care anymore.

If the band thinks it's going to be fun and we have the personal free time to do it - we do it. Whether or not we are doing is completely irrelevant whether or not the place will be open. We take up space in their opinion.... If my band is not there - another band will be.

At this point of my life, I'll play for free for the sake of having fun with the band. I personally find the gigs at this stage of my life a hassle - especially the paying ones. The free ones - we pick the start/end times - the length of the sets and breaks.

I truly just don't care enough any longer about the money involved in playing.
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:12 PM
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From my perspective, it all seems relative. I consider my practice of engineering to be very important to society. I doubt many people want to drive over a bridge that has been designed by an engineer that isn't qualified. There are a lot of steps (education, testing, experience, etc) that an engineer has to go through to obtain their license and be able to sign engineering drawings. In this field, I make a pretty comfortable living (I'm now at the management level), so I'm definitely not complaining. However, with the economy in the crapper, clients are significantly cutting back what we can charge for our services, as if somehow what we do is worth less now.

Ironically our clients are squeezing us, yet continue to pay upwards of $400/hour for legal services, and the attorneys aren't cutting back on their fees.

Meanwhile, professional (and non-professional) musicians continue to earn less, yet professional entertainers and athletes continue to make obscene salaries.

Two of my bandmembers are unemployed, so paid gigs are pretty important to them. Right now we can only find one venue that is willing to pay us, and fortunately they haven't squeezed us yet. There are so many horror stories about how venues have broken promises about hiring or payment.
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Old 04-03-2012, 06:17 PM
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Also because peanuts are not legal tender to pay for things.
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:14 PM
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From my perspective, it all seems relative. I consider my practice of engineering to be very important to society. I doubt many people want to drive over a bridge that has been designed by an engineer that isn't qualified. There are a lot of steps (education, testing, experience, etc) that an engineer has to go through to obtain their license and be able to sign engineering drawings. In this field, I make a pretty comfortable living (I'm now at the management level), so I'm definitely not complaining. However, with the economy in the crapper, clients are significantly cutting back what we can charge for our services, as if somehow what we do is worth less now.

Ironically our clients are squeezing us, yet continue to pay upwards of $400/hour for legal services, and the attorneys aren't cutting back on their fees.

Meanwhile, professional (and non-professional) musicians continue to earn less, yet professional entertainers and athletes continue to make obscene salaries.

Two of my bandmembers are unemployed, so paid gigs are pretty important to them. Right now we can only find one venue that is willing to pay us, and fortunately they haven't squeezed us yet. There are so many horror stories about how venues have broken promises about hiring or payment.
Here's some economic food for thought and conversation:

- What good would it do for an unqualified "engineer" to build a bridge that collapses and kills people? In a theoretical situation where there were no coercive regulations and licensure for your profession - who would want to hire someone with such a reputation...and why would an inexperienced engineer accept a one-time paycheck for what are clearly much more severe consequences than the paycheck can justify? Even if I were the most sinister of con-men, the valuation seems obvious here. With that, a rhetorical question; why are so many bridges, roads, and other infrastructure crumbling, anyhow?

- Lawyers can charge what they want...the law is a monopolistic institution. If/when engineers become a function of government, they'll enjoy the same monopoly privileges. Licensure and regulation can only go so far in squeezing out competitive (price-reducing) forces. What you do is in fact, worth less now, according to the market. Value is subjective...which means prices are ultimately determined by the market.

- Athletes make obscene salaries because of us - the market. People are willing to pay obscene ticket prices to attend sporting events, therefore athletes can continue to demand obscene contracts. Musicians are seeing less money because consumers aren't willing to pay as much to see them, and are fed up with paying protectionist prices for copies of mediocre, rushed, over-produced albums, cranked out by the corporatist music industry. No longer can musicians afford to put out electronically-enhanced, carefully airbrushed albums, and put on relatively poor performances. Thankfully!

My wife is our band manager. She also manages a few other bands in town and has become pretty active in the local music scene. She hears the same thing from club/bar owners all the time - prices are rising and profits are falling. The owner of the Knitting Factory wrote out all of his costs for doing a show, in detail. These guys are squeezed as tight as they can possibly get and most of them are *still* willing to do whatever they can, as far as paying a band to come and play. Too often, bands want to walk into a bar, lay it down for a couple hours, and still complain when they only walk away with $50 in each of their pockets. It's the band's responsibility to get people into the venue and spending money. If you're doing that, you deserve to get paid. If you feel it's not good enough, renegotiate or just quit playing there. If someone fills your spot for the same pay...you weren't worth more. The supply of musicians is typically much, much higher than the demand, so competitive pressure keeps the prices low, for club owners.
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:45 PM
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Meanwhile, professional (and non-professional) musicians continue to earn less, yet professional entertainers and athletes continue to make obscene salaries.
.
As for professional athletes, only a small, small percentage do make obscene money, and there is very little to no middle ground.

