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It’s Fine To Work For No Money, But Never Work For Free.

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  • #16
    Pay to Play is simply the unfortunate result of the laws of supply and demand getting way out of whack. There are far more bands in these cities then there are gigs. Eventually, they are willing to pay for free just for the gig/exposure in hopes of someday getting paid, and then when competition gets too stiff for even the free gigs, they'll pay for the spot on the roster.

    The only way to get around Pay To Play is to either be better than all the rest of the bands or move to a market that isn't so over-saturated with bands.


    • #17
      I started playing in bands at the age of 12 back in the 70's. As I got older in high school I had a couple of bands. We'd get gigs at School Dances, Concerts etc, but we were all under aged and couldn't play clubs yet.

      18 was the legal limit, and even though we'd play some paid gigs in clubs under aged, we couldn't get steady work till we were old enough. We did play thousands of parties up till that point, often times for free. We'd play just about any opportunity we could and pretty much owned the Jersey shore for outdoor parties for a number of years. It wasn't uncommon for us to have up to a thousand people show up for a show as well as the local police force who got to know us quite well.

      Once we turned 18 we moved to playing clubs legally we toured the tri state area for a good 10 years. We had a decent following built already. In fact allot of the small clubs couldn't handle the numbers of people trying to get in to hear us play. I remember one gig in Seaside Heights where the people had to lift us over their heads just to get us out the front door.

      I never got rich playing out but it did pay my way through college. I think we peaked at earning about 2K a gig before a bunch of really bad luck came our way. I bailed out for a career in electronics and only the Bass player from that original band is still alive.

      I've had a number of working bands since then. Out of the last two, one had steady work for low pay, and the other had sporadic high paying jobs. Its tough finding bands that can bring in both steady and high paying work. I don't put a huge effort into finding those kinds of bands any more. I like playing out but I don't have the time or energy to build another band up from scratch.

      A band takes allot of dedicated commitment to being successful and its not fair to the other others if you aren't 100% committed to going all the way. Of course that does open the possibility of failing too. Allot of people have a hard time getting over failing and picking themselves up and doing it again. I'd probably do it again with the right people but, they'd have the same experience level and similar goals. Building another band from scratch and dealing with all the things rookie players bring to a band, Dreams, Egos, Personal issues, aren't things I want to shoulder or mentor any more. My last band had equally experienced players and we did more creative work writing and recording then I had done in the previous 40 years combined.