Getting Paid


Senior Member
Our singer/lead guitarist is booking our gigs. He isn’t asking for a percentage for doing this and our band agreement is we’re all equal members of the band, with equal pay. We split the tip jar three ways and the gig money three ways. What’s the typical procedure for getting this done after the gig is through and the gear is loaded up?

  • Our singer likes to tell the band he’s getting a $10 out of the tip jar to tip the waitress. But no one actually follows him to see if he actually pays the waitress.
  • We don’t have any rule who or when the tip jar money gets counted. Tonight I grabbed the tip jar to take it out to the guys who were chilling out back, but in view of the stage. They let me count the money on my own with no one around. I could have cheated (I didn’t). I’m perplexed why they didn’t request we all sit around and count it - $75 - $10 = $65. (That was a lot of money sitting alone in front of an empty stage, so I didn’t feel right leaving it to go join my band mates)
  • Our singer runs a tab for food and drinks for the band. Tonight was the first time the venue didn’t throw in free food and drinks. I didn’t get to see the receipt from the venue owner, so I don’t know exactly what the bill was. Am I supposed to take the singer’s word it was $65? Is it preferable to run a tab in the hopes of the venue covering it at the end?
  • Tonight was the first time our singer wanted to take another $10 out of the gig money to tip another waitress. I wasn’t asked to share in that burden because I wasn’t drinking during the gig.
  • The venue owner gave us all a free whiskey shot and a beer at the end of the gig.
  • The venue owner paid the singer in cash, but it was at the end of the bar and I couldn’t see where his hands went after he took the money, then strolling to us through a crowd of bar patrons. Is it reasonable to suspect that a bookee would make prior arrangements with the venue owner to take a percentage higher than the band on the side?
  • The behavior of our singer is kind of odd at the end of the gig. Subject matter trails off into a dozen different directions, never knowing what he’s up to. He walks off a lot to different areas of the venue. I often wonder if this is when the side deals are happening.
All members should be here when the venue's manager give you the envelop, same for the tips and same to give it to the waitresses, you all agreed right? So, why not giving it to her all together. Anytime we have a show, I have a contract, if it's paid in cash, at least something was written and all members know about it.
I don't need any extra in the side because it has been discussed before, as BL and MD, I get 10 to 15% more even a bit more sometimes when we use all my gear if it's cheaper than renting some stuff.
And it changes with every shows depending on how much we are paid,low paid, I take less, more load gig, I take a bit more....As long as we are paid the minimum we agreed per musicians, all members are ok with that.
Just communicate head for everything!
Not sure if it's the done thing in other countries but we don't tip other staff if we're working. We don't have a tip jar either. Doing the corporate/wedding circuit we get fed & soft drinks most of the time. It's a long day and it's in the gig contract.

For the playing bit it's always an equal split. We know what the gig fee is so there's never anything funny with each other. Only time there's a problem if a client tries to duck out of paying which a few very stupid people have tried but are yet to succeed.

If you think your singer isn't throwing straight dice find another band that does. Plenty out there! Life's too short to waste on dishonest folk and they usually get their comeuppance.
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Ugh. I'm fairly new to drums, but I've been working as a singer/guitarist/bandleader for many years.

#1: If you don't trust your bandleader, GTFO right away. What I'm saying is, if you can't rely on your bandleader to recompense you properly, they don't deserve you. They should be absolutely trustworthy and honest and forthcoming about what's happening with the money.

#2: Given that I've always enjoyed the trust and respect of my fellow players, I've never had an issue with this, so far as I'm aware. But, here's the deal I give my players: We all get paid equally, minus expenses, which includes a cut for promotion (gasoline, posters, and ads where applicable), and minus drink tabs, which...honestly...that's almost always $0.00, given the way I operate. And, minus tips to the bartender or security. I always make it a point to tip the people who work at the venue, but I also make it a point to explain that in full to my players.

#3: None of my players expect me to pay them in full on the night of the gig, because they trust me. The drummer needs $20.00 to fill his tank? Fine. We'll settle up the rest later.

#4: I'm saying this as a singer, and I think it's important, and I think that singers who don't follow this rule aren't right in the head. I am 100% involved in the load-in. Drums first, then PA, then keys, then bass and guitar. It's a group effort. Once that's done, my job is to schmooze with the crowd, and that continues for the rest of the night. So, I suppose, that's an extra burden for other players at the end of the gig, but that's precisely when I'm working out the money and making sure that everyone is happy, which is also part of my role in the whole process.

TLDR: You don't trust that you're getting compensated properly, get out now.
We can't know if the singer cheats you, but everything you've told us about this band has been a bit shady, to be honest. I would prefer seperate tabs for each band member which everyone pays by themself at the end of the night - no arguments and no pressure to keep up with the drinking habits of those guys.
Maybe it works out for you, but I suspect that you'll leave this band rather soon considering how many issues you've described in the past - the pay isn't great and the musicians don't seem to be a good fit (drinking and such, way too loud, more jamming than working on things, lengthy hang outs, suspicious behavior...)
Interesting questions OP. My thoughts, fwiw:

