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owr

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I've avoided jumping back into this - but figure I have one point to make that I haven't really seen covered. This isn't really directed at you personally Chris, but you did bring up the sticking together part which I think is a good launching point. I do appreciate and agree with most of what you've contributed throughout this discussion.

Speaking for the weekend warriors here, or at least a chunk of them, I'd like to try and express our perspective and why conversations like this rub us the wrong way. Music for me has always been one of my #1 loves, where I get solace both from attending live shows, as well as occasionally getting to perform. For various reasons, I was not able to make it the focus of my career. Instead I find myself in my mid to late 40s, the sole bread winner responsible for supporting my wife and young daughter. I have a good professional day job, I work with good people and am paid well after many years of learning my craft, gaining experience and building a solid reputation. But that has lead me to carry a tremendous amount of responsibility, pressure, stress and long hours. Some of the work is rewarding, but most of it these days is the slog one has to deal with when they rise in their organization. Its ever present, even when I'm on "vacation" or sick, and its the biggest challenge in my life to not bring that home and project it on my family. I'm grateful for the opportunity, but it has come at a very real cost.

At the end of the day there is very little time for anything that feeds my soul, or brings me joy outside of the satisfaction of fulfilling my responsibilities. Its ok, I'm just at that point in my life and there is light at the end of the tunnel. But what I do get comfort in is in the 15 minutes on average I get to practice and play music at night. I have a new original group I'm working with but it's slow going. Between all of our commitments we haven't found a time to rehearse for 3 weeks. Soon we'll have our material together enough to start playing some shows, and given the 10-20 close friends we'll probably be able to coerce to show up we are not focused at all on making any real $. For bands like us you can almost think of it that we are lucky we don't have to pay to rent out a local bar to entertain ourselves and our friends for an evening. If we get to get our rocks off on an off night, make a couple $ to pay for heads and a few beers, and put a couple more $ in the pockets of the locals working and running the places than they would normally get on an off-night, then I'll take some pride in that as well.

What really rubs me the wrong way is when I drop in a thread like this and read comments along the lines that guys like me are the problem, the reason that the "pros" can't make a living. Again, I haven't gotten that from you Chris, but there is plenty of that in this thread. It baffles my mind that we get thrown under the bus like that, especially when it's followed up with a call for solidarity and sticking together. Sticking together goes both ways, the folks who have the luxury of making music their passion and core focus could do a lot to encourage and support the rest of us. I used to see that in my town and think it's still out there. I remember my first public gig early in my 20s and we had a huge turnout of friends, including one of the more accomplished local "pros". I remember going up to him during set break and thanking him for coming out and he said something along the lines of "You always come out to my shows and support me, there was no way I was going to miss this".

The way I see it, outside of the top tier successful musicians who make their own terms, the more regional pros we're all focused on fall into two categories. There are the truly talented artists out there who mostly tour regionally playing small clubs and the like, usually with original projects, or at least playing covers on a level that I can't compete with. Maybe they haven't gotten recognized yet, or they play some form of jazz ;), but they're scraping by. The idea that a guy like me is taking away any work from them is ludicrous. I can't even comprehend playing at their level, and am unable to make the commitment to go on the road even if someone asked me to. Furthermore, guys like me are the ones showing up to their shows every time they come to town, buying their merch, sending patreon support, or at the least following them on social media and liking every post or buying the gear they endorse. The idea that we are taking away from their ability to support themselves just kills me. We are their #1 demographic.

The other side is the local player who is a "pro", mostly because they don't want to do anything else. They depend mostly on local gigs, don't travel much for whatever reason, and maybe work a side job or two to get by. They play well running the local cover band scene because they've been doing it for 20-30 years, but to an average non-musician out for the night perhaps they couldn't tell the difference if it was me on the gig. We do potentially impact this segment, and I can't say I feel that bad about it. I get 15 minutes a night at best to practice. If you're a pro and can't distinguish yourself from me in chops or professionalism, then I'm not your problem. These are the guys I see hanging at the coffee shop for 2 hours on a Wednesday morning when I'm rushing in to get some caffeine before a business meeting I'm late for. I know this a broad generalization that doesn't apply to many, but there are plenty of them out there, and they are the ones locally at least that I hear complaining the most that weekend warriors like myself are screwing it up for them. I'm sorry but I have zero sympathy for this crowd.

Now what I do agree with that has been covered many times in this thread is the need for some self-respect, and to avoid getting taken advantage of regardless of how little that persons needs or cares about the $. I do take my impact on the health of the scene seriously, and shared here earlier how I walked away from a gig that was blatantly disrespectful to any musician who played it. I don't think this necessarily translates into a minimum $/gig, its more complicated than that. And I think there has been some real good advice in this thread from Chris, Sinclair and a few others to this purpose. So thank you for that.