Look at American Football players, only 0.2% of high school football players make it to the NFL. Of those who do, the average NFL career is 3.5 seasons long. Which means for every player who plays 10 to 15 years, there are dozens of players who only play for a year or less. And if you don't make money in the nfl, there are only a few options, none of which play nearly as much.

And even the very best athletes in nearly every sport (outside of Golf) are generally retired by their mid-30's.

In Athletics, only the cream of the crop make money, and only for a short time.
In music, it's possible not be quite the cream and still make a living far longer than an athlete.

Although one tie in is we see numerous formerly high paid athletes and formerly high paid musicians end up broke due to poor money management.
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:18 AM
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It's the band's responsibility to get people into the venue and spending money.
Though I agree with most of what you've said hitherto, I cannot agree with that. I concede that a band which puts a lot of effort into promoting itself will tend to do better than not, yet what you've said there has for far too long been the motto of lazy and moronic promoters and venue owners.

It baffles me when, to this day, some people who run small venues still have the attitude "I'll book this band but if they don't bring X amount of people through the door then they don't get booked again etc" - and then simply do nothing themselves to encourage people to come to the event which they have organised. Then they have the nerve to turn around and moan that they lose money by putting on gigs that no one comes to. Well whose fault is that?

This whole situation seems to have fallen arse-over-tit: I mean, no one's going to just pop round my house of a Friday evening out of the blue on the off chance they might hear some good music; but if somebody opens a club in a populated area which sells booze and has an area large enough to dance around in and he makes the place as inviting and welcoming as possible so that people actually start going there on a regular basis, may be then he could think of a way to entertain them. Honestly, none of us need a bloody MBA to work that one out.
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:29 AM
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It baffles me when, to this day, some people who run small venues still have the attitude "I'll book this band but if they don't bring X amount of people through the door then they don't get booked again etc" - and then simply do nothing themselves to encourage people to come to the event which they have organised. Then they have the nerve to turn around and moan that they lose money by putting on gigs that no one comes to. Well whose fault is that?
Indeed. The venue is responsible for its own promotion. The band is responsible for entertainment. Now of course there's a degree of cross-over in that arrangement, but in order for the most successful outcome for all it certainly entails both sides uphold their end of the bargain. To pin the entire responsibility of a venue's success or survival on "the band" is a very long bow.
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:59 AM
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To pin the entire responsibility of a venue's success or survival on "the band" is a very long bow.
Which is why they increasingly pin the responsibility for success on gaming machines. And it works every time. No noise. Fewer rowdies. Less mess. No band egos to deal with. No setup and tear down. Just the consistent flow of money from customer to bar owner ...
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Old 04-04-2012, 02:15 AM
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Though I agree with most of what you've said hitherto, I cannot agree with that. I concede that a band which puts a lot of effort into promoting itself will tend to do better than not, yet what you've said there has for far too long been the motto of lazy and moronic promoters and venue owners.

It baffles me when, to this day, some people who run small venues still have the attitude "I'll book this band but if they don't bring X amount of people through the door then they don't get booked again etc" - and then simply do nothing themselves to encourage people to come to the event which they have organised. Then they have the nerve to turn around and moan that they lose money by putting on gigs that no one comes to. Well whose fault is that?

This whole situation seems to have fallen arse-over-tit: I mean, no one's going to just pop round my house of a Friday evening out of the blue on the off chance they might hear some good music; but if somebody opens a club in a populated area which sells booze and has an area large enough to dance around in and he makes the place as inviting and welcoming as possible so that people actually start going there on a regular basis, may be then he could think of a way to entertain them. Honestly, none of us need a bloody MBA to work that one out.
They don't need you...they'll sell booze and make money with or without you. So, if you expect to make more than peanuts...bring some fans with you. If this weren't the case, and there was *more* of an incentive (demand), the market would be tipped more in favor of musicians.
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Old 04-04-2012, 02:35 AM
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It baffles me when, to this day, some people who run small venues still have the attitude "I'll book this band but if they don't bring X amount of people through the door then they don't get booked again etc" - and then simply do nothing themselves to encourage people to come to the event which they have organised. Then they have the nerve to turn around and moan that they lose money by putting on gigs that no one comes to. Well whose fault is that?
.
I brought that up in a prior thread:
http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=87778

Which came from an article with this quote:
Quote:
But here’s where the club owner doesn’t get it. The crowd is following the band, not the venue. The next night you will have to start all over again. And the people that were starting to follow your venue are now turned off because you just made them listen to a bad band. The goal should be to build a fan base of the venue. To get people that will trust that you will have good music in there every night. Instead, you’ve soiled your reputation for a quick fix.

