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View Full Version : How much does your band get for a bar gig?


rowdyyates
07-13-2010, 08:31 AM
I've been playing for a long time. Around here, bar's don't pay any more than they did 30 years ago. If you can get $400 or so you're doing great. Some have dropped down to $250. Just not owrth it for a 5 piece band.

germs
07-13-2010, 08:54 AM
this is something we usually don't discuss, but in the name of internet annonymity(sp?) i'll tell you:

the most popular live music venue in town pays an average of $600 a night to a okay-to-good cover band. most bands have 4-5 members and run their own PA from the stage, so they're able to make $100/man and put a bit into a group band fund.

by comparison, most original bands play for the door. only the top tier original bands are able to get guarantees. as you can imagine, pay fluctuates, but is usually about $150 for the whole band. and that's cramming 4+ bands on a bill at a popular venue for that sort of thing.

for corporate/event bands, the sky's the limit. i've seen prices range anywhere from $800-4000. all depends on how you're able to market yourself and how good you actually are. usually they hire out sound when it's not venue or contract provided, and are able to make a living being musicians.

that was sort of general, but it seems to be that way across the country. so, at least we're all getting screwed pretty much equally.

on a personal note, my original band played a 1 hour set this past Saturday at a solo show and charged a $5 cover. we made $1K at the door, plus merch sales. that's a bit on the high side for us, as we usually come out with about $400 at the end of the average night. on the down side, our merch sales are dropping off as our market is almost saturated. that is, the people who are gonna buy our CD and shirts have already done so.

my festival/event band works for a contract. our minimum is $1K for a 2 hour set and that's with the venue providing sound at their expense. i average about $200-250 a night for a 4 hour show, and the most i've ever personally made is about $500 before taxes. we're officially a business with this band, so it's not quite cash-in-hand like i was used to...i pay taxes upfront to avoid getting slammed in April, and do okay with it.

Jazzydave
07-13-2010, 09:10 AM
Germs makes a good point here - cover charges. Let's face it, if you're good enough and people dig you, you can make much more having someone work the door. Let me give you an example...

A few years ago I was at a jazz club I would hang out at quite bit on nights I didn't perform. I knew they didn't do solo acoustic guys on the weekends but I had been itching to perform there for months. One night I overhear the mgr saying that their Sat night band had cancelled and they didn't have time to schedule someone. So, I stepped in and offered to perform. She was a bit hesitant since I was a solo act but I told her that I'd take whatever we made at the door - that way she didn't lose a dime on the deal and it was up to me to bring the people in. Keep in mind this was a venue where the music was a HUGE part of their income...if the word got out that there wasn't an act, not many people would show up.

So, at the end of the night I walked away with nearly $600 and officially become the "fill in" guy for the venue. It got to a point where I was doing at least 2-3 nights a week there with a minimum of $500/night. Also keep in mind that they were paying some big band acts as much as $2-3k/night so it was a hell of a deal for them and I could bring in just as many people as the other bands.

Now I realize this was an abnormal situation but my point is that the opportunities are out there - you just have to know how to open that door and work them.

And, let me toss this out there...if you're not using the "music" as a sole income to survive, what does it really matter? If you're playing note for note covers all night, what's the difference between you and the jukebox? In those situations, it should be about having fun, playing the music you love, and not being greedy. When I hear bands full of lawyers, doctors, etc whining about how they're not making any money on the scene it annoys the hell out of me. That's just plain ol' greed and is what got us into this whole mess of a music industry in the first place...

I promise that if you play FOR THE MUSIC, all of the other benefits of being in a great band will come to you.

fredgarvin
07-13-2010, 09:13 AM
Those are the sad facts. I was trying to tell some kids on here that think 'it's better than it's ever been' about it but they didn't want to believe it. When I started in 1973 I got $50 clear a night. Later it was $100. That was for anything from 3 to six nights a week, depending on the venue. That went a lot further back then. Especially if they threw in a band house. Not to mention there were paying bars just about everywhere...

joemilitello
07-13-2010, 09:14 AM
A pittance, free beer, and, hopefully, a good time.

I live in the sticks.

Gas-man
07-13-2010, 09:16 AM
I promise that if you play FOR THE MUSIC, all of the other benefits of being in a great band will come to you.

Come on now.

That kind of sentiment SOUNDS great and feels great to write, but puhleeze.

"Do what you love and the money will follow" is basically what you are saying.

How many bands have believed this and ended up with a one-way ticket to Palookaville?

As uncool as it may be, you have to decide what will work in your market. What songs people want to hear...

Just doing what you like aint gonna get it done unless you want to play for 50 bucks to ashtrays.

FFTT
07-13-2010, 09:22 AM
I sure can't argue with anything above.

30 years ago, we were getting $300.00 per night average, until we re-organized our set list and developed a fairly strong following.

Our best one night draw from door receipts alone would have paid us $1400.00 for
the night with a $2.00 cover.

We were breaking all kinds of attendance records for these small clubs and the people
were drinking like fish and having a blast.

