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The 4 Hour Bar Gig, A Thing Of The Past?


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Four hours! Our longest shows are 2 x 60 minutes, but 2 x45 far more common, or like this weekend, just a 60 minute set.

The MU, not that many belong any more, would actually do a 3 hour max, while actors get a 4 hour max. We couldn't keep it up for that long anyway. We all sing, so we'd have no voices left to do a four hour stint. Money would have to be seriously good for me to consider doing that much work!

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[quote name='jonsebass' timestamp='1405970023' post='2507123']
So what is the going rate for gigs then? Do you have a "bass" (geddit) cost (of say £200) and then add on extra $$$ for longer sets etc?

I've played bass in the same band for yonks now, and we started off playing pubs for £160 (when we first started out as a 4 piece) and then that went to £200 as we became more popular. Now we are a 5 piece we play 1st pub gigs for £250 and subsequent for £300. We have pretty much always done 1x 60 min set and 1x 90ish min sets. Weddings/parties we charge double for (£600 just for the band) because the majority of the time we have to setup early/the day before so theres a lot of travelling. Set times are normally chosen by the person thats booked us.

I've heard of some bands that charge more to bring their own PA/lights and things, which I find ludicrous really.

[/quote]

£270 is minimum cost as we pay 5x£50 and £20 for the P.A... we have a new P.A so that may have to go up.
I think it is an insult to pay anyone less that £50 for a pub so that is what we bill at.
Anything over 25miles away needs petrol exes...
Parties start at £550 for family and friends, and normal parties start at £750 excluding P.A and lights and travel.
Maximum playing time is 2 hrs and we charge to put sound through the P.A... if only because that means
it may have to be up and running for longer. If people want music until 2pm, we tell them to get a disco
but if we have to do it..we charge them for keeping 3 people standing around for how many hours waiting to pack up.

Edited by JTUK
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[quote name='Musicman20' timestamp='1405895661' post='2506338']
The longest gig I've seen was Pearl Jam. 2 and s half hours ish.

[/quote]

PJ have been clocking over 3h 15m on the recent Euro tour with the shortest of eight shows I saw at 2h 55m. Everyone still wants more as you might expect :rolleyes:

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[quote name='JTUK' timestamp='1405978191' post='2507260']


£270 is minimum cost as we pay 5x£50 and £20 for the P.A... we have a new P.A so that may have to go up.
I think it is an insult to pay anyone less that £50 for a pub so that is what we bill at.
Anything over 25miles away needs petrol exes...
Parties start at £550 for family and friends, and normal parties start at £750 excluding P.A and lights and travel.
Maximum playing time is 2 hrs and we charge to put sound through the P.A... if only because that means
it may have to be up and running for longer. If people want music until 2pm, we tell them to get a disco
but if we have to do it..we charge them for keeping 3 people standing around for how many hours waiting to pack up.
[/quote]

So we're not too far off really, but why do you charge for taking PA and lights? Isnt that like charging extra to take your guitars, or is it that you've got a separate sound/light guy?

Sorry if that sounds sarky btw, its just something thats always narked me.

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[quote name='JTUK' timestamp='1405949269' post='2506821']
Pub gigs for 3 sets..??? What is the money for those?
[/quote]

Depends on where you are. For bar gigs in Milwaukee WI, $500.00 would be the absolute top of the scale. $400.00 is the most common pay check regarless of how many peices.

Blue

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[quote name='jonsebass' timestamp='1406056187' post='2507930']
So we're not too far off really, but why do you charge for taking PA and lights? Isnt that like charging extra to take your guitars, or is it that you've got a separate sound/light guy?

Sorry if that sounds sarky btw, its just something thats always narked me.
[/quote]

We bill the gig at a minimum £270 as we pay 5x50 plus £20 to the guy who owns the P.A. ( currently me )
Since the P.A is more than 2 boxes and benefits the band as a whole, as do the lights,
we pay to hire them of who ever owns them. You also need to consider who carrys them, loads them
etc..it all adds up to extra work in addition to your own gear.
On bigger gigs, we will pay the P.A and lights a max ( so far ) £100
so the outlay for the gear is gradually paid off.

I don't want to own the P.A ...but I didn't want to carry it either so I hore it back to the band.

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[quote name='blue' timestamp='1406056283' post='2507932']
Depends on where you are. For bar gigs in Milwaukee WI, $500.00 would be the absolute top of the scale. $400.00 is the most common pay check regarless of how many peices.

