Nice Article

FoolInTheRain

Senior Member
I haven't gigged in years so I don't know what the climate is like, but the problems the author talks about don't surprise me at all. I'm sure my bands were exploited at one point or another, but we were young and didnt care. It was less about what we made at the door and more about the chicks.

That was a good read.
 

Beam Me Up Scotty

Silver Member
That was definitely a good read, thanks for posting.

I think a lot of musicians need to read this, and stop agreeing to gigs like these. Those musicians are just as responsible for the state of things in the gigging scene as the venue owners themselves.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Typical here in Fort Worth, a band is EXPECTED to bring "their people" and to spend their own money advertising.

The last band I played in, one of the first gigs we had was at a family owned and run sports bar. The deal was we got 10% of the bar receipts from the time we started playing until we stopped at 1:30 am. The lady running the bar was very adamant about us brining "our people" and if "we bring enough, we'll get invited back".

Long story short, we played well and had "our people" there. The lady who cashed us out at the end of the night gave us 15% of the bar receipts instead of the normal 10%. The owner found out about it and sent us a very snotty email saying she's never hosting us again. At which we sent back an email reminding her "our people" were heavy drinkers and stayed the entire night drinking primarily mixed drinks, which cost more, and the bar receipt mistake was made by "her" people, not us. "And by the way, madam, your sound guy was never around when we needed him and went home during the first set, leaving us alone to work HIS system".

We never played there again. Didn't want to.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I have definitely seen both sides of this matter. I admit I was once the guy who would do anything, pimp out my friends and family, pay my own money for drinks, even play for free, just to get a gig. I didn't necessarily realize it at the time, but looking back on it I can see how detrimental the whole thing is to the greater musical good.

I have alos been lucky enough to be on the flip side of this coin. I was in the band that had the following. We played, and packed, every bar, club, and juke box joint within 100 miles of Sacramento. I didn't care about the economics of the bar scene, we dictated the terms and we always got paid.

So I can really see this article from different point of view. On one hand, the amount musicians get paid is ridiculously low, and they things they have to go through to get gigs are crazy. On the other hand I would say that good bands have the following, and if your band isnt good enough to fill the bar, maybe its time to move on.
 

Angus Macinnes

Senior Member
I have not played paying gigs in a long, long time and I cannot believe that any decent musician would tolerate that sort of thing. Like the aurthor of the article said that is the venue owners responsibility and up to him to pub people in his club. It is the musicians job to play well and get paid a decent wage. Maybe some people just need to quit being so desparate for the attention. Okay, that is all of my rant. :)
 

Bobrush

Senior Member
In my opinion, it comes down to two things: simple economics and sophisticated technology.
Throughout most of human history, if you wanted to hear music, you needed live musicians. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries that gradually changed as technology improved. First there were music boxes, player pianos, calliopes etc. Then recordings and radio. Then recordings and radio improved. Then digital recordings, then the internet. I think our species developed with a high percentage of musicians that just aren't needed today. I just finished reading The Black Swan (no, not about ballet, about randomness, economics, philosophy etc. http://www.amazon.com/The-Black-Swan-Improbable-Robustness/dp/081297381X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1379363375&sr=8-2&keywords=black+swan) He had a few examples about how musicians largely get screwed by economics and technology. His illustrative question: "Why should I pay $9.99 for a CD from somebody I've never heard of, when I can pay $10.99 (or even the same price) for a CD from somebody who is world-famous?"
Bottom line: It's hard to make a living in music. When I was 18, I made the choice not to. Money has been much easier for me than some of my muso friends, but I'm not 100% sure I made the right choice.

What really kills me though is when DJ's are worshipped for their 'talent'. I can understand the economics of why DJ's get jobs, but I just can NOT understand how they get 'fans'.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What really kills me though is when DJ's are worshipped for their 'talent'. I can understand the economics of why DJ's get jobs, but I just can NOT understand how they get 'fans'.
I can relate. I kind of resent the fact that a DJ's and sound guys makes more than the musicians. At least on the level I am.

Those guys work hard too but it just doesn't seem fair, waaaa lol.

Nice article Scott. Musicians as a whole are to blame. We let it get this way somehow. So now it's expected that musicians pay to work. No one to blame but ourselves.

Right? Anyone else we can blame?
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
... What really kills me though is when DJ's are worshipped for their 'talent'. I can understand the economics of why DJ's get jobs, but I just can NOT understand how they get 'fans'.
I know nothing about DJing.