It's a shame the band broke up shortly thereafter having finally built that kind of following. We did manage to pay off our $24,000.00 PA system, but everyone
was just burnt out, getting married starting to raise a family etc.

A few of my friends are working in agency bands doing embassy functions, weddings etc, making $2500-$5000.00 per night, but I'd rather slit my wrists.

Jazzydave
07-13-2010, 09:40 AM
Come on now.

That kind of sentiment SOUNDS great and feels great to write, but puhleeze.

"Do what you love and the money will follow" is basically what you are saying.

How many bands have believed this and ended up with a one-way ticket to Palookaville?

As uncool as it may be, you have to decide what will work in your market. What songs people want to hear...

Just doing what you like aint gonna get it done unless you want to play for 50 bucks to ashtrays.

Now I never said you'd get rich or make any money for that matter. Benefits of music to me are far beyond monetary values and I've been fortunate enough to sustain myself due to the generosity of those who support me as an artist.

Hey, there are plenty of bands out there who are decent and willing to perform for free...so why should a venue that's primary focus is alcohol sales pay big bucks for a band that's not going to bring in much more people than the "free" one?

I have nothing against listening to cover bands but let's face it, you're not going anywhere in a band like that - it has to be for the fun of it in those situations. The majority of people I know who are in successful cover bands do it for the fun of it and have great day jobs to support it. Most of the people I've met on here are in that same boat.

So, "Do what you love and the money will follow?" as my theme for this thread? Nope. I will say this though, when you put the proper time, effort, and passion behind what you love, people WILL notice. There are always those without any real talent that slip through the cracks but we know the difference...

jmecale72
07-13-2010, 09:41 AM
Around our area all bars pay $300 a night, which is decent if you are a three piece group. However, we have a six piece group which is $50 a night per man. I think the hardest thing for our group is that we don't play music that is the norm for other groups in our area. (country) We are a variety band that plays R&B, rock, and spanish covers. There is only one bar in our town that will cater to our style of music and they only book one night at a time.

Devnor
07-13-2010, 09:45 AM
My piano teacher (brilliant dude) clears $350+ a night playing in one of the premier Dallas cover bands. The venues & women are amazing but I've seen the set lists & they could not pay me enough to play those tunes. UNT 1 o'clock lab band guys playing GaGa & U2. No thanks. What a waste :bonk

jiml
07-13-2010, 09:52 AM
We did manage to pay off our $24,000.00 PA system, .

YIKES! Where were you playing that you needed that big of a system?

We get between $300 and $1500, the latter being some corporate stuff we pick up from time to time.

27sauce
07-13-2010, 09:57 AM
We average about $500 in town, (San Antonio) if we play out in the sticks its aroun $1000. 5 guys including a soundguy.

tiptone
07-13-2010, 09:57 AM
I take the attitude that I'll play for free, but need to be paid to haul my gear around. :)

We've done anything from benefits for $0 up through private parties with a high so far of $1,000. Our minimum for bar/club gigs is $350, which gives us roughly $60 each with a little for the band fund.

FFTT
07-13-2010, 10:03 AM
YIKES! Where were you playing that you needed that big of a system?

We get between $300 and $1500, the latter being some corporate stuff we pick up from time to time.

That was a 4 way PA 24 channels along with the rack and power amps.

Average club sizes seating 250+

5 members of the group all with vocals and the keyboard player's brother ran sound, so yeah $300.00 split 6 ways was not an easy way to make a living.

The drummer also owned a 16 foot small moving van to carry everything.

Jazzydave
07-13-2010, 10:10 AM
I take the attitude that I'll play for free, but need to be paid to haul my gear around. :)

We've done anything from benefits for $0 up through private parties with a high so far of $1,000. Our minimum for bar/club gigs is $350, which gives us roughly $60 each with a little for the band fund.

I hear you on that...it really all depends on the situation. You can't pay me to play at some places...others I gladly set up for "free."

Truth is, I usually avg somewhere around $150-200+ just sitting in a coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon doing originals and my favorites from the past. That's not including free drinks, meals, and having the opportunity to perform for people that are actually listening to my music!

Real quick, PLEASE don't think I'm bashing any of you that are in cover bands...I know there's a huge market for solid groups like that and I truly appreciate all it takes to be in a successful one.

Gas-man
07-13-2010, 10:10 AM
Now I never said you'd get rich or make any money for that matter. Benefits of music to me are far beyond monetary values and I've been fortunate enough to sustain myself due to the generosity of those who support me as an artist.

Hey, there are plenty of bands out there who are decent and willing to perform for free...so why should a venue that's primary focus is alcohol sales pay big bucks for a band that's not going to bring in much more people than the "free" one?

I have nothing against listening to cover bands but let's face it, you're not going anywhere in a band like that - it has to be for the fun of it in those situations. The majority of people I know who are in successful cover bands do it for the fun of it and have great day jobs to support it. Most of the people I've met on here are in that same boat.

So, "Do what you love and the money will follow?" as my theme for this thread? Nope. I will say this though, when you put the proper time, effort, and passion behind what you love, people WILL notice. There are always those without any real talent that slip through the cracks but we know the difference...