Blue
[/quote]

At current exchange rate $400 = £235 which is less than £60 each for a four piece band before taking any equipment fees or other expenses into account. Pretty similar to a lot of pub gigs here but you would be unlikely to be asked to play much more than 2x45 or maybe 1x45 + 1x60 for that money here unless the venue was frankly taking the piss or you don't value yourself highly. The average standard of musicianship in the UK probably isn't quite as high as the US for bar/pub work either.

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  • 1 year later...

[quote name='jonsebass' timestamp='1405970023' post='2507123']
So what is the going rate for gigs then? Do you have a "bass" (geddit) cost (of say £200) and then add on extra $$$ for longer sets etc?

I've played bass in the same band for yonks now, and we started off playing pubs for £160 (when we first started out as a 4 piece) and then that went to £200 as we became more popular. Now we are a 5 piece we play 1st pub gigs for £250 and subsequent for £300. We have pretty much always done 1x 60 min set and 1x 90ish min sets. Weddings/parties we charge double for (£600 just for the band) because the majority of the time we have to setup early/the day before so theres a lot of travelling. Set times are normally chosen by the person thats booked us.

I've heard of some bands that charge more to bring their own PA/lights and things, which I find ludicrous really.

In terms of playing for 4 hours, I think I probably would as long as its pointed out upfront and reflected in the booking fee (I will never forget the time that our guitarist couldnt do a gig so we did it as a 4 piece with about an hours notice - it was a common gig for us but a new landlord. He asked the 4 of us to play from 10pm til 1am with a 15 minute break (we used to do 9:30 - 11:30 under the old landlord). He knew we charged £250 (first gig for him) and we managed to get thru the gig by playing our normal set as best as we could and blagging a few others. He came up to us at the end of the gig and paid us £200 and told us that he didnt need to pay us fully as we were a man down! What an idiot. Needless to say he didnt stay there long!)
[/quote]

Sounds like you're underselling yourself. (although you know the local market better than me obv :) )
Weddings round here are a minimum of £200/head for the band, although I do play with some rediculously good full time players.


[quote name='paulears' timestamp='1405978170' post='2507257']
Four hours! Our longest shows are 2 x 60 minutes, but 2 x45 far more common, or like this weekend, just a 60 minute set.

The MU, not that many belong any more, would actually do a 3 hour max, while actors get a 4 hour max. We couldn't keep it up for that long anyway. We all sing, so we'd have no voices left to do a four hour stint. Money would have to be seriously good for me to consider doing that much work!
[/quote]

I once had 2x4 hour sets on a single day. No gaps in either. First one was a birthday party, then second one was the university chill out tent at the summer festival.
Needless to say my right hand was bleeding by the end of it.

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When I played the US Air Force basses in Germany we did 5 x 45min sets with 6 sets on a Friday and Saturday. We were lucky, the German clubs in town did 6 sets and 7 on Friday and Saturday. Those gigs certainly got your chops up to speed. After that gig, about 9 months, I had to have my 3 year old P bass re-fretted!

We did 4 gigs in 3 days at the Blues On The Bay Festival, Warrenpoint, a few years ago, but the 3 x 45 min gig coming up on Saturday is about the limit these days. British audiences don't seem to be lively enough for any longer gigs.

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I'm a bit confused on the PA/Lights thing. We have a pretty standard price for the band. If we need PA, the price goes up, and if we need lights - same again.

When we do theatre shows, it's quite common for venues to have PAs - our rider and contracts are always PA Supplied or PA NOT Supplied. So they get backline and us. We'd then expect what we need - which is 4 monitor mixes as a minimum. Sometimes this isn't possible so then we have to take our PA. This means an extra vehicle, and extra fuel - plus of course the equipment itself. Of course they pay! What often happens here is that their PA is decent quality, but lacking mixer channels or monitoring - so for these we will bring in our desk, our monitors and give them a left and right. This is quite common. Now we can control from an iPad, this isn't a pain - and the mixer can be stage side, not taking up FOH space. If a venue has enough lighting so we can be seen, we usually live with it, but if they want a lightshow, that is extra, and again extra transport - as in a bigger vehicle, and somebody to work it, putting costs up.

If we agree to do small gigs, in small venues, then the equipment provided has to be sufficient for us to play. If their system is two boxes on sticks and a 12 channel mixer - we won't do it. We don't ask for things we don't need, but it's clearly unrealistic to expect a PA and lights for free, as much as it's unrealistic to expect us to play through an inadequate system.

A band who buy a PA vs a band who don't - is surely a no-brainer? You get what you pay for.

