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Gigging for a living?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by chiefline, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. chiefline

    chiefline Tele-Holic

    Mar 18, 2014
    new jersey
    Was reading some posts and the term gigging for a living was brought up. I don't gig but always had the impression gigging was something players did for pure enjoyment. Remember people teling me they could never make much money at it. So do you gig for a living or just to have fun?

  2. soulgeezer

    soulgeezer Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 5, 2006
    Sinatra's World
    I gig part time as a job, not "for a living," but not "for fun," either. I generally do enjoy it, though. So, you make the call!

  3. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 16, 2014
    Auburn, California
    It's called being a pro. Best started when you're young and don't have responsibilities and can live in a van and survive on a few bucks a day until you get established. It's not easy, but it can be done.

    For the rest of us who missed that boat, gigging is something done for personal fulfillment or it can be a way to make extra money. I've got a friend who does weddings and stuff. Not the kinda stuff I want to play, but he makes up to $800 a month doing it.

  4. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Feb 12, 2011
    Yea, what he said. You can add Session work use to be good back in the day, but,
    I don't know anymore. A phenomonal guitarist buddy of mine did some in LA and Chicago
    but, that went south. He sells Xeroxs now.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
    T-bone Ted and Chicago Matt like this.

  5. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 21, 2011

  6. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 21, 2011
    Successful gig.

    KyAnne, ac15, '64 Tele and 2 others like this.

  7. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Jun 21, 2011

  8. ponce

    ponce Tele-Meister

    Dec 21, 2011
    I live for gigging

  9. radiocaster

    radiocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2015
    Some relatively well known bands were telling me that they actually lose money playing and getting paid by the clubs, so they make up for it by selling t-shirts and other merch.

  10. Endless Mike

    Endless Mike Friend of Leo's

    Nov 2, 2016
    Arlington, Texas
    I did it for nearly twenty years, although I taught lessons to supplement. At one time, you could play four to six nights a week here in Texas. I didn't have to live in a van, although I did occasionally travel to distant parts of Texas, or to Oklahoma and Louisiana. I made great money at it. If I could do it now, I wouldn't mind, but I'd rather be here to read my daughter her bedtime story each night.

    Sadly, the scene has changed here, and while those jobs exist, they aren't as plentiful. It helps to be in the musicians union too.

  11. Doghouse_Riley

    Doghouse_Riley Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 11, 2016
    Unfortunately so do most bar owners around here. That's how they justify paying 4 guys $200 for 4 hours of work. That's $12.50/hr for seasoned, pro players. Believe me, if I didn't enjoy it I wouldn't be doing it, but sometimes it just doesn't seem worth all the effort it takes to land a gig paying $12.50/hr.
    ac15, T-bone Ted, rogb and 3 others like this.

  12. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 26, 2003
    The North Coast
    Started when I was fourteen. Thirty years ago. I've tried to do other things now and again, but playing is the only thing that ever stuck. Nothing much else I'm all that suited for.

    It's true, you don't make much money. I make about half now what I made in the late 80's and early 90's. And I wasn't getting rich then.

    It's just what I do though. And I love it. It can be done, if you don't want or need a lot. It helps to have a solid spouse. My wife has an actual career that helps out with stuff like health insurance and a 401k.

    But the truth is, she just makes it easier. Even if I didn't have her, I'd still be doing this. Just living a different lifestyle.

    If a person wants things like a big house in the suburbs, a pool, a new BMW, and lots of toys and extras, it's probably not a good career choice. But if one values being able to play every day, make their own rules, wear what they feel like, drink beer at work, write off their gear purchases, sleep in as late as they want, and basically never grow up, it's definitely workable.

    Don't get me wrong, you still have to be an adult and act professionally, but it's in an entirely different way from being a stock broker, lawyer, doctor, CEO, salesman, etc. There's a certain freedom to it.

    And did I mention you get to play every day? And buy gear? And write it off? And seldom have to answer to anybody? And work in a different room every night?

    No staring at the same four walls day in and day out for years. Always meeting new people. Seeing new places.

    Some people save up all year to go see the Grand Canyon, or other national parks and such. I drive by them all the time and just stop for the hell of it. Same with museums, ballparks, even foreign countries. You only play a couple hours. If you're routed well, you only drive a few hours. That leaves a lot of day some days to see local attractions, go hiking, soak up the sights, etc.

    Not all pay is money. And money can't buy everything.

