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Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3207
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 5:33 pm:   Edit Post

Those of us who remember Gigging In the 70's 80's Or 90's or even before have witnessed a changing trend among some music venue owners and their policies. I know I have ! Here are some links that express that . Please feel free to share your thoughts ____

The language in this one is a little stronger , please forgive me if it is offensive ; :-)
Senior Member
Username: pace

Post Number: 980
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 6:19 pm:   Edit Post

Good links Wolf... I did two tours cross-country with a regional act, and each time we played the sunset strip the supporting acts were pay to play.... It was a good feeling to be well received by an audience that was family/co-workers of all the other bands.

My wife does an outing once a year at a vineyard which is essentially pay to play. But, because its basically 'customer appreciation night' for her clients we can give away and write off the tix instead of peddling them....

Around here, pay to play never really caught on like it did out west. Worst off, we'd show up and have to delegate a friend to work the door and charge cover if we wanted anything beyond free drinks.
Senior Member
Username: slawie

Post Number: 587
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 8:07 pm:   Edit Post

Right there with you Wolf,

So many bands around now that post a somewhat less than ordinary song on "ewe-tube" think that they then go out and pay a venue so that they then satisfy the interest they created through their "faceboob" page and inevitably they will pull in the punters.

I have not yet hit rock bottom of pay to play but I might as well have done so.

Played a venue where water cost $5.00 a bottle and the band were not exempt from that price either. We did not even receive a drink for the time we were on stage. Oh hang on the owner said that we did not pull enough heads so he gave the band ONE BEER for the three of us. No straw either!
Silliest of people is the guitarist (BL) that he booked us in to go back the following week!
"We need the exposure"
The drummer and I said in no uncertain terms that that bar "can go forth and multiply" We did not play there again.

Thing is, if the bar owners cater to the ego(s) of the person in the band (or several of the members) then the bar owner gets more than free entertainment but also a band full of paying customers who are working at the bar! That faint hint or promise of stardom can motivate those who are weak in character to behave in absolutely illogical ways.

A venue is not a commodity for bands its the other way around. So many less places to play here in Melbourne as live venues have been taken over by Pokies (I think you folks call them One Arm Bandits)
Everyone wants something for nothing BAH!
Senior Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 699
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 8:23 pm:   Edit Post

You don't see any of those venues offering to give out free drinks for the 'exposure'.
Advanced Member
Username: jzstephan

Post Number: 227
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 9:06 pm:   Edit Post

"Exposure", isn't that something you die from?
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2111
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 10:43 pm:   Edit Post

In the face of the an uneven economy, much tougher DUI police coverage, liability in many locales for serving 'one too many' to someone who crashes on the the way home, bars are just a tougher business, as if they were ever easy.

On the other hand, when I think of the good old days when I wouldn't even leave the house for less than a hundred bucks a night, I think of a lot of the guys I played with: Always late to start, drunk and/or stoned on stage, hard to deal with in (pick one) any of their assorted states of consciousness or atitude, and I often think that in a lot of ways, we laid the foundation for this climate.

Granted, the old dude running 'Bud's 19th Hole' may not have been a Wharton School graduate, but I think most bands really used 'Spinal Tap' as their business model.

J o e y
Senior Member
Username: slawie

Post Number: 589
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 - 12:31 am:   Edit Post


Music business is an oxymoron

I was a band manager in the 80's because I was the only person in my circle of players who owned a suit.

Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1960
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 - 6:07 am:   Edit Post

The sad part is your lucky today to still get a $100 a night around my area. It has caused me issues with one or two bands I've played with since I won't do go out for less. Although I don't do it that often I can make more money renting out myself and PA.

Pay to play has made some inroads in my area but there is such a large pool of folks willing to play for free, a cup of coffee or a tip jar it hasn't taken off. Most PTP is limited to battle of the bands type scams where they promise the winner 20 hours of recording time for winning. I've talked to club owners who complain about the quality of music available and my response is, "You get what you pay or don't pay for".

Senior Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 700
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 - 1:00 pm:   Edit Post

I recently spent 3 months learning the bass parts for a roots band I just joined (50s & 60s rock-a-billy stuff). They than ‘scored’ a gig at a local country dive bar for the tip jar. We played a couple hours and left. Two days later I get a call from the bandleader who tells me I am fired because “they need someone who understands the music better”.

