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Prodigal Son and Forum Contributor 2008
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Discussion Starter #1
I was at a gig recently and was talking with a fellow sax man over some beverages. He told me that he was going on a two month European tour with a popular band this fall. I started to envy him when he suddenly disclosed that he's making only $500 a week during this tour, I hope plus travel and accommodations.

This got me thinking. I certainly couldn't afford to do this. He's much younger, without a family and only plays and teaches for a living.

How many of you would take such a tour? When he said he was getting "5" a week, my first question was "thousand?" I guess I would even do it for $5000 a week, but $500?

Am I off base here?
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Bass Sax Boss
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My last international tour was with Jaco Pastorius in 1982. $1000.00 a week plus expenses. I broke even, compared to what i would have made at home. Nice gig, tho...
 

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Depends if you are in it to make money, or perhaps just have the opportunity
to enjoy the experience, of a partially paid for vacation.

Like you say, if you have responsibilities, such as a family and mortgages,
then other things come into the equation.

In my early days I had an opportunity to play in clubs and hotels in the
Pacific Islands. I stayed at a very nice hotel in Tahiti for a year, meals,
accomodation, etc provided. We even had a bar tab for a while. I only
had myself to worry about. The days were filled with swimming, sailing,
snorkeling, riding our motorbikes in the sun. All we had to do was turn
up for the gig at night and chase chicks afterwards.

That was when I was 19 & 20. I still have fond memories of those times
and the people I met. At that age it was a great experience. I'm glad I
did it.

Actually part way through our stint, the hotel manager, who was a really
nice French guy, organised to dump our crooked agent and we got his 90%
cut then, which meant by our standards at the time, the salary was pretty
damn good.
 

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I would do it for $1000 but it would be a huge pain to leave the city so I wouldn't do it unless it was long enough to justify ditching my place here for a bit.

On a sidenote...saxtek you're a lucky man. Can't imagine what a great experience it must have been touring with Jaco...history was being made.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
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It would definitely depend on if your accommodations were paid for or not. I've done tours that didn't pay at all but had the exposure for the band bring in significant income later on.


I'm young and will have a family to support very soon (I found out a week ago) and I'd absolutely take $500 a week. That's about more or less what I make busking 4 hours a day over the week. Only the gig is guaranteed income. Not fluctuating.

I'm sure there are a lot of us here will say that we've played more times than we'd like to count without any pay. I was with a band that didn't get a paying gig for 2 months when we did our first 4 shows. But, we eventually got a fair number of paying ones because of the exposure.

If the question is literally how much would it take for me to go on a say.... 2 month tour. $500 is just about right with the consideration of what rent and food and expenses are with a kid on the way and thinking about saving.
 

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I did the road for that, in the late 80's. All expenses were covered and there was an additional weekly stipend for meals & misc crap. I've still got the boots and sax stand I bought on that tour. Good gig for the time.


A young single guy who can afford to go might have a good time. I'd never do it for that now, too many obligations and responsibilities, not to mention I'd miss my wife and kids.
 

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Distinguished SOTW member, musician, technician &
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Many musicians in the type of music I play mostly do "tours" (even single international concerts) for free or almost free, with all expenses paid for. You basically get to do what you want for some time while someone pays for your "life" during that time. I remember one very long (75 minutes) and tiring piece I learned, no pay for rehearsals and was happy to do the concert in another country for expnses in nice area plus 250 Euros. The music and players were so good and something I was so interested in that it was great.

I'd definitely do it for less than $500 a week, if it was what I wanted to do, with all reasonable expenses paid. I probably wouldn't do it for two months unless it was exactly what I want to do and even that's borderline. If it was something I felt ok about (i.e. the music) but not really exciting, I'd still do it for $500 a week plus expenses, maybe even less, as long as I liked the music enough i.e. for $500 my decision would be based on things other than the pay. Probably not for two months though.

If it was a "technical" gig i.e. I don't especially like it or even if I really like it and the music is excellent, I don't feel like it's what I want to do, then I probably would't do it for any amount that anyone would ever offer...

I think things are very different here... most young musicians, even some of the best truely excellent ones, equal in level ot just about anyone, often make less than $500 a week here doing what they want to do.
 

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No amount could get me to do roadwork again.
 