1. Wise for you (or a band member) to take possession of the tip jar soon after your finish playing. It's way too tempting to thieves.
2. Wise for you to want to have money dealt with in view of all band members. Whenever I deal with band money I do so quickly and in full view of as many band members as possible so there is transparency. Obviously not everyone does this. You could ask the singer to do it, or it could be effective (but more passive) to say, "Hey guys, I have the tip jar and I wanted to count it with you guys so everyone knows the pot together."
3. It seems to me unlikely that your singer is creating side deals--it just seems like so much extra work for a person to do for a relatively small benefit. I understand it might be happening, but if you agree the chance is low (and/or the mental cost of worrying about it too high), can you decide to ignore that worry so it's not an issue for you, even if it is happening? The follow-up to this is that if you discover that it is happening the band gets rid of him or, if that is not an option, all agree he does not handle money anymore.
4. I wonder how cash apps will affect how bands are paid and how that money is divided. What if the bar/person wants to pay the band through a cash app? Can this help your concerns? Make them worse? I don't know.
5. I never considered tipping other staff. I figure we are all working the same event. We play well and put on a good show the venue and staff all make more money. On re-read I now think you mean the specific waitress that brought the drinks to you--I suppose that makes sense to tip her.
6. Venue supplied food and drinks can get bad if one or two band members drink a lot. Not sure best way to resolve this but a discussed general understanding and then also discussion about how the next show is going to handle it seem necessary.

Someone's gonna get whacked.

Sorry, I've been watching Boardwalk Empire.
What are they going to do with the body? I suppose this means I should refuse any band trips out to the gulf LOL!
This happened to me a couple bands ago. The band was supposed to get beers for free, but a couple were getting mixed drinks too, so they felt they should tip the bartender. The second time it happened (that they tipped the bartender out of the band's pay) I asked why my pay was short $5 again, and out of the blue, they asked me "You're going to quit the band over $5?", and then dude just walked away.

I should add that I don't drink, quit years ago, and enjoy not paying for it.

They haven't played again since, but I found a much better band right away. I didn't really trust that guy either, for that matter.
Tell the guy directly you'd like to be a part of the end of handling the money at the end of the night, or you'd like more openness in that part of the process. You don't have to accuse him of anything. "That's just how I like to do business, I want to know." Business-like.

re: tipping: How about everybody tip normally for their own service and leave it at that.

Wow, you have some serious trust issues!

This is how people who are trying to cheat you will respond.
This is how people who are trying to cheat you will respond
The singer is constantly asking me if I trust him. And I keep saying "yes" instead of the famous Donald Sutherland line in Italian Job - "I trust you. I just don't trust the devil inside you.". It also feels awkward he's hugging on me a dozen times every gig.
we combat this by doing a few things;

1. we play original metal, so there are no tips to be had, and not a huge ton of money at the end of some gigs...

2. if the bar is not supplying drinks and or food, we pay for it on our own, and usually go else where for food in between load in and sound check. This also curbs the over drinking that sometimes happens...

3. at the end of the night, and door money or payment goes into a band-wide bank account that we all can see, but that is handled by our guitar player since she does finance stuff for a living anyways (our band fund is actually a money market acct)

4. we all agreed that everyones job as far as band logistics is worth an even amount of money: no one gets "paid more" for doing a certain job

5. all of the band fund money goes into recording; home practice space maintenance; gas for the van that pulls the trailer; lodging if we go out of town; we all can see, and get notifications when money goes in and out, but more importantly, we are all honest about the use of the band fund

in my cover band, the band leader divides up the money evenly...if it is a weird amount, the extra goes into a fund that pays for food, drinks or what not at the next show. It is less regimented and organized than the metal band, but it still workd cause we are all old school and trust each other not to be greedy deviants...
Tell the guy directly you'd like to be a part of the end of handling the money at the end of the night, or you'd like more openness in that part of the process. You don't have to accuse him of anything. "That's just how I like to do business, I want to know." Business-like.
I think the bass player has already said something to him. But in a bar full of people it's still hard to see money change hands. I like the idea of a sealed envelope from the bartender, with the band opening it together later. But we had an issue two gigs ago where the money in the envelope was short. We had to turn around 5 miles down the road and go back and beg for the remainder. I suppose we should've opened the envelope before leaving the venue.

Why does getting paid have to feel like a scene out of Hard Times (Charles Bronson)??
re: tipping: How about everybody tip normally for their own service and leave it at that.
Agreed, it's not a team responsibility. At a recent gig I happily tipped a total of $6 or 8 for my soft drinks and was glad I didn't have to worry about anything being secretly taken off the top on my behalf.

Then again, I always get paid an agreed-upon amount for playing and I don't concern myself with whether the bandleader got to keep extra money, or went out-of-pocket on a given gig. If it becomes a financial strain for them to support the players on gigs that don't pay enough, that's a discussion that would have to happen as a group.

Of course trust is very important for many reasons. I've been lucky to work for people who are trustworthy, or at least have never revealed themselves to be otherwise. But I also know players who've been told one thing, and something different after the gig. They usually move on after the second time of that happening. Fool me once... etc. Word gets out. People talk to each other. I'm surprised those bandleaders can get anyone to play with them at all anymore. I know of a few, and would never accept their gig if they called.
If it doesn't feel right to you, get out. Leave under good circumstances as best you can.
If I do that, I'll probably finish the remaining gigs a month down the calendar. But I don't want to quit - it's a major source of income right now and I've got a couple of months work into the band. That said, a couple approached me in between sets and told me their drummer wasn't working out. I would likely take on a second band before quitting the current one - or get lucky and find a day job in my field.
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