OT - Bands feeling exploited by venues should read this

Rich K.

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shilohjim said:
Nothing worse than going into a live music venue and hearing a bunch of balding fatasses playing horrible southern rock, badly. And this is becoming the the norm rather than the exception, especially around these parts.
I resemble that remark.
 

drawtheline55

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Interesting article...we have in my town a restaurant/ bar that has done basically what the article is about. They have carved out a reputation as theee place to go to hear really good bands. Top quality cover bands, as well as some names. It isn't big my guess 75-100 and all of 5-7.00 cover.

I have seen Charlie Farren, and Jon Butcher with guitar a player who toured with Joe Cocker..all for 7.00 and other quality cover bands that play a mix of 60s-90s.

Clearly the venue is paying some of the bands more than the cover brings in, which is smart and keeps people coming back for good food, drink and great music.
 

Bonzoholic

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We have a venue in town that before you even think about getting a weekend gig, you play a Thursday night slot from 6-10PM. You get $200.00 and a $50.00 food/drink tab. Not bad considering. But if you suck (the booking guy is also a local musician and attends all the Thursday gigs), you will NOT play on the weekends.
 

Coco Nabes

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Usually all you get where I live is two guys with guitars playing Sweet Caroline along to midi files and a drum machine. Slice up and not across...
 

tnsquint

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Reading all this, and the first time it came around is pretty heart breaking. I was playing clubs starting at the age of 15 in the late 70's and was playing two to three nights a week at anywhere from $50 - $150 per night. Occasionally as much as $250 which was a lot back then for a guy who wasn't even old enough to drive. The current live music scene for a typical working musician is dismal. There are a lot more opportunities for original music which is great, but earning a living from that has got to be more than tough.

Having said that, I am a little confused by the tone of the writer. I understand that he might be upset at the tone of club owners that would insist that they bring a crowd of some sort as part of the deal, but honestly, shouldn't that be one's goal in the first place? Otherwise we are just musicians that want someone to pay us to sit down and play. I suppose that is exactly what is happening when you hire a pianist to play as environment for a cocktail party, but if you are a club band, wouldn't one of your primary goals be to generate, maintain and increase a following? When questioned about that by a club owner, your answer should be "heck yeah we will pack the place!" That would seem to only make sense to me. Develop your act to where club owners would be fools not to book you. That is the definition of supply and demand.
 

biggator

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tnsquint said:
Reading all this, and the first time it came around is pretty heart breaking. I was playing clubs starting at the age of 15 in the late 70's and was playing two to three nights a week at anywhere from $50 - $150 per night. Occasionally as much as $250 which was a lot back then for a guy who wasn't even old enough to drive. The current live music scene for a typical working musician is dismal. There are a lot more opportunities for original music which is great, but earning a living from that has got to be more than tough.

Having said that, I am a little confused by the tone of the writer. I understand that he might be upset at the tone of club owners that would insist that they bring a crowd of some sort as part of the deal, but honestly, shouldn't that be one's goal in the first place? Otherwise we are just musicians that want someone to pay us to sit down and play. I suppose that is exactly what is happening when you hire a pianist to play as environment for a cocktail party, but if you are a club band, wouldn't one of your primary goals be to generate, maintain and increase a following? When questioned about that by a club owner, your answer should be "heck yeah we will pack the place!" That would seem to only make sense to me. Develop your act to where club owners would be fools not to book you. That is the definition of supply and demand.
I think it's more that the band is expected to do 100% of the promotion, where clubs used to do a big chunk of that (as it benefits them more than the band anyway). Considering how little the clubs pay now - you'd think that they wouldn't also expect the band do take care of everything.
 

lazer

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now we can see the benefit of agents back in the day taking care of the business and leaving the music to musicians

of course we bitched about them back then
 

DanC

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Much of the younger crowd does not care about live music any more. They prefer to sit there and play with their phones, considering a band to be an annoyance and a distraction.

The club owners think that having a website for their bar/restaurant is promotion enough. They don't want to spend money on newspaper ads, fliers etc. And there is a dwindling number of newspapers etc to buy ads from anyway.

