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SteinbergerHack

Thoughts on "Open Mic" nights...?

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I have seen a trend locally over the past couple of years that has me concerned. Several of the local bars have abandoned booking bands, and are holding "open mic nights" instead. These bars aren't my normal clientele anyway (they never did pay enough for my groups), but it got my attention when a couple of friends asked if I would come join them and play a few tunes. These guys don't play actual paying gigs, so they just see it as a fun time with buddies drinking beer and don't give it a second thought.

 

From my perspective, it is a matter of the bar trying to get free "entertainment", knowing that the 10 guys who all show up to hack their way through a half-dozen covers each bring a couple of friends and buy a few beers. I get it, and can see why the bar would do it as long as they can put people on stools with glasses in hand.

 

That said, it rubbed me wrong when a singer friend asked if I would come sit in "to help raise the bar on stage and put on a good show". From my perspective, why would I go "put on a good show" for nothing when I am already booked with paying gigs for the next 8-9 months? If the owner wants to "raise the bar", I am perfectly willing to accept a paying gig there - and I'd host the first set as open mic if they would like me to....but not as a freebie. I'm pretty certain that my buddy honestly just wants to have me help him sound better on his stuff, and probably never considered it from my perspective, but I still feel that we (musicians) shouldn't be supporting a "give-away" to a bar that isn't booking acts and paying them.

 

If the bar did open mic nights mid-week, then booked bands on the weekend, I would probably feel differently....but they don't.

 

Am I being unreasonable in viewing it this way? Any thoughts on how to deal with this sort of request without coming across like a jerk?

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No, you are spot on. That trend kind of came and went here, now they at least pay the host band a reasonable amount essentially for one set and the rental of the backline.

Most bar owners don't typically care about the quality of the music, just what they ring up over the night. I've been fortunate to have found a few around here who actually care about the music and are willing to pay the hosts a decent amount, so I still host jams [going on five years at different venues with different groups].

 

But, to be fair, would it hurt you to go back up a buddy on a couple of songs [assuming the backline is good and the drinks reasonable]? I do on occasion, but I also try to plug my bands when I do. Every now and then it pays off with a decent paying gig.

Edited by daddymack
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Most bar owners don't typically care about the quality of the music, just what they ring up over the night.

 

Well, this certainly makes sense, as we all know that in the end we are beer salesmen, not musicians. That said, a club that gets a reputation of having better performers will likely end up drawing better crowds over time, and people will definitely stay longer and drink more if the environment is enjoyable.

 

But, to be fair, would it hurt you to go back up a buddy on a couple of songs [assuming the backline is good and the drinks reasonable]? I do on occasion, but I also try to plug my bands when I do. Every now and then it pays off with a decent paying gig.

 

I might drop in once just to keep the relationship up, but I honestly see no potential benefit for any of my regular gigs. These places aren't going to hire a 7- or 8-piece horn band, nor do they build any influence over my steady diet of theater pit gigs. FWIW, I stopped in to look at one of these two places the other night, and there was NO backline provided, two mics on straight stands, one crappy monitor and one small "$h1t on a stick" FOH speaker. :freak:

 

A few years ago, they were putting actual bands in the same space, but the bands had to bring their own gear. Heck, the rehearsal sound rig I have in my barn would be a massive upgrade.......

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Well, then I am in total agreement...not worth the effort. If the house won't even put up a back line somehow...it seems pointless. I was laboring under the misconception that you could just show up with your axe and a cable, plug in, play and pack it in your case, have a drink, and leave.

 

Looks like they are more geared to spoken word than music.

 

My band has three complete PAs depending on location and configuration [5 piece up to 9 piece] that range from an 8 channel 2000w/side rig for outdoor, a 12ch 1000w/side rig for indoor and a 16 ch rig [mine] for the full horn section indoor shows, plus either hot spot monitors or floor monitors, and we can mix and match as needed. Most of the time our PA rigs are vastly superior to the PAs in the places we play, but many club owners are offended when we ask to shove their stuff back and put up our PA/monitors...until they hear the difference. Sad state of affairs...

