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Low paying gigs... Ugh

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  • Low paying gigs... Ugh

    WOW.. we have been getting a lot of offers for gigs that pay next to nothing lately. I guess its a sign of the times. Some of these places are new and some are not but they all seem to be calling me in the last few days. LOL

    I guess that is good that we are on their radar but the reaction to our price is usually: OMG what?!!?!?! and it isn't very high.

    It makes me think of the tiny amount of money some bands are actually playing for in my area. I must make sure my band doesn't have to play for pennies. Got to keep on top of our game I guess. 

    One lady told me she had no idea we were in such "high demand" LOL. I'll take that as a complement. 


  • #2

    "low paying" could mean many different areas. Some bands might consider $400 to be lowball, to others $600 could be insulting, and for others it could be $1000.

    <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="mailto:tlbonehead@yahoo.com">tlbonehead@yaho o.com</a><br />
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    • jeff42
      jeff42 commented
      Editing a comment

      true it is subjective but the price for my band should on average go up not down. I am just happy that our schedule is almost totally full between now and June. I don't see us needing low paying gigs (low for us) for awhile and that's a damn good thing! We are investing in this trio (time/money) to make it the best we possibly can. 

    • twostone
      twostone commented
      Editing a comment


      How f**king shocking and up setting is that.

       Band gets offered low pay,

       If it were up to me cover bands it would be the bands that have to play for free or make chump change since original bands  are the true creators of music not some cheese whiz imitation cover band.


  • #3

    For every five "interested" calls I get, I expect that 3-4 will not meet our price. 

    To varying degrees, this is a function of:

    - Being established in the market, already playing a half-dozen different venues.

    - Reliable turnout:  Marketing & (hopefully) a good product.

    - We're a duo, so we're seen as a low-cost alternative to full bands.  As such, we're a magnet for places that want entertainment on the cheap.  That isn't bad per-se but we assiduously avoid places that want us to "rock out" or play dance music all night (eg "We want a band but don't want to pay for one").

    If you're not leaving some business on the table, you're not going to be making any more next year.  If you take every gig you're offered regardless of pay, don't be surprised if you're making LESS next year.  Think bar owners/managers don't talk to each other about what live acts cost? 

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    • #4
      Pass. $100/man minimum. Try to keep the bar at least that high.

      **************** am.

      Or the next place will hear that you played for $200


      • jeff42
        jeff42 commented
        Editing a comment

        StratGuy22 wrote:
        Pass. $100/man minimum. Try to keep the bar at least that high.

        **************** am.

        Or the next place will hear that you played for $200

        I am as nice as I can be about turning them down. I am getting more and more calls from places (which is great) but it worries me that they think they can get ANY decent band for $200...

        And who knows? Maybe they can. A few months ago I had an end of the night conversation with a young area guitar player who said he "just wants to play, man." He doesn't care how much his band makes.


        I told him wouldn't it be great to "just play, man" AND get paid decently for all the work you guys put into it?


    • #5
      Yeah I'm going through the same thing, I put us in a small 2 day event for 2/3 of our 1 set rate, but it will be good publicity to get out name out there.

      I'll be doing sound for the event so it will be fun to do a set. The idea of playing a local bar as well, but it's half price from out usual on day rate. It will be way too much hassle logistic wise. For full pay I could make it work, but for half pay the bar gig is a no go.

      They are booking us for Halloween at our "special occasion" rate (NYE & Halloween) so that's cool.



      • #6

        I would do it, but I understand I am in the minority.  Last cover band I was playing with "broke up" because the band leader was getting a ton of offers like that and 3/4 of us (everyone but me) wouldn't even consider it.  One guy wouldn't even do it when it was a nice place 5 minutes from his house. 


        The band I am playing with now is going to have a hard time even getting gigs (original instrumental music). 



        • Kramerguy
          Kramerguy commented
          Editing a comment

          Money is the end factor for us.

          Yes, we do it for fun.

          Yes, we are glad to have places to play.

          BUT..  It costs us money to keep the band going.  PA, band van maintenance/gas, lighting, fixing the constantly breaking band and personal gear, etc.. at $100/man 2x a month, we barely break even.

          at less than that, we're now PAYING TO PLAY.  I can accept breaking even, but no way in hell I'm paying money to play out, at that point, I would just reserve myself to playing in a band that doesn't play out, and then we can play all the cool **************** we want, and not worry about entertaining the bars' crowds.

        • jeff42
          jeff42 commented
          Editing a comment

          Yer Blues wrote:

          I would do it, but I understand I am in the minority.  Last cover band I was playing with "broke up" because the band leader was getting a ton of offers like that and 3/4 of us (everyone but me) wouldn't even consider it.  One guy wouldn't even do it when it was a nice place 5 minutes from his house. 


          The band I am playing with now is going to have a hard time even getting gigs (original instrumental music). 

          If the place was a GREAT place I would consider something a little lower than our usual pay, maybe.

          The good news for us is we have 22 gigs on our calendar between now and June. All at decent pay. Sure if there was no work to be found we would consider these low paying gigs but right now we don't have to. 