You said if you play what you love "All of the benefits of being in a great band will come to you".

That usually includes dough.

That is much different than "People will notice" which is what you seem to have meant.

boldaslove1977
07-13-2010, 10:12 AM
4 guys in a cover band... the band gets anywhere from 400-1000 depending on the venue and night of the week.

it's not as much as i think we deserve... and it's def. not as much as some other bands who play the same scene as us... but they've been doing it longer. some of the bigger-name, longer-running acts can get a couple grand for bigger venues.

BIGGERSTAFF
07-13-2010, 10:19 AM
Most of the places in my area are in the $350-500 range, though some will go higher than that.

clarkram
07-13-2010, 10:20 AM
I'm in the northern suburbs of Atlanta (Cherokee/Cobb county) and we usually get 450-550,(sports bar type places) five piece mainly blues band.

In the smaller "blues" venues it drops to 200-250, but these are small joints.

Bobby D
07-13-2010, 10:38 AM
AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE :rotflmao

no less than $125 a man, usually $150 a man, and some times $200 a man.

Bluzeboy
07-13-2010, 10:38 AM
generally for a local bar.. 600 a night.

FFTT
07-13-2010, 10:39 AM
If you broke the money down by the hour including arrival time and departure time,
most bands are earning below minimum wage.

We stopped doing one nighters because you were talking a 10-12 hour day to
play 5 40 minute medley sets.

A few rules that changed everything.

We were not up there to impress ourselves or other musicians.
If a song failed to fill the dance floor it was dropped.
The ladies wanted to dance, so if you bring in the ladies,
the house has a good time.
No less than 2 new songs a month and they had to be fun!
We tried to draw from all time hits and something from the top 10
that month, if possible.
PARTY TUNES! Strong Vocals, hard stuff and easy stuff.
Try to think of the songs that a national act might pick for their encore.
That kind of energy.

Even if you were up there playing with the Flu.

If you want to earn a living playing music.

Be the best time they ever had.

shark_bite
07-13-2010, 11:07 AM
I make a million dollars per gig. I am awesome.

Telecaster62
07-13-2010, 11:07 AM
4 piece cover band. Our minimum is $450 for small bars. We are playing this Saturday for $800 and got $500 this past Friday night. This is our usual scenario. We use a hired soundman on our bigger gigs and most of them pay at least $650. The most we have made in this band is $1250 and the least is $450.

The Kid
07-13-2010, 11:15 AM
I make a million dollars per gig. I am awesome.

I make at least twice as much per gig as shark bite and I'm terrible. ;)

bluesbreaker59
07-13-2010, 11:27 AM
We're a 3 piece roots rock, rockabilly, 50's and 60's honky tonky country and blues band, mostly rockabilly and old country. All covers. We average about 125-200 per man per night, most of the time around $150 per man. Sometimes $300-400+ per guy, depends on the gig.

I have basic rules for my band:

All songs should be 3 chords or less
No metal guys running sound
All music should be danceable
Look and sound should be authentic as possible to the genre
No drunks, no drugs, no drama

If I really wanted to make money, I'd lose my gut and pompadour and go play in a modern country / (bad) southern rock band that did a few Mustang Sally type songs. But I want to look at myself in the mirror and not be ashamed at the end of the night.

B Money
07-13-2010, 11:32 AM
4 piece cover band, doing stuff like Weezer, Lit, Cheap Trick, Bon Jovi, etc. We get anywhere from $400 to $600 (usually $400).
We setup and run our own PA and lights. That's typical for this area and the size bars we play. I think a few of the more popular cover bands that can fill a larger room are probably hauling in $800 to $1500 or more per night.

My band is nowhere near that level! I think we're pretty good, but we don't have much of a following.

M Fowler
07-13-2010, 11:36 AM
Four piece band $100 each and with five piece $100 each, its hard for most places to pay more.

New Years eve it has gone as much as $1200.

Oldies, Classic rock and limited country music.

mtmartin71
07-13-2010, 11:40 AM
4 piece cover band, doing stuff like Weezer, Lit, Cheap Trick, Bon Jovi, etc. We get anywhere from $400 to $600 (usually $400).
We setup and run our own PA and lights. That's typical for this area and the size bars we play. I think a few of the more popular cover bands that can fill a larger room are probably hauling in $800 to $1500 or more per night.

My band is nowhere near that level! I think we're pretty good, but we don't have much of a following.

You sound just like my band...

I'm in the Denver area and it seems to average between $400-$600 for a bar gig. There are 4 of us so we're shooting for at least $100/member a gig. Most gigs are 10-1:30a but we've done some marathon 9-1a gigs too.

FFTT
07-13-2010, 11:41 AM
Once in a while it can really help you to build a following playing a free mini concert
on the town square or a local park or school.

You still have to come through on the fun factor, but this can be a great way
to get a buzz going around town that gets people to show up for a reasonable cover
the next time you're in town.

You are self employed and set your own pay by the number of people you can draw in.

Gas-man
07-13-2010, 11:42 AM
Once in a while it can really help you to build a following playing a free mini concert
on the town square or a local park or school.

