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neilray

Am I the only one ?

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People . Just read an ad on gumtree via basschat . Band looking for a bassist to gig every Wednesday night . Three x 45 minute sets .either a three or four piece band . The pay was £120 - divided amongst all the band members . So you travel to this cocktail bar , paying your tube/ train fare , play three sets , then travel home again . You will get 30 or 40 quid for your trouble . By the time you’ve paid travel costs , you won’t have enough money to buy a set of strings . Especially if you use a five string . Before you respond , yes I know all gigs are good experience - but why should the venue be allowed to obtain your services for the same money that a plumber makes in half an hour ? I’m sorry people but this stinks . Am I the only person thinking like this ? 

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Because if you don't do it, someone else will. Some people will play for nothing. You could look at it this way - how much would it cost to hire a rehearsal studio and play those tunes with those guys for 3 x 45 mins? If money is the prime motivation for playing then look for another act that pays more. While there are enough people of a decent standard happy to play for peanuts then venues will expolit the situation.

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That is pretty poor, but yes, there will be some people who will go for it so they will be able to exploit the situation.

I am guessing this is a London thing  - with so many groups per venue, they will find someone.

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The last time I worked for 30 quid I was the house bass player in a jam night. I could leave a spare combo at the gig and walk there with my bass on my back. I got to play out of my comfort zone, have a couple of pints and walk home it was that close.

Well worth it. Would I get in my car and travel for that  ? No.

After nearly a year the landlord bagged it cos' it didn't make enough extra profit to cover the bands 120 quid. 

I think we often over estimate our worth to the bottom line business situation to be honest

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Good points . I suppose I just get annoyed at the exploitation. And yes - if you don’t do it , somebody else will . Sooner or later , gig or no gig , you have to put a value on what you have to offer . 

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3 minutes ago, neilray said:

Good points . I suppose I just get annoyed at the exploitation. And yes - if you don’t do it , somebody else will . Sooner or later , gig or no gig , you have to put a value on what you have to offer . 

Of course you do. To be honest must businesses would have no problem paying a band 400 quid if they brought an extra 800 quid profit in. Not too sure on the exploitation you allude to but it sucks that we’re not paid as much as plumbers 🤣

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It does . I’ve nothing but complete admiration for anybody that strives to make a living by playing music .Fact is, I’d play gigs for nothing because I do something else full time . What I do , and I guess I’m not alone in this , is put my gig money by so I can get strings and occasionally something bigger - a new bass or a safety net in case any of my gear goes wrong . 

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The problem is, these days, with most of the pubs, (at least outside major cities) either already closed, or struggling to survive, the economics of paying a band just doesn't work. Say for example if you're in a 5 piece. To make it even modestly worth your while, not even factoring in tax, gear and travel costs. You're going to be wanting at least £500. That gets you £100 each, but very few amateur band's are going to attract enough punters to increase the pubs profits by £500 and cover costs, let alone make enough money to make it worthwhile for the venue. Especially when most of them can pay a Karaoke host £75 and probably pull in just as many punters. 

People often talk about exploitation, and say things like "I wouldn't work for that much", and slag of bands for playing for free. 

But in reality, if you're in it for the money, then you're better off being a plumber anyway.

If you're in it for the music and the fun of playing, then why not? It's just like any other hobby. 

If you play golf you buy the best golf bats you can afford, and still have to pay the course for the pleasure of playing. I bet those guys would love to play for free. Are they exploited because Ian Woosnam gets paid to play? 

 

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Yes I agree with you on most of your points . My point is , even if you are are a pub or bar that wants to put on live music , why you you expect to pay peanuts for the bands/ musicians? Because musicians will play for peanuts because of the love of what they do and that’s a personal choice . Also it’s exactly why I couldn’t just play music for a living . This doesn’t mean I love or enjoy playing any less than a full time musician . It’s just that I realised when I left school that I needed to earn money . I wasn’t a good musician at that time so I trained to do something else .As in my previous post , nothing but admiration for the full timers out there .

