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Newfoundfreedom

Would you play for free?

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Respect to those who would, but not for me and I'm fairly sure neither of my bands would either.

The purpose of being asked to play in these circumstances would surely be to increase the takings at the venue, presumably to a level where they not only cover their costs, but make some money out of it - but none goes to the band? Given that pubs can open (within restrictive guidelines) and the only way most bands can play at a pub is if the venue has the facility for outside performance, I find the 'for free' thing a little difficult to comprehend at the moment. 

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There are one or two venues I might consider playing for expenses as a one off to help them out, if they paid us £20 each to cover our petrol and a burger on the way home and then plied us with soft drinks for the duration of the gig I'd probably be willing for the right venues.

It would have to be made clear to the venue that this will happen exactly once though and only, due to the exceptional circumstances.

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20 hours ago, paul_5 said:

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

Charity gigs! Oldest trick in the book!

To answer the OPs question, no. Hell, no. 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, peteb said:

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. 

I suspect strongly that this is going to be the future. I can only really look at this through the prism of a guy who tends to play small clubs in the UK. I also believe recent events in Manchester are only going to reinforce the idea (among those with a more mature brain) that a crowd is a thing to avoid.

It's a tricky one. We could be very principled and sit at home as our venues gradually fold (the numbers of people will not be enough to sustain the place) or we all try and swim together. This is, indeed, crystal ball stuff but I do believe that the number of playing opportunities are going to shrink. Rather like the jobs market. Places are closing and so the there are fewer jobs and more people trying to fill those that are available. That itself is going to push down band fees as a result of the change in the supply/demand curve.

For free? If my back can be scratched later on (if you trust the venue to honour a gentleman's agreement) then I would. I wonder how many venues (pubs especially) have built up that kind of goodwill?

In general, my maxim is always be as loyal to your employer as they would be to you.

Edited by Steve Browning
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Small venues are in trouble and some need all the help they can get. 

Two approaches 

- Collecting for the band on the night (the proverbial passing a hat round) 

- Pro rata your usual fee there in line with their reduction in capacity.  

Don’t feel ‘musicians playing for free damages it for other musicians’ stands up right now in the current climate. Everyone needs to do what they can to help eachother.  

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6 minutes ago, Drax said:

Small venues are in trouble and some need all the help they can get. 

Two approaches 

- Collecting for the band on the night (the proverbial passing a hat round) 

- Pro rata your usual fee there in line with their reduction in capacity.  

Don’t feel ‘musicians playing for free damages it for other musicians’ stands up right now in the current climate. Everyone needs to do what they can to help eachother.  

Tips jar may not be a bad idea - they have been doing a virtual tip jar for the online ones recently.

Maybe the Landlords should be encouraging punters to do this?

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Drax said:

Small venues are in trouble and some need all the help they can get. 

Two approaches 

- Collecting for the band on the night (the proverbial passing a hat round) 

- Pro rata your usual fee there in line with their reduction in capacity.  

Don’t feel ‘musicians playing for free damages it for other musicians’ stands up right now in the current climate. Everyone needs to do what they can to help eachother.  

The ones that are really in trouble are the venues that have no option for outside performances and there is nothing we can do to help them. A venue that we play regularly has a 3/400 cap, with restrictions in place for social distancing, the cap would be so reduced they couldn’t afford to open the doors in the first place. Hard to feel that sorry for the proverbial Dog & Duck with a stage in the beer garden and expecting a band for nothing. Don’t buy that sorry.

Edited by hiram.k.hackenbacker

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3 hours ago, Graham said:

There are one or two venues I might consider playing for expenses as a one off to help them out, if they paid us £20 each to cover our petrol and a burger on the way home and then plied us with soft drinks for the duration of the gig I'd probably be willing for the right venues.

It would have to be made clear to the venue that this will happen exactly once though and only, due to the exceptional circumstances.