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Well, then I am in total agreement...not worth the effort. If the house won't even put up a back line somehow...it seems pointless. I was laboring under the misconception that you could just show up with your axe and a cable, plug in, play and pack it in your case, have a drink, and leave.

 

Looks like they are more geared to spoken word than music.

 

Generally a couple of guys on stools with steel-strings.

 

My band has three complete PAs depending on location and configuration [5 piece up to 9 piece] that range from an 8 channel 2000w/side rig for outdoor, a 12ch 1000w/side rig for indoor and a 16 ch rig [mine] for the full horn section indoor shows, plus either hot spot monitors or floor monitors, and we can mix and match as needed. Most of the time our PA rigs are vastly superior to the PAs in the places we play, but many club owners are offended when we ask to shove their stuff back and put up our PA/monitors...until they hear the difference. Sad state of affairs...

 

Truth. I have a pretty basic setup with 7 powered main/monitor cabs and two subs (Yamaha DXR/DXS), with a rack X32 console. Better than the crappy clubs, not as good as one with a "real" system. I don't haul it around without some $$$ being on the table - though I often don't charge my own bands anything above an even cut.

Edited by SteinbergerHack

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I have attended more than a few over the years. Some places have really bad PA gear, it's not even worth calling PA gear.

 

I have been to the Guthrie Center's. They mic all acts, it's get on and get off with no messing around with plugging in anything that's not on stage.

 

Open mics do not survive, as such. It is not enough to keep a restaurant, bar or coffee house in business. It will bring in a lot of people that want to take a shot at playing live and friends. Piss poor management of an establishment is just that.

 

I also played a smaller restaurant that one day ASCAP came into, not while I was playing, but another guy and they sat down and wrote down every tune this guy played. Hit up the owner for 20 grand on back pay. He stopped doing music I heard, but I also heard he settled up for a few hundred bucks or so. I am an ASCAP member for what it's worth.

 

There's a privately owned restaurant here in town where the owner, chief cook and bottle washer, is also a musician. He's pretty good. I go out when I'm not beat to hell on Wednesday night. You get a free drink of your choice if you play. The sound system is pretty damn nice. He gets about 50 or so people there on Wednesday night. He also lives above the restaurant. He does 10 buffet dinner that night too, which might be some as simple as a burger, a side dish and a beer.

 

My friend hosts the monthly Nashville round where he gets 4 performers to play original music. IT's rather popular. Performers get a gift card to the restaurant. I have been asked to play it a few times. He got that idea after playing the Bluebird in Nashville, which he has played a few times. I seriously doubt he got paid there either.

 

Music is an afterthought at most establishments, but it keeps people at a place maybe for another round of drinks of some food. That is unless your place is set up for music. Most are not, and require a band to lug a huge sound system. I myself have hired a sound company at times. I'm not a roadie, and I don't want to run sound while I'm trying to perform.

 

I have also hired a warm-up band and put them on the bill. Between the cost of the sound company, the warm-up band and what I wanted to make for my band, I walked away with good nights pay. The place was packed many times, so packet I think they ended up turning folks away. Bands got to get creative in how they market and present themselves. What you want to here at the end of the night is, can we do this again soon.

You can also rent out a hall for cheap, like your local American Legion, VFW, promote your own shows, charge whatever you want at the door. The place will come with a bartender and a wait staff too. Have 2 bands play if you want. You can walk away with some nice coin.

 

This time of year is hard for all, musicians, restaurants, bars, as the weather can be pretty crappy. IMany folks just want to sit home in the warmth of there own home.

 

Live music is what you make of it, we had the same problem with DJ's, that were willing to set up a small PA and play music for 4 hours, for 1/2 the cost of what a real band would charge. Facebook is great for marketing, but it's not the end all be all. Folks that want to hear a live band make the effort to get out, whether it's an open mic or a club show.

 

 

Best of luck guys. I may be into a forced retirement soon and maybe back out in the music trenches. I'm already planning how I plan to make money playing to supplement my meager state pension and have fun doing it. Been looking at another 9-5 er too option, but who wants to work like that. I have done it for 30 years and it sucked my soul dry every day.