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Average fee is around £250 to £350 for a pub gig around London outskirts.  Even at this money divide it by 4 and  you're getting around £65 to £80.  By the time you have loaded up the car, travelled, set up,  played two 1 hour sets with a break, stripped down, travelled home and unloaded, you're lucky if you haaven't done 5 or 6 hours graft. 

I only gig about once a month and rehearse evey week.  My time and cost breakdown is

Travel to/from rehearsal, 1 hour, £2 in fuel per week,  4 hours/£8 per gig

Rehearsal 3 hours per week £10 for the room, 12 hours/£40 per gig

Learning new songs/practice: 1 hour a week, 4 hours per gig

Travel to gig, play gig, 5 hours, fuel, a drink or two £5

So the total time is 25 hours and £53 per gig.

I'm just about covering m costs, not geting paid for my time.

The last gig I played Mrs Nicko couldn't come along with me when I set up and had to leave early so she got a cab which was £20 each way.  It was a dep gig and I spent maybe 20 hours learning the songs.

 

 

Edited by Nicko

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You need to decide if its a job, a service you provide (which might be paid/unpaid or anywhere in between) or a hobby. If its perceived as a hobby, then getting paid (expenses) is pretty good - how many rambling associations pay the old biddies to walk in the countryside at the weekend, etc (or similar analogies). 

If its a job then there's min wage considerations, and you'd need to include travel to-from home. There could be an interesting debate about who is the "employer" - whoever is the bandleader? The pub/venue themselves? If its not an employment situation (and I don't think it is, if there's no contract or obligation to attend), then its a "service", which can be negotiable and has no min wage concern.

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That’s interesting and I’ve no actually worked mine out . But as an example , I’m playing in Glastonbury tomorrow night , private party the n St ives in Cornwall Saturday night . I’ve got to be in St ives by midday Saturday and we are setting up p.a in three separate venues ( speeches etc ) . So I’ll leave Epsom in Surrey around 11 tomorrow’s morning and not be home until Sunday afternoon . I’ll earn 275 . And 75 of that will be a tank of fuel for the 600 mile round trip . Another 30 quid or so is food and drink . Just re - strung both my basses etc etc . Wouldn’t change a thing and I still love it 

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On the other side of the coin. Just because you're playing for free, it doesn't mean it can't be worthwhile. We played a local bar a couple of weekends ago. For free, as far as the venue was concerned. But we advertised and promoted it as a charity fundraising evening for a children's charity which the band supports. The venue took a good wedge over the bar, the audience thoroughly enjoyed it, and the band managed to raise enough money to financially support a child in care for a year here in Bulgaria, all doing something we love.

Everyone's a winner! 

 

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I always get home from gigs having played for free and paid for transport, food, beer, and any other related expenses like batteries and strings as well as a per-gig share of the yearly cost of instrument and liability insurance. But we're an originals band and we all have jobs that pay the bills, so it's a hobby and if our songs are good enough to have complete strangers reacting positively then that's all the payment we need from music right there. A personal 'loss' of maybe £60 a gig in the name of enjoying myself is perfectly acceptable to me, but I totally understand that it may not be to many others.

My own view is that the different ways of approaching gigging shouldn't have to hurt each other; if you need money from music to support yourself and/or your family I actively want you to have it; have the money that they didn't pay me for my originals gig on Thursday night for your covers or tribute gig on Saturday night, but please do something for it that I didn't because I was too busy at work and too tired when I got home. Advertise it better, do the social media thing and hype it up, fill the place, drink the bar dry, make them some real money and keep the venue open with a better reputation for good bands as that's all to my advantage as well. It just seems to be that from talking to a few venue owners over the years, they offer very little because it's the amount that they can afford to lose if a band turns up having done no promotion, draws no punters and scares away half the regulars. Instead of saying it's disgusting that they're paying a pittance, maybe take the gig, do the promo, absolutely storm the place with the full-on lights and smoke package and then say "we'll come back x times a year and do that every time, guaranteed, but our normal fee is higher - we took this one as a bit of a promo to show you we're worth hiring and can help your business".

