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How many $s is fair for a small gig?

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  • How many $s is fair for a small gig?

    Hi All,

    Just wondering - what is the standard "fee" you get for playing a small gig?

    And how many gigs per week do you need to perform to give up your real job and make a living playing your e-s?

  • #2
    in my opinion if you get enough money to eat that night is good enough,
    and the expression don't quit your day job goes along way my favorite bands like obituary some of which are iconic still have jobs if i could quit my jov and play i would take ,ore college classes. and if you wanna get rich quick and sell out just look at mc hammer lesson: don't quit your day job
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Hercules View Post
      Hi All,

      Just wondering - what is the standard "fee" you get for playing a small gig?

      And how many gigs per week do you need to perform to give up your real job and make a living playing your e-s?
      Well I can only quote in Sterling as our currency is now in free fall so here goes (based on per person and 5 members in the band):

      Pub or Club Gig: between 50 - 75
      Wedding or Corporate: between 125 - 200

      Now this is all based on a regular 5 piece cover band that offers DJ services at the weddings and Corporate events.

      As for giving up your job well that depends on your liabilities i.e. debts and outgoings. If you can cover them easily with enough spare cash left over then maybe you can quit your job. But your band has to be pretty secure before you can do that i.e. everybody is in it for the long haul.
      :eek:

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      • #4
        It's sooooooo dependent on locale.

        Around here, a cover band doing a night's worth of work might make $400. Bands doing original stuff in 20 minute sets as part of a night's lineup typically make considerably less if anything.

        "Corporate" gigs and weddings make considerable more here. One band (my fellow local edrummer) will make $3k at some events here. Of course that was before the economy went completely into the crapper. I'm hearing stories here and out in places like Santa Barbara (I know a professional guitarist out there) about how live music gigs are few and far between these days.

        Of course if you're a Pink Floyd tribute band, even a local one, they seem to sell out everywhere. No kidding. There's one playing in STL sometime in the next month and all three of their shows have sold out...and I've never heard of em...and I generally know at least by name, any of the ones here in Flyover Country.

        But I digress. What's "fair" for a local gig, again, is wildly different. What I say, for example, works (or typically doesn't) work here will have no meaning where you are.

        Don't quit your day job. Being a full-time musician and not starving (or living with your girlfriend or any other drummer stereotype) is *really* hard.

        www.myspace.com/rubberuniverse
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        • #5
          Originally posted by grog View Post
          It's sooooooo dependent on locale.


          Of course if you're a Pink Floyd tribute band, even a local one, they seem to sell out everywhere. No kidding. There's one playing in STL sometime in the next month and all three of their shows have sold out...and I've never heard of em...and I generally know at least by name, any of the ones here in Flyover Country.
          I noticed that too. On the streets of Oslo we have a lot of street musicians and they all play pink floyd or Eagles covers and make loads of money. We have also the tribute band who are on an endless tour across the country. People will never grow tired of hearing those songs live.

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          • #6
            Mate, here it's $2000 a wedding, corporate stuff is about the same, never would do pubs so don't know but about $400 a night I'm told.
            There's a lot in the song list and as grog said pink floyd stuff is a winner (if not boring) this might be a good time to see what song lists other use.

            I have friends that do this full time and find it quite good a living, firstly I recon it's how you promote yourself and where, then how it's managed, and where you want to play.
            Ours not a working band (yet or never) but I've done the research needed to see if this fun endeavor would pay off some day.
            Nothing of importance here

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            • #7
              The responses so far have good points to consider about giving up a "real" job - just one point that I'd like to add.

              Consider not just the pay - but the benefits, potential job security, etc you have with regular employment.

              If you go to full-time gigging - with a good income - you should consider factors such as buying into health insurance, making sure you have income (or money saved) for vacation, etc.

              What happens if you become ill or injured and can't gig for a while - or ever again? What happens when the gigs suddenly become scarce for whatever reason? Etc, etc, etc.
              Hart Pro 6.4 (Hammered Chrome), Roland TD-8, Gibraltar Throne w/ Backrest, Tama Iron Cobra Bass Pedal, ALTEC A7-500 "Voice of the Theatre" Speaker/Horn System with Sunn Concert Slave amp and lot of other audio stuff, Sony MDR-7506 Headphones, Zildjian DipSticks - and Czech Skorpian, Heckler & Koch MP5, etc Submachine Guns to stick out the window behind my kit for some quite unique fills...

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              • #8
                Not that I have any practical experience, but I did make a living as a photographer for about 20 years, and there are some similarities. These are photographer jokes, but I think they work for musicians as well:

                Q - What's the definition of a professional musician?
                A1 - Someone who takes a perfectly good hobby and turns it into a nightmare.
                A2 - Someone whose wife has a real job.

                How much a gig should pay depends entirely on the venue. Some places you practically have to pay to play. A really sweet corporate gig can get you up to $4,000 (split between the band members and the sound man, of course) for a night's work.

                When to give up your day job? Only when you have a realistic business plan and the capitol to pull it off.