 

You got the talent, and the world is your stage, whether it be a clubs, a small coffee house or even home concerts. Open mics are what they are, show up support others and let them know you playing down the street on some weekend. Get a box of business cards, that give the folks that show up at your shows a free in, if there's a cover charge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I continue to refuse to play rooms that do not have agreements with ASCAP/BMI/SESAC...if you want to host music, then that is part of the cost of having music. One room I was booked into on a pick-up gig, the guy showed me his jukebox license....and I advised the bandleader that it was not what is required despite the bar owners insistence. I did the gig, under protest, and the leader agreed not to play there anymore. Another time with another pick-up gig, I walked...there was no stage [a bad sign], not even a jukebox agreement [or anything akin to canned music] but the leader was adamant we were still going to play...but I was not. This is Los Angeles, come on...do it right, or don't do it. That room was closed in less than six months after I walked out....so there were obviously other issues...

What is with that? They [owners/managers] have to know they need at minimum an agreement with the PROs, and in many places a 'cabaret license' in order to host music...why would they risk the lawsuits, the hassle from the local ordinance constabulary and all that? And I do know that many places here dodge the PROs by only hiring 'originals' bands, but they may be PRO members and want to make sure other PRO members are getting paid.

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Generally a couple of guys on stools with steel-strings.

 

 

 

Truth. I have a pretty basic setup with 7 powered main/monitor cabs and two subs (Yamaha DXR/DXS), with a rack X32 console. Better than the crappy clubs, not as good as one with a "real" system. I don't haul it around without some $$$ being on the table - though I often don't charge my own bands anything above an even cut.

 

Did the club provide the stools? ;)

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Did the club provide the stools? ;)

 

:lol:

 

Honestly, I have a couple of my own that I carry for playing acoustic gigs, as do all of the upright bass players I know. It seems kind of silly, but too many times you get a crappy folding chair or a tall chair with arms (i.e., unusable for a guitarist/bassist).

 

To be fair, if a club owner asked the band manager to "bring drinks and beer", we would generally not have a clue as to how much of what to bring, brands desired, glassware, etc. They are expert at their part of the overall product, and we are the experts at our portion; as much as it may annoy us when they get it wrong, we have to remember that most of them know as much about mixing a live band as they know about calculating a lunar approach trajectory.

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The Open Mic scene is a breeding ground for guys that go on to form bands that play for gas money and get hired locally because they can get a few friends to show up. Pro trios or larger have no where to play if they expect to get even $100/night. The rooms are too small and rarely promote. A lot of guys who can actually play have given up so a venue whose marketing focused on quality music would have a hard time filling slots with competent groups.

 

I'm talking about small towns, 2,000 population on average, but the only "city" in the state is dominated by venues that fill several slots a week with "bands' willing to play for tips.

 

Basically, nobody seems to care about good music.

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I have my own folding stool [with a built-in guitar stand, one less item on my checklist ;) ] for my solo work because, yes, most places are not clued in what a guitarist might need to sit on. I actually rarely sit, even on solo gigs, though, and never on band gigs.

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Actually, my primary band [and offshoots] was formed through a regular blues jam at a now closed blues dive, but this is not a town of 2000...

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A lot of folks use the terms "open mic" and "jams" interchangeably around here and of course they aren't the same thing. Back in DC, there were old school jams where you wouldn't dare sign up unless you had pro experience . . . the way it used to be.

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I do not patronize any venue that hosts an open mic night.

 

The 'house' gets free entertainment, the entertainers bring a few friends each, and the house makes money. That's good for the house but not musicians.

 

Many of the open mic nights here are even on the weekends, and there are enough scabs who play them for a free beer.

  • The owner is important enough to get paid
  • The manager is important enough to get paid
  • The chef is important enough to get paid
  • The bartender is important enough to get paid
  • The wait staff is important enough to get paid
  • The purveyors of food and/or drink are important enough to get paid
  • The people who clean the toilets are important enough to get paid
  • The musicians are worth nothing.