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20 minutes ago, Ed_S said:

I always get home from gigs having played for free and paid for transport, food, beer, and any other related expenses like batteries and strings as well as a per-gig share of the yearly cost of instrument and liability insurance. But we're an originals band and we all have jobs that pay the bills, so it's a hobby and if our songs are good enough to have complete strangers reacting positively then that's all the payment we need from music right there. A personal 'loss' of maybe £60 a gig in the name of enjoying myself is perfectly acceptable to me, but I totally understand that it may not be to many others.

My own view is that the different ways of approaching gigging shouldn't have to hurt each other; if you need money from music to support yourself and/or your family I actively want you to have it; have the money that they didn't pay me for my originals gig on Thursday night for your covers or tribute gig on Saturday night, but please do something for it that I didn't because I was too busy at work and too tired when I got home. Advertise it better, do the social media thing and hype it up, fill the place, drink the bar dry, make them some real money and keep the venue open with a better reputation for good bands as that's all to my advantage as well. It just seems to be that from talking to a few venue owners over the years, they offer very little because it's the amount that they can afford to lose if a band turns up having done no promotion, draws no punters and scares away half the regulars. Instead of saying it's disgusting that they're paying a pittance, maybe take the gig, do the promo, absolutely storm the place with the full-on lights and smoke package and then say "we'll come back x times a year and do that every time, guaranteed, but our normal fee is higher - we took this one as a bit of a promo to show you we're worth hiring and can help your business".

Good post. 

There comes a time when a band progresses from doing gigs "for exposure" to doing gigs for actual money. Of course, that point is debatable and the band itself or its members are likely to have different opinions than venue owners/etc!

My concern would be where some bands are happy to play for nothing, when others of an equivalent standard wouldn't. It effectively devalues music. Of course, there's the harsh financial reality that a band might be good but simply not popular enough to bring in the required quality/quantity of punters to make it worthwhile or economic or sustainable to pay them. So the bar is reasonably high - but exists.

Edited by paul_c2

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As a band musician for over 50 years I am always grateful to be paid for a gig, regardless of the fee. I have never been a full pro, sadly, but I am aware that most venues have to make a profit or cease to exist. There are many ways to make a living, playing semi pro music has never been one of them. I gig cos I love it, any money left at the end of the night is a bonus.  

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I find this a really difficult one, because it's bloody hard making a living in the pub trade these days:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/02/24/pubs-closing-rate-one-every-12-hours-new-figures-show/

So I have a lot of sympathy for any pub who actually wants to put on live music, which is very hit and miss, and I've seen my share of excellent music pubs having to change direction and reopen as gastro pubs because food is where the profit margins are.

On the other hand I don't have sympathy for landlords who expect the band to go more or less unpaid so that they can remain in profit, unless it's a pub that I have particular affection for (one of my favourite venues was a pub that never paid the bands a penny...but kept you in booze all night, was always full of punters having a great night...sadly that landlord left and it no longer does music). 

I've always been at the hobby end of things, so while I'll usually get paid for gigs I'm not at all fussed if it covers expenses, and I'm more than happy to go without any pay if others in the band need to cover petrol, etc.  As long as it's a good gig to play...

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I'm getting serious deja vu - I am pretty sure there was an identical thread about 6 months ago - cocktail bar, about the same cash.  I'm guessing whoever took the gig didn't hack it for too long.....

Either that or I dreamt it and am Nostrodamus of Bass Chat....

 

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Supply and demand, I'm afraid. A lot of people want to play and will do so for little/nothing, so venues don't have to offer much. Many players have alternative sources of income and do it as a hobby/for fun. The plumbing analogy from earlier in the thread is very relevant. The reason a plumber makes so much compared with a musician is because he/she has a scarce skill that is in demand. T'was ever thus.