You still have to come through on the fun factor, but this can be a great way
to get a buzz going around town that gets people to show up for a reasonable cover
the next time you're in town.

You are self employed and set your own pay by the number of people you can draw in.


As the old saying goes, people die from exposure.

No exposure gig has ever amounted to jack for me, so I avoid them like the plague that they are.

FFTT
07-13-2010, 11:44 AM
Times are different.

It's how my first group got signed back in the 70's

I was fortunate enough to get my advice directly from Alice Cooper.

We had a great talk about the 7 years they had worked together before
they started making any real money and the lessons learned in the process.

Starting out today as an all original act has considerably lower potential for success,
but if you stand any chance at all, you have to put yourself above the average.

Mickey Shane
07-13-2010, 11:50 AM
I played in a modern rock cover band that got $875 per night (4 piece). The association with a certain well known local management company that books the A-clubs didn't hurt.

It was a tough row to hoe. You had to be set up and sound checked by 2:00 PM. You had to play at least 3 nights a week, often in 3 different clubs. Having a day job and that night job wore me down pretty good. I did have tons of fun, so, no remorse. It was a bit strange playing for 20 somethings when I was 50. But we were well received.

I tried to retire from music after that band. No such luck. Now I'm bustin' my chops to play in a country band. The guys are gung-ho! Here we go again!

2HBStrat
07-13-2010, 11:52 AM
...we were getting $300.00 per night average, until we re-organized our set list.....

Please elaborate.

rowdyyates
07-13-2010, 11:52 AM
We've started playing 3 hour gigs in the places that can't pay much. Some fo the most fun gigs are in some of the smaller places. 3 hours relly isn't less work but I do get to bed earlier. We start at $1K for weddings and private parties; $2K if it's out of town, but those gigs seem to be going to DJ's a lot these days.

defcrew
07-13-2010, 12:05 PM
Economics often dictates the size of the band. A guy with an acoustic probably is going to do beter financially in the long run than anyone. And that is kind of a fun bag in and of itself but form me I prefer the push and pull of a big band--sax, couple gtrs, keys, bass, drums, a singer or two. But it is impossible to really make anything that way and play what you want. In the last few years I've always skipped getting paid myself and let the others divide it just to keep the players. I actually find the whining about pay kind of funny in an annoying way mainly for its predictability. what do they call insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting differetn results? I guess frat parties are historically pretty good paying gigs and I've made a few decent pay days on that route before but never really tapped into it well enough to really bank like some groups have. I was too stubborn about my set list!

zestystrat
07-13-2010, 12:05 PM
To the OP I think there is a big distinction if you are asking for a cover band or an all original band.

germs
07-13-2010, 12:10 PM
To the OP I think there is a big distinction if you are asking for a cover band or an all original band.

then you should make that distinction when you post. common sense should dictate this. every poster within 3 pages has managed thus far.

IGuitUpIGuitDown
07-13-2010, 12:15 PM
To the OP I think there is a big distinction if you are asking for a cover band, or an all original band.

Absolutely. And with ticket prices for the original bands skyrocketing, a great tribute band (they DO exist) is a tempting alternative.

I'm in that type of band. And the buzz we've generated, even before playing out, is indeed surprising. The demos we've played for others have been compared to the original band's outtakes. They like what they've heard, and are willing to come investigate.

FFTT
07-13-2010, 12:20 PM
Please elaborate.

This was an 80's party rock band.

This progressed over 2 years building a stable of about 80 songs
to draw from during an evening.

Rule, just when they are exhausted and ready to sit down, you hit them with
something even better to make them stay.

Opening set B Side Of Abbey Road in entirety, finishing with Suite Judy Blue Eyes our "Dinner Set"

Everyone sang, even me here and there.

40 minutes, timed and perfected.

Following 4 sets a mixture of
AC/DC, Beatles, Cheap Trick, Cars, Genesis, Steely Dan, Steppenwolf, Elton John, David Bowie, Queen, Hendrix, Devo, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Stones, Bad Company, Kinks, Van Halen etc. no more than 2 songs from any one group with the exception of the Beatles opening set.

No stopping between songs unless it was planned or someone
broke a string.

There's no way we could pull off some of the tunes we chose without
strong vocals and it took a lot of dedication and inter band discipline.

At first you might have to settle for what the club is willing to pay,
until you're on the upside showing the club owner how much business
you are bringing to their club.

You have to keep track and know when you're better off playing for the door.

The last time I played the Crazy Horse down in Georgetown,
We brought in 750 door receipts with the club approved seating
posted for 240 people :-)
The unfortunate group playing downstairs at Beneath It All,
had plaster falling on them from the ceiling above.

What a freeking blast!

dohootowl
07-13-2010, 12:36 PM
My piano teacher (brilliant dude) clears $350+ a night playing in one of the premier Dallas cover bands. The venues & women are amazing but I've seen the set lists & they could not pay me enough to play those tunes. UNT 1 o'clock lab band guys playing GaGa & U2. No thanks. What a waste :bonk

Beats the hell out of being a desk jockey!

Gas-man
07-13-2010, 12:45 PM
Beats the hell out of being a desk jockey!


