big payday original musician ????

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Dave Shoop, Mar 3, 2015.

  1. Dave Shoop

    Dave Shoop Member

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    We read here all of the time and many of us see that original bands seem to almost make nothing from gigging. They share the bill with 4 or 5 other bands and really seem to just do it for fun or a future dream they have held on to.

    With all of the talented people here surely some have broken thru and had financial success doing originals ?

    In the old days bands like The James Gang, The Glass Harp and The Raspberries all played covers and after establishing a following they slowly worked in originals. That formula worked for the very talented bands. I don't understand why that approach wouldn't still be the ticket.

    What is your original high water mark ? What approach are you taking ? Do you even care if you have any "popular" success ?

    What is the most you've ever been paid for doing a set or night of strictly originals ?
     
  2. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    I don't think that the old way is valid anymore.

    Since the DIY movement in the late '70s, there's an entire generation(s) of players who have absolutely no interest in playing covers.

    That's when the split happened - covers guys, and originals guys. Two separate scenes, venues, audiences. Hardly any crossover, at least around here.

    I've played in a few original acts that have been paid OK - backing up an amazingly talented singer/songwriter would get me $100 and a comped meal in a great restaurant, playing two sets to a full house who were there just to see him. Probably the best original gigs ever. Great room, appreciative crowd, good chow and exceptional material from this guy.

    Another guy would routinely get in the $500 range for a 60-90 minute set at local festivals, often opening for decent national acts. Those were a lot of fun, too - a-list sound and lights, trailers, hospitality tent, built-in appreciative crowds.

    Lucky gigs, way above the pay grade for a player of my caliber. <vbg>
     
  3. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Well, I played in an all original band from Chico in Nor Cal called Spark 'n Cinder, an Afro-Caribbean and Reggae band. We opened for Bob Dylan in '92, in Red Bluff, CA. Dylan LOVED us, and asked us to go on the road with him.

    We were so stoked - it was the break we'd all been waiting for. There were only 4 shows left in the tour - two already had openers hired, so as not to ruffle feathers, they agreed to hire us as the opener for the next tour a couple months away.

    As sometimes happens, the tour was postponed, and then postponed again, and then rescheduled for the East coast only. Gradually his Managament lost interest in continuing contact with us, and the whole thing fell through the cracks. Talk about disappointing!

    The original show we opened was put on by a local concert promoter and former band member. The pay they offered was $200 - that's $40 each for the 5 piece band. We all paid our FOH sound man out of our pockets - $10 each, so we walked with $30 apiece. The promoter told us we were lucky - another local band had a wealthy friend who offered to PAY the promoter $500 to let them open, and he cited loyalty as the only reason he didn't let us go.

    But 3 years ago, part original part cover Cowboy band I play with out of Marin "The Bar Association", opened for Richard Thompson at the Fillmore West, playing originals. It paid $1200 - $200/ man. They supplied a good FOH mixer and monitor mixer(very pro and nice of them - they did a great job).

    Thanks , Dana O.
     
  4. jonnytexas

    jonnytexas Supporting Member

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    Dinosaur BBQ?
     
  5. 84superchamp

    84superchamp Silver Supporting Member

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    great thread! hope this one goes awhile.
     
  6. Dave Shoop

    Dave Shoop Member

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    two good stories. It must be a real thrill to have an audience really appreciate your songs. I think you need to exclude your personal friends though. To have a room full of strangers applauding for your originals is high on my list of achievements. I have never attempted it.

    To open for Bob Dylan and have him acknowledge the band is a lifetime bench mark in my eyes. Great stuff.
     
  7. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    Nope - they'd never pay that much for a local act.

    This was a small, upscale place in a suburb. Really nice place, beautiful acoustics.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. jonnytexas

    jonnytexas Supporting Member

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    OK. The Dinosaur was one of our regular stops back in my touring days and they used to stuff us before we played. Figured it was the same spot.
     
  9. gigs

    gigs Member

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    In mid 80's in South Jersey I played in an all original band. We used to rent a hall and throw "Beef 'n Beer" parties and, of course, we played them. We'd foot the kegs and the wives make roast beef sandwiches and stuff. Charged $10 a head and usually packed the place. Cleared $1500 after paying for hall and beer and stuff. Divide that by 5 and each made $300 for the night. Most I ever made for playing originals. Not sure if it is legal to do that anymore... throw a kegger and charge money to the open public.
     
  10. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

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    i know a few guys that sell some cd's at an acoustic gig. they usually open for a cover or tribute headliner.

    seems the direction a lot of clubs have gone is tribute bands up there with a few other standard names in 80's metal covers (blaggghhh go away already).

    my brothers band is doing ok. they toss in some originals, but they are looking to go tribute. most clubs are going primarily to tributes which kind of sucks.

    idk i get just as tired at attempts of 80's artists, half assed tributes of motley crue or metallica as i do lame classic rock bands, but when considering the patronage of 40+ crowd and cougar wannabes it's no surprise.

    pics from their gigs don't show many younger type interested. so i told my brother yeah you have to go to what pays to support live bands, and that is people that are used to supporting live music. most in their 40's and 50's now.
     