Now I know that the person who scrubs the toilets has a very important job and I have respect for them, but IMHO the entertainers have at least that much importance and should not be paid less.

 

Open mic nights are for musicians who find themselves less important than the janitor, and don't mind putting working musicians out of work.

 

That's the way I see it anyway.

 

Notes

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I agree with the above post. Open mic/open jam nights just f--k things up in a lot of markets for other people. They are one of the worst things for a local music scene. Inconsequential singers and musicians get up there almost always are doing 12 bar blues or something else that’s boring. I have done my fair share of them. The problem is they aren’t sustainable. Most good musicians don’t do them from my experience. There is one pro jam around here that is very clickish. I haven’t gone to it yet but some of the players don’t think people can hang with them there.

 

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I can see why the club owners like open mic nights.

 

Free entertainment and they bring their friends who spend money there.

 

But the open mic people take jobs away from working musicians. It used to be that clubs hired bands 6 or 7 nights a week, until they found people who would do it for free.

 

I'm glad I'm older, I feel sorry for younger musicians starting out. They don't have the opportunities to gig that I did.

 

I moved into the one-nighter, yacht club, country club, private party, corporate, etc., end of the business. And my duo has been around since 1985 with a great reputation and repeat clients. I would hate to be starting out right now.

 

Musicians, do yourself a favor, and get paid at least as much as the person who scrubs the toilets or don't play.

 

If you want to play for free, set up in a public park, go to the VA hospital and offer your services, volunteer for charities you believe in, but don't take the food out of the mouths of working career musicians.

 

Thanks.

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I do not patronize any venue that hosts an open mic night.

 

The 'house' gets free entertainment, the entertainers bring a few friends each, and the house makes money. That's good for the house but not musicians.

 

Many of the open mic nights here are even on the weekends, and there are enough scabs who play them for a free beer.

  • The owner is important enough to get paid
  • The manager is important enough to get paid
  • The chef is important enough to get paid
  • The bartender is important enough to get paid
  • The wait staff is important enough to get paid
  • The purveyors of food and/or drink are important enough to get paid
  • The people who clean the toilets are important enough to get paid
  • The musicians are worth nothing.

Now I know that the person who scrubs the toilets has a very important job and I have respect for them, but IMHO the entertainers have at least that much importance and should not be paid less.

 

Open mic nights are for musicians who find themselves less important than the janitor, and don't mind putting working musicians out of work.

 

That's the way I see it anyway.

 

Notes

 

The problem is that off all the jobs you listed? Being a musician is the only one people enjoy enough to do just for the fun of it.

 

So invariably there will be people who will.

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The problem is that of all the jobs you listed? Being a musician is the only one people enjoy enough to do just for the fun of it.

 

So invariably there will be people who will.

 

Basic supply and demand. Looked at it from that light, the question is why minimum wage doesn't apply.

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I have a friend who loves being an engineer. So does that make it OK for him to go to an employer, tell him to give the resident engineer a day off without pay while he enjoys himself doing engineering?

 

Yes invariably there will be musicians who have so little respect for the professionals that they will go to an open mic night, set up, and play for free so that some greedy club owner can get someone to work for free while he or she reaps the profits associated with efforts of the exploited musicians.

 

"Do to others as you want others to do to you." and "Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you." (First written example is by Plato - Many variations follow.)

 

So if you don't want someone coming in, doing your job once a week and sending you home without money for that day, please don't do it to others.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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Basic supply and demand. Looked at it from that light, the question is why minimum wage doesn't apply.

 

“Independent contractor” rules

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Posted (edited)
I have a friend who loves being an engineer. So does that make it OK for him to go to an employer, tell him to give the resident engineer a day off without pay while he enjoys himself doing engineering?

 

Yes invariably there will be musicians who have so little respect for the professionals that they will go to an open mic night, set up, and play for free so that some greedy club owner can get someone to work for free while he or she reaps the profits associated with efforts of the exploited musicians.

 

"Do to others as you want others to do to you." and "Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you." (First written example is by Plato - Many variations follow.)

