Grim gig situation

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,982
Tucson
I agree. I invest in stocks and I always think about these get rich quick investment courses that if they are so good why are they selling you education on how to make in the market?
In order to make money in “the market”, that money has to come from someone who is positioned opposite to you. The more people trading the wrong side of a market move, the more the people on the “right side” will make. If I felt that I had an edge in the market, I might tell one trusted friend, but I would not advertise my position.
 

charlie chitlins

Synchromatic
Aug 4, 2008
666
The Berkshires
L&L


I've been retired for 14 years, and have no needs or wants.

Trade that for greasy guitars in smoky dives, working for spare change...

Sorry, Hard Pass.

BIB.
I will never have enough money to retire, and my needs are not going away.
I'll be in the smokey dives with a greasy guitar until they haul me out feet first.
Old Rockers never die.
We just smell that way.
 

juks

Country Gent
Gold Supporting Member
Nov 26, 2020
3,613
Fremont, California
A few days ago we had a deep and serious discussion between the band members.

We asked ourself whether there is any reason -besides socialising- to keep on rehearsing and whether to give up on this band.

The reason is the desolate gig situation over here in Germany after the desease.

For three years the cultural-scene came to a full stop.
In fact it collapsed completely to an extent that most of the better known and nationally active "middle class" musicians got a daytime job and left the business completely.
Nobody was able to survive three years without income except the already established stars of the scene who had the bigger savings-account or different scources of income than playing live, only.
It is a tragedy and an enormous cultural loss.

There are only a very few locations left that are offering live-music. And these are paying next to nothing. So they are booking mostly amateurs who are not dependent on money coming from playing live.
But who could blame them?
The audience has more than halved today.
Even on annual city-fairs that used to draw big crowds and pay good money for the bands.
Well-known bands who used to pack 400-person-clubs are drawing 100 people today while Genesis, Pink or Rammstein are selling out stadiums in less than an hour time one year ahead of the gig.
So a cool little live-music-location is not a business-model anymore these days.

Another effect was that most of the club`s contact-persons have been swapped out because of new owners or other circumstances. So most of the connections that you depended on in the past are gone.

I don`t want to lament but I am really clueless at this point.

I am aware that there are different scenes in different countries offering gigs and income for musicians like the big praise-and-worship community in the U.S. The many summer-vacation club-bands in Spain, Bulgaria etc.. And don`t forget the age-old buskering scene which died years ago over here. The only musicians that are playing here in the streets are beggars from other countries playing sad folksongs from their homecountries on their accordions...

Is social-media the new gig format?

Any fresh ideas?

That's sad to hear. When I lived in Germany in early 90s there was so much live music everywhere. We had a band and were the headlining act 2 years in a row at Boeblingen Stadfest. It was a blast to play in front of 5000 people. However, back then the pay was not great. My equal share was less than the cost of two sets of bass strings 😄. And Boeblingen was supposedly the richest city in Germany.

Granted, had they payed properly, we would not have gotten the gig as professional bands would have lined up. So we didn't mind.
 

Back in Black

Country Gent
Double Platinum Member
Jun 22, 2020
1,910
Ontario Canada
I agree, completely.

For several years, I made most of my living from playing and teaching. Eventually, I got to the point that I could barely stand to listen to music. It was a job, and like every job, you had to take the bad with the good. One thing that bothered me was something I observed when teaching in music stores; there seemed to be a lot of people caught in a nether-existence of not being all that busy as a musician, but too involved in music to have an outside career.

It was after that point, that I decided to separate music from my income stream. I probably performed in public less than 5 times, in the next 20 years. I did the occasional Jazz gig, for no pay, and I was reluctant, only playing when a friend needed help. i ended up in IT, and play a few gigs these days, almost all of which are for charity. I don’t take my music any less seriously, but I’m glad to be out of it, as a business.
Synchro,

Two guys I knew very well, one a friend, and the other a ''not a friend'' both thought that because they were reasonably good divers, that they knew all there was to know about running a dive shop.

Long story short, they robbed their future, their wives and families future, and ended up with nothing.

You can't live your lives making the same mistake over and over again, and expecting different results.

I'll repeat myself about never letting your loves interfere with your life.

My life plan was cast many many years ago...it was working then, and it's working now.

I was going to play this afternoon, but a few cupboard door adjustments in the new digs were the priority.

The guitars are all there, they'll be there tomorrow and the next day...and they owe me nothing!

Best,

BIB.
 

Back in Black

Country Gent
Double Platinum Member
Jun 22, 2020
1,910
Ontario Canada
I will never have enough money to retire, and my needs are not going away.
I'll be in the smokey dives with a greasy guitar until they haul me out feet first.
Old Rockers never die.
We just smell that way.
Hey Charlie,

If you're completely satisfied with that, then who am I to criticize anyone.

