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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    Well, chief, you're saying that you won't leave the house for less than a hundred. Really?
    Not even if it turns out that the gig leads to a year of great gigs?
    Not even to play with someone who will turn out to be your playing partner for the next few years?
    Not even if it turns out that {insert name here} is in the audience?

    You don't know what you miss out on when you turn down that sixty dollar gig to keep your reputation as a Hundred-Dollar Player intact. That's why that kind of 'line in the sand' attitude is short-sighted at the minimum. And you're not a dumb guy, so I was pretty surprised to see it from you.

    You play on. I'll take the ones that fall below your standard, and gain the benefit.
    Pretty good fantasy scenario and conclusions going on here.
    Last edited by cosmic gumbo; 02-24-2019 at 06:17 AM.

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  3. #52

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    Market forces at work:

    Note: When red line goes below horizontal green line musician pays to play.

    No more free gigs-baisse-jpg
    Last edited by Drumbler; 02-24-2019 at 10:28 AM.
    "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing." - Socrates
    “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” - Alan Wilson Watts

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    Well, chief, you're saying that you won't leave the house for less than a hundred. Really?
    Not even if it turns out that the gig leads to a year of great gigs?
    Not even to play with someone who will turn out to be your playing partner for the next few years?
    Not even if it turns out that {insert name here} is in the audience?

    You don't know what you miss out on when you turn down that sixty dollar gig to keep your reputation as a Hundred-Dollar Player intact. That's why that kind of 'line in the sand' attitude is short-sighted at the minimum. And you're not a dumb guy, so I was pretty surprised to see it from you.

    You play on. I'll take the ones that fall below your standard, and gain the benefit.
    For a jazz gig, I've got to travel, park, or take public transportation and walk.

    For anything less than $100, I might as well pay to play.

    I'm a guy with kids and a job, I'm not looking for my big break. It ain't coming.

    And again, that's for myself, to do a solo gig. I live by the Charlie Christian adage--my guitar comes out of the case to have fun, learn something, or make some money. I'll certainly still go to a jam or something if I know the players and get paid in chicken wings. I'm talking about for what I consider a "gig," a job, not just "fun."
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  5. #54

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    Was talking about this thread at our (rock'n'roll) gig last night. We were in a theatre doing a self-promoted show. Looking at the posters in the cafe / bar there's an awful lot of tribute acts around. One of the guys pointed out that in his own town last night there was a Dave Brubek tribute band playing and had almost sold that town's theatre out. Maybe that's another way to get paying gigs - join the tribute band revolution!?

  6. #55

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    I would find a clarinet/sax player and put together a ‘tribute to Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian’ act, that would be fun to do and might be a viable sell. Something like that record that Kenny Burrell did.

  7. #56

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    I do about 200 gigs a year and average about $100 per gig. I do gigs for less than $100 if the players are all high level pros and it is fun, but I never play for less than $25 per hour. That is my absolute minimum. We all have a comfort level and can make our individual justifications for those levels. There is no doubt a declining market for live jazz combined with an increasing amount of jazz musicians. The race to the bottom has been underway for many years now and the prognosis is grim.

    I do have a couple of thought to share:

    1. Playing for less than minimum wage is illegal and for good reason. Labor, even if it is fun for those providing the labor should be compensated at some minimum level and those breaking the law who provide the labor are just as guilty as those who benefit from it.

    2. Part of the reason that jazz has lost popularity can be traced to jazz musicians themselves. Those who play indulgent music (endless solos, weird sounding note choices, lack of clear time, harmony or rhythm etc.) turn off prospective jazz fans. Those who are not ready for public performance do the same when they perform in public showcasing their mediocre skills. If you wiggle your fingers around the fretboard instead of playing what you hear on an improvised solo, or need to see a chart to play most standards, you are not ready for public performance and are doing the music a disservice.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  8. #57

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    An excellent discussion.

    I'm working at music, not getting paid much - but getting paid.

    I like to think of advice from an actor I saw in a TV interview. When asked the key to performing success, he responded "Do something people will pay to see." When I think about this while I play, I take more chances, do more daring stuff, try to get audience attention without being a clown. Or maybe sometimes being a clown...

  9. #58

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    A local restaurant owner advertised on Craigslist for a band to play at his new restaurant. No $ but, he said, it would be good exposure.

    A friend, a trumpet player, replied. He wasn’t interested in the gig. Rather, he was having some people over for dinner, and maybe the restauranteur would like to come over and cook for them. No money but it would be good exposure...

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Pretty good fantasy scenario and conclusions going on here.
    Even so, each of those things has happened to me at one time or another over almost 40 years as a professional musician.