Yah, but you can't surf TGP when you are banging out Mustang Sally now can you! :JAM

FFTT
07-13-2010, 12:49 PM
For cover bands you have to decide if you're gonna be a street walking hooker
or a high priced escort and groom your act accordingly.

dohootowl
07-13-2010, 01:00 PM
I just left a 5-piece modern country cover band for several reasons ("modern country" should be somewhat of a clue), but the main reason was money. We made almost $700 at one gig then the next weekend they were willing to play for $250. It's just not worth it to me. Too much hauling, setup and tear-down involved. If a bar can't afford to pay at least $100 per person, then too bad. That's my opinion. People think, "oh, but you're playing music and having fun!". Well, the 3-4 hours before the gig and the 1-2 hours afterward, I'm not having fun at all.

germs
07-13-2010, 01:00 PM
For cover bands you have to decide if you're gonna be a street walking hooker
or a high priced escort and groom your act accordingly.

oh, i'm definitely an escort. still working my way up the ranks, but i'm not out on the corner giving discounted rates.

FFTT
07-13-2010, 01:03 PM
What ever you do, make it fun.

Like I said.

Be the best time they ever had and pride yourself in that.

DeeDub
07-13-2010, 01:31 PM
We are a classic 3 piece power trio. We play a variety of stuff, from 60's pop to 80's hair metal, some country, and what's popular on Top 40 today (Kings of Leon, etc.). On a weekend, we get between $400 - $600, depending on the venue. We do what all the other bands in our area DON'T, though.. we try really hard to get the crowd involved. Once you get them into it, be it asking for requests, doing trivia contests between songs, etc.. it makes a difference!

We have the venues/clubs calling us, now.. instead of the other way around.

cjs42079
07-13-2010, 01:36 PM
Here's what I've made in the past year

- Once a week acoustic duo gig: $300-400 plus $50 bar tab
- "B" rooms for cover bands, usually B.Y.O.P.A.: ~$600
- "A" rooms for cover bands in the area: $800-1400
- Flyers and Sixers games at the Wachovia Center: $700

So, I like to think I'm making out pretty well. Our full band is only 4 guys, so whether I'm doing a band gig or a duo gig I never leave with less than $150 a night. I'm happy and consider myself fortunate...although I wish I was in the scene 10 years ago when venues were totally over-paying for cover acts. I've heard trusted stories of $5,000 a night!

dmb70
07-13-2010, 03:00 PM
average $500 a nite, 4 piece, run our own sound.

mvd18969
07-13-2010, 05:29 PM
I totally agree......As the old saying goes, people die from exposure.

No exposure gig has ever amounted to jack for me, so I avoid them like the plague that they are.

90wreck
07-13-2010, 09:00 PM
No thanks. What a waste :bonk
Of money?

Dickie Fredericks
07-13-2010, 09:31 PM
Lately? $100 + per man or Im doing a solo show.

Usually it runs $125-$150 per man though. If we gotta travel, hotels and such are extra.

sfletch
07-14-2010, 12:29 AM
I want to be in this dude's band!

This was an 80's party rock band.

This progressed over 2 years building a stable of about 80 songs
to draw from during an evening.

Rule, just when they are exhausted and ready to sit down, you hit them with
something even better to make them stay.

Opening set B Side Of Abbey Road in entirety, finishing with Suite Judy Blue Eyes our "Dinner Set"

Everyone sang, even me here and there.

40 minutes, timed and perfected.

Following 4 sets a mixture of
AC/DC, Beatles, Cheap Trick, Cars, Genesis, Steely Dan, Steppenwolf, Elton John, David Bowie, Queen, Hendrix, Devo, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Stones, Bad Company, Kinks, Van Halen etc. no more than 2 songs from any one group with the exception of the Beatles opening set.

No stopping between songs unless it was planned or someone
broke a string.

There's no way we could pull off some of the tunes we chose without
strong vocals and it took a lot of dedication and inter band discipline.

At first you might have to settle for what the club is willing to pay,
until you're on the upside showing the club owner how much business
you are bringing to their club.

You have to keep track and know when you're better off playing for the door.

The last time I played the Crazy Horse down in Georgetown,
We brought in 750 door receipts with the club approved seating
posted for 240 people :-)
The unfortunate group playing downstairs at Beneath It All,
had plaster falling on them from the ceiling above.

What a freeking blast!

sfletch
07-14-2010, 12:48 AM
My current cover band, here in the Seattle area, makes about $400 for an average bar gig. It's a trio, and that's averaging the nights we take $250 to play a good, close room with a house PA and lights, and the nights we make $450 or so to do our thing and pack in the whole PA and lights (which are modest, but classy and effective). We play classic rock and a fair amount of 80s tunes. For weddings and private parties, it goes much higher, and we're trying to move in that direction.

This is a very interesting thread, and has me thinking of moving to many of the different cities mentioned. Too bad the wife probably wouldn't agree to it.;)

michael.e
07-14-2010, 12:51 AM
A six pack of Hamm's and $20.

I have made it!!!