All I'm saying is it wouldn't work for me.

My career is fourteen past, and I still have my hobbies, guitars/technical scuba diving, neither cost me much at this point, and both owe me nothing.

Rock-On,

BIB.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,982
Tucson
It would be great to be able to make a living at a hobby you enjoy, but life rarely works that way. Beyond that, even if you find a way to make a living in an area of special interest, you still have to deal with the boring realities of business, such as paperwork, insurance, etc.
 

charlie chitlins

Synchromatic
Aug 4, 2008
666
The Berkshires
Hey Charlie,

If you're completely satisfied with that, then who am I to criticize anyone.

All I'm saying is it wouldn't work for me.

My career is fourteen past, and I still have my hobbies, guitars/technical scuba diving, neither cost me much at this point, and both owe me nothing.

Rock-On,

BIB.
Yup.
I get it.
The thing I sometimes have trouble explaining to people (mostly non-musicians) is, I'm a performer.
Not just a musician or guitar player.
The stage is my happy place.
When people say, "Why do you need gigs? You have guitars and can play them any time you want." Or, "If you want to play, get a band and just play for the love of music!" and the implication is, I'm selfish or some sort of narcissist.
Nobody would ever tell an actor, "If you want to act, jyst do it. Get some actor friends together and act in your garage for the love of it!"
I'm still not sure whence this desire to perform comes, and I no longer try to figure it out.
I just know it's there and it's built in to my body.
I have to do it like a beaver has to make a dam.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,982
Tucson
Yup.
I get it.
The thing I sometimes have trouble explaining to people (mostly non-musicians) is, I'm a performer.
Not just a musician or guitar player.
The stage is my happy place.
When people say, "Why do you need gigs? You have guitars and can play them any time you want." Or, "If you want to play, get a band and just play for the love of music!" and the implication is, I'm selfish or some sort of narcissist.
Nobody would ever tell an actor, "If you want to act, jyst do it. Get some actor friends together and act in your garage for the love of it!"
I'm still not sure whence this desire to perform comes, and I no longer try to figure it out.
I just know it's there and it's built in to my body.
I have to do it like a beaver has to make a dam.
I understand that, completely.

For myself, I love to play for an audience, but I hate the money end of it. At least for the time being, I make a good salary, and have no need of money from gigs. I played some paying gigs, a number of years ago, and it was the same old song a dance. We had a contracted amount, but the manager tried to stiff us, because the bar didn’t do as well as he expected that night. Dang! Happens every time I play diminished chords. :)
 

stiv

Country Gent
Sep 12, 2014
2,732
Firenze, Italy
When people say, "Why do you need gigs? You have guitars and can play them any time you want." Or, "If you want to play, get a band and just play for the love of music!" and the implication is, I'm selfish or some sort of narcissist.
I'm on the same page.
"For the love of the music" is something that doesn't apply to me. It never did. If it was "for the love of the music" only, I could have carried on to just listening to records without any need to learn to play an instrument or do a live gig.
To me it's always 'form a band-write music-rehearse-record (in order to)-play live gigs' . Any missing link of these chain would make me loose interest in any music project.
Do I play at home alone? Sure, but just because I love my gear. And 99% of the time thinking about how to use it on a live situation.
The only exception I could make to that chain is if I'm learning a new instrument.

That's why I started to play piano ;)... I couldn't do live gigs, so I tought I could use that time to learn something I always wanted to. But hey, the exception lasted 3 years.
Last weekend I played piano in my first blues combo. I'm bad, but not bad enough to be kept out of a live situation. We are already rehearsing to debut over the summer. :)
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
19,398
lafayette in
I was lucky. My background in music helped me in my career as a stagehand. Add in the fact that I knew how to run projectors (since grade school) and knew my way around electronics/sound gear added a lot. I've been the AV geek since grade school. I picked up a lot of that from my Dad. Getting an education in technical theater was the icing on the cake. I realized long ago that making a living as a musician would be a tough row to hoe. Still, all the peripheral things I picked up along the way helped immeasurably. A lot of the success in a music career is skill and perseverance, but a lot of luck is needed as well. I'd estimate the chance of major success is under 1%.

I had a chance at working with an internationally known group. I was looking for work and I'd only been married for less than a year. I knew that being on the road would kill a marriage, so I gave up music for love. We've been together nearly 50 years. I think I made the right choice.
 