  11. phazersonstun

    phazersonstun Member

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    I used to make occassional decent money with my original band doing events for colleges.
    Hey had budgets put aside for them and weren't afraid to spend it.
    Usually ended up with about a grand for my 4 piece.
    We provided our own sound.

    Used to get some airplay at a lot of college stations.

    I was lucky enough to get on a few small outdoor festival gigs for pretty large crowds that payed well too but the norm was underwhelming club gigs.
    One set for gas money with multiple bands on the bill.

    This was in the Philly area mid 90s through early 2000s.

    Still write & record my original stuff. Occasionally gig it.
    Most of my gigging now is 3 cover bands of different styles that keeps me working 3-4 gigs a month with the averaging $150 in my pocket.

    I never decided I needed or didn't need to be a rock star.
    I just need to play music to feel like me.
     
  12. Dog Boy

    Dog Boy Member

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    As far as I'm concerned gigging original music for the masses is a losing game. I just don't see how it can be done without a huge influx of venture capital. The days of the epic road tours are over and no-one cares about the opening act even if they have amazing tunes.

    That said I have placed some original songs in movie soundtracks and made a decent paycheck. Keeps the studio running with great mics and such. Nothing you could call a living though.
     
  13. Beakertwang

    Beakertwang Supporting Member

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    I thought this was a candy bar thread! :D

    But since I'm here, almost all of my originals would be considered P&W. The churches I'm in contact with love them, but there's definitely no money in it.
     
  14. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    There was a period of time in the late '90s where clubs here (NJ / NYC) hired "original bands". At that moment in the time-space continuum, 'cover bands' were on the out.

    I was in a band that rode that wave as high & far as we could. We played every carpeted sewer in the area, but played some big stages, too. We had a couple of CDs, one of which even got a "Critic's Choice" review in Billboard mag. Go figure!

    Most we ever made was, IIRC, about $2K for a show....

    The least we ever made was $18, but that's a zany story for another time...
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  15. dougb415

    dougb415 Member

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    I was in a busy reggae band in Indiana back in the '90s. We did 50/50 covers and originals. The money wasn't bad, but we couldn't live on it.
     
  16. Dave Shoop

    Dave Shoop Member

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    Lol 2K sweet nice ......... $18.00 sounds like a Springsteen story when he was starting out and had to divide it by 7. Ya gotta love it.
     
  17. dennyman

    dennyman Member

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    "I never decided I needed or didn't need to be a rock star. I just need to play music to feel like me."

    Well said phazeronstun!
     
  18. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    Close.

    We were selected to be the opener for an up& coming west-coast band at a gig in a $hithole in Asbury Park. We were told it would be a big deal, lots of press....whatever.

    Somewhere west of Pittsburgh, the west-coast band self destructed mid-tour.

    The club owner...who had made this show a really "bit deal" begged us not to cancel. He'd bump us up to headliner, and get a local band to open for us. I can smell the stench of BS a mile away, but we were convinced to do it, and we did.

    The night of the gig, the room was PACKED! The opening band was good, and we went over big, holding the room full until closing time. A great time was had by all.

    As we were loading out, the owner.....who had begged us....hands us an envelope with $18 in it.

    WTF?

    "well", he says, "the door guy was asking everyone which band they came to see, and 3 people said you guys. It was six bucks a head, so there ya go..."

    Silence.

    I voted to pack & just leave....other band members wanted a "more strenuous response", but cooler heads prevailed.

    FWIW, it was one of the very small handful of gigs over my seven-years with the band where we didn't have a signed contract. "Get it in writing". Always!
     
  19. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    In the old days, the number of paying cover gigs you could get with moderate talent was much, much, much higher than today. Gigging five nights a week for four or five sets at time, getting paid--that's an amazing learning situation, a "10,000 hours" type thing. You could start doing that when you were 18, and in three years have played around 3000 hours on stage, and done nothing but play music the whole time. You'd be around...21. At that point, you could start writing originals, be signed in a few years, and have put out four albums by the time you were...30.

    Because it's really, really, really hard to find someone who puts out their first album on someone else's label after 30 and gets somewhere. Backers aren't interested in first-time artists over the age of 29, that's how it is, for some very good reasons, and some less good ones.

    So, an aspiring originals act can't afford to spend time in a cover band past 23 or 24 or so. A band that gets signed has usually been around in roughly that configuration for close to five years, so you've got start taking your shot before you're 25, because "best new artist" and "thirty-something" aren't two terms found in close proximity.
     
  20. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    We drove 60 miles, to play a 50/50 split gig on St. Patrick's Day at one of the biggest clubs in that city, w/a local band who were having their CD release party that night. How can you lose on that one?

    Our friend who drove a tour bus was in town, so we all went in that - a spankin' new Eagle. Traveling in style.

    Our cut - $7, to split 4 ways. Not a soul there.

    Good times.
     

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