 

So if you don't want someone coming in, doing your job once a week and sending you home without money for that day, please don't do it to others.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

 

 

You’ll get no disagreement from me. It’s just that I don’t think telling anyone this will make a difference.

 

I saw this decline in pay begin as soon as the “weekend warrior” and “dad band” thing started happening in the 90s. All these older guys who never played professionally suddenly now had the money to buy expensive gear and got together with their friends to play for fun. It was no problem for them to play out for less so they did. And the venues were happy to hire them for less. And the quality went down as well, but the venues didn’t care as long as the bands brought their friends out.

 

Then people started valuing “live music” less as the quality declined.

 

Downward spiral and so here we are.

Edited by Vito Corleone
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You’ll get no disagreement from me. It’s just that I don’t think telling anyone this will make a difference.

 

I saw this decline in pay begin as soon as the “weekend warrior” and “dad band” thing started happening in the 90s. All these older guys who never played professionally suddenly now had the money to buy expensive gear and got together with their friends to pay for fun. It was no problem for them to play for less so they did. And the venues were happy to them. And the quality went down as well, but the venues didn’t care as long as the bands brought their friends out.

 

Then people started valuing “live music” less as the quality declined.

 

Downward spiral and so here we are.

 

Well, that pretty much sums it up. This is what largely drove me out of "band" work and into theatrical music. I work with pros and semi-pros, everyone gets paid, we play for more than 50 people at a shot, and the audience and promoters give a rip about a quality product.

 

Yeah, I still do some band gigs, but since we refuse to work for nothing (or close to it), we don't play as often as a similar band would have when I was in my 20s.

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Well, that pretty much sums it up. This is what largely drove me out of "band" work and into theatrical music. I work with pros and semi-pros, everyone gets paid, we play for more than 50 people at a shot, and the audience and promoters give a rip about a quality product.

 

Yeah, I still do some band gigs, but since we refuse to work for nothing (or close to it), we don't play as often as a similar band would have when I was in my 20s.

 

Yep. I gave up on playing bars and focused instead on private event gigs 15 years ago. We don't play as often but the gigs are almost always for revved-up audiences that want to be there and want to enjoy the music and the band makes 10-15 times what a typical bar gig pays these days.

 

 

As far as "quality product" goes? Yep. I blame the venues and the musicians for letting the quality decline. It used to be if you were out for the night with your friends and you saw a "live music" sign in a club, that was a place wanted to check out. Now it means you're most likely to see 3 old guys in a corner weakly bashing out some old rock songs your parents or grandparents played when you were a kid. Might be cool for a song or two, but actually, a DJ playing stuff you like better would be more fun. Or maybe karaoke because you can probably sing about as well as those old farts anyway.

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You’ll get no disagreement from me. It’s just that I don’t think telling anyone this will make a difference.

 

I saw this decline in pay begin as soon as the “weekend warrior” and “dad band” thing started happening in the 90s. All these older guys who never played professionally suddenly now had the money to buy expensive gear and got together with their friends to play for fun. It was no problem for them to play out for less so they did. And the venues were happy to hire them for less. And the quality went down as well, but the venues didn’t care as long as the bands brought their friends out.

 

Then people started valuing “live music” less as the quality declined.

 

Downward spiral and so here we are.

 

well, I've watched the decline from the mid 80s when I got back into band gigs. Some might consider my band a 'dad band' since we are all old guys over 55, but we play blues, swing, R&B, Soul...not rock'n'roll [i'm starting a band for that though ;) ]. We are at a level here in Los Angeles where the competition is brutal, yet we managed to get into the opening act rotation at BB Kings, play large festivals, hotels, open for name acts, etc, as a local act of part timers. We went the 'corporate' route about 15 years ago because it paid better, and we were treated better; sadly that niche has dried up in these austerity years.

 

I have hosted blues jams for a number of years, and occasionally attend open mics.

WHY?

Well I get paid okay to host the blues jams [doing it tonight!]. And when I am looking for other musicians, I find jams and open mic nights to be a simple way to check local talent without putting an ad on CL.