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Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,982
Tucson
I was lucky. My background in music helped me in my career as a stagehand. Add in the fact that I knew how to run projectors (since grade school) and knew my way around electronics/sound gear added a lot. I've been the AV geek since grade school. I picked up a lot of that from my Dad. Getting an education in technical theater was the icing on the cake. I realized long ago that making a living as a musician would be a tough row to hoe. Still, all the peripheral things I picked up along the way helped immeasurably. A lot of the success in a music career is skill and perseverance, but a lot of luck is needed as well. I'd estimate the chance of major success is under 1%.

I had a chance at working with an internationally known group. I was looking for work as I'd only been married for less than a year. I knew that being on the road would kill a marriage, so I gave up music for love. We've been together nearly 50 years. I think I made the right choice.
I think that you may have had the best compromise. Making a living by performing is rough. It’s not just a matter of getting the gigs, or being able to do the gigs; it’s a matter of lifestyle.

There is a distinct memory I have of struggling up a stairs at 2-3 AM, schlepping a huge amplifier, after a gig. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, I was usually exhausted, completely spent, not only physically, but emotionally.

Unless you are a name artist, at the top of the profession, you are likely to be playing material that you don’t necessarily enjoy playing. When I was young, and fancied myself a Jazz purist, I was playing Country gigs, and hating it. I no longer feel that way, and enjoy Country, but at the time, I preferred to play 10,000 chords a night to an audience of 3, instead of playing 3 chords to an audience of 10,000. :)

Within a few years, I figured out that I preferred not to make a living from music, and I’ve never looked back, since. I still love to play for an audience, but I find that when I take money out of the equation, it’s a lot more enjoyable. Most of the gigs I’ve played in tne last 12 years have been benefits, community events, etc. the handful of paying gigs I did, a few years back, were hardly worth the effort.

There’s nothing new about this. Bach played gigs, and so did Mozart. In the classical era, many composers relied upon wealthy patrons to keep bread on the table. In the Big Band era, individual musicians were treated like cattle, if they were fortunate, and like mosquitos, if they weren’t.

Songwriters made money, but musicians usually subsisted. For much of history, musician was a fairly low rung on the socio-economic ladder. Recordings changed that picture for a while, but there is little money in recorded music, these days. There are specialized areas where money flows; I would presume that movie soundtrack work still pays well, because of the technical demands of playing to such strict timing requirements, but the days of the highly paid session musician are not what they were in the ‘60s.

In a sense, it’s not so much that this is a new situation, but instead that things are reverting to the historic norm. I have no interest in having music be my primary source of income. I have had several people suggest that I might do some Jazz guitar, in my retirement years, and I don’t rule it out, but I really prefer not to travel. If I did, it would be very limited.

Everything changes with time. My great-grandfather repaired violins from a tiny shop in his back yard. That would be a wonderful way to make a living, but not realistic, in our day. I have a friend who was born in the ‘60s. He has never made a living at anything except music, other than a handful of jobs t9 fill in the gaps, after he had moved and was waiting to establish himself in a new locale, but his accomplishments would be unrepeatable, these days.

Somehow, we will all muddle through.
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
19,398
lafayette in
I think that you may have had the best compromise. Making a living by performing is rough. It’s not just a matter of getting the gigs, or being able to do the gigs; it’s a matter of lifestyle.

There is a distinct memory I have of struggling up a stairs at 2-3 AM, schlepping a huge amplifier, after a gig. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, I was usually exhausted, completely spent, not only physically, but emotionally.

Unless you are a name artist, at the top of the profession, you are likely to be playing material that you don’t necessarily enjoy playing. When I was young, and fancied myself a Jazz purist, I was playing Country gigs, and hating it. I no longer feel that way, and enjoy Country, but at the time, I preferred to play 10,000 chords a night to an audience of 3, instead of playing 3 chords to an audience of 10,000. :)

Within a few years, I figured out that I preferred not to make a living from music, and I’ve never looked back, since. I still love to play for an audience, but I find that when I take money out of the equation, it’s a lot more enjoyable. Most of the gigs I’ve played in tne last 12 years have been benefits, community events, etc. the handful of paying gigs I did, a few years back, were hardly worth the effort.

There’s nothing new about this. Bach played gigs, and so did Mozart. In the classical era, many composers relied upon wealthy patrons to keep bread on the table. In the Big Band era, individual musicians were treated like cattle, if they were fortunate, and like mosquitos, if they weren’t.

Songwriters made money, but musicians usually subsisted. For much of history, musician was a fairly low rung on the socio-economic ladder. Recordings changed that picture for a while, but there is little money in recorded music, these days. There are specialized areas where money flows; I would presume that movie soundtrack work still pays well, because of the technical demands of playing to such strict timing requirements, but the days of the highly paid session musician are not what they were in the ‘60s.

In a sense, it’s not so much that this is a new situation, but instead that things are reverting to the historic norm. I have no interest in having music be my primary source of income. I have had several people suggest that I might do some Jazz guitar, in my retirement years, and I don’t rule it out, but I really prefer not to travel. If I did, it would be very limited.