FFTT
07-14-2010, 04:50 AM
Yeah a few of those weeks clearing $80.00 and you finally decide
something has to change.

rob2001
07-14-2010, 06:54 AM
1988.....Plenty of clubs big enough for a rock show. $800.00 to $1000.00, more for special dates....$250.00 for pro sound/light Co.....and they didn't skimp.

2004.......Rock clubs gone...wait till after the prime rib special to play. $400.00 average, more for special dates, less for private parties. Ran our own sound. Quit in 2005.

teleking36
07-14-2010, 07:03 AM
My original band does cover gigs for individual and collective financial support (i.e. merch, band fund, gear), usually twice a month. We pull $500 at one gig and $600 at the other. Same gig, same setlist (save for a few swaps every now and then), we bring all our own gear, including the PA.

Original gigs, which is our focus, pulls in maybe $100-150 at this point, since we're relatively fresh in this market. We've been busting our asses to get all the dirty work done (website, social media outlets, etc.) to build our fanbase, all while recording our LP and gigging. My singer just up and quit his $50k+/year day job to focus on music full-time, which is just amazing. I wish I could pull it off right now!

I expect the cover gigs to dwindle and the original gigs to pick up, which means less money short-term. Hopefully we get somewhere with it and our growing fanbase gives us enough support to jump on a tour or get some well-paying gigs. We're realistic about it from the financial/business end. It takes time.

Gas-man
07-14-2010, 07:06 AM
$600-$1000 for our three piece playing the popular stuff with some of that how-you-say "rockabilly" thrown in for good measure.

boldaslove1977
07-14-2010, 07:07 AM
...although I wish I was in the scene 10 years ago when venues were totally over-paying for cover acts. I've heard trusted stories of $5,000 a night!

this.

I'm in north jersey/NYC so it's a similar situation. a vet of the scene was telling me that 15 years ago... they used to pay the sound guy $600 a night!!!!! now HE is the sound guy while he's playing because the gigs don't pay nearly what they used to. 600 is now average for the whole band!

2HBStrat
07-14-2010, 07:24 AM
For cover bands you have to decide if you're gonna be a street walking hooker
or a high priced escort and groom your act accordingly.

THAT'S funny, and pretty much right on! Just for funzies, in this scenario, what would a cover band who only plays songs they like with no regard to danceability, or what would attract and please a crowd, be? :hide2

Shake
07-14-2010, 07:40 AM
1996:
Four musicians, three crew. Full PA and lights. Playing a 60/40 mix of originals to covers. Three strong shows per week, in Rock Clubs, opening act for National tours, converted venues and self promoted shows. Pay range: $650-$2000, dependent on room size and contract negotiations. Two to four off-night gigs per month backing a girl singer as a different act: $300-$450.

2010:
Four musicians, no crew. Small PA on stands, run from the stage. 80/20 mix, favoring covers. Rock rooms closed or "managed" by a local promoter. No pay for openers, agents putting four to six bands on the bill for a local show, special events down over 50%. Four to Eight gigs per month. Moving tables and chairs to make room for a "stage." Bar owner pays the door but let's half the people in for free (as "regulars"). Last minute cancellations of shows if it snows (?!?) Last summer, at an outdoor bar patio gig, a club manager rushed the band off the stage at the end of one set so a deejay could set-up. We had no advance notice of this! (About 150 people that had been watching the band wandered away and the deejay spun to a smaller "rap" crowd who eventually started a fight and shut down the show... The kicker here was the owner tried to dock the band pay for damages, even though we had nothing to do with the other "act," weren't told we were sharing a show, and were in another part of the bar.
Average pay: $250-$500.
Ahhh. Progress....

musicman1
07-14-2010, 08:01 AM
Back in the 80s we averaged about 250.00-300.00 a night for a 5 piece band but we played 5-6 nights a week in the same room sometimes for 2-4 weeks at a time. This was before DWI when patrons used to go out dancing and drinking during the week.

Now bars are about 375.00 for one night; a Friday or Saturday and you can be a trio or 10 pieces; it doesnt matter. Its been 375.00 for years now.

Personally, its why I prefer to play 2 private parties a month and make $200.00 to $350.00 to $450.00 per person. Plus most of these gigs only turn out to be 3 hours and usually you'll eat and drink too. Well worth it to me but then again Im 50 and dont need to play for a living anymore.

jayjerry
07-14-2010, 08:16 AM
4 piece cover band. We get $400 at most gigs. Some places pay $500.

For me and my band mates it is just something we enjoy doing and we don't think of it as a way to make money.

MuseCafeChris
07-14-2010, 08:27 AM
This was before DWI when patrons used to go out dancing and drinking during the week.

People often say this and I don't believe the implication to be true. There have been DWI laws for decades, albeit maybe not as strict as they are today. But that doesn't stop large crowds of drunks from flocking to dance clubs and DJ shows. I've seen it.

Much like the music industry itself, many bands (especially those whose members are of the Gear Page demographic) have simply become irrelevant, and they're getting paid accordingly.

mtmartin71
07-14-2010, 08:48 AM
Interesting but related story...