    But my point was not that they happen often and not that they are the reason I play gigs. My point was and is that the benefits of playing any particular gig should and usually do go beyond the money that we make. (I'd be surprised if Jeff disagrees with that FWIW.)

    Posters on JGF will be shocked to hear that I don't play jazz for the money. If the music itself isn't the benefit there is no amount of money which makes up for turning music into drudge-work, or missing out on family time.
    "Don't worry about that. Everybody talks about finding your voice. Do your homework and your voice will find you." - Branford Marsalis

  11. #60

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    I'm inclined to agree with Sam, but I don't blame someone for turning down gigs for less than a threshold.

    Context is important. If it's my project I often go guarantor if we don't do so well on the door, but it's my music, my thing....

    If someone asks me to play cool original music in a bar for no money in London on a Monday, sure, but if I have to travel 3 or 4 hours to play background music for £150 on a Saturday night, nope.

    If I just placed my value as a simple lower threshold I'd not do half of the interesting gigs I do.

    Thing to bear in mind - if you are booked for any gig regardless of $$$ you have to make a decision if something else comes up - do I dep or do I say no? If you get offered a function REALLY good money and you have committed to doing a peanuts jazz gig, you have a dilemma, especially as it will be hard to find a dep, and if you do, that player may end up doing the project.

    Know your values, know what you want. You may need the money of the well paid function... life isn't fair, and while the bandleader won't blame you - unless they are the kind of arse you really don't want to work with - things may pan out differently. Every decision has a consequence.

  12. #61

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    200 gigs a year is a lot of gigs. Probably not many musicians do more than that.

    And, around here, averaging $100 per gig is also pretty good. Or, at least, that's my impression. I've heard that even musicians play major community theater gigs (shows with books) at significant ticket prices may be paid around that much. So, averaging $100 seems pretty good for a jazz musician.

    Now, to calculate return, you have to consider all the time that goes into playing those 200 gigs. I'd guess average for most players is at least 3 or 4 hours per gig, maybe more, depending on how far you have to travel, how difficult load-in is, etc.

    I live across the Bay from San Francisco. A lot of East Bay musicians play gigs in SF. Most have to drive and the traffic is usually awful. Parking is similarly bad, and you often have to pay for it. $7 for the bridge.

    Then there's the time it takes to book and manage the schedule, rehearse (if needed), maintain equipment and practice.

    A lot of players I know play situations where they are reading arrangements. Often, the charts are provided in advance and players can spend hours getting the material under their fingers.

    So how many hours per week is it really? And for about $20,000.

    I admire players who are skilled enough to get that many gigs. But, from a financial perspective, they're also (almost) giving it away.
    For the skill level, time and expense involved ...

  13. #62

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    Someone else (can't remember who!) put it very simply.

    Someone asks you to do a gig. If it makes you say 'hell yeah!' do it, otherwise, don't bother.

    The hell yeah will obviously vary from person to person, gig to gig.

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    200 gigs a year is a lot of gigs. Probably not many musicians do more than that.

    And, around here, averaging $100 per gig is also pretty good. Or, at least, that's my impression. I've heard that even musicians play major community theater gigs (shows with books) at significant ticket prices may be paid around that much. So, averaging $100 seems pretty good for a jazz musician.

    Now, to calculate return, you have to consider all the time that goes into playing those 200 gigs. I'd guess average for most players is at least 3 or 4 hours per gig, maybe more, depending on how far you have to travel, how difficult load-in is, etc.

    I live across the Bay from San Francisco. A lot of East Bay musicians play gigs in SF. Most have to drive and the traffic is usually awful. Parking is similarly bad, and you often have to pay for it. $7 for the bridge.

    Then there's the time it takes to book and manage the schedule, rehearse (if needed), maintain equipment and practice.

    A lot of players I know play situations where they are reading arrangements. Often, the charts are provided in advance and players can spend hours getting the material under their fingers.

    So how many hours per week is it really? And for about $20,000.

    I admire players who are skilled enough to get that many gigs. But, from a financial perspective, they're also (almost) giving it away.
    For the skill level, time and expense involved ...
    I used to do 200 a year. Mostly swing gigs. There's a lot of demand for swing and gypsy jazz, and for a while I was one of the guys on that scene in my city.

    It's not really enough to earn a living, and I decided I'd rather be playing other types of music too, fed up of noisy bar gigs and dance things that were my bread and butter, so my gig count dropped.

    But there's no gig I do that I don't want to do, and that's fantastic. That wasn't true 5 years ago.

