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sventvkg

I made about $55k playing music in 2018

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250 gigs. Almost all solo acoustic..drove 40k miles in my truck doing so. Almost $10k In tips...killed myself though. For whatever reason my corporate band hasn’t really gotten any work we wanted to take, Orlando event planners are so fickle and I’m over banging my head against the wall in frustration. Focusing now on building a wedding business up and we have an absolutely mind blowing journey tribute band it’s the best one I’ve seen out there (singer is amazing!) that we’re about to launch. Anyone wants to see some rough life rehearsal videos PM me.

 

I definitely can’t keep this pace up and playing outside on the beach in the summer Florida sunshine literally almost killed me. There’s got to be an easier way to make a living.

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yes, but not playing music, amigo... :wave:

you need a hit song, a viral video...preaching to the choir, I know...

Edited by daddymack

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Yes the burnout factor, I know it well. I had eight days off in December but still played twenty nine gigs (I had thirty but one got cancelled, with a 50% deposit). Some days consisted of a 10am to 2pm slot and then a 6pm to 10pm slot. Plus I had a recording session with some heavy duty jazzers; much mental and musical prep for that one. On my last gig of the year, my hands and my throat were shot. But I had to strike while the iron was hot because I knew that January and February would be slow. The sweet spot for me is four gigs a week, but I never know when things will just grind to a halt, as they have done over the years, so it's hard to turn things down. Last week I had two gigs, this week, six. Next week two gigs again... Times are getting tougher out there so I'm still taking whatever comes along, but I'll probably have to start self promoting and not rely on agents. As for tips I don't get any - are you listening CRA (Canada's IRS)!

 

However as one of my solo artist buddies says, we're lucky to be playing at all, and some of us are still managing to compete with the 26 year old actresses in mini skirts, that have decided to become solo acts in-between acting gigs. But I'll not wear a kilt! Cultural appropriation is now a no no, especially with my knobby knees.

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Wow that all sounds really tough, I'd never be able to play that much! As much as I like to play, and as long as I've been doing it, I believe it's really best that I've kept it mostly as a hobby. The area where I live would never support that much market saturation and I actually only live here because of my technical job working for a large avionics company. I've played in a number of bands around here and actually made some decent money on the side but I got wore out with most of that and am now just doing a duo with my wife.

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I'm not really the optimum age for the solo gigs in my area, but I'm still hanging on - for now. However, the kids that are the right age and look, man do they ever work. I'm just not sure they can sustain it. Again, I guess I could be working more if I was the perfect age (32), played the newer stuff, in the newer rooms, worked the casinos and also places like the Trump Building (no offense to those who love him) but that's life.

 

Up here it's all about volume. There's a place here that starts in the morning and goes 'till late - mainly solos and such. So, many solo folks try for two or even three gigs a day. Again, that just can't be sustained.

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Leilani and I make our living playing music, and we had 5 weeks off this year. Took a vacation in Australia and turned down work for that.

 

We love it, and never get tired of it. I know it's hotter in Orlando that it is here on the coast (colder in the winter too) but we have a slow season, usually August and September where two gigs per week is max.

 

IMHO a bad day playing music is better than a good day at any 'day job' I can think of.

 

We've had some gigs we don't care to return to. Micromanaging entertainment purchasers (who don't really know what their audience wants) or people who are just unkind. We quote them a higher price if they ask us back, that we if we are going to be uncomfortable, we are getting paid to do so -- but most of the time we've overpriced ourselves and that's the point.

 

I hope you are deducting those 40k miles from your income tax. Mileage is the best friend you can have.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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Not making a lot since I'm doing mostly retirement homes but I keep pretty busy. At 65 with an acute back problem, I'm doing OK. If I was in Florida I would target Moose type clubs and upscale retirement homes.

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Moose pays almost nothing, Elks do a little better, but they both hire you in the slow season too. So it's a trade-off.

 

Retirement communities, condominiums, yacht clubs, and country clubs pay better.

 

Night club work around here isn't what it used to be, which is why we slid over to the one-nighter business for the adult audience.

 

Where the lounges used to hire bands 6 nights a week, now they have TV 'Sports Junkie' nights, karaoke night, DJ night, open mic night (where musicians are exploited for free), and perhaps one night a week of a duo that won't pay over $200 for the night. I can't live on that.