Everything changes with time. My great-grandfather repaired violins from a tiny shop in his back yard. That would be a wonderful way to make a living, but not realistic, in our day. I have a friend who was born in the ‘60s. He has never made a living at anything except music, other than a handful of jobs t9 fill in the gaps, after he had moved and was waiting to establish himself in a new locale, but his accomplishments would be unrepeatable, these days.

Somehow, we will all muddle through.
If you want to make money playing music, you've got to have an audience. Simple.
My Dad always recommended I get into a polka band. Of course, I thought he was nuts. Then I met three guys who put themselves thru Notre Dame playing Polish weddings and for the VFW/American Legion crowds when not doing weddings. Playing weddings also got you a big meal and an open bar, not to mention all of the cute girls that were there. Great music? Probably not if you were a rock & roller. Still, when the entire crowd is up and dancing it can be a rush. The hall breathes with the crowd. Ethnic weddings are usually fun.
Except for Lent and Advent, you've got steady work.

Still, I couldn't fathom playing polkas for a living in a million years. I played a couple of weddings, as a favor. Never again. Parents were the biggest PITA ever. I made more money installing PA gear without ever having to bend over backwards for a mother-in-law with a bad attitude.

Tried the country club circuit---think Murph & the Magictones. No one really paid attention to the band, and it was hard to hear yourself play over the audience talking and the clinking of glasses and dinnerware. Choice of music sucked as well. I appreciated the choices I made.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
You mentioned Bach & Mozart. Bach led the house band for royalty. The Brandenburg Concerti was after dinner music for the rich. Back then, if you didn't have a rich, royal patron, you didn't have a job. Not much different now. Musicians, like artists, have to suffer for their art.
 
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Rock Lajoint

Synchromatic
Gold Supporting Member
Nov 16, 2014
649
Sussex, England
I mentioned a couple of months ago the situation at our British Legion club, finances very tight and they were looking to get bands playing on a percent of takings basis.

This was all brought about due to the lockdowns and the Legion membership being generally of a more senior age group. A lot of members still don't go out to pubs or any sort of social gathering, partly out of fear, partly changed habits.

I play open mics and occasional friends parties but I agreed to play Sunday afternoons now and then at the Legion, purely to entertain my friends. This worked well.

Sad to say, despite the extra cash that was coming in when I played, and when some other friends played, the Legion club has closed.

So we've lost a nice little local venue for 'small' bands. That alone is half the small venues in our (large) village gone.
 

Londoner

Gretschie
Dec 18, 2020
437
UK
I mentioned a couple of months ago the situation at our British Legion club, finances very tight and they were looking to get bands playing on a percent of takings basis.

This was all brought about due to the lockdowns and the Legion membership being generally of a more senior age group. A lot of members still don't go out to pubs or any sort of social gathering, partly out of fear, partly changed habits.

I play open mics and occasional friends parties but I agreed to play Sunday afternoons now and then at the Legion, purely to entertain my friends. This worked well.

Sad to say, despite the extra cash that was coming in when I played, and when some other friends played, the Legion club has closed.

So we've lost a nice little local venue for 'small' bands. That alone is half the small venues in our (large) village gone.
When I first started playing Legions we were told "No Rock 'n Roll". Now they ask "Can you do more Rock 'n Roll"!
But not many Legions left now. Was always regular work in the 60's through to the 80's.
Closing down due to high rents and no new members joining, as the older members pass away.
I think they will soon be a thing of the past.
At one time there was about 5 or 6 in my local area, only one left now sadly, and just a shadow of it's former glory.
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
19,398
lafayette in
When I first started playing Legions we were told "No Rock 'n Roll". Now they ask "Can you do more Rock 'n Roll"!
But not many Legions left now. Was always regular work in the 60's through to the 80's.
Closing down due to high rents and no new members joining, as the older members pass away.
I think they will soon be a thing of the past.
At one time there was about 5 or 6 in my local area, only one left now sadly, and just a shadow of it's former glory.
Back in the '60s, Legion members were all WWII vets. Same with the VFW and DAV.
When we got back from Viet Nam, they didn't want us there.
No wonder no one's joined since the '70s. No one to blame but themselves.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,982
Tucson
Back in the '60s, Legion members were all WWII vets. Same with the VFW and DAV.
When we got back from Viet Nam, they didn't want us there.
No wonder no one's joined since the '70s. No one to blame but themselves.
I played a Moose Lodge, back in the late ‘70s. The people there were all WW II era, and most of them just needed a place to hang out on weekends and pickle their livers. Most of the members were veterans. They seemed to take a dim view of anyone outside their age-peer-group.
 


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