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I'd do it if it's not one of these plans that end up like : "sorry about your paycheck but we drank it all. Oh, and if you don't mind paying for your ticket back, we're broke".
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
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He's much younger, without a family and only plays and teaches for a living.
There's your answer there. He's a young man that's not tied down, so it's a nice trip and a learning/resume building experience for him. Most in that same boat would be foolish not to take the opportunity.
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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This brings up a good point though. We all assume that these touring musicians in popular bands are raking in the doe. What if most of them aren't? I mean 400-500 is a 4 hour wedding gig around Boston. That sounds pretty lame to me. I'd be interested to know what these guys make. I could never do it now because of family and kids but when I was younger I might. I went to Germany and Paris a couple times when I was younger for like 400 for a week and one show but they paid for everything and I got to see some of Europe which was pretty cool for a young guy.
 

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Forum Contributor 2017
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$500 to play with truly outstanding musicians say like the above, ie: Jaco; would be a lifetime experience BUT for me at age 46 with a family playing in a pop/rock situation with a band for that kind of money makes me want to say this band is not well managed nor very popular yet since much like Steve I can make up to $600-1000 a week working from my home base and up to 500 miles away.

I recently got hired by a David Bowie tribute show to do a Houston show and they paid me more than that, and I drove home to Oklahoma City in 10 hours.

B
 

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To be fair to your friend you'd have to know what level the "popular band" is and what the expenses, per diem, etc. details are.

I go to Europe and Asia with two different "Legacy" bands on average twice a year when my guys on on their vacation time. The pay is from $900.00 to $2000.00 per week, varies with the number of performances and locale each week. What I do is take my wife and or family depending on their commitments, spend more money and use it as my/our vacations.

My quartet is in Europe 2-3 times a year and Asia 1-2. When we are on tours my guys get the same amount as here in the states, I basically pay them a set salary, but they get an additional amount to have fun with. On the business side the set salaries (including the salary I give myself) allow me to put money "in the bank" all the time which covers taxes, equipment emergencies, vacation pay, etc.

I would encourage any "young person" with few obligations to definitely do some tours even if they only made (net) a little money. The life experience is well worth it.

JR
 

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If I were younger and had no family ties to keep me home, I would do it in a heartbeat. Just the experience and getting to see Europe. Now if it were 500 per week and all expenses paid, then I would be tempted to do it now. And, yes I am making more than that at my day gig, but the experience and tour, and I would be able to bring my wife along, even on my own nickle.
 

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Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member
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I could not do this today. Too much family depends on me being home based and bringing in more money than that. However, I have done it in the past. And I will say that it all depends on where you are in your career path and your goals. Some guys do this for just the resume and if they have the family support etc...

Having to still pay rent at home and bills etc... would not fly for 500. Car payments, insurance, rent. That's all gonna add up.

And then there is the liability of this gig only lasting 2 months? What do you do after that. I was fortunate enough to get in with w working band for many years that just slugged and slugged it out 200 shows a year for 6 years when I was younger (soemtimes more). Lot's of good experience (and lots of self medicating). Before that I was able to live okay on music performance by living in rat holes and such and playing gigs in my hometown. back then I didn't need health insurance though and auto insurance was not a mandate.

I say, if you have the support and can do it. Go for it, more power to you. I think I require more for my means today.

I have taken occasional road gigs though for a week or two in conjunction with my vacation time/pay etc... those have worked out ok.
 

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That is a little on the low side of things for an established band IMHO. I used to make around 700 to a 1000 a week playing with reggae bands. We did 7 shows a week. The market for Reggae is small but getting bigger. An established band in a more mainstream style of music should be able to make more. When I played with the Family Stone band I made 500 a night and I was the lowest paid guy in the group. That was awesome when we played a lot. We would do four to five gigs a week.
 

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I'd jump at it if was my kid's age (23 and 25). At my age (53) I'm afraid I like sleeping in my own bed too much, plus I can make more than that around here most weeks...
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
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Several years ago I organised a 6 week overseas tour of larger venues for a project I worked on. We had 6 players on payroll and hired 4pc strings in each city. We paid $1000 a week for most musicians plus airfare rooms and meals. A bit more for the couple of holdouts. The string players got appx $250 US each, per show. We did 2-4 shows per week.

My partner and I made an obscene amount of money per show but we had to work really hard in advance as well as during the tour... The learning experience here is - even if you're not the star it pays to have ownership :)

I'd love to do it again, but I'm too busy getting paid zilch to work the local bar scene. Besides, my partner seems to have figured out he could do it without me so he is.... :(
 

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I can make that playing less than three gigs per week, five minutes from my house. No thanks.
 
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