I do know a little about human nature though, and one thing that I have often noticed is that the things that other people do are often so much simpler and easier than the things that we do. Funny that.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Scott, for some unknown reason, I can't open the article, but I can pretty much guess what it reports. Treatment & general attitude by some venue owners is blatant exploitation, others are superb. The good bands tend to gravitate towards venues where they get treated well, & ultimately, that pays off for the venue, so things have a habit of coming back around in the end.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
There is (or was until recently) a venue in our area that charges bands for the sound man. For a band to play their place, the bar requires $100.00 up front for the sound man. The lousy part is they have all the sound equipment at the venue, sound booth, etc. they just charge the bands for the sound man's time and effort. The $100 is charged up front before the band even plays 1 note.

So if the bar receipts for the night give the band $200, they have already blown $100 to pay the sound man. They get to split the rest of the take among themselves.

Pretty lousy way of treating bands.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I thought I had read this before:
http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=87778


I agree the business model highly flawed. And I've witnessed venues go out of business over this business model. But at the same time, the supply of musicians looking for gigs out weighs the demand for live music. There are numerous clubs here in LA who treat all the bands horribly, yet they have 5 bands a night, 7 nights a week, with bookings months in advance.

As mentioned, most of these places can put in a DJ and get the same number of people through the door without a band. So yes, stand up and fight sounds like a great idea, until you realize the venues simply don't have to fight back. They can just get a DJ. Or the next band in a near endless supply of bands who are willing to do the gig for no money.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
There is (or was until recently) a venue in our area that charges bands for the sound man. For a band to play their place, the bar requires $100.00 up front for the sound man. The lousy part is they have all the sound equipment at the venue, sound booth, etc. they just charge the bands for the sound man's time and effort. The $100 is charged up front before the band even plays 1 note.

So if the bar receipts for the night give the band $200, they have already blown $100 to pay the sound man. They get to split the rest of the take among themselves.

Pretty lousy way of treating bands.
I don't suppose supplying your own sound engineer is an option?

Even though I deplore door take or bar take percentages, to some extent, I can see the logic when we're talking about a band with little local reputation or previous gigs at the venue. As for sound man charges, that's fair if the guy's good, & if the house PA is something of note. A good PA costs a bucket of money. I know, I own & run one. Let's say you're doing 20 gigs/year, & for the sake of this discussion, they're all with a good PA & sound engineer. The cost to the band is $2,000. I can assure you that $2,000 x 5 years still doesn't cover even the equipment purchase cost, never mind a sound engineer, transport, maintenance, etc. Even better, you don't have to carry, setup, & break down the damn thing.

Ok, I know my comparison is unrealistic, because most PA's aren't exactly great, & nor are many supplied sound men, but it's food for thought.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Nice article Scott. Musicians as a whole are to blame. We let it get this way somehow. So now it's expected that musicians pay to work. No one to blame but ourselves.

Right? Anyone else we can blame?
Technology.

It's not just musicians. The NFL and other sporting events are dealing with the live experience of going to a game is not as big of a deal as it once was. Movie studios are dealing with people don't have to go to a theater to to have a movie experience. Record companies are near out of business because people no longer have to go buy a physical product.

People now have home theater systems with large TVs and surround sound. People can now have the going out to the game/theater/club experience at home. You can watch the game, see the movie, or listen to music from all over the world, with near realistic visual and audio, and never get off the couch. Emerging 3/d4d television technology, and google glasses technology is about to make this even more so.

Bars and clubs also have long since served as way to meet one's mate. Now there are a hundreds web services that will do that for you.

And then there are video games. In generations past, if you wanted fun, you had to leave the house. Now, people stay home and play games.

I personally don't play video games, I don't care much for movies, and I'd rather be immersed in live music. But when I look at my peers at work, or in my greater social circles, I'm in a clear minority. I know full grown adults, married, with kids, who have NEVER seen a live band.
 

mymarkers

Senior Member
Why doesn't he just open his own venue?

For all the talk about what owners or musicians should or shouldn't do, nobody seems to think about the customers. Some aren't going to distinguish between a good band or a mediocre one. Others are going to seek the best and most interesting bands wherever they may be. Somewhere in the middle, people subconsciously have more fun at venues with consistently good music. They return more often, stay longer, buy more drinks, and bring more friends. That's the segment of the market it seems the author is describing. Is that market big enough and will they spend enough to cover the likely higher cost he'll pay for entertainment? If it is, then he serves himself by making money, musicians by creating a fun and well-paying venue, and patrons by providing good music.
 
Top