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Counter to conventional wisdom- go figure


BlueStrat
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Really?? I just caught that. I seem to be saying those people dont matter? Yeah that's what I'm saying. Ugh...

 

Yes, that's what you seem to be saying.

 

lol.. If you don't consider 13-17 gigs a month full time, I don't know what is. As far as how many people will I play for? Its simple... Its either dead, slow,or busy. Its the same language that the venues use. I seldom play when its dead.

Full time for me was 5-6 nights a week every week and making enough money to replace my day job. I maintained my day job the past year while I played those dates. With only 3-4 nights week it isn't hard to do.

 

By the way, I don 't consider working a day gig 3 or 4 days a week a full time job, either. YMMV

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I have never willingly left a gig early due to lack of audience.

I've played to just barstaff on a few weird tuesdays or sundays, but I take those opportunities to try songs I haven't played much before, or to try different medleys/arrangements. That, or I take a break and then go up when there are more people.

 

I understand the idea that it saves the bar a few bucks, to cut their losses, but in the end I don't feel too bad because when the bar has a good night (the other 6 days of the week) they make that 40 they saved by me leaving early a hundred times over. When i play those busy nights, my rate doesnt change based on how much money the bar is raking in, so I never feel too bad taking my agreed upon rate on a slow night. I stay and keep the bartenders entertained if anything.

 

For example, this past wednesday night, at the beginning of my first (8pm) set there were 6 people in the place. a table of four older women, and a table with two younger ones (early 20s). The tables were about to leave as I was setting up, but I kept them attentive and purchasing stuff from the bar for an extra few hours. They had an amazing time, I got tipped 20 bucks between the two tables, and I made some really cool connections that will potentially lead to me playing one of the older women's daughter's wedding ceremony. If I wouldnt have played, they wouldn't have stayed and those connections and positive energy transfer wouldnt have gone down. Also, after that the night ended with two crazy sets where the place was railed packed.

 

Guess it depends on how ya look at it though.

 

Oh, for a bit of context: I do this 4-6 times per week, every week. Takes a lot to phase me these days.

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I remember having 30 people present at a restaurant and being told to go home with a pay cut. I'm pretty sure some "managers" pocket that amount if the owner won't know the difference. Another form of employee theft. If there's only 5 people I can understand and I'm willing to be flexible with the owner, but 30 customers? It's also not unusual for the staff to want to close down early so they can go someplace else with their friends.

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As always, there is more than one right way to do this. If we could narrow down the music biz to an exact formula, anyone could learn to do it.

 

We never go home without pay. We've reserved the night for the client, and therefore should get paid. However, if the crowd is still rocking when it's time to go home, we'll play extra so the house can make more money and we don't ask for an extra cent. Most managers will give you the same courtesy and when things are slow, they will send you home early without cutting your pay and return the favor.

 

I remember one year we were playing at an upstairs bar. Did it for over 2 years running every Sunday. Super-bowl Sunday was coming up and we kept telling the owner that he might want to think about giving us the day off (without pay) and he insisted that we play. We gave him a few chances to back out as it approached. Then we started advertising the place as "The Superbowl Alternative" and when S-Sunday came around, we hauled all our gear upstairs, set up, did the sound check and waited for the customers. Got a little practice in and when the first (and only) customer came it, he wanted to watch the game on the TV. We did get paid and didn't have to ask for it. But this was one of the places were we gladly played late when the bar was making money.

 

You have to do whatever works for you - and what works for one isn't necessarily best for the next. I for one are appreciative of all the different ways of doing business that are expressed here. It leads me to evaluate my own business practices and decide if I want to adopt some of what you all are doing.

 

Notes

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Full time for me was 5-6 nights a week every week and making enough money to replace my day job. I maintained my day job the past year while I played those dates. With only 3-4 nights week it isn't hard to do.

 

By the way, I don 't consider working a day gig 3 or 4 days a week a full time job, either. YMMV

 

There's the problem with your fulltime status. You're not making enough money. It isn't the amount of time playing, it's the amount of money earned per performance. Maybe you should be less concerned with tips and work on your show. Ya know lighting, crowd interaction and a diverse setlist with a smile on your face will pump that hourly up. I'm saying this is you but sitting on a stool playing fingerstyle or "slice your wrists music" isn't going to it.

 

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There's the problem with your fulltime status. You're not making enough money. It isn't the amount of time playing, it's the amount of money earned per performance. Maybe you should be less concerned with tips and work on your show. Ya know lighting, crowd interaction and a diverse setlist with a smile on your face will pump that hourly up. I'm saying this is you but sitting on a stool playing fingerstyle or "slice your wrists music" isn't going to it.

 

Why in the world are you going there?

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I'll cut an owner a break if it's a regular gig I play and I make a lot of $$ there over the course of the year. Other than that I play my contract. Sometimes it's dead and sometimes it's Killlin it and I figure it all works out in the aggregate for the club owner:)

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my life experience suggests that the following has the seeds of important truth:

 

Never... ever suggest they don't have to pay you. What they pay for, they'll value. What they get for free, they'll take for granted, and then demand as a right. Hold them up for all the market will bear.

Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign, 1999

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I'll take crowds over tips just for my own sanity. I absolutely HATE when I don't get people participating or the venue has a light night. If I had 8 people in a bar on any given night I would have packed up and went home with a reduced amount. I'll NEVER let the venue lose money on me. That line of thinking has always guaranteed that I get return gigs.

 

I question if most musicans would even know when they are making the venue money. First off , you don't know their cost structure, and typically most musicans don't even know what to look at to know if they are making money. the typical musician looks at dancers , people in the room and really are too consumed with the show to really look at the things that count. That is product sold and at what margins. For a food and drink joint ,, music should be looked at like advertising. You set a budget for the season, get the plan in place and run in and look at the numbers at the end of the season. That slow night that potts hate might be the night that a nice quite couple comes in and likes the food, enjoys the entertainment ,, and then turns around and books a big pvt function at the place for a later date that ends up being a total gangbuster that more than makes up for that slow night. As for the full time vs part time. Sometimes the full timers are the most clueless especially at the small time levels and even at the big league levels when you look at how some of these people manage their lives. Why did potts dig in on this .... its what he does.. stir the {censored}. lol.

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I find it fascinating that you get Tips.

We just get our fee from the Venue and that's it.

I hate it when a Venue expects you to bring a crowd with you.

I also hate it when there aren't many people to play to. However, we still play if the crowd is small. Sometimes a small crowd can be great if they are appreciative. But a small crowd can be soul destroying if they aren't into you.

But a big crowd can be soul destroying too if they aren't appreciative. So it's not really a mater of how many people are there.

 

If you remember, when I joined here, we just got a weekly gig at a large Hotel chain. That gig became two gigs, and since then a second Hotel in the chain gives us two gigs a week as well and we are starting at a third Hotel soon.

Sometimes our crowd is small. Sometimes it isn't. We never receive Tips, but at the end of their stay, the Guests fill out a feedback form and score their Holiday. We are getting positive feedback on these forms. So, even if the numbers of people who listen to us is sometimes small, they are writing down comments that are favourable and the Management keep booking us.

 

So, it isn't always about the number of people.

 

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