Alright - Im done with my soapbox speech. Thanks for reading.











Fine, I'm sure bands in India and Thailand earn a lot less than $250 a gig. But last time I looked gas prices were the same in rural areas of America, often more. Health costs the same. Drum head prices, sticks, new drums and cymbals.
So I UNDERSTAND why musicians in rural areas are paid less than big city players, but they should fight for better pay, not except what they are given. That's how all workers achieved better pay, by banding together collectively and fighting for more.
Also, it doesn't have to be personal. For me it's a philosophical debate, how do you value yourself in a time of increased competition, where there is a widening gap between powerful entrepreneurs and the 'workers'.
In the opening post I was asked my opinion on $250 for working on NYE. I gave my opinion. Since then it has not been about this specific person and their specific gig. It's been about whether to stick together and support each other's right to fair pay, or whether if you already have a decent pay check in another job, and you just like to play and have fun, it's ok to be underpaid by bar owners, event promoters etc.
If we are all being under paid to make something happen that's fine, but most of the time the event promoter is heading off on their South Pacific cruise on the 2nd of January, while we're going back to work to fill the car and buy the next batch of drum heads.
 

Frank Godiva

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I've avoided jumping back into this - but figure I have one point to make that I haven't really seen covered. This isn't really directed at you personally Chris, but you did bring up the sticking together part which I think is a good launching point. I do appreciate and agree with most of what you've contributed throughout this discussion.

Speaking for the weekend warriors here, or at least a chunk of them, I'd like to try and express our perspective and why conversations like this rub us the wrong way. Music for me has always been one of my #1 loves, where I get solace both from attending live shows, as well as occasionally getting to perform. For various reasons, I was not able to make it the focus of my career. Instead I find myself in my mid to late 40s, the sole bread winner responsible for supporting my wife and young daughter. I have a good professional day job, I work with good people and am paid well after many years of learning my craft, gaining experience and building a solid reputation. But that has lead me to carry a tremendous amount of responsibility, pressure, stress and long hours. Some of the work is rewarding, but most of it these days is the slog one has to deal with when they rise in their organization. Its ever present, even when I'm on "vacation" or sick, and its the biggest challenge in my life to not bring that home and project it on my family. I'm grateful for the opportunity, but it has come at a very real cost.

At the end of the day there is very little time for anything that feeds my soul, or brings me joy outside of the satisfaction of fulfilling my responsibilities. Its ok, I'm just at that point in my life and there is light at the end of the tunnel. But what I do get comfort in is in the 15 minutes on average I get to practice and play music at night. I have a new original group I'm working with but it's slow going. Between all of our commitments we haven't found a time to rehearse for 3 weeks. Soon we'll have our material together enough to start playing some shows, and given the 10-20 close friends we'll probably be able to coerce to show up we are not focused at all on making any real $. For bands like us you can almost think of it that we are lucky we don't have to pay to rent out a local bar to entertain ourselves and our friends for an evening. If we get to get our rocks off on an off night, make a couple $ to pay for heads and a few beers, and put a couple more $ in the pockets of the locals working and running the places than they would normally get on an off-night, then I'll take some pride in that as well.

What really rubs me the wrong way is when I drop in a thread like this and read comments along the lines that guys like me are the problem, the reason that the "pros" can't make a living. Again, I haven't gotten that from you Chris, but there is plenty of that in this thread. It baffles my mind that we get thrown under the bus like that, especially when it's followed up with a call for solidarity and sticking together. Sticking together goes both ways, the folks who have the luxury of making music their passion and core focus could do a lot to encourage and support the rest of us. I used to see that in my town and think it's still out there. I remember my first public gig early in my 20s and we had a huge turnout of friends, including one of the more accomplished local "pros". I remember going up to him during set break and thanking him for coming out and he said something along the lines of "You always come out to my shows and support me, there was no way I was going to miss this".

The way I see it, outside of the top tier successful musicians who make their own terms, the more regional pros we're all focused on fall into two categories. There are the truly talented artists out there who mostly tour regionally playing small clubs and the like, usually with original projects, or at least playing covers on a level that I can't compete with. Maybe they haven't gotten recognized yet, or they play some form of jazz ;), but they're scraping by. The idea that a guy like me is taking away any work from them is ludicrous. I can't even comprehend playing at their level, and am unable to make the commitment to go on the road even if someone asked me to. Furthermore, guys like me are the ones showing up to their shows every time they come to town, buying their merch, sending patreon support, or at the least following them on social media and liking every post or buying the gear they endorse. The idea that we are taking away from their ability to support themselves just kills me. We are their #1 demographic.