We have a private HOA gig that was going to pay $1000 on one weekend in Aug and a festival in the mountains where we somehow got a prime spot for $400. Both were different weekends. The $400 gig is for an extreme sports event and there may be 20,000 attending it. A TON of exposure. The other event paid more but closed to a community yet that community has a lot of CEOs and business contacts for private events. Anyhow, the HOA screwed up the date (was on their end) and it turns out that HOA event is actually on the same day and at a time where we can't effectively pull off both. We signed a contract for the $400 gig and will have to take that, but that's the one we wanted most anyway. Since we had done some research on the bands that our in the same space we live in (80s', 90's, variety covers), we knew of those bands and decided to reach out to one of them to see if they could take the $1000 gig. In that call, we learned a lot. My band are hobbyists. We all play for enjoyment of music and live performance. The band we called to fill in for the HOA gig does this as their main living. They have 4 people, average $600/gig and do 10 gigs a month (we typically average 2 gigs a month at max). The math says that's $18K a year per person without taxes drawn. Wow, that's a sobering number to see! Clearly these folks have to do something else to supplement that income. The net of it for me is that it must be VERY hard to make a living performing music these days. There are only so many nights that clubs have music available and the pay split amongst 4 is not very healthy.

Anyhow, I totally feel good that we were able to connect them to a premium pay gig and take care of the HOA at the same time. Hopefully it returns to us in good karma. We also shared some stories about venues and helped validate things for each other...such as venues that die after a certain time. We both thought it was us...maybe it is though ;) It was cool to connect with the "competition" though.

FFTT
07-14-2010, 10:39 AM
THAT'S funny, and pretty much right on! Just for funzies, in this scenario, what would a cover band who only plays songs they like with no regard to danceability, or what would attract and please a crowd, be? :hide2

Lucky their girl friends have jobs or homeless. :D

Gas-man
07-14-2010, 10:47 AM
For me and my band mates it is just something we enjoy doing and we don't think of it as a way to make money.


I despise this attitude with a passion!

:FM

:peenut

THIS RIGHT HERE is probably the number one reason bands make peanuts.

Bar owners love you guys.

:Devil

shark_bite
07-14-2010, 11:04 AM
I despise this attitude with a passion!

:FM

:peenut

THIS RIGHT HERE is probably the number one reason bands make peanuts.

Bar owners love you guys.

:Devil

+∞

:Devil

mtmartin71
07-14-2010, 11:08 AM
I despise this attitude with a passion!

:FM

:peenut

THIS RIGHT HERE is probably the number one reason bands make peanuts.

Bar owners love you guys.

:Devil

I get this. I feel bad about it too when I learned more on what bands make who do this to survive. I'm like the guy that you despise although in fairness, we try to get the market rate and we're not trying to do it on the cheap to take gigs from others. Part of me also thinks if you're a "pro" and do this full time, raise the bar and deliver a level above us weekend warriors. I realize though that it doesn't take an extraordinary amount of talent to satisfy a bar band crowd so it's a little different. Music is an area where semi-pros can mix with pros and get similar results. Sports is not like that (or other professions).

Gas-man
07-14-2010, 11:21 AM
I get this. I feel bad about it too when I learned more on what bands make who do this to survive. I'm like the guy that you despise although in fairness, we try to get the market rate and we're not trying to do it on the cheap to take gigs from others. Part of me also thinks if you're a "pro" and do this full time, raise the bar and deliver a level above us weekend warriors. I realize though that it doesn't take an extraordinary amount of talent to satisfy a bar band crowd so it's a little different. Music is an area where semi-pros can mix with pros and get similar results. Sports is not like that (or other professions).


I AM a weekend warrior but I understand that I am providing a valuable service to a bar owner and won't accept a gig unless I can personally make $200.

If everyone like me had this attitude, we wouldn't have bars paying guys who "love to play" a measley hundred bucks a night.

"We just love to play" is the best thing a bar owner can hear you say because he knows he's got you at that point.

shark_bite
07-14-2010, 11:25 AM
Seriously, I wish more trust fund musicians would open bars that give away liquor at cost, just because they "love serving drinks."

That might settle the score a little.

mtmartin71
07-14-2010, 11:29 AM
I AM a weekend warrior but I understand that I am providing a valuable service to a bar owner and won't accept a gig unless I can personally make $200.

If everyone like me had this attitude, we wouldn't have bars paying guys who "love to play" a measley hundred bucks a night.

"We just love to play" is the best thing a bar owner can hear you say because he knows he's got you at that point.

We're of the same mindset (and thanks for clarifying...I didn't know what your background was). We're going with the market rate and not undercutting. Denver seems to be $500-$600 for decent bar gigs if you're newer in the market and $800 if you're a name act (cover bands...not sure about original acts). Just curious, are you in a 3 person or 4 person outfit? We won't do any gig for less than $100/per person but typically get $150 per person and there are 4 of us.

FFTT
07-14-2010, 11:37 AM
If I want to do Dad's bowling night out jam and hit a local open mic, that's completely
different from providing a whole evenings worth of entertainment.

