Question for those who play out

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by OHIOSTEVE, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. OHIOSTEVE

    OHIOSTEVE Senior Member

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    How flexible are you on your fee to play?

    I understand a tuesday night gig vs a sat night. I have played a local bar on a friday night 2 times now. I always cut a break on the first show and if they ask me back it is at regular price. ( this stuff is still new to me so if I am screwing up feel free to offer constructive criticism) I just contacted this bar to schedule another show and was told that they get 7 piece bands on saturday nights for 300 to 600 bucks for 3 hours and duos for a couple hundred bucks. So paying a solo guy what I charge on a friday night is too rich for them. I have no idea how a 7 piece band can afford to play for 300 bucks....or even 600. Or solo guys willing to play 3 hours for 100 bucks. I do play a bit cheaper at a couple of places that I REALLY like playing but as much as I love playing, its just too much work to do it for 100 bucks.
     
  2. OHIOSTEVE

    OHIOSTEVE Senior Member

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    I guess none of this makes sense without dollar amounts. I just didn't want to do something taboo and talk about what I get paid if its frowned upon...but I am going to.. Just so you guys know also I am not freaking out and wanting to change everything over one incident. There have been a couple of other places that have questioned me about it...

    The first time I play somewhere I do a 3 hour show for 200 bucks. the only fringe I ask is a shot of tequila before I start. IF the bar hires me to come back it is 100 an hour on the weekend and during the week we can discuss a fee. For a long time I claimed that I have never not been asked back BUT I now have 2 places I have not gotten back into yet...... I have a couple of places that I charge a little less because they are reoccurring gigs or I REALLY like playing there or maybe I am early in the day opening for a full band... . During the week as I said it is negotiable because for example how often am I gonna play somewhere on a tuesday night? I do not do the typical solo guy thing. I do not bring a bose tower in and strum my acoustic while setting on a stool and singing.. nothing wrong with that at all its just not what I do. I play acoustic and electric and do everything from SRV to Skynyrd to old country...I generally play a 50 minute set.....then an hour set....then a 50 minute set. AND I play. I am not there to talk to my buddys and kill time.

    Part of the issue is I think what I posted in the first post.. bands willing to play 3 hours for 50 bucks a guy or a solo guy willing to play for free drinks. and around here you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a guy with a guitar. .... Funny thing is I have OTHER venues ( playing one next sat) that want me to play once a month all next year ( or so they said, not scheduled yet) SO in my usual round about rambling way , do you guys stick to your guns on price or do you charge whatever will get you the gig?
     
  3. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    I've played enough $50-per-member gigs to be impressed. You must be doing something right.
     
  4. Marshall & Moonshine

    Marshall & Moonshine Senior Member

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    Gawd, it sounds like people are playing for gas money. Hopefully at least you drink for free, maybe on a night you’re not actually playing, so you can make a little money back. :)
    I don’t play hard, but if I did, I’d decide on my price and stick to it. If you want to offer a teaser deal, just to let them know you’re for real, that’s fine. But if they’re not willing to pay what you need to charge, then you’re at an impasse until someone caves.
    Or he’ll find someone who’ll do it for cheap.
    I don’t see it working any other way.
    Spot him one or two cheap ones, and get a feel for each other. Tell him your normal prices from the beginning.
    Just spitballing, and I’m not even sure I said anything you didn’t already say in the OP. :)
    Carry a pistol. You’ll need that.
     
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  5. OHIOSTEVE

    OHIOSTEVE Senior Member

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    I tell them everything up front....as I said, first show is 3 hours 200 bucks. I want to play, I LOVE to play , but I cannot afford to let my real business go to play for 50 or 100 bucks. I may be over estimating my worth......
     
  6. OHIOSTEVE

    OHIOSTEVE Senior Member

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    HMMM according to my friend who makes his living playing music, I am dead wrong. a 5 or 6 piece band should get 5 or 6 times the money that I do for the same job.
     
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  7. Marshall & Moonshine

    Marshall & Moonshine Senior Member

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    If you think of yourself as a product, and understand that a product is worth what someone will pay, you’ll be where you need to start.
    If you’re good enough to fill th bar, you’re good enough to get paid for it.
    Anyway, I’ve no real insight to this or anything else really.
    I’m just waiting to get off this boat and drive home.
     
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  8. rich85

    rich85 Senior Member

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    Every venue is different in how they will deal with musicians. Most solo guys around here actually making a go of it play 5 or 6 nights a week. That adds up pretty quick. And still only a 20 hour working week.
     
