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Discussion Starter #1
Maybe some of you have run into this already, but this was a first for me, and just blew me away.
A local club that has music on weekends, puts out a bulletin to prospective bands; they want to try something new. They want to give more bands a shot, try different types of music, and do a special night Weds to feature 3 new bands.. 1 set each.
Now we all know where this is going, and I expected this part.. they want a free-bee.. hoping new bands, will go for it for a chance to get a little exposure, and maybe a shot at a weekend slot.. basically an organized open mic night for full bands. Okay.. so I expected this... but here's the kicker...
If you participate, you must sell, X # of tickets. If you sell over that x number, you get to keep the rest. Oh Boy!!! THANKS a lot Mr. Club owner.
So, not only does the club get entertainment to play for free... now we pay the club to play there??.. via selling our own tickets, guaranteeing their income... while the band still gets nothing? Why not just have a party in my backyard, and charge my friends the $10 or whatever to see me for 3 hours instead of 45 minutes.
This just blows my mind
 

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Yeah, it sucks. This is a good reason why performance is a dying profession for so many localized players.

Anyway, it's tht pay to play thing.
 

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Dean,

I thought I knew where you were going with that one, but you caught me off guard. There is a club in this neck of the woods, that has you "audition" on a Thursday night, you don't get paid, but they say if they like you, they will put you on the calendar for a Fri or Sat. Well, it never happens, the same few bands have been in their rotation on Fri and Sat for years and ain't going no where. they do this so they can have live bands on Thursday. but the word is getting around and bands just aren't getting snookered that way anymore.

Would love to see club owners pull this kind of crap with a plumber or electrician. or a retailer..If you want entertainment, pay for it.

I'm not saying that arrangements cannot be worked out. If they were honestly doing what they said it would be one thing, but its a scam.
 

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Bill Mecca said:
Dean,

I thought I knew where you were going with that one, but you caught me off guard. There is a club in this neck of the woods, that has you "audition" on a Thursday night, you don't get paid, but they say if they like you, they will put you on the calendar for a Fri or Sat. Well, it never happens, the same few bands have been in their rotation on Fri and Sat for years and ain't going no where. they do this so they can have live bands on Thursday. but the word is getting around and bands just aren't getting snookered that way anymore.

Would love to see club owners pull this kind of crap with a plumber or electrician. or a retailer..If you want entertainment, pay for it.

I'm not saying that arrangements cannot be worked out. If they were honestly doing what they said it would be one thing, but its a scam.
I've come across this often lately. Total BS if you ask me. Very frustrating.
 

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Spread the word!!!!!! Don't play for free!!!!!! Although I'm just a part time player I always tell all the musicians I know don't play for nothing. At least get 50 bucks a guy or something etc. I try and respect the cats that are trying to play every night so they can live off it. If even halfway decent players will play for free then it will make it hard for the half way decent pros to make a living. Don't go to blues jams, open mics, play for free etc etc. Have a video of your band performing, if thats not enough for a club and they want you to audition by doing a gig for free tell them to shove it. I guess a blues jam where at least the guy who sets up is getting paid is a grey area, but I still won't go shed for free. Now if it was a chance to play with some killer musicians I might think twice, but I wouldn't make a habit of it.
 

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No surprise at all. However, this is not a good business decision for the club, imo. They are going to get all kinds of "garage bands" who will play for free, sound terrible, and drive the customers away.

A well-organized jam is another thing. If, and I mean IF, it is done properly, with a solid rhythm section (who are getting paid!!) and a good leader (also getting paid), then a lot of good players may show up to have some fun, blow off steam, and "network" with other players. When done right, this type of jam can be a benefit to both the musicians and the club.

But the situation madgrocer is describing is a travesty!
 

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madgrocer said:
Why not just have a party in my backyard, and charge my friends the $10 or whatever to see me for 3 hours instead of 45 minutes.
This just blows my mind
Actually, this is kind of what the classic rock band that I play in does. We rent a venue, advertise, hire security, and provide pupus (Hawaii talk for appetizer-type snacks). Folks pay at the door, BYOB, and dance the night away.

We played a bar once at an 'introductory' rate, had everybody dancing, the bar making money hand over fist--peaceful crowd, pretty ladies--this during a hula festival where no one expected ANY kind of crowd. The bar owner pays up--and now won't pay our asking price to come back.
 

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We have similar "contests" here in Belgium. It's even that bad that the band who sold the most tickets, is almost certain to be the winner too.

My bands don't take that ****. No pay, no play.
 

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A proposal to the club manager: I'll come in Thursday night. You give me a good meal and a few drinks. If I like it, I'll probably come in on a Saturday and pay for a meal.
 

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Are there any club managers or owners on this fourm? I'd like to hear their take.
As for here in Nashville, there's a glut of bands and musicians, as you can imagine. Standard procedure here is the whole production fee. If the door doesn't cover it, technically the band owes the house the remainder, but I've only heard of a few times when managers followed through on it.
The thing is, it's not simply a matter of not playing if you don't get paid around here. The guys who have that attitude simply don't play.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
lhoffman said:
The thing is, it's not simply a matter of not playing if you don't get paid around here. The guys who have that attitude simply don't play.
Quite honestly... I feel they are better off not to play then, at least they have their dignity....and the club doesn't deserve to have live music.

Does it work this way in your day job.. do you pay to have the luxury of coming to work every day?

Like I said in the beginning... playing for nothing is bad enough, if truly there is hope that it will lead to something... but paying to play is ridiculous.

They pay for the sound guy to show up, and make your band sound like crap!!! That they'll do... take the money from the sound and light show, that's useless, and give it to the people that are providing the entertainment.
 

