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Your Band, Your PA: What Do You Take Off The Top?


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If ya take money off the top, the expectation is going to be that you will have the funds at all times to fix any and all PA issues.

 

If that is going to be a problem, it's probably best to setup a separate account with an open book policy and treat it as a PA maintenance/upkeep fund.

 

Consider the situation where the PA repair costs 500 and you've only received 200. How do you handle that situation? I dunno - the more i think about it the more I prefer just having a separate account so it's all on the table, and the whole band can step up if needed for a repair/upgrade or whatever.

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Sound system and lights get a full share. We are a three piece. For a $1000 gig each player gets $250 and the sound and lights (me :thu:) gets $250 for the gear. I also run sound from stage when we don't run from FOH. The other guys don't have the hassles that come from owning the gear and I get to own the gear. That, my friends, is what you call a win - win.

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Sound system and lights get a full share. We are a three piece. For a $1000 gig each player gets $250 and the sound and lights (me :thu:) gets $250 for the gear. I also run sound from stage when we don't run from FOH. The other guys don't have the hassles that come from owning the gear and I get to own the gear. That, my friends, is what you call a win - win.

 

We also don't get into arguments about what gear to buy or dealing with "cheaper" members. I buy it and own it and if we ever break up it is all mine. We have had the same lineup since 1984 so I don't think we will be breaking up anytime soon...

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What you see is what we get. All mine except for personal amps & the drums. Also included, the trailer to haul it around with that's also stored in a heated secure garage.

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I have enough rig for the gig, so I'm not concerned about blowing anything.

 

I take $100 off the top for my setup. A nominal amount more than anything.

 

But

 

Everyone helps me load in and set up and everyone helps me tear down and load out. (except the cables, I'm really anal about over/undering them just so lol) so I feel it all works out. The only thing that has ever gone down is one hi driver in one monitor. A $40 fix, so I didn't even bother collecting for something so minor.

 

It's a nice setup 5000W FOH, 1500W monitors, individual mixes, blah blah blah. I'd rather use my setup and sound great. I know it inside an out, so I just run it from the stage, or sometimes we have someone to mix for us via iPad.

 

If I were to charge $300 - $400, as a member in the band, my thoughts would be this.

 

Ok, I'll let the sound guy take $300 off the top, but I just want to walk in, plug in my guitar and play the gig. Then at the end of the night I will unplug and go home, I'm not helping out one bit with load in/set up or tear down/load out.

 

So yeah, $100 off the top with everyone helping with the workload totally works for me.

 

:thu:

 

I hate schmoozing. I hate finding gigs, booking gigs, collecting the money etc. I just like to come in, get the PA/lights all set up, do the gig, tear down and go home. Other people can do the other stuff...

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Easy answer is: whatever you and your mates agree is fair. But let me just offer this:

 

In every band I've ever played in--be it people doing it for a living, or just for fun, and it all sorts of who-owns-the-PA/who-does-the-work configurations, we've always just split the pay evenly. For whatever reason, I don't recall the subject ever even coming up, but I'm glad it hasn't because I think such disparities are what often leads to resentments. Of course, that can work the opposite way if the guy who owns the PA and takes only an equal cut feels 'cheated'---but what I'm advocating here is to put that aside.

 

And I've been in very few bands in my career. Two of them for 10+ years. And none of them ever having fights over money and pay.

 

On edit: I should add that the band has ALWAYS paid for any repairs.

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For the record, our singer had to move for work, 3 hours away. So we all agreed to give him $100 off the top to help pay for gas.

 

:thu:

 

When I first joined the band they were a 4 piece. They kept the price the same, so each member took a 5% cut in pay when I joined. I didn't ask for any extra, as I felt them taking a cut so I could be a member was good enough. When we raised our rates that's when we added the extra, which was agreed upon by everyone. It all works out.

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been using the singer's Mackie 8 channel powered mixer and my speakers for awhile now. For larger shows the drummer brings his bigger rig. We've never discussed paying off the top but the band has chipped in twice for minor repairs on the Mackie. I haven't been in a band yet that takes a share for PA except in one where we bought it collectively on one guy's credit and we all paid it off over time with gig money. When members left we paid back their share and when I left the other guys paid me.

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I have about 20k into a JBL SRX system with Ashly Protea processing, PLX amps, Crest board, etc - decent quality stuff. I brought this issue up once with my band, and while nobody openly argued, I could tell it was creating resentment for some of them (the two who have lower income levels and rely more on the money). These are semi-pro jazz guys I have known forever and am lucky to be playing with, and I decided it wasn't worth the money to create the hard feelings. I could afford it, and, like someone said above, I like having full control over the quality of the gear because I'm the one who is singing. I'm also a complete gear head. While it would be nice to get some extra money out of it, I don't feel cheated. I've been through periods where I couldn't find good players or a band wasn't working well together, and the good situation I have is more than enough reward. Besides, two of the other guys go above and beyond by pulling in almost all the gigs, and the drummer and sax player are so damn good just playing with them is good enough for me. Almost every gig one of them will play something that just makes me shake my head, grin, and say, "Where the hell did that come from?" That kind of experience is priceless.