What is really funny is that I recorded and videoed the gig and I sounded fine. The two guitar players missed intros, screwed up intros, one of them could not get his amp to work after the break until he remembered to turn it off standby, the drummer, who was so proud of the fact that he only used two drums in his kit for gigs, had to spend 5 – 6 minutes on his knees fixing the kick drum in the middle of the set while we (and the crowd) had to wait, etc. etc.

At practice the week before the gig the band leader out of the blue starts bitched about how he can’t stand the Aholes who own Alembics and goes off on a rant about it (I was playing my P bass, so they did not know I have an Alembic). Before the gig I jokingly told him that I almost brought my Alembic just to piss him off.

Moral of story: it is not just the clubs that don’t pay that aren’t worth playing at, often the bands playing there for free aren’t worth being in either.
Senior Member
Username: glocke

Post Number: 986
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 3:28 am:   Edit Post

Pay to play or play for free for something that is not a benefit or even a party where there is beer food and womenz?


I was essentially kicked out of a GD cover band because I was not "flexible enough" when it came to gigs...

Spent the better part of year jamming and rehearsing with these guys, than they started playing out. At first it was local places and we'd get $40-$50 each which I was fine with...that covered gas and than some...than they started wanting to play places that were over an hour away, for even less money...and the money they earned from that they wanted to put into a "band fund" thanks.

The kicker was when they wanted to play a large local festival last year...This place charged $25.00 for admission and always sells out, paid the headline acts in cash and supplied them with a buffet, and "paid" the non headline acts in tickets (which the guitar player promptly gave away to his friends) and did not allow them access to the buffet. The place is like an hour away at least also, so when you factor in gas and vehicle wear and tear I ended up paying about $20.00 to play that day.

They wanted to do it again this year and I basically said not interested due to the fact that they charge so much and give nothing to the non-headline acts that they are basically using as "filler material" during the day.

I guess when it comes to that stuff it really comes down to what you want out of music. I play for fun and myself first and foremost and have as much (if not more fun) being in a studio all day with great musicians as opposed to hauling all my gear out and playing for free in front of others.
Advanced Member
Username: wideload

Post Number: 205
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 11:20 am:   Edit Post

When you add up practice and rehearsal time, travel, meals, suitable clothing, etc., its ALWAYS been pay to play! But I really need that $100-200 a night just to offset some of that other stuff. Work is work and needs to be valued.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2112
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 3:01 pm:   Edit Post

Wide, while working in a music store, my boss looked outside across a gloomy, cold, windy day after selling way too much PA to a little club band, and said, ". . if these guys ever figure out they're spending 15 grand to make $50 a night . . . . we're screwed !!!".

J o e y
Intermediate Member
Username: stout71

Post Number: 197
Registered: 7-2011
Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 6:37 am:   Edit Post

This has been an issue of contention for me for a really long time. I didn't really mind making $75 per gig when I was playing 3-4 nights per week and touring regionally playing original music, but I put the brakes on these days when a bar wants to pay the (4-piece) band $300.

Some venues will pay an extra hundred bucks for each additional member. It sounds good on the front end, but it makes zero sense. Instead of paying for quality, they'd prefer to pay for quantity. And speaking from experience, and additional member does not guarantee a better sounding band.

These days, even with a recently bought custom Alembic, I rarely gig. It sucks, but at least I have my kids to make me happy, despite my non-ability to have a creative outlet. Well, I guess you could call my golf game "creative." Musicians willing to play for free or next to nothing are ruining it for the rest of us.
Advanced Member
Username: peoplechipper

Post Number: 394
Registered: 2-2009
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 11:24 pm:   Edit Post

In Vancouver these days it's some larger established venues where you can get an opening slot sometimes, or wallow with the filth or all-ages's not pay to play, but clearly no profit...thankfully I realized some time ago that I'd never make money at music and just enjoy it, even being frontman....sometimes people pay me to sing...look up Rumsfeld@facefest and you'll know....Tony.
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 2174
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 3:38 am:   Edit Post

Jeeze..I could write a book about it all in the last 40 years I have been gigging!
Senior Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 1019
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 6:20 am:   Edit Post

In the 80's I was willing to do the "P2P" thing with ORIGINAL music... certainly not as a cover band. My current band has a "base" rate of $600/night... more if it's a long drive or you want more than the usual 4 x 45min sets. You want us to provide PA?... add $150. You want us to provide lights?... add another $150. We just don't budge from that fee schedule and the venue either wants us or they don't. It's the CarMax approach to dealing with clubs.
Senior Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 704
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 - 10:54 am:   Edit Post

To me the money just indicates a certain level of professionalism. If a band is good and has good (translate; expensive) gear, then if they aren't making some kind of money, then something is wrong. I have seen or played in too many wanna-be, hobby, and fantasy bands over the last 40 years to want to go down that path again.