Last year I was offered a host slot to do an acoustic open mic night, for TIPS...I almost laughed in the guy's face.

"Does your bartender work only for tips?"

"No he gets $15 plus his share of tips."

"Okay, does he bring in the booze, glasses, cherries, ice and the drinkers?"

"No, of course not, we supply all that"

"so why should I bring in a PA, mics/stands/cables etc, and people, and then only work for tips? You're not going to get any kind of quality if you are not willing to pay."

" Look, if you won't do it, there are other guys-"

"good, hire them!'

 

He did, it lasted about 3 weeks...that manager is no longer there.

 

Here's the thing: Club/restaurant/lounge owners/managers for the most part understand that live music can be a draw. But they do not understand why, or how it should work. They also don't understand what they need to do if they want live music [well some do, and they hire 'originals' bands to get around the ASCAP/BMI/SESAC agreements]. So many of these operators don't understand the music industry side of things, or showmanship.

 

I won't work a room without a stage*, because that immediately says the room does not support live music, and that they don't see the musician as a service provider who should be 'elevated'...

I was hired to play a restaurant several years ago by a leader I worked with regularly. He told me it is a new place and he is trying to develop it, okay, fine...I get there...no stage, inadequate electrical, no lights...a linoleum floor in the corner by the door. I did the gig, got my money and told the leader 'NEVER, EVER will I do a non-stage indoor gig'. They eventually got nailed...no ASCAP/BMI license ! As a leader, I ask the owners to show me their license/agreement when I book, because I won't do that either. Some show me their jukebox agreement...nope, sorry.

 

 

*a few years ago I built my own 4x8 'riser' for my solo act...it is a PITA to haul around, but I'll do it if I think the gig warrants it.

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When I was just starting out, the old "big band guys" worked for almost nothing, but they mainly worked in places I used to call "God's waiting room" ;) and not serious competition for the rock and roller.

 

When I got off from gigging on cruise ships for 3 years in 1990, I saw the beginning of the end. Clubs that used to hire 6 nights of music cut it down to 4. DJs and Karaoke started filling in what was once the exclusive domain of live musicians.

 

Here in South Florida there is a huge retirement industry. So I went after yacht clubs, country clubs, and those ubiquitous +55 communities. So we are have been playing "God's waiting room" as the big band fans died and the baby-boomer generation took their place.

 

Fewer days per week for the same money, but longer days because you have to set up and tear down every gig. The competition has gotten thicker by singers who don't play instruments buying Karaoke tracks and undercutting us with low-ball pricing. When rap fans move into "God's waiting room" I'll retire. I can't talk that fast :D

 

Fortunately we have been doing it long enough and have done a much better than average job so we have a lot of steady clients. Some who have been hiring us for a couple of decades. Between that and word of mouth, I haven't done cold calls since the 1990s.

 

Even though the open-mic nights are no direct competition to me, it really bothers me to see musicians being exploited and in doing so taking the bread out of the mouths of professional musicians.

 

I've been a pro musician most of my life (I did take 2 short-lived day jobs investigating what being normal was like - neither one worked for me). I feel lucky to be able to do this. I'm not a wage slave to some faceless corporation (In other words I'm free). I get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and in the middle do what I like to do (in other words, I'm successful). I live by my successes and hopefully learn by my bad decisions. I do my best to mentor younger musicians, to pass on the favor that older musicians did while mentoring me. But I feel very, very sorry for young musicians. They do not have the gigging opportunities that I had while growing up. There are many more good musicians now and drastically fewer venues for them to play in - and some of those venues are getting musicians who do not respect themselves or their talents playing for free (or a beer).

