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Playing for charity vs. being sound guy for charity???

Moxsam

Senior Member
Messages
2,952
Hello I have a live sound event coming up and would like to get the TGP collective's thoughts....

Another band (with a distant friend of mine) is planning an event for their new band to play for some of their friends. The event is a fund raiser for a charity which is unknown at this time. They will be charging $10 for tickets and selling drinks. This is probably their 3rd gig ever and they are getting some much needed experience playing live. They have asked my band to open for them and we have agreed to play for free as it is for charity.

I do sound for our band and a few other bands around town. I have a very nice full PA set up with digital mixer, etc. I usually record gigs as well and give the bands a rough mixed down copy of their gig. I charge other bands a fee to do this as it is usually a boat load of work.

For this upcoming event I have thrown out the idea to my friend in the other band that I can provide sound for a fee. This was before I knew it was a charity fund raiser though. The event organizer has emailed me giving me a rough outline of their expected expenses and their goal amount that they hope to raise for charity. Part of their expenses will be renting a PA and hiring a sound guy.

My band did an non-charity event over the Xmas holidays where we charged the same amount for tickets ($10) and our draw was about the same as they are expecting. Oddly our expenses seem to be about half of what they are telling me. This leads me to believe that the cost of PA rental and sound guy services is considerable.

Anyhow I'm now on the fence about whether I would like to take on the task of providing sound for this gig. I normally don't like the idea of playing for free, but if it is for charity I have no problem with it. However I'm not so sure about providing sound for free. The other sound guy that has quoted them for his services certainly won't do it for free. I guess if I do play and provide sound I'm going to be "the guy" doing most of the work and taking on most of the stress as well. I've also learned that the gear tends to take some wear and tear each gig it is used. Something always breaks or needs replacing and that costs money.

The event organizer wants to chat soon about providing sound.

Options:
1. Charge my normal fee for providing sound even though I'm in the opening band.
2. Charge a discount rate for providing sound.
3. Play and provide sound for free.
4. Forget about providing sound and just play for free and have fun.
5. Screw charity. Never do anything for free.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 
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dB

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,221
Hard to follow, but it seems like your fee for sound is less than they are expecting to pay from someone else? If so, present your fee as 'discounted' since it's a charity event. They'll still be coming out ahead.
 

JCM 800

Member
Messages
6,614
I can understand playing for free. Providing sound is a toss up. If you feel strongly about the charity and want to provide your services for free that's a personal choice. I see nothing wrong with charging for sound. You could offer a small discount if you want. A sound system is an exspense of putting on an event like this and should be budgeted by the organizers.
 

tonewoody

Member
Messages
1,682
Didn't your last charity experience gave you some insight as to how important it is to get the expectations and details up front?
 

MLG Audio

Member
Messages
1,039
I've only run sound for free at charity events that I personally would have donated to regardless of my involvement in the event.

In any other case, I have a discounted rate that I offer to charity events that need sound. It's basically enough to get my gear there, pay someone to help me run it if I need to, and a little bit to pay for the inevitable replacement of broken gear. It's seriously inevitable. Every damn time.

That being said, most of the time the person contacting me gives me the whole "it's such a great cause" "we were really hoping for a donation" or the best "it's really great exposure for your company".

If your normal rate is less than what they were quoted somewhere else, offer them that. Or you could discount your rate a little bit to ease their expenses a little. Unfortunately things will inevetiably get broken, and running these kinds of shows is always a PITA, so you should at least be moderately compensated.
 

Tomm Williams

Member
Messages
964
Unless the cause is something very near and dear to you, charge it like any other job. Experience has shown me that there is no end to the list of people who would love to have free sound services.
Their mission to raise money doesn't mean that it has to come out of your pocket.
 

Simon

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,264
Just explain that your doing the majority of the work, and your gear is taking wear. it's not like showing up with your amp and guitar.
 

Floyd Eye

Senior Member
Messages
13,838
I would tell them that you have no issues with your band playing for free, however your sound company is a business and due to insurance regulations ( or some other BS line) you are not allowed to provide that service free of charge. You can however provide it at a discounted rate.
 

BBSuggs

Member
Messages
1,132
Perhaps you have another option. Determine top dollar/value for your efforts and have them document that amount as your donation. Then deduct from your taxable income. ???

I've done this before, and it was a win/win in my opinion. Unless, of course, you disapprove of the charity.
 

stevieboy

Clouds yell at me
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
38,284
As I read it, the OP hasn't said he's been asked to provide sound services for free, or that he needs to explain anything to the organizers. The organizers seem to realize that a sound guy and equipment cost money and were prepared to pay. As a charity, they likely would want to cut costs if possible. Therefore, the meeting, to find out what the OP might be willing to offer.

I think the OP is simply debating with himself just what he might want to offer.

I think I might just play, enjoy it and get some good feeling from helping someone, and relax the rest
of the day. Number 4, final answer!
 

griggsterr

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,923
Unless you are really believe in this charity. Show up and play a set with your band, and have fun.
Doing sound all day for free, is a lot of work.
There are charities I would do that for, but very few.
 

twoheadedboy

Member
Messages
12,698
Options:
1. Charge my normal fee for providing sound even though I'm in the opening band.
2. Charge a discount rate for providing sound.
3. Play and provide sound for free.
4. Forget about providing sound and just play for free and have fun.
5. Screw charity. Never do anything for free.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
I don't think anyone can really help you make this decision. It comes down to whether you are willing to give your time and the use of your equipment for charity. If you are, then do. If you aren't, then don't.

If you do decide to do it for free, I think it would be fair to expect the venue to cover the cost of any broken or damaged equipment, as would be the case if they had rented a PA.
 

Nebakanezer

World’s Okayest Guitar Player
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,004
A few restaurants around here that have catering trucks do A LOT of dinner plates for good causes, not nonprofits but helping out people in need type stuff. They are organized by caring people that ask the caterers to provide food. None of those folks give a discount on the plates, so the only benefit is to hike up the price for a good cause. I know it's a different scenario, but like someone said earlier: it's about (them) making money and not (you) losing money.
 

straightblues

Member
Messages
9,686
Are you going to bring your own sound for your set? If so, provide them sound as well since the work will be the same. If not, offer the other band your services at a reduced rate from what the other guy is charging.
 

sgmarshall

Member
Messages
950
The band I'm in plays a charity gig each year for free, it's a multiple band biker event. The sound company gives a good rate, but does not work for free due to the amount of labor and risk to the equipment. I would say if you're doing sound- charge for the sound gig like any other. My wife works for a non profit that has a big concert each year as a fund raiser- no artist has done the gig for free or even at a discount. The big names charge like any other concert.
 






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