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I've never seen a band work fairly. I tired it and due to the fact that I was the business guy, the serious one, the one who got all the gigs, cared, bought the gear etc, just like any other business, I took it over and just hired players who had to do nothing else but help with load in load out a bit and show up and play. They got their agreed on $$ and I delt with all the crap/hassles etc but it was all on me. That worked for me best. So I would pay the band $100-$150 a gig depending (unless it was a big corporate thing or something that paid very well) and I would usually make a bit more. Usually between 50 and 100% more.

 

This is how it's done in all the Pro situations on the national and international level, I later learned and it really does work best. There are however isolated instances when bands were run democratically but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

 

I'll also add that If I were a band member and I had the PA I would most certainly charge extra for it's use. It's business and there is wear and tear to think about as well as the expense and transportation of the gear etc. I always approached the gigging thing in a very professional and business minded sense and was always up front about it to band members. The few times I did have problems with people who thought they deserved more $$ because they showed up and played a gig they didn't have any stock in, wasn't booked by them on their reputation, brought minimal gear etc etc, I parted ways with that person very quickly. Again, it's just business to be a well paid profitable band, you have to be about the business as Guido surely knows :)

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I own the PA, lights and trailer outright. It's a 7KW FOH (JBL SRX with Crown Itech power). Presonus StudioLive mixer with 5 separate monitor mixes..some in-ears, a Yorville NX750p for edrum monitor and EAW coaxial monitors for the singers. I have L'Maitre Radiance Hazer and front LED tree's (Blizzard Puck RBGA) and LED Par and effect lighting on the rear truss.

 

I charge nothing for the use of the rig. I do charge a periodic 5% off the top that goes in a maintenance account. It buys the occasional repairs, consumables (haze juice, band stickers, beads, glo sticks, etc). When the account has a $500 balance, we stop charging the fee.

 

The gear is mine and I like to buy/tinker with PA. I don't want anyone telling me what I can / can't do so this works for me and I'm sure the others appreciate my willingness to share. Of course, they all arrive two hours in advance of a gig and help set everything up. Everyone hauls stuff to the stage and dance floor and my wife takes one or two to help with lighting and I take one or two to help get the PA setup. No one ever complains and it works great.

 

I was in a band in the 90's that I didn't run. They had members who went in to buy the PA and a big box truck. They had complicated formulas about how pay was calculated and how opting out of setup or tear down cost you a % and the leader got extra for doing the booking. They hired a couple roadies to help with the load-in but band members had to load-in as well....it was a mess. After that scene, I was happy to just have an even split with a set repair / consumables fund.

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I own the lights,PA and monitors. I know my PA rig inside and out,and I never have to worry about being up {censored} creek equipment wise if someone quits. Everyone helps me load in and out, I dont ask for an extra cut and I prefer it this way. Another guy in the band handles all of the booking ( which i HATE) one guy handles web design,marketing and promo materiels,and one guy handles selling the band swag on breaks. We work as a team, split the pay and tips equally and it works for us.

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I own all the PA equipment. I don't want to have the PA expense divided up between members, and then have them argue that they need reimbursed if and when they leave the band. For that reason, I take 10% off the top that goes into the PA fund. It actually just goes to me, but I am responsible for all PA repair issues and replacement pieces. I like it this way, and the band members all are fine with this arrangement. I think the key is to just keep it all on the table, so not to create any hard feelings.

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Very cool..it's great there is still kind people out there!

 

 

I have about 20k into a JBL SRX system with Ashly Protea processing, PLX amps, Crest board, etc - decent quality stuff. I brought this issue up once with my band, and while nobody openly argued, I could tell it was creating resentment for some of them (the two who have lower income levels and rely more on the money). These are semi-pro jazz guys I have known forever and am lucky to be playing with, and I decided it wasn't worth the money to create the hard feelings. I could afford it, and, like someone said above, I like having full control over the quality of the gear because I'm the one who is singing. I'm also a complete gear head. While it would be nice to get some extra money out of it, I don't feel cheated. I've been through periods where I couldn't find good players or a band wasn't working well together, and the good situation I have is more than enough reward. Besides, two of the other guys go above and beyond by pulling in almost all the gigs, and the drummer and sax player are so damn good just playing with them is good enough for me. Almost every gig one of them will play something that just makes me shake my head, grin, and say, "Where the hell did that come from?" That kind of experience is priceless.

 

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Easy answer is: whatever you and your mates agree is fair. But let me just offer this:


In every band I've ever played in--be it people doing it for a living, or just for fun, and it all sorts of who-owns-the-PA/who-does-the-work configurations, we've always just split the pay evenly. For whatever reason, I don't recall the subject ever even coming up, but I'm glad it hasn't because I think such disparities are what often leads to resentments. Of course, that can work the opposite way if the guy who owns the PA and takes only an equal cut feels 'cheated'---but what I'm advocating here is to put that aside.