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32 minutes ago, paul_c2 said:

My concern would be where some bands are happy to play for nothing, when others of an equivalent standard wouldn't. It effectively devalues music. Of course, there's the harsh financial reality that a band might be good but simply not popular enough to bring in the required quality/quantity of punters to make it worthwhile or economic or sustainable to pay them. So the bar is reasonably high - but exists.

It's a totally valid concern, though I must admit I never know quite how to feel about the term 'devalue' when applied to music. I always end up wondering what an hour of music is actually worth to me and I invariably keep coming back to the idea that I'd have to not want to be there doing it for it to take on a monetary value. That's the point that something becomes a job and I'm just swapping my time for your money. I still have no idea what I'd charge!

My thinking usually ends up coming round to the idea that it's not music itself but rather the professionalism surrounding the provision of music that isn't valued. If a free band is taking work off paid ones because they're just as musically talented, they promote like crazy, reliably turn up no matter what their personal circumstances and hire deps if required, bringing everything they need, all well maintained and safety tested, with full PLI cover, setting up neatly where they're told and playing in whatever stage-wear is appropriate, for as long as agreed and at the volume required, then pack down and disappear like they were never there... and they still want to do all that for free, then I think you'd have to just take that one on the chin. If they're missing any of that stuff out, then I think there's still space for people to charge for their services as professionals.

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I've played in pub bands and part-owned a pub at one stage so I have some sympathy for both camps. On the one hand margins have gone so tight that to pay a band £300-400 on top of staff and overheads etc really puts a dent into a nights takings, especially if that band hasn't generated that revenue in extra customers. Plus there's the lost floor space, hassle with neighbors, police , etc and now insurance ("I tripped over that guitar cable, honestly guv"). Its no wonder they dont bother with it or just get a man with a guitar and a beep box. 

On the flip side there are unscrupulous landlords that will pay you a pittance while you pack their pub with thirsty revelers, I've experienced this on a good few occasions where the pub would be jointed and we come away with €150 between 5 musicians.  I think a pro-rata payment would be the fairest in an ideal world.   

I found that the only way to make serious money gigging is to sell your soul and do corporate events, weddings etc.  Life is too short and there inst enough shower gel in all the world that could wash away the shame of being reduced to playing 'rock the boat' to a bunch of idiots with ties around their heads.

Edited by Quilly
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5 hours ago, neilray said:

Good points . I suppose I just get annoyed at the exploitation. And yes - if you don’t do it , somebody else will . Sooner or later , gig or no gig , you have to put a value on what you have to offer . 

The plumber gets paid for fixing the problem ,all good .A band is a bit more of a punt .The better the band the bigger the purse I suppose 

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2 hours ago, Monkey Steve said:

I find this a really difficult one, because it's bloody hard making a living in the pub trade these days:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/02/24/pubs-closing-rate-one-every-12-hours-new-figures-show/

So I have a lot of sympathy for any pub who actually wants to put on live music, which is very hit and miss, and I've seen my share of excellent music pubs having to change direction and reopen as gastro pubs because food is where the profit margins are.

On the other hand I don't have sympathy for landlords who expect the band to go more or less unpaid so that they can remain in profit, unless it's a pub that I have particular affection for (one of my favourite venues was a pub that never paid the bands a penny...but kept you in booze all night, was always full of punters having a great night...sadly that landlord left and it no longer does music). 

I've always been at the hobby end of things, so while I'll usually get paid for gigs I'm not at all fussed if it covers expenses, and I'm more than happy to go without any pay if others in the band need to cover petrol, etc.  As long as it's a good gig to play...

I only ever do the pub band thing when I play and we draw a decent crowd.Even then i'm doing the maths on the ££ .I had a spell of dating and seeing a band most Fridays and I was surprised how average some where and how little a draw they were .These are bands doing the same circuit regular.That means big losses for pubs 

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