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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Gigging for a living?

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

  1. ce24

    ce24 Friend of Leo's

    Jan 26, 2008
    Idahoastan
    Don't expect to have any retirement......play till ya die if you can get gigs at 65 or older.....talent isn't very often rewarded....
     
    tonytrout and Chicago Matt like this.

  2. memorex

    memorex Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    67
    Jan 14, 2015
    Chicago
    At my age, I charge more for moving the gear than playing the gig.
     

  3. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Tele-Holic

    Age:
    55
    564
    Jun 7, 2017
    GCDB
    I'm also in the "not suited for much else"crowd; although such a thing did not exist I'm my youth, I am pretty sure I have a solid place on the "twice exceptional" spectrum. I find the whole world of work to be.. well bizarre. I have also tried to fit in, and have done some short spells in music related day jobs, but at the end of the day the same petty "caca del toro" is there. I also have a understanding spouse with a OK job w/ bennies. So I play when I can, and flip a little gear on the side. It's enough to give me pocket money, run a old car, and gives me time to help out friends and family (lots of people getting up in years) a bit. If you don't have another income stream,it's gonna be tough.
     
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  4. soulgeezer

    soulgeezer Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    52
    Nov 5, 2006
    Sinatra's World
    Here's my short answer:

    I spent the better-than-a-decade from from 1982 - 1993 as a full-time professional musician. When I decided to quit and go back to college, I had nothing - literally nothing! - saved, as it had all gone to rent, food, and the like. There wasn't much to begin with, and there was even less at the end.

    So, gigging is a feasible way to make a living and even kind of make ends meet. But, in my experience, it won't go much further than that, unless you're an original composer/artist who reaps residuals and other fees from your music.

    In other words, pray to God that you never have an accident and lose the use of your fretting hand. For a gigging musician, that'll probably put you about three minutes from being the crazy homeless guy that lives in the cardboard box on your corner!
     
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  5. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 26, 2003
    The North Coast
    Yep. One reason I don't own any power tools aside from a drill.

    I'm always conscious of my hands. Ropes, chains, fans, anything that spins or clamps, I stay away from.
     
    Chicago Matt likes this.

  6. johnny k

    johnny k Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 15, 2011
    France
    what do you mean, fretting hand ? have a look at the double bass guy.

     

  7. Endless Mike

    Endless Mike Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 2, 2016
    Arlington, Texas
    Depends on how you go about it. I know guys who have been very frugal, and smart about it, and have been setting aside for retirement and such. The trick is having either a) multiple income streams (gigs plus sessions and/or lessons, etc) or b) really hustling. This means searching out every possible avenue for gigs, musicians union, booking agent/management, etc. When things were busy, I sometimes had two or three gigs a day at least one day a week, in addition to playing two to six of the week nights, which meant having more than just clubs as my source for jobs.

    Also, a good musicians union provides health, medical and gear insurance. At least they did last time I checked, but yes, you pay for it.
     
    Chicago Matt likes this.

  8. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Tele-Holic

    Age:
    55
    564
    Jun 7, 2017
    GCDB
    Yep i didn't even own a power drill until a few years ago, not that you can't do some damage with hand tools, but a old Ditson saw or vintage Stanley brace & bit requires you to pay attention the whole time things are turning,cutting etc. They look nicer and are often free or close to it, which is what you will need most of your non musical possessions to be, if this is the life you choose.
     
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  9. Tim G

    Tim G Tele-Meister

    169
    Apr 10, 2011
    johnstown
    A lot depends on how you handle money. In the mid to late eighties I made a living playing my guitar. I bought my first house, always had a new or almost new car, retirement plan, and most of the things that people that worked a 9-5 job had. I worked 4-5 nights a week and did 6 jobs a week. Sometimes on Saturday I did 3 jobs with 3 different bands. I was a musical prostitute. I would play any job, any kind of music, as long as it paid enough. You couldn't be the good time guy that spent half of his pay buying everyone drinks.
     
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  10. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 23, 2014
    Woodstock
    I can relate to the "musical prostitute" thing.

    I've played professionally since 1966 or so. I did it full-time for a living from 1972 until 1992. Got on the radio a little in Atlanta, and was on TV a couple of times. Played clubs, one nighters, Off-Broadway theater gigs, a little session work, and some other stuff. I played in a lot of situations just for the money, and as I got older, it was becoming less and less satisfying. Shortly after my first two kids came around, I decided I needed to do something different. I was in my 40's, and the prospect of getting to that "next level" seemed pretty dim. I wanted to provide better for my family and be more present as a Dad and husband. So I changed careers. I'm glad I did. I'm making many times what I ever made as a professional musician and I work from home. I'm currently putting my last 2 of 4 kids through college. I'm 68 and am still working, mostly due to the fact that I hadn't saved a nickle prior to changing careers :cool:. While I've never totally quit playing professionally and I still get paid, I'm only doing it for the love of it today. I might even make enough to take the family out to a nice dinner a couple of times a month.
     
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  11. thegeezer

    thegeezer Tele-Holic

    Age:
    64
    527
    Jul 5, 2010
    West Michigan
    I've gigged since I was 15...49 years and counting. In the early days, you could actually put a little money in your pocket even as a fair-to-middling bar band, as long as you weren't too picky: teen clubs, bars of varying reputations, strip clubs. You name it. 100-200 bucks a night going back into the late 60s and early 70s. That's $600-1200 in today's money. And we did a lot of three night weekends. When I was in high school and college it was fun and even profitable...although I just did it for fun.