 

I'm lucky to have grown up when every hotel from a Holiday Inn and up and every lounge near a college hired live bands at least 6 nights a week. We climbed the ladder to being the opening act for major stars in concert and almost had a record contract with Motown (the talks broke down over money - Motown didn't want to pay anything). I've been in a duo with a fantastic singer/guitar/synth-player since 1985 who I eventually married. Our mortgage is paid off, we are still gigging and that's our second favorite thing to do ;)

 

The young musicians today sadly don't have that kind of life available to many. Open mic nights are one of the many reasons why they don't.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

 

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I agree completely that the life of the gigging musician is slowly coming to a close. I remember doing 5 night 'strips' for very good money in the 80s, but 'pay to play' killed that in the 90s here. I am staring the 'God's waiting room' gig in the face, eyeball to eyeball, if I want to keep doing solo work. Maybe it was a temporary aberration that there were so many venues looking to hire. Maybe social changes [DUI, smoking abatement] did indeed damage the club scene, and what we are seeing now is a bleak future...

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We do OK. I mean we get about 15 shows in the summer months here in the Finger Lakes Region or Western NY. For the style of music we play the money is OK. I was on the very tale end of the 4 to 5 night a week music clubs. I also learned the Holiday Inn's all had bands up and down the NYS Thruway at that time. It's the fall and winter I hate, not enough work and I get really bored. I don't think it's good for a band to have more than a month off. It get's stale and live chops go south a lot of the time. We do half festival/Private gigs and half club gigs. We pick our spots carefully. One place does pay well and doesn't have a stage. It's true some venues don't know how to handle it so my sound engineer educate them and help them build their nights. In some cases is got us to be able to make more money. Music is a tough road no matter what and can take a lot out of you.

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<...snip...> I am staring the 'God's waiting room' gig in the face' date=' eyeball to eyeball, if I want to keep doing solo work. <...>[/quote']

To tell the truth, it's not a bad gig.

 

I remember as a young musician in Ft. Lauderdale FL talking to an older guy who played yacht and country clubs mostly. He said once he got into this end of the business, he would never go back to night clubs. Right now, I feel the same way. This is better for me.

 

Advantages:

 

* I don't have to keep up with Top 40 songs. The songs are old, but once learned they are good for years, not just a month like T40 songs. The song rotation is slow, the Sinatra and Elvis songs I learned for this audience in the 1980s are just becoming passe. I can still do the Elvis songs and one or two standards, but we get more mileage out of Clapton, The Beatles, Janis, Van Morrison, Dion, Dylan, Donna Summer and anything Motown or Jimmy Buffett..

 

* Fewer days per week, for the same pay - one-nighers pay much better than clubs do

 

* No Thursday nights when there are only a couple of traveling business people who would rather watch the TV. If the crowd is light, there is no club manager blaming the band. It's a party, people have been invited, and the room is always full. You are not expected to draw a crowd, but to entertain the crowd that is already there - and IMHO that's the way it is supposed to work.

 

* No TV running where you are playing, no pool table, no smoking either

 

* No fights - the audience is past all that

 

* They thanks us at the end of the night and often send us home with food.

 

* Variety. We can play rock, country, R&B (Real R&B), Caribbean, folk-rock, disco, Latin American, and quite a few other genres, depending on the gig and the audience.

 

* Variety 2 - we can play soft, gentle music when they are having dinner (if they are having dinner) and then kick up the volume and energy level after for dance sets. I like both kinds of expression, the gentle and the energetic.

 

* Loyalty - if you pace the crowd right, play what they want, when the want it, at the volume you want, they become incredibly loyal.

 

Disadvantages

 

* No single young women making eyes at you - but I'm so happily married that although it would be ego-boosting, I wouldn't take them up on it.

 

* Moving gear every night - but they say weight bearing exercises are good for us. Think of the gym membership money I'm saving

 

* Around here it's seasonal. I might work 5 or 6 one-nighters per week from Halloween to Easter, but in the summer I'm lucky if I get two per week. Annual income is the same, but you have to pace your spending

 

* It's often not as 'show biz' as a lounge. There are times you need to just play music and keep your mouth shut, however some gigs still let you be a front man/woman.

 

I do think DUI and non-smoking damaged the club scene, but I think the major culprit is Television.

 

What? TV?

 

When my parents were dating it was radio and then black and white TV with 3 channels a tiny screen and tinny sound. When I was dating it was color TV with 5 to 9 channels and 25" screens but due to the bandwidth constraints the picture was grainy and the sound was still tinny. If you wanted to hear good entertainment, you had to go out to hear it.