          BTW got ANOTHER call last night from a place 1 hr away from home that wanted us tomorrow night and was willing to go with $250 because they needed a band on short notice- (the one they had booked cancelled)


          tlbonehead wrote:
          another good reason to streamline a bit.

           Compared to my other band we are streamlined but going from 6 to 3 people also is keeping us from certain gigs- FOR NOW.

          One of the reasons this trio exisits though is because some of the guys in the other band didn't want to play more but some did. The ones that did (me, guitar player & soundman) formed Ostrich hat to add 1 or two gigs per month... Kinda took off from there. 

      • #7


        • #8
          We don't make sense, we make music.



          • #9
            If providng the pa meant being bandleader id be LEADER


            • #10
              That's awesome!!

              Nice to hear a place that's doing it right!!

              NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!


              • TIMKEYS
                TIMKEYS commented
                Editing a comment
                I am more concerned about where we are playing more than how much I am making. Being a band that does both original music and covers its as much about being out there as anything. The new CD is doing crazy good in the radio spin dept , so I figure just pluggin along and good things will happen. Keep playing and be ready when opportunity knocks.

            • #11
              Here my parts, bar band rates starts at $200 and maxes out $500 per gig. If you want more you got travel and best to go through booking agent which knows where all the higher paying gigs are at.


              • Blackbird 13
                Blackbird 13 commented
                Editing a comment

                I know here, there are bands all up and down the pay scale.. from $400 to $1200.... and I've found that to be the same in a number of areas near mine. 

            • #12
              Around here, 2 venues that get cover bands pay $800/day. One rents the band 1 room, not sure what the other one does. Separate entities. I've done sound at the one venue, $350 & a meal/night.

              Two other venues bring in original bands, 2 or 3 share a night. They are under the same management, and the same person does the booking. I'm basically their house sound at $300 & a meal/night. (They are pretty much my bread & butter, great to work with etc. so they get a bit of a deal)

              Here's what they give the bands.

              $7-$10 cover, depending on the number of bands. The door is 100% given to the bands and its split by however many bands there are.

              $100 tab per band, can be spent on food & booze, or just booze.

              2 rooms for each band

              Bar pays for me, not taken from the door

              So it's a pretty good deal. The one bar is "the place to be" so there's always a good turn out. The other venue us more if a lounge that will bring in proven bands with a draw. There's oh probably 8 - 10 bands that came from our town, so when they play its a good draw.

              The lounge is open all day and I can roll in when I want. The bar opens at 7, but they gave me a key to let myself in, and that way I don't have to go to the front desk or anything.

              Pretty decent setup, and a lot of fun. I'm not getting rich but I grossed $20,000 last year which is pretty good for a small side company.

              It works out, the venues like what I do, I run at an appropriate volume for the rooms, lots of compliments from the bands, so it's a pretty good setup.

              The third place I've provided for is an awesome tiny little downstairs bar, with a real ****************hole vibe, but a really cool ****************hole vibe. I bring less gear since its so small, and I charge $200 & a meal.

              The only think that kinda sucks is the bar just basically provides the room & food for the bands and myself. I'm paid from the door & comped the meal. But then that's less money going to the bands.

              NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!


              • stangconv
                stangconv commented
                Editing a comment
                I'm still going to come down and play a show in one of your bars Rob...someday...

            • #13
              Does the cover charge to to the band, or to offset the higher price? Do they have a cover at the other venue you play at? Does he charge a cover with the other bands that play there?

              If the bar makes more in one night from your band, than 3 nights of the "other" bands, shouldn't a lightbulb to off in the owners head???

              Higher price = better product = more money brought in.
              NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!


              • Mutha Goose
                Mutha Goose commented
                Editing a comment

                As far as I know, we are the only band he charges a cover for. And no, that other club doesn't charge a cover. Most of the places we play do not charge a cover, but a few do. Other than this one, none of them put up a sign blaming the band.

                But that is just what we've been saying. If you hire a budget act, you will get budget performance. If you shoot small, that's the most you can ever expect to recieve back... but if you take a chance and shoot a little higher, you have a chance to win bigger... but it also comes with an increased risk to lose bigger.

            • #14
              Must be at least 98% of the original bands that suck if so many can't make any money at it.

              Write songs people are willing to pay to hear, and you'll get paid to do that. That pretty much the way the business has always worked, hasn't it?
              band websites:


              • Mutha Goose
                Mutha Goose commented
                Editing a comment

                When you look at it, many to most of the big "hits" out there were written by a handful of professional song writers. These songs were then purchased for use by the act that many "credit" as it being their song. Does that make said artist a cover band?

                Along the same lines, Paul and John wrote almost all of the tunes... So I guess that means Ringo and George weren't really musicians as they were technically playing someone else's music.

                I write music to satisfy my needs to be creative. I play in a cover band to fufill my needs to perform in front of an audience. I write for me. I perform for others. Both cover my needs to be a musician and neither negate the other. I am not a lesser musicians because I play in a cover band, I am a better performer because of it.

            • #15
              I never could write a song to save my life. But I do pretty good playing covers, and having a helluva good time doing so. I have nothing person to express in song, I just like playing to a full dance floor.

              But we don't generally do it for free or cheap. Not that we are highly paid by any means, but we get by.
              NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!