                If you are willing to play what pays, you'll have an easier go of it. If you are willing and able to take on students, you will have that much more to live on. Finding a cheap living arrangement is key. Having roommates or living on the bad side of town will almost surely be a necessity.

                Putting together 2-3 hours worth of material is only a small part of it. Promoting your band to local venues has got to be done reqularly, consistently, and in a very professional manner.

                The reason so many musicians fail to make a go of it is that they do not treat it like a business. Every business stands on the three legs of capitol, promotion, and performance. If your performance is stellar, but you don't pack the house, or can't afford decent equipment, you won't get asked back. Same if you manage to draw a big crowd, and you have great gear, but your performance stinks. Balance is key.

                Like any business, you will spend years putting in 12 to 18 hour days. Forget about vacations. There will be tremendous highs and terrifying lows. You will have to put certain aspects of life on hold (like marriage, children, home ownership, etc.) or even completely forget about them. Just when you think you have it all figured out, circumstances will change and you will feel like you're back at square one.

                You will have to love music so much that you can't imagine doing anything else. Photography was like that to me a for a long time, then I had kids (actually, my wife had them) and my priorities changed.

                I used to say there were 1,000 ways to make a living with a camera. Maybe not so many as a musician, but there are plenty of ways to keep body and soul together if you are smart, inventive, and persistent.

                As for not quitting your day job, certainly not off the bat. Work hard (two jobs if need be) and save up a year's worth of living expenses. Get set, meaning put together a band of seriously-minded, sane musicians with adequate gear, develop an act and a written business plan, then DO quit your day job and go after it with all you've got. If you make it, you'll be one of a dedicated few. You'll give up a lot, but you will gain a lot.

                If you don't make it, well, so be it. At least you gave it a shot...
                Id rather be told the ugly truth than handed a pretty lie.

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                • #9
                  Sounds like I've raised a good discussion topic. Thanks for the input so far guys.

                  In Australia it seems much the same - a few K for weddings etc but not enough $s to keep you going full time.

                  I'll be interested to hear more on this.

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                  • #10
                    If I could draw on my freelance photo experience a little more...

                    It was a big deal if you could get a "Rep" (representative) to go out and show your portfolio to ad agencies. IF you could get a rep, and IF he/she was worth a darn, and IF your portfolio was fresh and innovative (three very important ifs) you could score some big accounts and do pretty well. Of course, the reps took a sizable cut - sometimes 15% of your gross from existing clients and 25% from any new clients.

                    Similar, I suppose, in music, except I think it's called a manager in that field. The love/hate relationship between artist and manager is the stuff of cliches, but I think it would be worth a considerable amount to have someone else doing the tedious work of chasing down gigs while you concentrate on actually gigging and improving your act.
                    As with photography, it's sort of a catch-22. You have to be in demand before a decent manager will take you on, and if you are in demand, who needs a manager?

                    I think a good part of your business strategy might be taking a manager to lunch and learning more about the business of music.

                    Of course, this could all be a moot point if your local music scene is too small to support such a profession...
                    Id rather be told the ugly truth than handed a pretty lie.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hercules View Post
                      a few K for weddings etc but not enough $s to keep you going full time.

                      I'll be interested to hear more on this.
                      Yes but the key is how often you gig in a month! 1 a month at a few K ain't gonna do much but say 7-8 a month and suddenly it's a different ball game! Most I've ever got to is 6 in a month.
                      :eek:

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                      • #12
                        My coverband gets 300-500 with varying degrees in between.

                        We're playing a gig Saturday that has gotten major radio promotion... for $100.. plus all the door, and free beer/barfood for the band...minus 75 for the sound guy (We usually draw pretty well so it ends up being in the 400-500 range, and drink about 200 bucks worth of beer.. LOL)

                        We usually negotiate 300 plus door or a flat 500. We've never made less $500. For playing cover tunes and having a good time...that works for me. Once we get more established (if I'm still in the band..) we're looking to do Summerfest in Milwaukee etc..that's a good payday. Not retirement type money...but new drums money for sure.

                        It depends though..down state, unless you're playing a college town you are lucky to get $200..FLAT. My buddy in Nashville told me that you play a gig for 0 dollars and are grateful for the chance/hope they ask you to come back.

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                        • #13
                          Yes it really does come down to whether you do it for fun or for the money! As time goes on though it is possible that the band - or an individual - may start plowing in money to improve the PA & Lighting. Now when that happens the money aspect becomes more important as one would like a return on the investment. But I do accept that it doesn't always work that way. I've seen many cover bands that play just in pubs for low cash but they're using Mackie PA i.e. SRM450s and matching bass subs, great lighting etc etc...seems a waste for a typical pub environment and pub pay.
                          :eek:

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Some Day Grey View Post
                            you should consider factors such as buying into health insurance, making sure you have income (or money saved) for vacation, etc.
                            You really need to fix your health insurance systems. The only insurance I pay in Scandinavia is the 9 dollars a month to protect my studio from burglers (and a wopping 30% incomes tax.)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by stickinthemud View Post
                              If you don't make it, well, so be it. At least you gave it a shot...
                              and it'll give you something to talk about at job interviews!
                              :eek:

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