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[quote name='blue' timestamp='1405903183' post='2506395']
At 60 actually close to 61, I still love it, however there are certain aspects of it that are harder for me now than when I was in my 20s. Being organized with a plan of action for set up and tear down helps.

Blue
[/quote]

72 in a month. My gear just got smaller lighter and LOUDER as I got older. Bar gigs I do very occasionally and play for as long as I feel like it mostly. Minimum two hours though.
My 60s resurrection band does 3x45 minutes usually & we get 100 quid a man. But we dont travel more than about 15 miles...

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[quote name='paulears' timestamp='1463046691' post='3048010']
I'm a bit confused on the PA/Lights thing. We have a pretty standard price for the band. If we need PA, the price goes up, and if we need lights - same again.

When we do theatre shows, it's quite common for venues to have PAs - our rider and contracts are always PA Supplied or PA NOT Supplied. So they get backline and us. We'd then expect what we need - which is 4 monitor mixes as a minimum. Sometimes this isn't possible so then we have to take our PA. This means an extra vehicle, and extra fuel - plus of course the equipment itself. Of course they pay! What often happens here is that their PA is decent quality, but lacking mixer channels or monitoring - so for these we will bring in our desk, our monitors and give them a left and right. This is quite common. Now we can control from an iPad, this isn't a pain - and the mixer can be stage side, not taking up FOH space. If a venue has enough lighting so we can be seen, we usually live with it, but if they want a lightshow, that is extra, and again extra transport - as in a bigger vehicle, and somebody to work it, putting costs up.

If we agree to do small gigs, in small venues, then the equipment provided has to be sufficient for us to play. If their system is two boxes on sticks and a 12 channel mixer - we won't do it. We don't ask for things we don't need, but it's clearly unrealistic to expect a PA and lights for free, as much as it's unrealistic to expect us to play through an inadequate system.

A band who buy a PA vs a band who don't - is surely a no-brainer? You get what you pay for.
[/quote]

In the States most of us doing 4 hour bar bring our own pa and lights.

Blue

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Got you! I assume the pay is better than here then so you can invest in the extra equipment? I suspect that for many bands who do smaller venues and bar, Ivansc's price is at the higher end of the range. Our band are lucky in that we tend to do theatres, corporates and festivals where the money is OK, and funds the PA and lighting we have available when it's needed. I the area we live in, the music scene is very poorly paid. I don't think we have every played a show within 60 miles of where we all live. In fact, last but one show we did was on the UK West coast, and I liven the most Easterly town - and we went all that way for a 35 minute set, and we're doing it again in a few weeks.

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The exchange rate has changed a bit since I posted 2 years ago but $400 is still about £70 each for a 4 piece band for a four hour gig. Even if it's gone up and they get $500 now that is less than £90 each. How many gigs would you have to do in the UK at that rate to be anywhere near self sustaining? Nice as a supplement to a day job salary but not a replacement for one I suspect.

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I have only ever done one where we did 4 sets of about 45 minutes in the one night and never want to do it again.
First set started about 7pm and the last set finished around 2.30am. Count the load in and out and travel home and it was near on a 12 hour thing.
Fairly well paid, but we all agreed never again. Might be ok if your a whipper snapper or a full time pro with no other responsibilities.

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[quote name='KevB' timestamp='1463140227' post='3048927']
The exchange rate has changed a bit since I posted 2 years ago but $400 is still about £70 each for a 4 piece band for a four hour gig. Even if it's gone up and they get $500 now that is less than £90 each. How many gigs would you have to do in the UK at that rate to be anywhere near self sustaining? Nice as a supplement to a day job salary but not a replacement for one I suspect.
[/quote]

Here in the midwest we have an advantage because of the huge festival and fair season here.

We're a bar band but during the summer we have a lot of fair and festival bookings and that's when you can make some decent money.

Blue

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[quote name='blue' timestamp='1463182182' post='3049427']
4 hours is the standard for bar bands in the States.

Blue
[/quote]

Yes quite. I was just making the point that you are asking in the wrong country since we are merely allies of your nation, not clones.

It is interesting to hear how you go on though. Thanks for that.

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Too many previous comments to read.

Quick view. Thats about 2 hours too long for me, the audience and definitely the singer.

I've seen some of my fav bands - top class acts - and have had enough after a couple of hours. Attention span is like that these days. I remember Marcus Miller coming to do an encore and thinking "no" thats enough, i want a crepe.

During a few years of being pro and doing the 5* hotel circuit around the Middle East we had to do 4 x 45 minute sets. Felt a lot more like work than the 2 x 45 minute sets im doing tonight at a wedding.

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