£20 expenses is more than I've ever made at a gig. So that would be a step up for me. 😂

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2 hours ago, Steve Browning said:

I suspect strongly that this is going to be the future. I can only really look at this through the prism of a guy who tends to play small clubs in the UK. I also believe recent events in Manchester are only going to reinforce the idea (among those with a more mature brain) that a crowd is a thing to avoid.

It's a tricky one. We could be very principled and sit at home as our venues gradually fold (the numbers of people will not be enough to sustain the place) or we all try and swim together. This is, indeed, crystal ball stuff but I do believe that the number of playing opportunities are going to shrink. Rather like the jobs market. Places are closing and so the there are fewer jobs and more people trying to fill those that are available. That itself is going to push down band fees as a result of the change in the supply/demand curve.

For free? If my back can be scratched later on (if you trust the venue to honour a gentleman's agreement) then I would. I wonder how many venues (pubs especially) have built up that kind of goodwill?

In general, my maxim is always be as loyal to your employer as they would be to you.

Absolutely. Two things I would say: at some point in the not too distant future people will feel safe enough to go out and not avoid crowds and; it is not a case of being ‘principled’ to refuse to accept changes in market forces and go out of business.

There is going to be a recession, not just because of COVID 19. This will lead to venues closing but still (nearly) the same number of bands who want to play in them. Therefore, there will be an over-supply of bands causing band fees to drop. Going hand-in-hand with this will be a drop in demand from punters, many of whom may lose their jobs or struggle to pay the mortgage and therefore can’t afford to go out to support live music events. This will mean a potential loss of income for pubs / venues, again forcing gig fees to drop. As you say, all this is going to push down band fees as a result of the change in the supply / demand curve.

All of this is going to have an effect on the live music scene, both at the professional and semi-pro levels. At pub band level, the better bands with established followings may find themselves having to reduce their fees and start competing with bands who are perhaps not so good. These bands will struggle even more for gigs and may be forced to play less often for free. On one hand, this might mean that it is likely that there is an awful band on when you turn up at a typical pub venue, on the other hand how are these bands supposed to get better it they’re starved of gigs?? At the pro level, it’s difficult enough these days trying to make a living with music as your main source of income and it’s not going to get any easier!

Interesting times…

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1 hour ago, dudewheresmybass said:

No- as it’s my job

It's your job to say "yes"?

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1 hour ago, dudewheresmybass said:

No- as it’s my job

You'll be getting money off the government then, since you're self employed, made a decent living pre-COVID19 and completed all tax returns etc?

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I’ve never been a total bread head but I’ve always expected to be paid for what I play. Occasionally I get a charity call and I seldom refuse. I now play with a seven piece band- or I did before the lock down - and that’s every week just outside Reading. It’s a great band and we ‘buy in’ a top trumpet player each gig and that costs a bit. So we are beginning to totter a bit financially. I know that in order to balance the books the boss has to sometimes draw on his reserves and different musicians get different rates. But that bit has never bothered me.

Who knows what size audience we’ll get when the lockdown lifts so I’m seriously considering offering my services for nothing. I’ve been playing for over sixty years now and this’ll almost certainly be my last regular gig, I can afford it and it’ll certainly help the band finances.

But don’t tell the boss yet because I haven’t finally decided.

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Surely though, almost every venue I know of is either given a budget by the brewery to put on a gig (it benefits them as they then sell more beer) or if the landlord pays (as part of his business plan) surely that's written off as an expense and/or tax deductible.

Interestingly though, around here, with reduced capacity in venues, the business plan has been to put the price of food and drink up, not down.

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Posted (edited)

It's a healthy debate as there's no definitive right answer. A large part of the decision comes down to where you are in the food chain. 

If you're a hobbyist doing originals, or any jazz, it's probably not about the money. So reduced fee at Dog & Duck etc isn't too demeaning and feels positive if you're helping an independent venue scrape by. 

Can see if you're on the tribute circuit - or where most full time musicians sit, my brother incl - sideman, corp gigs and teaching - playing for free is a different call. 