A lot of club owners are poor businessmen. One wonders how they got the money to buy the bar in the first place. They never originally intended to have live music, but because of their poor business acumen their place runs into trouble, so they get the idea to have a band on Friday nights - thinking that spending $225 for a trio is going to solve all of their problems. When it doesn't, they blame the band, which results in the 'renegotiate at closing time' scenarios.

The clubs I see that bring in a lot of people are those that cater to the small part of the 21-29 crowd that want to get really drunk and dance. They have young bands that play current music, the bands play extremely loud, there are a lot of altercations in these places, the police are there a lot, etc. Most other club owners don't want that kind of grief, so they run a different type of place. The kind of places i've described above.

The advent of technology is a major factor behind all of this: there are so many entertainment choices; music has been devalued to where it's expected to be free no matter what; and sound systems are so good that for most folks live music doesn't matter anymore.

The crackdown on DUI drivers has also had an impact on the number of people who want to go out and get loaded and dance the night away. And that impact has really been felt among older people, which affects the bands like mine who play music the older folks might like to hear.

Too many bands don't behave professionally: they dress poorly (I hate seeing old guys dressed in baggy jeans, sneakers and t-shirts, unkempt long grey hair etc. They look like they don't care, so why should the customers care?) . Many times they're not very good and play the same old tired classic rock or blues - too loudly. Many of the players who might be more professionally oriented have given up playing because the money is so bad and the treatment from club owners is poor.
 

studrum

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Dan C has hit it right on the head about the smart phones and "The advent of technology..." bit. (Quote feature not working on this computer). These cultural trends have had a profound effect in the Detroit area on how folks are entertained. They do not seem to care as much about live music.
 

biggator

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studrum said:
Dan C has hit it right on the head about the smart phones and "The advent of technology..." bit. (Quote feature not working on this computer). These cultural trends have had a profound effect in the Detroit area on how folks are entertained. They do not seem to care as much about live music.
It's not just music (which, as an entertainment form, is generally now relegated to background music while doing something else) but just about everything. Sports stadiums are having a hard time filling seats (why not stay home and watch replays in HD on my 70" tv?), concerts are rarely sold out, movie theaters are hurting..
 

bellbrass

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Good cover bands are still making decent money in my area, but not like it was 15-20 years ago. A good buddy of mine runs sound for bands. I kind of got him started doing that in the early 90s. So, he ends up being the house sound guy at the hottest live club in town in the late 90s. The hottest cover band played New Year's Eve there one year, and the band made almost $10,000 between the club guarantee and tips. I didn't believe it, but my buddy is a straight shooter.

That club and many more have shut down since then. I think several things are at work here:

1. As mentioned elsewhere, tougher DUI laws, which have gotten more strict almost every year for quite awhile.

2. Younger patrons don't really want to hear "their" music played in clubs, and they don't really like 80s, 70s or anything "Classic Rock."

3. Raves and DJ-hosted events at bars. Enough said.

4. Bar owners that don't want to deal with bands. By this, I mean attitude. I was flabbergasted when I was once told that the main reason we are routinely booked at a particular club was because we didn't run up a high bar tab, didn't play intoxicated, didn't hit on the patrons (Ye Olde "I'm not going home alone after the gig" routine), and we treated the staff professionally. I thought all bands did this. Apparently not!
 

Professor1

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20 years ago in my town, you made at least $100 per man. Now my band is considered "high price" with 3 of us at $75 a man! Why? Because of second rate bands playing for free or close to it and Karaoke. NYE 1999 we got $1400 + $40 each in tips. NYE 2014 we got $500 + $11 each in tips and we played a casino! The economy is bad, but when we regularly play to 25+ people at a small bar who do stay all night by the way, and 200 people at a casino, the balance is shifted all the way to the side of the venue. If we're gonna get anywhere in this battle, we have to change the thinking on the part of these venue owners/managers. My hat is off to the guy that wrote that!
 

devinw

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This is pretty rampant here in Portland.

I just played a gig the other night and at this particular venue, ive seen quite a few great bands, and the place is always dead. Even the random few folks in there sit uninterested at the bar and ignore the bands. I said Finder it and booked my band and another AWESOME funk band. Seriously they are really good.

Anyway, end of story is each BAND made about $34 when it was all said and done. Maybe covered my gas to get other there. :-/
 


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