I'm torn with this, as a musician playing originals. It really does depend on the show. However, at least in Charleston, SC, it's difficult enough to get people to pay $5 for a show on a Friday or Saturday. Different story in larger markets. I think there are more factors to this too. This may work if you are a band that plays once every 2-6 months. Not going to work for a band that plays every 1-2 weeks. If people feel that they are going out to an event, that they can't witness again next week, they may be inclined to fork over that cover. Also, playing on smaller bills could help. One opener, one headliner. Instead of a stacked bill of 3-5 bands. And I don't think this is something across the board. When you can start pulling those 200-300 number from your band alone, then yes, by all means, charge the $10 cover. It's about putting in the work, gaining a following and delivering a show stopping performance. But if you are gathering 10-50 people per show, I don't see this happening in Charleston.
The bar-hopping response is valid, but more applicable to cover band shows like at Charleston Beer Works, the Dollar, et cetera. Those typically do get a guaranteed payment based on projected crowd because, although we might bristle at the notion, most all-cover bands are interchangeable once a certain level of musicianship and comfort with the job is attained.
However, this article is about original music shows, which are handled primarily by different venues like the Sparrow, Tin Roof, Mill, Pour House and formerly the Village Tavern at the $5 level.
The double- or triple- bill is standard because of reciprocity. You tour to my city and I share a bill with you and get the ears and eyes of your fans, and then we'll do the same in your town. Then we have some newbies open because that's how you grow the scene. I'm not used to the openers getting paid the same per person, but I'll submit to MJ on this one because I've only done a small fraction of my work with touring, original acts.
I agree wholeheartedly! As a lover, fan, supporter of live music, and a wife of a musician, your article encapsulates the monetary struggle of many of my friends.
In Chattanooga, there are a number of bars & clubs that host live music. And there are a few bars that book "all original" regional and/or national acts that aren't well-known enough to play the "big" music venues. The bars that book these bands generally offer a percentage of the door, split between the bands (3-5 per night), after bar costs. There's normally no guarantee.
The bars & clubs that offer a guarantee also expect the band(s) to play a 90/10 or at the least, an 80/20 split of cover songs versus originals. There are a few exceptions, depending on the club/band relationship. But not many.
I think that if you have a 2 band night, the main act should get a larger percentage, as they're the ones that are expected to play longer. If you have a 3 band night, everyone should be expected to play the same amount of time for a 3-way division of pay. Having more than 3 bands on a nightly bill is just too much work for not enough pay. Not to mention the loss of listeners due to being overwhelmed or underwhelmed by 2-3 bands that aren't up to par.
If you hang out at a bar that has live music, and you don't really care who's playing, but are complaining about a $10 cover, go find another bar. There are plenty of jukebox or sports bars that will take your cash and act like they care about your first world problems. But if you are a true fan of live music, drink one less beer and kick the extra few dollars towards the musicians.
After all, without musicians writing songs that parallel our lives, how would we know if we were normal?
The problem with covers in general is that many people want to go to multiple bars in one night. There is a reason why bars are generally located in clusters close together. With a $10 cover, it becomes cost prohibitive to drop $30+ in just cover charges to go out with your friends. It limits you to staying in one place, which most people do not want to do. We are in the ADD generation that gets tired of anything within 30-45 minutes and is constantly searching for the next best thing. Add in the fact that very few people carry cash anymore to pay cover charges and you see why bar managers push for no cover. Bands should start pushing to get paid as a small base fee plus a percentage of revenue for the night instead of just a flat fee. It adds some risk, but if you are positioned in a good bar and are an entertaining band, you will reap the rewards!
Why not just play at venues that either let you have higher cover charges, will pay a minimum or that don't schedule three bands on the same night? The last one has little to do with the actual cover to get in, it has just gotten to be silly to go and hang out to listen to a little live music and every forty five minutes the band is changing, just a personal pet peeve.
I understand the desire to be paid more and if the market will bear it and a band has enough of a following I say go for it. When you are talking to a venue tell them that you have enough of a draw that you deserve more. And I would especially stop playing three band shows where you are splitting the door, that is too thin. Also, I am curious why the split is even? Why does the local opener who is getting stage time get paid the same as a touring band that is promoting and making all kinds of other efforts to get people through the door getting the same as some random act that is only known by their friends and family?
I have been surprised that the push to a ten dollar cover has not happened earlier. If you can afford to come out and have a few drinks you should be able to afford a ten dollar cover, if not, you need to re-evaluate. And for the acts, push for more pay. It should be a symbiotic relationship, the bands need a venue to perform and the venue needs the band to draw patrons to eat and drink. If the quality is there, people will pay for it.
I hear you, Megan Jean, and the reality hits me every time I get paid the same or less for a show than I did back in 1996 for the same amount of work to the same sized crowd. And playing original music as a rhythm section member for a singer/songwriter often means a few comped bud lights and that's it. I don't know how one sells this idea to the broader crowd, but the financial calculus of being a musician, especially one that tours DIY, is going to be completely untenable soon. If gas prices bump back up to 3.50/gal, say, that could cause a lot of people to hang up the guitar and go strictly the 9-5 route just to make rent and car payments.
Universal Basic Income fixes this problem.
Did he spend enough time to get a degree?
Wow, that was touching
Burlesque at Joint Named
TOO Many Contradictions to even #RapMyBra #RapMyBrain 'Round
AND, #MusicFarm IS spelled
#MUSICpharm #duh ...
Josh Roberts and the Hinges rock the house. They make house party 3 look like house party 1
You should open a record store^^
went to an outdoor concert at Marymoore Park in Redmond, Wash about 14 yrs ago. Outside seating, beautiful area and wonderful music. Sure wish she would return again..
Love your review of my favorite folk singer who has aged beautifully by the sound of it, thank you for sharing what it's like to attend a Joan Baez concert as never having had the privilege myself...
Joan Baez has been one of my favorite artists since the 60's and I had the opportunity to see her for the first time several years ago at the Charleston Music Hall. She really should have rescheduled her show. She was sick and her voice was raspy and she barely sounded like herself. I was so disappointed. Hope she felt better this time.
Paige Duvall does wonderful colored pencil work that we really like. A great local artist. Sorry we will not be here for this one.
Just going to casually throw in that this woman bit the tongue off her attacker? What?!
ok. how can selling thirty-five $2 coffees a day and eight $0.99 vinyl albums a day pay for inventory, a redesign, and a mortgage on Spring Street?
Sounds cool though. I'll certainly go and spend my $. I'll need to buy a record player first.
Perhaps they should sell big ticket items like record players? They should keep single floor models and examples of components so customers can evaluate them and from there order products to arrive later via the mail. Saves floor space, cuts on inventory expenses, provides customers the 1 thing they need to play albums, and is an easy way to increase revenue.
The good talent always rises. Congratulations on the new project.
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