 

When I started playing the retiree market, it was Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Artie Shaw and the like. Then Elvis Presley era sneaked in the back door as the Big Band people started going to the great gig in the sky, and the new 55 year-olds were pre-baby-boomer age. Fast forward through the Beatles, disco, and they ask for Clapton, Eagles, and a few contemporary crossover tunes like "Blurred Lines" and "Uptown Funk".

 

Still it's a good market, and until they start demanding Rap, I'm in it. I can't talk fast enough for Rap or memorize that many words ;) - plus without melody, harmony and rhythm I find it not-interesting.

 

But that's probably a long way off, and if it happens, I'll have to downscale and do nursing homes. There are a lot of them around here.

 

I've done a few of the upscale nursing homes, and it's daytime, only an hour or so, and easy. The upscale ones play OK, and I haven't investigated the normal ones. I've gotten those jobs through an agency, so I wouldn't go leaving them our business cards.

 

We have one in-public gig once a week at lunchtime. It's a marina with a deli, convenience store, and bait shop. We get a standard fee (low) plus a percentage of the cash register. In the shoulder season we make less than we would charge on a Tuesday, and in peak season much more. In the end we do better than if we just did our flat rate and the management likes it better because they pay less on slow days. We are now in our 11th year. The audience is like extended family, we know many of them by name, more by face, and we have running gags. Because it's outdoors on a quay, we quit during the few months of the rainy season and come back when the rain stops.

 

It's easy to keep things fresh with a duo partner that I love to make music with. Plus we constantly learn new songs and drop older ones because our audience is at "God's waiting room." I make my own backing tracks, mostly from scratch (sometimes with a little help from Band-in-a-Box for the not-important comp parts if there is an appropriate style), and we DJ a couple of things a duo cannot cover and the people want to 'line-dance' to like "Cupid Shuffle".

 

But I love my duo partner (now my wife), I love my audience, and when I start playing music, I'm in that place where there is no space or time and it's the most fun I can have with my clothes on. I have no intention of retiring even though I'm old enough to do so. What would I do with myself? I'd probably want to play music.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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I have played SO many lodges Moose, Elks, Eagles, Masonic Order, plus VFW and American Legion etc. Pretty much if the place has antlers, talons, feathers or fur on the mascot I have played there. Your correct, my usual take is only about $100 per person. So it doesn't matter if I am a duo, trio or 7 member band. The pay has always been pretty much the same. The pros are they usually book 6 - 12 months in advance so once your booked you get booked for quite few bookings. And unless the place burns down they never cancel. And sometimes there are events like New Years Eve and Christmas parties where you can charge quite a bit more. I once did a Moose with a 5 piece and got paid $1000 a man for Valentines Day! For me the other pro is they are everywhere. So travel is not far. These gigs are the only reliable gigs around. Most of the clubs, restaurants and such can be flakey. They will book you and cancel at the last minute. Try and screw you out of your previously agreed payment. And there are less and less of them every year. So for the part-time musician with a full time job these gigs are not too bad. They have paid for all of my equipment over the years and have allowed me to fuel my Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) with out dipping into my family money. I have a hobby that is self-sustaining and has paid for some luxury items like a 2016 Indian Scout Motorcycle so I cannot complain. The only thing I hate is the taxes. The pay is so little to begin with its getting where I no longer want to do this because making sure the government gets their cut is such a pain in the rear.

Edited by kbeaumont
SP
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We call them "The Animal Clubs" and yes, the seldom cancel a gig. I think in all the years we have been doing them, we've been canceled twice, and the circumstances were understandable.

 

But I see the beginning of the end of those clubs around here. The audience is getting older, as the younger generation doesn't seem to want to do this. And if the clubs try to attract a younger audience, the old folks complain about the music.

 

I've seen one Elk's lodge and one Moose lodge fold up, and we played the last entertainment party at another because they are running out of money.

 

I'm sad to see them go, and although we have many other gigs, there are some nice people we've entertained for years that we will miss.

 

But that's life in the entertainment business.

 

Notes

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$55K sounds pretty good if you are in the South. A friend of mine is in his mid-fifties and doing the solo acoustic grind for many years. He often sleeps in his van but would not trade his almost vagabond lifestyle for anything even though he recently remarried. I hope you have a SEP, paying SS, and depreciating everything you can. +1 on the wedding\corporate angle. I recommend your Journey tribute band try branching out and learn more current pop\rock hits. Also, I don't know the situation, but your singer may get restless and find another band if you guys don't get gigs soo. Good luck!

Edited by capitalist

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