Edited by Drax
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30 minutes ago, Drax said:

Can see if you're on the tribute circuit - or where most full time musicians sit, my brother incl - sideman, corp gigs and teaching - playing for free is a different call. 

But what if venues start offering lower fees and corporate gigs have their budgets cut? Will your brother be prepared to accept less money or risk losing work to those who will? 

I’m not really talking about playing for free. I might do that as a one-off gig while social distancing remains in force and then only for a venue that I already have a good relationship with. What I am trying to do is get my bandmates used to the idea that they may have to accept that they could be playing for less money next year. 

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37 minutes ago, peteb said:

But what if venues start offering lower fees and corporate gigs have their budgets cut? Will your brother be prepared to accept less money or risk losing work to those who will? 

I’m not really talking about playing for free. I might do that as a one-off gig while social distancing remains in force and then only for a venue that I already have a good relationship with. What I am trying to do is get my bandmates used to the idea that they may have to accept that they could be playing for less money next year. 

For him is less about competing on rate, and more the fact the big corp and sideman work has just vanished entirely.

Totally get what you're saying about reframing bandmates expectations, can see that will be an issue for many. 

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We played a place years ago when we were a two piece. The going rate at the time was £80. We were asked to play in a new place (to us) that was 50 miles away. We said ok, £80 plus a tenner for fuel and we will do it. When we got there the guy paid us and it was £80. I said what about the £80 plus a tenner for fuel? "Oh, I thought you said £70 plus a tenner for fuel" What a pink torpedo. He then said how about I pay you £80 just now and when the pub gets busier in the summer I will put it up to £90? I said how about I give you a quid for every drink I buy and when the pub gets busier I will pay full price? He didn't like that. We never did get the full price because we played one more time then said stuff this!

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On 30/07/2020 at 11:41, 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? 

I haven't read all the thread, but this is my take on things; when (or if) things go back to the way they were, I suspect pubs will not really have the financial freedom to pay bands on the previously agreed figures. The most likely way a band will get anything close to "a fee" will be the old passing the hat / jug around, but as people's livelihoods have also been affected, there won't be a huge amount coming out of anyone's pocket.

Like others, I feel that if you provide a service, you should get paid something, but I really miss playing live and doing rehearsals at the moment, so I would feel very tempted to literally play for nothing. Judging by the way things currently are, I'm not even looking at going back until 2022 now..

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If the answer isn't 'yes', what are you doing at that venue / in that band anyway?

I play for fun - as soon as the money becomes the main consideration, I'm off!

 

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I trust none of the 'no' brigade will be bleating about the lack of both venues and money in the coming months and years. I get it, I've got mates who rely on gigs. Most of them (but not all) seem agreed that currying a bit of favour with their regular venues might pay dividends in the long term. I can see both sides though. It's a bit of a b*stard situation. 

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Posted (edited)

I trust the yes brigade wont be bleating about working for free?

Work for free so someone else can get paid ?  How is it then the bands fault if pubs and clubs close?

Edited by Bassfinger
Dreawdgul topinf

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Seems to me that there is a major upheaval happening, and many people who were able to make a living as musicians through a combination of playing and teaching are going to find that the numbers no longer add up 😞

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, paul_c2 said:

You'll be getting money off the government then, since you're self employed, made a decent living pre-COVID19 and completed all tax returns etc?

My tax returns are up to date and filed- as they have been for the past 15 years. 
I have received one payment from the government and am due another. To cover the period between end of March and the end of August. I get a maximum of 2500 from the first, and 60% of that from the second. 
my work is unlikely to begin properly this side of Christmas. 
I can eek out enough to cover bills etc by teaching remotely, but like so many in this industry (crews, techs, as well as musicians) and indeed on this forum, things are incredibly tight. 
for an industry that people fall back on when times are tough- it’s only this album or this band that got me through - we are being forgotten, despite contributing a significant portion of the nations income 

\rant. Sorry 😉

Edited by dudewheresmybass
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