    Last run I spent a whole day at Canaveral National Seashore. Just cause it was there and I felt like it. I've done the same thing at Grand Teton, Joshua Tree, and dozens of other places.

    If I had to save money to go see these destinations as a tourist, I'd never get to go. I'd never have the travel time off, or the money to make a leisure trip. But as it is I get to see more awesome stuff in a year than most people see in a lifetime. It's worth it.
    joealso, suthol, ac15 and 12 others like this.

  13. Allen Peterson

    Allen Peterson Tele-Meister

    Sep 15, 2016
    Katy, Texas
    I determined long ago that by the time I loaded up, drove to the "gig," played the gig, tore down, and drove home I was making less than minimum wage, especially when I took into account the amount of money spent on gear. So, I decided that I was going to do it for fun. When it's no longer fun, I'll quit.

  14. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    That's me, too.
    Started at 16, 44 years ago.
    I still love it, and have lived for it since I started doing it regularly, at age 18.
    It's taken me places I would never get to go otherwise.
    I'm still improving, I'm still striving.
    School every day.
    I'm good enough that the phone always rings with guitar or bass gigs.
    I'm not good enough for anyone to know my name.
    Money ain't everything, and it's a good thing, 'cause it pays exactly the same as when I was young and good looking.
    I'll quit when I can't.
    Y'all keep me honest.

  15. paratus

    paratus Friend of Leo's Ad Free + Supporter

    Dec 2, 2010
    I used to earn my living by playing. Not always easy to do playing originals, and not always fun playing covers. I have no regrets, but I am happy to have found other opportunities. I kinda like playing what I like, and when I like these days.
    Chicago Matt and Jakedog like this.

  16. soul-o

    soul-o Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 29, 2007
    I make a decent living playing music, but I try balance that out with playing original music. You gotta do something for yourself musically so you can feel alright about playing the tunes that pay. Now, mind you, I genuinely enjoy entertaining audiences with music so it's not like I hate playing weddings and corporate events. I really think there's a lot to be said for being the humble servant, musically: being the guy who is there to play the tunes the average people want to hear. There's a certain selflessness and humility- two concepts one does not generally associate with musicians.
    It is certainly not for everybody. Most people don't want to give up every weekend of the Summer and miss all the cookouts and family gatherings.
    ac15, Hammerdog, Chicago Matt and 3 others like this.

  17. Endless Mike

    Endless Mike Friend of Leo's

    Nov 2, 2016
    Arlington, Texas
    This echos what Jerry Garcia said many times over the years he was alive. I'm of the same bent. I'm not suited for much else. The 'normal' world and I tend to disagree. I could be a working musician, a monastic or a stay at home dad. By pure serendipity, I evolved from working musician to stay at home dad. If I had not gotten married and had a kid, I'd be in a monastery about now, I'd wager.

    But you nailed it all on the head, especially about the lifestyle and non monetary compensation.

  18. TimothyC

    TimothyC Tele-Afflicted

    May 12, 2016
    If I could live off a few pitchers of Bud light, then I could say I gig for a living.
    Chicago Matt and Dismalhead like this.

  19. tonytrout

    tonytrout Friend of Leo's

    Mar 19, 2003
    Brasstown/Murphy, NC
    Since I'm not able to work a normal day job due to Cerbral Palsy & Hydrocephalus (even though the CP is considered mild, it definitely does cause issues walking and even standing in some cases (that and a bad back - mild scolioisis), music is all I've ever done in all of my 41 years here on Earth so, to me, it's both a past time & a career even if that 'career' is on a very small scale) and it gives me some extra money to play with.

    Actually, my gigging days may be at an end because the band I'm in hasn't worked a gig in nearly a year - and that last gig was last year's Fall Festival at the John C. Campbell Folk School here in Brasstown, NC and there aren't any scheduled future gigs so....I dunno what to really do with myself. Playing at home gets very boring after a while when you've played in front of hundreds to a few thousand people.

    I desperately need a gig - I want to fullfill my dream of having a replica Ludwig double-kick drum kit exactly like Ronnie Tutt used from 1970-1974. That one dream has been with me for over thirty years and, if it's the last thing I ever do, I want to make that dream a reality.

  20. Chick-N-Picker

    Chick-N-Picker Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 26, 2015
    North Carolina
    All I want is to play for a living. That and meet a girl that turns out to be my best friend.

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