I realize this is entirely subjective, but that's what I personally believe.
Senior Member
Username: darkstar01

Post Number: 508
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 12:18 am:   Edit Post

I play avant garde music in NYC. If venues aren't pay for play, and you're not John Zorn or Marc Ribot, you're not getting paid. I'm not agreeing with it, that's just the way it is. As a musician, it's pretty much what I've grown up with. I've never actually gotten to the point where I owed the venue money, though. Usually it's something like 40 bucks to book, and you take everything after that. The same places are usually $5-10 a head, so that's really not asking much. There are some horror stories, though..

As a younger musician on a scene where there isn't much money going around, this is just kind of the reality of things. It isn't the 60s, it's not even the 90s. People just don't care enough to guarantee money anymore. I understand it from the venues' standpoint. That doesn't make it right, but we can't all be so lucky to play for an attentive audience that gives a damn.
Senior Member
Username: elwoodblue

Post Number: 1519
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 4:55 am:   Edit Post

(blues bros. clip)
Username: coop

Post Number: 11
Registered: 1-2014
Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 - 12:17 pm:   Edit Post

Pay to play is a crock. Do the club owners charge their wait and bar staff to come work? Didn't think so.

If the club wants live music, they need to pay the band as well as not putting the onus of success or failure of one night on the band's "following". If you want a band that will have a guarantee of enough loyal fans to blow out the revenue projections for the night, get a name recording act. Oh, wait, you have to pay those folks.

If the owner can't fill the club, it's not the band's fault. Most of us promote our bands like crazy no matter if it's pay-to-play, crappy pay, for-the-door, a festival, or a benefit, and we can never "guarantee" any following will show up. Blaming the band for a crappy night is an owner's cop-out for their own shortcomings. A band should be part of the draw to customers, but can't be the only reason folks will come by for some drinks.

Lazy bastards.
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 5662
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 - 12:36 pm:   Edit Post

Just to play devil's advocate, I suspect many of the venues that don't pay, or pay peanuts, are struggling economically themselves. In times like we are currently experiencing, there just isn't as much money to go around. The ideal situation would be for the venue and bands to recognize the realities and work together for everyone's mutual benefit.

(Do I sound like I'm singing "kumbuyah" here?)

Perhaps venues could guarantee modest, but reasonable pay, with a more generous split as attendance increases. Also, if the venue made it more comfortable for the band, the band would be more willing to play there again and build a following for both the band and the venue.

Can't we all just get along?

Bill, tgo
Advanced Member
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 257
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 - 1:44 pm:   Edit Post

I play for free.

But I expect to get compensated for band rehearsals, personal rehearsals, equipment purchases/maintenance, travel, i-tune downloads, wardrobe, roadie work and the leg work/project coordination required to secure gigs and ensure everyone is prepared and available to play.

The way I look at it, the $50 - $100 cut I receive for a typical four hour gig winds up translating to about $1.25 per hour after all of that work (and it is work, 'cuz most of it ain't fun) is factored in.

And - I can reduce that to less than $1.25 per hour if I recklessly decide to indulge in an adult beverage or two (if we're not comped) during the gig.

That is why I don't rely on playing bar gigs to survive.
Senior Member
Username: cozmik_cowboy

Post Number: 1666
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 - 9:36 pm:   Edit Post

The last band I worked for full-time (1984) played NY to CO, TX to MN carrying a big honkin' PA & had a singer, guitar, keyboards, trumpet, trombone, sax, bass, drums, FoH, monitors, Stage Manager (me), 3 roadies & a road manager (notice I get caps & he doesn't) - no one was getting rich (or even middle-class), but we had not a day job between us, and that, my friends, was how we defined sucess. Can you even do that anymore? Definitely not by paying the venue!


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