If you asked a club owner, ”who is your target demographic?” I doubt they would answer ”the band’s friends and family.” But yet clubs operate like it is.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:45 AM
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They don't need you...they'll sell booze and make money with or without you.
If that's their attitude, then why bother putting bands on at all? Especially if they lose money by doing so: the law governing entertainment licenses in the UK recently changed to exempt venues that hold less than 200 people, but that only came into effect in March of this year. I'm sure plenty of places all over the world have by-laws that mean a given venue incurs costs by hosting live music. If they have no interest in recouping those costs then I guess they can join the dole queue with all the unemployed musicians.

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The goal should be to build a fan base of the venue
Absolutely-doodley: if your venue is worth playing at then people will value getting a gig there. If you don't give a toss, then they don't give a toss. The trouble comes back to how easy it is to get a gig at these joints; if a bunch of jokers with amps that don't work can just stroll onto the stage for no money and don't care whether any body will show up or not - then that venue is unlikely to attract any decent acts and so the problem just keeps rolling around without anyone doing anything about it.
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:09 PM
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Which is why they increasingly pin the responsibility for success on gaming machines. And it works every time. No noise. Fewer rowdies. Less mess. No band egos to deal with. No setup and tear down. Just the consistent flow of money from customer to bar owner ...
+ 1 Though in my local economy it's not gaming machines yet (I understand though it may be happening in the future).

For here it's still a DJ or a gazillion large screen TV's that play sports, etc...

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They don't need you...they'll sell booze and make money with or without you. So, if you expect to make more than peanuts...bring some fans with you. If this weren't the case, and there was *more* of an incentive (demand), the market would be tipped more in favor of musicians.
+1 This is what it is in my local economy. In some cases you could substitute the word booze for coffee – but same application.

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If that's their attitude, then why bother putting bands on at all?

Absolutely-doodley: if your venue is worth playing at then people will value getting a gig there. If you don't give a toss, then they don't give a toss. The trouble comes back to how easy it is to get a gig at these joints; if a bunch of jokers with amps that don't work can just stroll onto the stage for no money and don't care whether any body will show up or not - then that venue is unlikely to attract any decent acts and so the problem just keeps rolling around without anyone doing anything about it.
Again, this could be a reflection of local economies but it’s not so easy in my local area to get a free gig even. The competition is still there and the people with amps who can’t play a stitch – don’t gig at all - not even for free. Once they’ve played their initial gig, they are not invited back.

Again, the places here will be open and doing fine whether or not anyone is there playing live music. Many of the same people will be there as well - except for the people the band brings is. The owners are in a win/win situation. They make money regardless if there's a band there. If there is a band there, they make more money.

Again for me, the money issue is no longer a part of the equation as it was back in the 80's and 90's. Players of all levels get this - professional or otherwise. No one is taking anyone's opportunity away to make money or play for free. We all know which places pay and which ones do not. It's fair game and it's up to each band to decide.

Fortunately for me, in most cases, I prefer the free ones since they tend to be more fun than the paying ones.
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:55 PM
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Which is why they increasingly pin the responsibility for success on gaming machines. And it works every time. No noise. Fewer rowdies. Less mess. No band egos to deal with. No setup and tear down. Just the consistent flow of money from customer to bar owner ...
By gaming machines, I assume you mean gambling slots and what not? It's legal there?

That's pretty much not an option for CA bars... No gambling allowed, unless of course it's the state-run "lottery" which is completely different because only the state gets to take people's money with insane payout to profit ratios. It's okay for them.
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:55 AM
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By gaming machines, I assume you mean gambling slots and what not? It's legal there?

That's pretty much not an option for CA bars... No gambling allowed, unless of course it's the state-run "lottery" which is completely different because only the state gets to take people's money with insane payout to profit ratios. It's okay for them.
Yep, they changed the licensing laws here and after that the scene went down the gurgler as small and medium sized bars skipped the music and installed machines.

Here's an interesting development in "playing for free" - backyard gigs:

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/...405-1wflk.html
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:01 AM
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That's a very thought-provoking piece! The lowest I've ever been paid for a gig is £30 and there's something about that figure...
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