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Newfoundfreedom

Would you play for free?

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1 hour ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

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

Beer and staff I don't have a problem with really.

But any other extra bought in for a special night - then yes, I would have a problem.

 

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25 minutes ago, bassbiscuits said:

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.

This. There's a few pubs we've been playing regularly for 10 years, 3 or 4 times a year and the landlords have become friends. They wouldn't ask us to play for free unless they really were desperate and for those select few I'd happily help out this year at least whilst everyone has their backs to the wall.

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32 minutes ago, ubit said:

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.

I’d like to leave a thank you and a sad response but it won’t let me, that was a great thing to do ubit, 👍, I too would play for free for charity. 

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We've played two gigs since outdoor gigs were 'allowed'.  In both cases we returned the fee at the end of the night.  This was because we knew the pub and the landlord, appreciated their efforts and it was clear that despite being as full as it was possible to be, they were still not going to making huge profits out of it.   We've been asked to play for free since the rules were relaxed but have turned those down. 

 

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The money is always there. 

It just depends who gets it.

Play for free - the band doesnt get it, but the promoter, landlord, bar staff, brewery, beer suppliers, etc will. Despite what theyll tell you.

 

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If I was in a band that normally commanded a fee, my answer would be “yes, if it’s still mutually beneficial to do so”. If it keeps a decent but genuinely struggling venue going and in the process it shows you in a good light, gives you something to post about on social media that’s not yet another ‘one in each corner’ video in your respective back bedrooms.. and maybe even keeps your band going given the number of musos openly questioning whether they even miss gigging.. then it could be worth it to get out there and do something rather than nothing, irrespective of monetary recompense. If it’s all very one-sided and just money down the drain for a naff outing from the band’s perspective, then.. don’t do it.

As it is, I’m not in that kind of band so my answer would be “yes, if it’s looking acceptably safe to do so”.

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I have played for free and I'd do it again, but if someone else is making money out of my playing, then I won't be playing for free.

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Already have. We're not doing it for everyone, but there are certain venues we play regularly where we are looked after and get well paid. 

Some of the previous analogies don't add up. Do tradesmen bring a crowd that buy drink and food and keep the venue going?

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It's a difficult one. but I think my inclination would be I would want to support the venue if, and only if, i really thought that it was in danger of going to the wall.   I'd probably politely suggest we look at the diary and schedule in a few paid gigs as part of the deal.

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1 hour ago, 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.

Fair point Lozz, but if the venue goes bust because we didn't keep it going, we're also preventing a fellow musician from earning. Damned if you do and all that.

There are certain venues, every town has one or two, that are essential to the live music scene, or who have supported your band with regular well paid gigs. I'd be willing to support those kind of venues, either by returning the fee as a donation (which salves the conscience if you must be paid), or by doing a free gig. Or even by just making a donation, I've done that for some of the venues local to me who have run crowdfunding appeals.

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I think that the better the band is, the more they can charge.

On that basis, we are happy to play for free all the tiime. 😀

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Posted (edited)

Would it make any difference if the question was:

'Would you play for a reduced fee to support a friendly venue who can't make their usual way of promoting live music financially viable in the current climate (social distancing, etc)', instead of 'would you play for free'??

Edited by peteb
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Yep. My lot play originals for nowt or next to nowt anyway.  We've all got different motivations.

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Yes, my band would do it (we are covers). We play for free sometimes anyway, and not in it for the money.

As far as I am concerned the venue is doing something for us even if they pay us no money - they are providing us with an audience and a 'platform' (every sense) to play on.

I'm doing it as a music fan as well as a musician. I want the venues to stay open or keep doing music and provide me with live music for years to come.

Speaking as  non-pro, so other perspectives may apply!

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2 hours ago, chris_b said:

I have played for free and I'd do it again, but if someone else is making money out of my playing, then I won't be playing for free.

I think that you have nailed it. I once played a support slot years ago and it was "for charity" and I found out that everyone was getting a slice of the money except us >:(

 

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Regardless of the current situation I'd say no. Over the years I've played loads of "free supporting"  something events and everyone of them has been a complete fiasco. Badly run  events with 12 bands on etc etc. By the time you take away the band members and partners, there's virtually nobody else there to donate etc.