  9. OHIOSTEVE

    OHIOSTEVE Senior Member

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    yeah I am learning that..... one place empty and the owner goes nuts over what I do and asks me back at my full price and is happy to have me.... another place close to home LITERALLY the last 2 shows standing room only people waiting outside for a table to open up to come in. Bartenders mad because they were too busy. Owner avoids me like the plague and acts like I am holding a gun to her head when she pays me. Bar owners are a strange lot I think. I have a job and the music was supposed to be extra income. job went to hell and the music has been keeping us afloat the last few months. I hate greed in people but I also know there is a point of diminishing returns, and its not worth the set up and tear down, gas money, bar tab , time away from my regular job etc to play for a hundred bucks. I can play for free here and 99 times out of a hundred if I set up my system out in the big shed I have an audience pretty quickly.
     
  10. lung plunger

    lung plunger Senior Member

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    Most solo guys I've seen have a tip jar out front. They can rake it in on a good night.
     
  11. Uncle Remus

    Uncle Remus Silver Supporter

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    Last band I was in was $500 for the 4 of us. Throw out the top hat and usually it came to about $200 each. If a cover was charged we asked for $150 +75% of the cover. I prefer working on the cover as we usually brought a big crowd.
     
  12. OHIOSTEVE

    OHIOSTEVE Senior Member

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    I am beginning to think I am wrong.....Its just funny that some places jump at having me back.. others want to negotiate for a lower price and a couple have just flat said its too much money. Oh well live and learn I guess.
     
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  13. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    It's a simple equation. The places that jump at having you back....you must know that you are making money for them. Raise your price with them.
    Why are the ones who want to negotiate for a lower price doing so? Is it because you are not drawing a very good crowd? Or is it because negotiating a lower price is the smart thing to do from their perspective even if you are making them money?
    It's in your own best interest to assess how well the bar does when you play there. Count the people in the audience. Are they drinking? are the waitresses running around and busy or not? Ask the wait staff at the end of the night how the night was, that's info from the horses mouth. If they say it's exceptional then use that to leverage more money. I learned these things when I was 17 and 18 years old (playing underage in the bars lol) and was the band member responsible for dealing with bar owners. At one of the main places we played, they would stack up the empty beer cases behind the bar. I always made a point of counting them at the end of the night. I recall knowing that 80-100 cases of beer sold was a spectacular night for that bar....(my band did pack them in) and I used that to negotiate pay for the next gig.
    Later on I was in a band and we did a lot of Pink Floyd, old Genesis and basically a bunch of prog rock music. Again we packed the joints to the rafters....BUT....they weren't a big drinking crowd. They sat and listened....maybe nursed a beer and then went out to the parking lot in between sets to smoke a doob. This was not good for business. So changes to the band's repertoire ensued.
     
  14. bad565ss

    bad565ss Senior Member

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    Most of the bars in this area assume $100 per man for bands as the going rate. We book our 5 piece at $400 with our bar tab covered or $500 without. It's hard to get more than that around here. Book you 6 or 8 piece? Expect to play for $50-60 each. As a solo guy, I would be trying to get $200 minimum if I was drawing. That's 1/2 what most bands are charging.
     
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  15. artis_xe

    artis_xe Christopher Premium Member

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    most of the solo acts take the door , in this area . $5 per head can really add up __ if you can draw a small crowd
     
  16. freebyrd 69

    freebyrd 69 Premium Member

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    It's a case by case basis. My last few bands have been 5 piece. The one I'm in now had some shows booked prior to me joining that paid $350 and $400 respectively. I told them I'd play the ones they had booked, but from now on nothing under $500. They agreed. The one bar that pays $400 is 15 min from my house. They offered to re-book us at 4, so I agreed to that from a convenience standpoint. They also have a house PA.
    Just do what's best for you on a case by case. Some places expect YOU to bring a crowd to justify them spending $ to pay you. Other places may want you to entertain their regulars. Every owner/mgr has a different perspective.
    There is always a cutoff line for me. If there is nothing in it for me (convenient location, house PA, etc.) then I don't leave the house for under $100.
     
  17. Pop1655

    Pop1655 Premium Member

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    I like your 3 hours / $200 bucks.
    I'd stick with that and charge everybody the same.
    Think of yourself as a service guy. That's what you are to me as a business owner.
    Plumber, refrigeration tech, equipment tech, musician. It's all the same to me.
    If I need one, I call one. I expect his fee to be the same for me as it is for the guy down the street. I've been around a long time so all my guys are ones I've used for years and have relationships with. I don't expect a deal. I do expect them to come running when I call and I depend on their proven level of service. With me, you'd fall into the same category as those guys. We're just looking for quality vendors, regardless of product or service.
     
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