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Payment for Gigs


Flash@TMB
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Speaking to various bands that have played at my venue - especially the younger bands - I've noticed that there is a fair variation on payment for gigs.

Here's some guidelines for dealing with venues. At the risk of a kneecapping I hope you find them useful.

First off let's look at the economics of the deal:

1) Learn to count heads. Most people will finger a crowd as more than twice as large as it really is.

2) Bars do not count VAT as part of their taking because it isn't.

3) 50 people = approx 200 +VAT per hour through the bar. Of course this depends on what the bar charges for a drink.

4) Cost price. Drink costs money. The bigger the venue, or chain the less they pay for the drink. The variation is enormous and the little venues pay through the nose effectively subsidising the bigger ones. It's a sick world. Lager will vary between 0.40 and 1.10 per pint depending on the size of the venue/chain. To calculate the profit you need to divide the price of a pint by 117.5 then multiply it by 100 and subtract the cost figure. Expect Drakes etc to be charged something approaching the higher rate and Wetherspoons something approaching the lower rate.

5) Personnel costs. Most barstaff are paid the minimum wage, but there are employment costs of around 17% on top of that figure. There is also the management to pay for. Some bars pay more, we for instance pay up to 7.50 per hour but that's because I'm don't believe in paying people shit wages for good work.

6) Building costs. Most private bars will be subject to loans and mortgages.

So translating this into an easy formula:

Assume a gross profit of ~ 1 per pint. Assume a charge of 2.00 per pint net of VAT. Assume 200 net per hour from 50 people (obviously this isn't the case with under 18s drinking a can of coke for 4 hours), the the bar will make a gross profit of 100 per hour from a crowd of 50 people. Assume 4 staff at a total cost of 20 per hour, then the proft drops to 80 per hour. Deduct 10 to cover all other costs. This leaves 70. Divide that by something less than 2 to get what the band should be paid per hour.

So a four piece band play in front of 100 people for 2 hours, with a break, and some lag prior to going on and coming off. This means we count 3 hours as total gig time. So 100 people for 3 hours, then you should charge somewhere in the region of 200. Taa daa!

But hang on... some venues charge admission. Whoa! That's free money. Under those circumstances you should look to claim pretty much all of the admission fee, but stop there and ignore the beer sales.

With this in mind we typically pay bands 20-25 per band member per hour... but take into account my policy of paying people what they deserve as opposed to as little as possible.

There are other variable that may affect this. Say for instance a band agrees to play a particular venue for free, or for beer. Venues always have a reason why they can't afford to pay and take it from me that's always bullshit. The problem is that the venue has then engineered a competitive advantage. Under those circumstances I too would expect a free gig. This in turn has a knock on effect on other bands. See where we're headed?

Then there's support slots. Bottom line is that everyone deserves to be paid something, and free beer doesn't really cut it. Remember some of those fans out there have come to see you as opposed to the lead act, and paid through the nose for a ticket in order to support you. Don't be scared to charge.

So the moral of the story is:

A) Charge.

B) Charge what the venue can afford to pay based on crowd and how cheaply they get their beer, and whether they are charging at the door.

C) Never ever ever play for less than you deserve.

D) Never charge more than the venue can afford. The venue deserves to make a profit.

E) Never believe the venue when it tells you it can't afford to pay you anything blah, blah, blah. Even when we have lost money I have paid the bands.

Be prepared to play a short set for free just once, the very first time, in order to get a gig - but expect to be paid should the venue do well out of it.

Now for the rider. Go for getting your drinks at cost price for the duration of the evening. So expect to pay around 1 per pint.

Hope this helps. Guess I'll be wearing a stab vest for the rest of this year...

Flash

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Of course this doesn't take into consideration that the majority of gigs in Aberdeen aren't organised by the venue themselves, but external promoters or the bands themselves. In this situation the only consideration is the money coming in through the door, which the venue may be taking a cut of, plus how much equipment hire etc is costing the promoter.

I appreciate what you're trying to say, but it should be acknowledged that your example is pretty much limited to a direct venue/artist agreement.

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agreed

nullmouse - yeah promoters are a different case, and some of them are as skint as the bands, and do this more for love than money. Promoters get ripped of as much as bands do. I can't really give an indication of what to expect there. Some promoters might find my guidelines more helpful than the bands do.

BTW I'm not saying that every venue is greedy and loaded with money... most private venues aren't. Chains are a different kettle of fish, although even they occasionally hit on hard times.

Bands have to fork out for their instruments, plus spare parts, plus lessons, they have to practice and this often costs money, then there is the time they spend setting up for the gig. Bottom line is that it costs a lot of money to be a musician.

The punters spend money to see bands, whether it's through increased beer sales, tickets sales, or door charges. I'd like to see more of this make it's way back to the bands. Bands need to start insisting on FAIR payment.

Flash

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The only worry I have with local bands expecting fair payment is what they base 'fair' on ;D Yeah, for a venue making a decent amount through the till on drinks and for a band playing an extended set then they definately should be paid well for their effort - A 2 hour stint is no mean feat.

I come from a promoters angle, and we've often gone out of pocket to make sure local support acts get paid. I definately agree that if someone makes the effort, then they should be rewarded for their efforts. I just wanted to make sure people thought about the source of their money too, so that they weren't unrealistic in expecting a promoter to be wading in cash :)

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I find that

openness works best.

One of the reasons I started this thread was to get people thinking about the economics of the situation. I've seen me take a GP or 350 and the band ask for 300 despite the fact that the turnout was poor.

In another instance I ran a regular event at a substantial loss for the best part of a year, while still paying the musicians a reasonable ammount. The first night a decent crowd turned up one of them asked for a pay rise... How I laughed.

I also get annoyed when I hear of a venue charging a promoter for hosting an event (or expecting a cut of the tickets), even though the venue is benefiting from sales, and having their venue promoted without lifting a finger.

These undertakings are best done as a team with everybody pulling their weight and sharing the spoils or the losses to some extent.

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