 

Now we have giant super HD screens with 7.1 surround a zillion channels and a Cable TV subscription that can easily top $300/month (there goes the entertainment budget). You can see the Stones, Adele, Chicago Symphony, Cardi B, Jay-Z, and just about anybody else, living or not, right there in your living room with a front row seat.

 

That's what I think killed the club business.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

 

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To tell the truth, it's not a bad gig.

 

I remember as a young musician in Ft. Lauderdale FL talking to an older guy who played yacht and country clubs mostly. He said once he got into this end of the business, he would never go back to night clubs. Right now, I feel the same way. This is better for me.

 

Advantages:

 

* I don't have to keep up with Top 40 songs. The songs are old, but once learned they are good for years, not just a month like T40 songs. The song rotation is slow, the Sinatra and Elvis songs I learned for this audience in the 1980s are just becoming passe. I can still do the Elvis songs and one or two standards, but we get more mileage out of Clapton, The Beatles, Janis, Van Morrison, Dion, Dylan, Donna Summer and anything Motown or Jimmy Buffett..

 

* Fewer days per week, for the same pay - one-nighers pay much better than clubs do

 

* No Thursday nights when there are only a couple of traveling business people who would rather watch the TV. If the crowd is light, there is no club manager blaming the band. It's a party, people have been invited, and the room is always full. You are not expected to draw a crowd, but to entertain the crowd that is already there - and IMHO that's the way it is supposed to work.

 

* No TV running where you are playing, no pool table, no smoking either

 

* No fights - the audience is past all that

 

* They thanks us at the end of the night and often send us home with food.

 

* Variety. We can play rock, country, R&B (Real R&B), Caribbean, folk-rock, disco, Latin American, and quite a few other genres, depending on the gig and the audience.

 

* Variety 2 - we can play soft, gentle music when they are having dinner (if they are having dinner) and then kick up the volume and energy level after for dance sets. I like both kinds of expression, the gentle and the energetic.

 

* Loyalty - if you pace the crowd right, play what they want, when the want it, at the volume you want, they become incredibly loyal.

 

Disadvantages

 

* No single young women making eyes at you - but I'm so happily married that although it would be ego-boosting, I wouldn't take them up on it.

 

* Moving gear every night - but they say weight bearing exercises are good for us. Think of the gym membership money I'm saving

 

* Around here it's seasonal. I might work 5 or 6 one-nighters per week from Halloween to Easter, but in the summer I'm lucky if I get two per week. Annual income is the same, but you have to pace your spending

 

* It's often not as 'show biz' as a lounge. There are times you need to just play music and keep your mouth shut, however some gigs still let you be a front man/woman.

 

I do think DUI and non-smoking damaged the club scene, but I think the major culprit is Television.

 

What? TV?

 

When my parents were dating it was radio and then black and white TV with 3 channels a tiny screen and tinny sound. When I was dating it was color TV with 5 to 9 channels and 25" screens but due to the bandwidth constraints the picture was grainy and the sound was still tinny. If you wanted to hear good entertainment, you had to go out to hear it.

 

Now we have giant super HD screens with 7.1 surround a zillion channels and a Cable TV subscription that can easily top $300/month (there goes the entertainment budget). You can see the Stones, Adele, Chicago Symphony, Cardi B, Jay-Z, and just about anybody else, living or not, right there in your living room with a front row seat.

 

That's what I think killed the club business.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

 

You're showing your age.

 

No one subscribes to Cable TV anymore. :D

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You're showing your age.

 

No one subscribes to Cable TV anymore. :D

 

My audience members do (I don't). They are even older than me ;)

 

Notes

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Posted (edited)

 

My audience members do (I don't). They are even older than me ;)

 

Notes

 

I should have been a bit more specific. No one under 60 has cable anymore. :)

Edited by Vito Corleone

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The majority of my audience is over 55. It's a good, solid, reliable market here in South Florida. Much better money and fewer days than the clubs.I like to think of it as "God's waiting rooms"

 

Notes

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