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I remember one of the first times I ever played a gig. It was a club in Boston called Jumpin Jack Flash. WE played for the door, but WE had to pay the sound man. The club was really busy and after we payed the sound guy we split 80 bucks 5 ways!!!

It sucked!

I remember in college everyone(Including teachers) had an attitude about guys that play weddings.....Now that I have some perspective on it when you play weddings You Get Paid , and when you play clubs you get screwed. The busboys make more. Clubs Suck!!!!
 

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hakukani said:
Actually, this is kind of what the classic rock band that I play in does. We rent a venue, advertise, hire security, and provide pupus (Hawaii talk for appetizer-type snacks). Folks pay at the door, BYOB, and dance the night away.

We played a bar once at an 'introductory' rate, had everybody dancing, the bar making money hand over fist--peaceful crowd, pretty ladies--this during a hula festival where no one expected ANY kind of crowd. The bar owner pays up--and now won't pay our asking price to come back.
I'm with you hakukani. When a club presents a deal, you negotiate, then figure out a way to make it work. If you can really pack a place, you can make some scratch and have your foot in the door with a better bargaining position for next time. If you can't pack the place, or are depending upon the bar's normal crowd... why would a club owner want you? My rock/blues group started out doing a benefit at a club that didn't normally feature full sized bands. Now two and a half years later, we're getting their prime summer bookings and making more each year.
 

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madgrocer said:
Quite honestly... I feel they are better off not to play then, at least they have their dignity....and the club doesn't deserve to have live music.

Does it work this way in your day job.. do you pay to have the luxury of coming to work every day?

Like I said in the beginning... playing for nothing is bad enough, if truly there is hope that it will lead to something... but paying to play is ridiculous.

They pay for the sound guy to show up, and make your band sound like crap!!! That they'll do... take the money from the sound and light show, that's useless, and give it to the people that are providing the entertainment.
It's a shame you bring in the issue of dignity. Does this mean I've lost dignity because I played at a club last night and didn't get paid for it? That's a terrible attitude.
You've got the sound/light guy thing backwards. The production fee I'm talking about is usually for that guy (i.e. the production). The club doesn't pay them, at least not in a traditional "employee" sense.
 

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I'm with madgrocer. It is a matter of dignity. But more than that, it's a matter of not allowing yourself and others to get screwed. If bands are willing to play for free, why should any club owner pay anyone?

On the other side of the issue, the club owner is in it to make money. So if live music doesn't attract a crowd, then there is no real incentive to have live music. Unfortunately, live music isn't the big attraction it once was. It seems most people would rather sit home watching football or some inane show on TV. Or play games on their computers.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
lhoffman said:
It's a shame you bring in the issue of dignity. Does this mean I've lost dignity because I played at a club last night and didn't get paid for it? That's a terrible attitude.
I didn't say that... You lost your dignity if you PAID THEM for the wonderful opportunity to play there!!! And, if you paid them to play, why should they pay anyone else... you lower your own value. I'm sure you work hard when you play out.. sound good... practiced a lot.. right? Don't you deserve something? and lastly.. will your freebee last night get you a paying gig at the place? If so.. that's cool. And as I said in the beginning.. I don't like that.. but I expect it....AS LONG AS IT TRULY HAS THE POTENTIAL TO LEAD TO A PAYING GIG!!!! Otherwise, sorry to say, your just being used and abused...

lhoffman said:
You've got the sound/light guy thing backwards. The production fee I'm talking about is usually for that guy (i.e. the production). The club doesn't pay them, at least not in a traditional "employee" sense.
So your saying the sound/light guy doesn't get paid either??? Wow, I guess I should go buy a club... apparently everyone that shows up works for nothing, or pays you to work there... What a great deal!!!!! I wish I could figure out how to sell groceries that way... free employees... they work for tips, for free , or they pay me.


JL said:
On the other side of the issue, the club owner is in it to make money. So if live music doesn't attract a crowd, then there is no real incentive to have live music. Unfortunately, live music isn't the big attraction it once was. It seems most people would rather sit home watching football or some inane show on TV. Or play games on their computers.
I understand this is the root of the issue. And I also know there are a lot more bands than clubs to play in. Somebody has to have a better idea to make this work for everyone... and its probably the musicians that need to come up with the idea, and share in some of the responsibility. So I'm certainly open to suggestions, other than caving in to this type of arrangement. How about this: Charge the "ticket price" at the door, and give the proceeds to the band that brings the most people. Or guarantee that band a gig.. At least some kind of guaranteed incentive to work for... other than empty promises.
Other suggestions??
 

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madgrocer said:
there are a lot more bands than clubs to play in.
We're hoping to get a little boost here in the near future. Supposedly, contracts have been signed to open a Beale Street type of entertainment district in downtown Birmingham. It looks like Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard will open clubs there. Most probably just lend their names to them, I would guess. Also, our usual venue, Ona's Music Room (voted one of the top 10 jazz clubs in the country) is reportedly going to move to a newer, bigger location there.

We'll see if that give local musicians some better opportunities.
 

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Playing for "exposure" or "a chance for a gig" is BS. My time is valuable, and my musical and entertainment skills are valuable. You aren't doing your fellow musicians any favors by playing for peanuts.
 

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Here we go again...

Club owners do it because wannbe hobby musicians let them do it. You can't blame the club owners. If somebody says you can pay a band $1,000 or you can have a band for free or even pay you to play. Well, gee, easy choice.

If all musicians refused to take them up on it, they'd stop doing it because their clubs would be empty. It isn't their fault. It's ours.

We used to have a union.
 
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