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Newfoundfreedom

Would you play for free?

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This came up on another thread and I though it was an interesting topic for discussion. 

If a venue where you played regularly asked you to play for free, given that the current social distancing measures make it difficult for any venue to make money, would you do it, at the risk that without your support the venue may have to close for good? 

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Posted (edited)

As long as they are not paying any other supplier of goods and services on the same night. 

 

EDIT - Also the venue is likely to use the same excuse for about 5 years after a vaccine is available.

Edited by fretmeister
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Just now, fretmeister said:

As long as they are not paying any other supplier of goods and services on the same night. 

So they would also have to be not paying their staff or their beer supplier? 

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I play original music so, overall, I have played at a loss for 30 years. Playing for free would be a step up in the world 😂

I would play for free for now because I enjoy playing, provided there were no expenses and, perhaps, the venue could throw in some goodies to sweeten it a smidge. The situation would be fluid, however, and no long term commitments would be made. Once the venue is doing well, the band should do well too.

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We play for free anyway, so no change for us. :$

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No. I have played for free in the past - mostly charity gigs, but charity gigs often take the p155, so I don’t anymore.

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Just now, Dad3353 said:

We play for free anyway, so no change for us. :$

Yup. Us too. Or at least that was the case with my last gigging band. We supported a lot of charities with our gigs and never made any money personally. 

So my answer would be, absolutely. 

But if I was a professional musician who's primary income was from gigging, it may not be so black and white. 

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Only if they provide my PA, my van, my rehearsal room fees, travel expenses, instruments etc then yes.  If not...nope!  All of the above don't come free...why should I or the band?

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Having predominantly played original music over 39 years of gigging, playing for free (or more likely, covering your own travel expenses/accomodation to do the gig) has always been Situation Normal.

Have always avoided/boycotted pay-to-play gigs, and my best situation was the original band I had in the 90s - me & the guitarist also had a covers duo on the side, & over a weekend would play 2 paid covers gigs & an unpaid full band gig. That was a good situation, would do that again.

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We have made a band decision to offer all of our regular gigs a single "expenses only" gig on a date to be mutually agreed to try and pay a bit forward and help support them. We aren't reliant on the money and do it for fun really but appreciate a lot of people are pro and we wouldn't undermine the payment side of things. We would expect other gigs to be at the going rate per venue.

We just want to cover a bit of petrol on the night but also have a monthly storage bill to pay (hence having some control over the date - it wont necessarily be the first gig back at each venue as we want to spread it out a bit)

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Discussing playing for free is as good a way of getting the Basschat blood pressure up as suggesting kit share.

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21 minutes ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

If a venue where you played regularly asked you to play for free, given that the current social distancing measures make it difficult for any venue to make money, would you do it, at the risk that without your support the venue may have to close for good? 

This would entirely depend on the venue, there is some venues I would pay for free for if I believed they needed help, on the proviso that it was while they needed help and would expect it to be a temporary things.

There are some other venues I fully expect to be asking because they are the type that have always tried to pull a fast one in the past, so this would be another excuse. Those I wouldn't.

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The thing is, for all of us who are willing to do it for free, we’re setting a very dodgy precedent which could result in those who either do it til time for a living, or who need the gig money to supplement their income no longer being able to do so. In effect by keeping the venue going we may be preventing a fellow musician from earning. Difficult.

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Just now, Lozz196 said:

The thing is, for all of us who are willing to do it for free, we’re setting a very dodgy precedent which could result in those who either do it til time for a living, or who need the gig money to supplement their income no longer being able to do so. In effect by keeping the venue going we may be preventing a fellow musician from earning. Difficult.

Precisely. 

That's why I thought it would be a good topic for discussion. No right or wrong answers or judgement either way. 

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No. If the venue, pub, whatever wants music, play some CDs, Spotify etc.

Only time I do anything for free is for charity, or for friends and family. 👍

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Posted (edited)

I have done out of loyalty to a partularly hard working band leader. 

If it's a charity gig I always ask if the door staff, bar staff sound engineer and the owner are also working for free. 

Not maliciously, just so the other musicians recognise the value of their hard work. 

Edited by stewblack
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We played for free many times. Charity gigs or similar. Sometimes it was good to be playing for a good cause. We did a gig for a little girl years ago who was very ill. We dedicated our cover of love is all around to her. It was a special moment. Im afraid the poor wee mite died soon after.

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I think that this is mainly an issue while social distancing is still operating in venues, so the resulting smaller audience pretty much makes it impossible to make gigs where they pay the artist financially viable. 

I would be more open to doing this than I would have in the past, but I would have to like / trust the pub manager / promoter and I would be very wary about this becoming the new normal going forward. So the answer for me is 'possibly, depends on the venue and circumstances'. 

There is another related topic on whether market forces (in the midst of a likely recession due to COVID 19 and other reasons)  may mean that fees might have to be reduced in the future to make gigs financially viable? 

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For me @Lozz196 nails the problem. I'd be happy to look at reduced fees, free drink / meal but usually from my experience no fee all to often just means the promoter / venue is really badly organised.

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Generally, no.   If the venue needed a plumber or an electrician, and said to them we cant pay you, but would you still do the work ....?

Then again, back when i was with my last band, we did a free gig at one venue on the promise that if we were good enough, we'd get the new years gig.  And we did.

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Yes I would, if it was a relatively local venue and one which I played at regularly.

I'd be happy to help out a venue which had treated me well in the past if it helped them get back on their feet and in a position to book (and pay) performers again.

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2 minutes ago, fleabag said:

If the venue needed a plumber or an electrician, and said to them we cant pay you, but would you still do the work ....?

We used to say this to venues when they griped about the price. Try getting a tradesman out for 5 hours on a Saturday evening and see how much he charges!

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As before COVI-19 it will depend upon the gig.

And looking at videos of the gigs currently going ahead, I don't believe the ambiance would be right for either of my bands to be able to deliver a set worth our's and the audience's time and money.

 

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I have refused to play for free, at venues that had previously paid my band, but these are different circumstances and I might consider it to give the venue a boost.

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