The other side is the local player who is a "pro", mostly because they don't want to do anything else. They depend mostly on local gigs, don't travel much for whatever reason, and maybe work a side job or two to get by. They play well running the local cover band scene because they've been doing it for 20-30 years, but to an average non-musician out for the night perhaps they couldn't tell the difference if it was me on the gig. We do potentially impact this segment, and I can't say I feel that bad about it. I get 15 minutes a night at best to practice. If you're a pro and can't distinguish yourself from me in chops or professionalism, then I'm not your problem. These are the guys I see hanging at the coffee shop for 2 hours on a Wednesday morning when I'm rushing in to get some caffeine before a business meeting I'm late for. I know this a broad generalization that doesn't apply to many, but there are plenty of them out there, and they are the ones locally at least that I hear complaining the most that weekend warriors like myself are screwing it up for them. I'm sorry but I have zero sympathy for this crowd.

Now what I do agree with that has been covered many times in this thread is the need for some self-respect, and to avoid getting taken advantage of regardless of how little that persons needs or cares about the $. I do take my impact on the health of the scene seriously, and shared here earlier how I walked away from a gig that was blatantly disrespectful to any musician who played it. I don't think this necessarily translates into a minimum $/gig, its more complicated than that. And I think there has been some real good advice in this thread from Chris, Sinclair and a few others to this purpose. So thank you for that.

Alright - Im done with my soapbox speech. Thanks for reading.

+1
 

Whitten

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Alright - Im done with my soapbox speech. Thanks for reading.
Sure, and all taken on board and agreed with.
I admit I was being purposely hardcore and provocative, because I think (overall) it's an interesting debate.
It's not about being paid for any performance. It's also not about part timers versus professionals.
It is about:
1) A commercial NYE event.
2) Learning 45 songs for one gig.
3) $250 pay

At no point does this have anything to do with established bands of amateurs playing a pub gig for no or low money. It is about learning 45 songs to a high standard and playing one gig, on a usually well compensated holiday, where customers are probably paying $350 per couple to attend.
All kinds of workers are offered double pay to work on New Years, Christmas Day etc. That's because it compensates them for sacrificing family time, and it's a way for normally quite low paid people to add to their finances for the lower paid days of the year.
 
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Whitten

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Sorry!
I'm writing too much and not explaining my point well enough.
Why do we have actors unions and musicians unions?

Quote>By the beginning of the 20th century, exploitation had become a permanent condition of an actor's employment. Producers set their own working conditions and pay scale. There was no compensation for rehearsals or holidays and rehearsal time was unlimited.
The emergence of the labor movement changed the face of American Theatre forever.
In the ensuing years, rules were negotiated concerning bonding, which required producers to post sufficient advance funds to guarantee salaries and benefits; minimum salaries; rehearsal pay; restrictions on the employment of foreign actors and protections in dealings with theatrical agents.<

Creative artist unions are not there to protect professionals from part timers, they are there to protect us ALL from unfair exploitation, long hours, low pay and unfair dismissal.
 

Drdrumdude3009

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The musician's union, at least in my locale, is non-existant. Furthermore, most venues around here won't hire union musicians.

I have had a few gigs where union representation would have been helpful, but again: I have a feeling this particular venue owner would not hire union-represented musicians. This clown stiffed my old band not once, but twice. My band leader was equally a clown, because he wanted so badly to play this joint because he drinks at that bar and it is two blocks from his house. He would have done anything to play there. Looking back, I should have refused to play gigs at said venue after the first time we were shorted. (I did after the second tine) The owner shorted the band $150 off of our negotiated pay because we didn't bring enough of a crowd. Of course my old band leader was an idiot, but that is for another thread...

The saddest part of this scenario is that it was so hard to get into the union in my locale. They only would let people they thought were "good enough" into the union. Venues started hiring non-union bands at higher wages (at first), then the genie came out of the bottle. Furthermore, people who were in the union in its heyday have told me was that it was pretty weak by the 90s. Also, with increasing DUI arrests and a lack of good public transit, the money isn't there to pay bands unless they can bring in a crowd.

Maybe it's different in other geographical areas. I would love to have had a union representing me in a few scenarios. But around here, you negotiate a fee, hope that you're not playing to a bunch of empty chairs, and you hope that you get paid at the end of the 10-2 gig. Of course then there are the other factors: hoping that you don't have a bunch of drunks demanding you play the Doors, Gimmee Three Steps or Freebird, along with hoping you're not jumped during load out. I think I talked myself out of ever playing with a band again, the more I write about this.
 
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