Local venues wanting local bands with a following to play for nothing while they pay some unknown Peruvian punk band a small fortune to waffle some claptrap and not have a single person pay entry to see them. Most of the venues here can't profess to be going under because of Covid as nobody paid in before it.

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4 hours ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

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? 

As long as you're not the only sucker who's not getting paid, and the venue has historically been good to you, then of course. 

Obviously any help I can get (as in, if they put up their PA so I can just turn up with my instruments without having to lug around amps etc) is welcome - and no you shouldn't have drinks on the house either(since we are talking about a situation where the pub could close soon - you don't want to give them something for 'half-free'), since consistency would be key for me in this circumstance.

That being said, careful when you say "This place could close down UNLESS I GO PLAY THERE FOR FREE". I hope it's not something the venue told you. Everywhere is full of musicians who're willing to play a night out for free, so if that were the case, you might be the only one who's actually considering it from the roster of people they asked from.

That is, unless you are a big local name band who can turn up at least a hundred people or MORE by yourselves - in that case, the bigger your following is, the happier I would be to do the gig for free, as that would LITERALLY mean that by your only presence there, you are actively saving the place by overflowing it with money. If you're the guys who can bring 20 friends to a gig, well then, your contribution would not be anymore than your casual footfall, actually. 

So, again, if you genuinely think it will help AND you're not the only one being taken for this (meaning they actually are not paying promoter, PA, etc either), absolutely, go for it! :)

 

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34 minutes ago, goingdownslow said:

I seem to recall that Andy Fraser used to play for Free and he did OK out of it.

Ba-Boom Tish !

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The obvious response is something like:

"Will you play for free?"

"No, but we'll play if you cover our costs."

"How much is that?"

"About twice what you normally pay."

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Perhaps, but I'd make it very, very clear that's it's only once or twice - or however many we agree - and then that's it, no wonga no play, no matter how much you plead. I dont mind genuinely helping out  under the current circumstances but don't  want to set a precedent.

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It depends, as others say. I play in several different line-ups. If, for example, someone wants my function band to play a wedding or similar, we are going to expect our normal rates of pay.

With pubs/clubs, if a venue is small and will be seriously affected by the rules affecting how many customers it can fit in, then we're prepared to be flexible, especially if they have been good to us in the past.

Some pals and I have a Monday night residency in a little local (or we will when/if it re-opens). We've discussed this and are quite happy to play there for nowt when it re-opens as it's a nice pub and the guv'nor is a sound bloke, who doesn't let us pay for our drinks and it's half a mile down the road. We're all ageing/retired/ex-pros, who like to get together to play what we want, so it suits us. It helps that we're all older and financially secure, so don't need to earn at every opportunity.

 

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Is it fair to compare it to amateur/semi pro sport?

I used to play sport at the weekend, people would come and watch, the clubhouse/team would benefit from bar takings. Never got paid, paid subs to play and chipped in to buy the kit, wash the kit, food etc.

Some clubs paid transport, some money per game - all we’re doing it out of enjoyment and some for enjoyment and food.

The team playing brought money And a job for the ground staff, teas, coach etc.

All played for enjoyment, some for enjoyment and cash, some just for cash

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, Cuzzie said:

Is it fair to compare it to amateur/semi pro sport?

I don't think so, especially not covers bands that generate additional revenue for pubs / other venues and get paid for providing that service. 

However, I think that going forward, musicians who expect to get paid for gigging (be it their main form of income or just additional earnings) are going to find that the current market for their services MAY well change. There is very likely going to be a recession that could last for a while, which will affect the number of punters who can afford a night out watching live music (or at least mean that they do so less regularly). This will affect the amount that venue will be able to pay. It is no good simply insisting on your current fees, or thinking that you are too good to play for less money because there is a real danger that you just won't work - venues will not be able pay bands more money than they generate in bar sales! 

I know that this is crystal ball stuff, but you do have to at least be prepared for the possibility. The real danger for most gigging musos in the long term is that punters start to get out of the habit of going out to watch live music. 

Edited by peteb
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I'm in a 12 piece band. I basically play for free anyway :lol: 

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