Gig pay, 1979 vs 2021...

Cosmic Cowboy

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Another point worth making is the slow-bleeding death of the small concert venue. There used to be a plethora of small 250-1000 head venues that smaller touring acts used to hit coming through various cities.

These used to be the gigs that would pay fairly well, you got to open for known acts, meet the guys, sell some cd's and shirts...hang back stage...and be exposed to A&R people etc. Those venues are dying. The Pa*demic did not help.

It seems like things have shifted to a few festivals each season, with bills of dozens of bands over a day or two. Mostly either outdoors, or poor sounding impromptu sites. No soundcheck, short sets...no time to get the real mojo going.
 

Yesyoudidyouare

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I don't miss changing into stage clothes or a tuxedo in a toilet stall, although I got really good at having nothing but shoe soles ever touch the floor.

But the money was good for those types of gigs back then, enough to make a living. The crowds were fun, the camaraderie between band mates was good too.

so then what do you all do now for work? And how is the pay. I make 50k a year, I assume that’s low....
 

39martind18

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As a solo act then and now, with different markets, 1979 pay was around 100-125 per night for four hours, but working 5-6 nights/week, and often happy hour gigs, usually two hours, stacked in occasionally for a range of 150-200/ night. Now, especially with the "unmentionable," my market is solely senior living centers, with shows averaging 150 per one hour show, usually in the afternoon. Occasionally, I'm able to stack one gig at noon and another late afternoon. While the pay per hour rate is great, I have to submit invoices, which are sent to corporate offices, where the check is cut and sent back to the facility, and then usually mailed to me, resulting in a wait time of 25-30 days for my pay. That's the downside, upside being, when I get one or several checks in the mail, it's Christmas all over again, and my audiences love the music. However, my groupies are a bit long in the tooth or denture (but then again, so am I). :)
 

theprofessor

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There's always this pay scale from Woodstock. Carlos Santana only got $750, whereas Jimi Hendrix got $18,000. Inflation-adjusted to November 2021 from August 1969, that's $5,634 for Santana and $135,218 for Jimi. Holy fright! And Hendrix played before an extraordinarily diminished crowd on the extended last day, which consisted of a fraction of the people from previous days and a bunch of trash...


Woodstock pay scale.jpg
 

beyer160

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The club owner equation.

A. Hire a flakey band full of difficult personalities and of questionable quality. Pay them 300 to 500 bucks a gig. Total cost per month: $3000 to $5000


3. People leave my bar if the band is awful.

Q: How do you tell if a bar features live music?

A: If it's empty.


The market for live music (cover bands especially) has dwindled significantly over the last 20 years. DJs have more or less replaced the concept of live musicians in popular culture. Bands are basically Living History exhibits these days, we should all apply for grant money.
 

SRHmusic

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Q: How do you tell if a bar features live music?

A: If it's empty.


The market for live music (cover bands especially) has dwindled significantly over the last 20 years. DJs have more or less replaced the concept of live musicians in popular culture. Bands are basically Living History exhibits these days, we should all apply for grant money.
Around where I live, several decent cover bands do well enough (meaning to cover expenses etc., about $100 to $125 per musician), at an even larger number of bars, breweries and tap rooms. The crowds tend to be 25 or 30 years old up to about 70, with more of a gap in the late 30s and 40s probably the years with kids at home. For my band the younger ones dig good versions of classic tunes- esp. the ones that aren't overplayed. But it's a much smaller scene for original music and small venues as others noted.
 

mfguitar

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I have a tendency to spend way more on guitars than I make and I am OK with that.
We are actually a pretty busy country band considering there is not one "country club" in the area but prices have not changed considerably in the past 35-40 years. If you have to drive an hour to a gig we are under the minimum wage for this area. If I needed the money I could actually do better working at the local coffee shop part-time.
If you think about it the club would have to bring in 4x what they pay the band just to have a solid night and most of them don't. I feel very fortunate that we have as much work as we do.
 

radtz

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There's always this pay scale from Woodstock. Carlos Santana only got $750, whereas Jimi Hendrix got $18,000. Inflation-adjusted to November 2021 from August 1969, that's $5,634 for Santana and $135,218 for Jimi. Holy fright! And Hendrix played before an extraordinarily diminished crowd on the extended last day, which consisted of a fraction of the people from previous days and a bunch of trash...


View attachment 931536

At least Santana made more than Sha Na Nah...
 

Telekarster

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These days I'm in the recording studio and creating music, and re-recording some long lost songs via a buddy of mine. It's a heck of a swell time. However, there's a local band that is literally begging me to come out of the studio and sing/play for them. The thought of going back out on the road again, humping gear etc. for the same money I was getting paid 30 years ago just doesn't seem to be as appealing to me these days. I think I'll stay in the studio ;)
 

P-Nutz

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We’re a nine-piece cover band with our own equipment and sound tech. We charge $1100/hour with a two-hour minimum and no end of gigs in sight. Everyone walks with at least two Benjamins, including the band itself, which covers the cost of equipment maintenance, etc. Just bought a new board, our fourth over 21 years.

Played a three-hour wedding Saturday; got a $700 tip and two more gigs.

We do it for the fun, not the money, and, yes, I’m covered with tattoos and wear shorts on stage in the summer!
 

Edgar Allan Presley

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Everything is free now
That's what they say
Everything I ever done
Gotta give it away

Someone hit the big score
They figured it out
That we're gonna do it anyway
Even if it doesn't pay

I can get a tip jar
Gas up the car
And try to make a little change
Down at the bar

Or I can get a straight job
I've done it before
Never minded working hard
It's who I'm working for

 

Chicago Matt

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so then what do you all do now for work? And how is the pay. I make 50k a year, I assume that’s low....

At this point I'm retired. I played for a living for 25 years or so. Then I embarked on another career while I raised 4 kids into adulthood. I still played and did the occasional gig during those years. I now have a trio that plays out for the fun of it. We get paid $100 each plus tips which average $40 to $140. This seems about average for smallish clubs around here. Life is good.
 

0SubSeanik0

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One advantage of today vs. the past is that there are at least some alternate revenue sources that are more readily available: selling CD's (and other merch) at the show and/or online. Also marketing show dates/locations can be less time consuming and more effective with the help of social media, etc.
 

StrangerNY

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There's always this pay scale from Woodstock. Carlos Santana only got $750, whereas Jimi Hendrix got $18,000. Inflation-adjusted to November 2021 from August 1969, that's $5,634 for Santana and $135,218 for Jimi. Holy fright! And Hendrix played before an extraordinarily diminished crowd on the extended last day, which consisted of a fraction of the people from previous days and a bunch of trash...


View attachment 931536

Santana (not just Carlos - that $750 was for the whole band) worked cheap because Bill Graham called in a favor and got them on the bill. IIRC, their album hadn't even come out yet when they played Woodstock - they played on August 16, their album dropped on August 30.

Graham figured getting them in front of a big East Coast crowd couldn't hurt - they had only played around the Bay Area prior to the Woodstock gig.

- D
 

JL_LI

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I made the right choice in college. I started in biology and moved to engineering as bioengineering took off. The college I went to expected that I’d be a music major. I played in college. $50 sounds about right for a gig back then (1969). I chose the right career path for sure. I can enjoy music as an avocation. At 1/2M and up laser optics and imaging systems are a little too expensive for a hobby. One thing is certain. A career in bioengineering made for a comfortable retirement.
 
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