And I've been in very few bands in my career. Two of them for 10+ years. And none of them ever having fights over money and pay.


On edit: I should add that the band has ALWAYS paid for any repairs.

 

 

I gotta go with dave on this one. Things just go smoother.

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I try and take about 10% off the top of our gigs. That includes the full PA, the vehicle (including upkeep and insurance) and an extra storage unit to store the extra gear. 10% certainly doesn't come close to taking care of the actual costs but it takes a small chunk of of them. And repairs are on me as well.

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I have the PA. It's not much... Just a mixer and 2 EV live x 12'' tops.

I don't charge anything because we all have duties in the band.

 

I bring the PA and set it up. It's not to much of a job... Just a mixer and 2 tops... Takes me 10min at most.

 

The drummer also works in a graphics and printing company. So he takes care of all graphic and printed promotion.

 

Bass player has an incredible ear! So he has all the songs written. We play covers but in our own style and we have a lot of versions, So he is the one organizing every thing, recording the rehearsals (listening to them at home), making sure every one is playing the right parts and writing sheet music for ever one with all the details.

 

The singer... Well, she does all the hard work at the stage, all public interaction and entertaining is her job.

And she is our public relations person also...

She is the name and face of the band! If we screw up it's her name on the line.

 

So, to sum it up, instead of dividing pay in a complicated way, we divided jobs and tasks so it is fair that we all earn the same money.

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The bass player in my electric band owns the PA system we use. It's very simple to setup (like 15 mins max) and I always run the sound from the stage. He has never asked for any extra pay because he "owns the system". That PA system was paid for 10-15 years ago. The other band I am in usually doesn't play venues that do not provide a house system. However our main singer is also our agent and she collects 10% off the top for all gigs she books us for.

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We do an extra cut for the PA/lights and an extra cut for booking the show. 4-piece. We split gig $$ 5-ways. I book most of the shows and own all the production. I get 2/5 per show. I'm responsible for all repair/maintenance on the system and the other guys help with setup/teardown.

It's a fair tradeoff. I keep an extra cash stash in case of emergencies.

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Lots of different way to skin the....better leave that blank in case PETA is on the forum. We all have a "goalkeeper" in each band...the one that either all or the majority that the enterprise rotates around. For better or for worse that seems to always be me in my projects and it's probably the "control freak" inside of me that sees me usually owning or arranging the production. Fractions (1/5 split etc), full share, band accounts in case something self destructs or walks off at a gig (a mic for example), the "I'm a gearhead and I love this" scenario, fixed $ off the top or band ownership....it's all valid IMO. At any rate, the most important point is to have it all on the "table" with your band members as many of you stress. Totally agree. I'm not sure what my personal preference is but professionally I realize it's a business expense owning the production. Insurance, transport, maintainance and time invested....it's what we do, isn't it?

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I provide the PA and website. Never asked for additional compensation. Also don't want anyone else touching the PA board. They wouldn't understand what I do and why I do it. (That always ends up with bad results when they don't understand and have no interest in understanding.)

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I work with multiple projects - and own a relatively complete PA (mains, subs, monitors, amps, MixWiz and associated FOH outboard gear - basically everything except a full compliment of microphones.) as well as a full light system. When I get involved in a project - I usually give the PA the group is using - and if my rig represents an improvement - I offer to provide PA. At the moment - I provide PA for two of my three projects - our drummer in my third project is a bigger gear whore than I am (!!!!) so we use his rig with that band.

 

I never take a cent when I provide PA and/or lights. There are several reasons I don't. They include the following:

 

 

I bought the PA because I simply got tired of playing with systems that were cobbled together - and seldom enough to do the job right. I could afford the investment - and made the unilateral decision that I wanted it. At this point - I view it as a "sunk cost". I totally understand the economics - and fully recognize that depreciation (time) as well as wear and tear is reducing the value of my system. My reality is however that I'm not really doing the music thing for the money. I like getting paid and normally work at the upper end of going rates for the rooms that I play - but I don't need gig money to pay my bills and feed my family.

 

Because I play in multiple groups and own the PA - I use it as I see fit. I never want to hear murmurs from bandmates about my taking money from Group A and then using my PA from Group B. Whenever somebody pays for something (i.e., band members paying for access to a PA system) - expectations are created. I much prefer avoiding any misconceptions. It's MY PA and I'll use it, upgrade it, maintain it as I see fit.

 

I've played with groups that had complex reimbursement schemes to pay each member "fairly" based on what they bring to the group. My experience was that in every case - that "fair" fee structure - had alot of what I considered undesireable side affects. Band members ended up with one of two mindsets ... they either sought to "monetize" every little thing they brought to the table -or- they defined themselves as "sidemen" taking their share for playing the gig, but without ever putting themselves out to improve the group.

 

Ultimately, it's more important for me to be a part of groups in which my bandmates are of the mindset that we're all in this together and that we all bring what we are able to the table - than to collect a few bucks extra because I provide a PA system that was bought and paid for long ago.
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