Even playing 20 minutes for free, I'm testing the reaction to an original
and testing myself in the process, but it has to benefit me in some way.

Gas-man
07-14-2010, 11:53 AM
We're of the same mindset (and thanks for clarifying...I didn't know what your background was). We're going with the market rate and not undercutting. Denver seems to be $500-$600 for decent bar gigs if you're newer in the market and $800 if you're a name act (cover bands...not sure about original acts). Just curious, are you in a 3 person or 4 person outfit? We won't do any gig for less than $100/per person but typically get $150 per person and there are 4 of us.


We designed this band around 3 dudes, no "soundman" so we could keep the money up and actually make it worthwhile.

I wouldn't even know what to do with another guitar player at this point.

It's harder work, but the difference between $150 and $200 means a lot.

mtmartin71
07-14-2010, 11:57 AM
We designed this band around 3 dudes, no "soundman" so we could keep the money up and actually make it worthwhile.

I wouldn't even know what to do with another guitar player at this point.

It's harder work, but the difference between $150 and $200 means a lot.

Got it. We're the same as you except we have someone who just sings. He's really good at it though. Better than any of us guys with instruments in our hands and he separates us from the pack. I know I couldn't personally sing at his level much less do it and attempt to play guitar at the same time but like you, I'm glad to not have to fit in the mix with other guitarists. I did that for about 9 years and while fun, I'm enjoying being the only guitarist now.

DrSax
07-14-2010, 12:00 PM
for those playing for free, how would you feel if an influx of folk wanted to do your day job just for the love of it and not be paid?

People still don't get that there are musicians who do this for a living. Somehow it's not as important an occupation i guess....

FFTT
07-14-2010, 12:01 PM
It's unfortunate to know some exceptional dedicated musicians who still fit into
these guidelines.


The 2009 Poverty Guidelines for the
48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia
Persons in family Poverty guideline
1 $10,830
2 14,570
3 18,310
4 22,050
5 25,790
6 29,530
7 33,270
8 37,010
For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,740 for each additional person.

Gas-man
07-14-2010, 12:10 PM
Got it. We're the same as you except we have someone who just sings. He's really good at it though. Better than any of us guys with instruments in our hands and he separates us from the pack.

I think that would only be worth it if he can sing songs most bands can't pull off like Zeppelin or Journey AND can get you more money because of it.

If he is singing run of the mill bar material, he's a waste of space and one of you guys should sack up and take the vocals.

Or unless he is a super frontman, get-the-crowd-going kind of guy. Then he MIGHT be worth it.

mtmartin71
07-14-2010, 01:03 PM
I think that would only be worth it if he can sing songs most bands can't pull off like Zeppelin or Journey AND can get you more money because of it.

If he is singing run of the mill bar material, he's a waste of space and one of you guys should sack up and take the vocals.

Or unless he is a super frontman, get-the-crowd-going kind of guy. Then he MIGHT be worth it.

It's the former. He has the range to pull off some stuff other guys can't. Do we get more money because it? Probably not. We're still getting the median pay. However, I'm willing to give up $50 per gig to sound as good as possible. There is no one else in the lineup today who has the vocal chops to pull off what he does. Frankly, I don't have the time necessary to retrain myself how to sing properly strongly AND play guitar. I respect and understand your opinion though. It is one I would share if I was depending on this money to survive.

MightyGuru
07-14-2010, 01:44 PM
600-750 a night mostly.

jayjerry
07-14-2010, 02:00 PM
I despise this attitude with a passion!

:FM

:peenut

THIS RIGHT HERE is probably the number one reason bands make peanuts.

Bar owners love you guys.

:Devil


I did not say we play for free or less than $100 a man. I just said I don't think of it as a way to make money because the money sucks. Everyone in my band is married with kids and has a job. Non of us are doing this for the money but for the love of it.

My band will not play any gig for less than $400 and that seems to be the going rate based on what I have read in this thread. I don't think we are ruining it for everyone else by not looking at this as an income opportunity.

Probos
07-14-2010, 02:05 PM
It usually rhymes with "hero".

2HBStrat
07-14-2010, 03:06 PM
People often say this and I don't believe the implication to be true. There have been DWI laws for decades, albeit maybe not as strict as they are today......

The DWI laws around here certainly DID kill the 5 and 6 night house gigs around here. At one time there were six or seven clubs that had bands 6 nights a week, now there are none. There used to be several private clubs that had bands on Sundays, now there are none. MADD and DWI laws, as well as casinos, killed live music around here.

Lucky their girl friends have jobs or homeless. :D

Trut...:rotflmao

If I want to do Dad's bowling night out jam and hit a local open mic, that's completely
different from providing a whole evenings worth of entertainment.

Even playing 20 minutes for free, I'm testing the reaction to an original
and testing myself in the process, but it has to benefit me in some way.

That's okay I guess, but if a club owner gets you and 8 or 10 other people to do a free 20 minute show each, he gets a full night of entertainment for free! That's why more and more bars have "Open Mike Night" and "Talent Showcase Night" and "Songwriters Night" and "Karoake Night", free music. Does he at least give you drinks and/or a meal?!?