    By the 90s and 00s, the band I was in did 45-50 nights a year, at $500-800 per night. Still not bad for a bad habit but not like the old days.

    Now, we just call it what it is...what is it? A labor of love? An addiction? It doesn't matter. Some of us just can't stop. It's still fun.

    Although having said that, we (there are four of us) won't take a $200 gig. Not to say we won't sooner or later but we are still trying to push back a little on behalf of live music. Most of of our gigs are twice that. The price we pay is that we get fewer gigs than some, but we're still having plenty of fun. I chose to settle for that a long time ago and it's been good.
     
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  12. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Tele-Holic

    Age:
    55
    564
    Jun 7, 2017
    GCDB
    One of the things my group is running into is that promoters & organizers no longer want to pay the acts directly (we do a lot of community festival type things) they will give us a spot on the bill but if we want pay we are responsible for doing the leg work to get a local sponsor who can pop up a banner or get a little PA time, during our set. Often these people are more interested in bartering services "free oil change for each of you" than actually forking over some cash. I fear that making any money in a local semi pro type of group is going the way of the buggy whip.
     
    Chicago Matt likes this.

  13. thegeezer

    thegeezer Tele-Holic

    Age:
    64
    527
    Jul 5, 2010
    West Michigan
    To finish my thought (I digressed!). The band I was in while in high school was fairly popular in our part of the Midwest. By the summer of '70, we had attracted the interest of a couple of East Coast promoters. Long story short, it didn't work out. We were all heartbroken. I went on to college, married in my late 20s, had a good career that allowed me (with an equal contribution from my wife, by the way) to raise and educate 5 kids and plan for retirement.

    Point being, I came close to heading down that path but circumstances took me elsewhere. Nevertheless, I've had 49 years of fun on stage...countless nights, crowds from 35 to 3500, got to work in the studio on an album and an EP over the years and my name is in the credits...so a lifetime of memories and I add to it every weekend or two.

    So, do I wish that summer of '70 had gone the other way? Nah.
     
    DarkKnight37, ce24 and Chicago Matt like this.

  14. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 26, 2003
    The North Coast
    I'm glad I don't live where some of you guys do. One great thing about this market is that a musician can still make a living as a musician here.

    A full band gig for $200? Not on your life. I wouldn't even leave the house for that. I could make better money slinging fast food, and I wouldn't have to haul gear.

    That's a good price for a solo gig, if it's only two sets.
     
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  15. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    60
    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    The money has always been laughable, around here.
    I lived and toured (bar band) western Canada and made way better money.
    To be fair, it was years ago.
    This area is crawling with musicians, but the venues are rarely full.
    Being a working player has never been more challenging.
     
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  16. william tele

    william tele Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 7, 2009
    Kansas City, MO
    What I can't believe is how the cost of a live band has in no way kept pace with inflation. Our band of 15-17 year old kids was paid $200-$300 as a five piece in 1970-71 and that was pretty good for then.

    Does this jibe with your recollections of the era?
     

  17. Reggie77

    Reggie77 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    39
    91
    Jul 16, 2017
    Connecticut
    I was in a band back in my 20s, played weird music all over place to mostly indifferent or hostile crowds as various bars in the Tri-State area and Massachusetts... did it a few years, 4 hour practices every night, 5 hour gigs on the weekends... outside of being with friends and acting stupid together, I hated it ... total contempt for the audience... I wanted to be like Steely Dan in the 70s, living in the studio ignoring gigs

    I love to play but I have no desire to "perform"
     
    brookdalebill likes this.

  18. Doghouse_Riley

    Doghouse_Riley Tele-Holic

    Age:
    54
    733
    Sep 11, 2016
    L.A.
    Then whatever you do don't move to Southern California.

    This is what I don't understand. Why am I making less than I was 25 years ago? But obviously people don't value live music like they once did. Also, here in So Cal people seem to be just as happy and maybe even happier listening to a DJ or even karaoke.

    Because of work I have to go to my share of after events for trade shows. All these parties are DJ'ed. And I work in an industry that's is dominated by hippies. I tell them, real hippies listen to live music, not a Grateful Dead track put on by a DJ in dreads calling himself a hippie.

    Around here the only culture that seems to still appreciate live music are Latinos. I've often thought about cutting my hair and working on improving my Spanish. The leader of one of my old bands did and said he turns down gigs now.
     
    william tele, Jakedog and chiefline like this.

  19. Area51

    Area51 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    53
    234
    Nov 4, 2016
    New Mexico
    The only people I know who did/do it full time are similar to you; they either give/gave lessons or work on a guitars and do gear repair. Back in the '80s I knew some people who did as their job while in college. But I never new anyone who only gigged for a living, at least not for any significant time.

    It seems to me to be really tough nowadays, at least around here. The live music climate is different. Back in the '80s and early '90s there were lots of clubs and lines every evening to get in them. We would go early to get stamped and come back later. It's pretty dismal today in comparison.
     

  20. Endless Mike

    Endless Mike Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 2, 2016
    Arlington, Texas
    Doing nothing but gigs? I worked for three years in a band, the leader of which did nothing but gigs. We worked constantly.

    But as you said, all that has changed. People don't seem to value music the same any longer. I can't help but feel that modern music, music as a strictly consumable product, is somehow tied into this. I think the rise of hip hop and rap may play a role as well. I also suspect these things go in cycles, and will swing back around again.
     
    Huddy likes this.

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