    People who earn proper money in my town tend to be theatre players.

  15. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    200 gigs a year is a lot of gigs. Probably not many musicians do more than that.

    And, around here, averaging $100 per gig is also pretty good. Or, at least, that's my impression. I've heard that even musicians play major community theater gigs (shows with books) at significant ticket prices may be paid around that much. So, averaging $100 seems pretty good for a jazz musician.

    Now, to calculate return, you have to consider all the time that goes into playing those 200 gigs. I'd guess average for most players is at least 3 or 4 hours per gig, maybe more, depending on how far you have to travel, how difficult load-in is, etc.

    I live across the Bay from San Francisco. A lot of East Bay musicians play gigs in SF. Most have to drive and the traffic is usually awful. Parking is similarly bad, and you often have to pay for it. $7 for the bridge.

    Then there's the time it takes to book and manage the schedule, rehearse (if needed), maintain equipment and practice.

    A lot of players I know play situations where they are reading arrangements. Often, the charts are provided in advance and players can spend hours getting the material under their fingers.

    So how many hours per week is it really? And for about $20,000.

    I admire players who are skilled enough to get that many gigs. But, from a financial perspective, they're also (almost) giving it away.
    For the skill level, time and expense involved ...
    Rick,

    I feel quite fortunate to have this poorly paid (20K here in the Bay Area is pretty weak, indeed) 4th career. I have played gigs with Larry Coryell, Bruce Forman, Mimi Fox, Howard Alden, Andreas Oberg, Vince Lateano, Al Obidinski and many other top pros. Many long time local pros tell me that I am lucky to be playing this much in this day and age and still be getting paid, even if it is a pittance compared to what the gigs should pay.

    I will turn 62 this year and expect that I only have a few years left at this sort of thing. The venue owners/managers and agents who provide my gigs are all older than me and will be leaving the scene shortly. But it has been a great ride. I know that I have done my part in keeping our tradition alive. And I can honestly sat that I have done it well. While I am no Joe Pass or Wes Montgomery, I have put in the time to hone my craft to a level where top flight pros are comfortable playing with me. I know hundreds of tunes, can learn a new tune fast, my time is good, I can sight read pretty well, I can construct a well crafted solo, making the changes and I can provide accompaniment to a soloist that does not get in their way.

    If I taught, I suppose I could earn an extra 10K a year, but I hate teaching and I don't need the extra bread. And 30K (which is the average wage of a professional musician in the USA today) is barely a living wage (and in places like NYC or the Bay Area is NOT a living wage). All of my gigs are jazz gigs. If I played other styles, perhaps there might be more money, but playing jazz gives me pleasure. Playing other genres of music does not interest me and if making money is of importance, I could make a lot more money if I went back to practicing law (I am still licensed to practice in two States).

    Because of traffic and bridge tolls, I will not take an East Bay or Wine country gig for less than $250 these days. I feel the same about Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur gigs. Sitting in the car is no fun.

    But back to my points:

    Venues that cannot pay the musicians at least minimum wage should not have live music; and

    Those who have not put in the time to play at a pro level (or who simply lack the inherent talent to ever do so) should not be doing public performances.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I'm inclined to agree with Sam, but I don't blame someone for turning down gigs for less than a threshold.

    Context is important. If it's my project I often go guarantor if we don't do so well on the door, but it's my music, my thing....

    If someone asks me to play cool original music in a bar for no money in London on a Monday, sure, but if I have to travel 3 or 4 hours to play background music for £150 on a Saturday night, nope.

    If I just placed my value as a simple lower threshold I'd not do half of the interesting gigs I do.

    Thing to bear in mind - if you are booked for any gig regardless of $$$ you have to make a decision if something else comes up - do I dep or do I say no? If you get offered a function REALLY good money and you have committed to doing a peanuts jazz gig, you have a dilemma, especially as it will be hard to find a dep, and if you do, that player may end up doing the project.

    Know your values, know what you want. You may need the money of the well paid function... life isn't fair, and while the bandleader won't blame you - unless they are the kind of arse you really don't want to work with - things may pan out differently. Every decision has a consequence.
    I love that! So true.

    Just last Wed a bass player canceled on me an hour before a (not very well paid but regular) gig. Told me he fell off the stairs and damaged his hand. Knowing him and the way he worded it I highly suspect he got a call for a better paying gig and took it. Thing is he's also booked to play next Monday with me for a decent pay, and, he doesn't know it yet, but I took him off off it. Hand injuries are serious and need a healing time

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    Rick,


    But back to my points:

    Venues that cannot pay the musicians at least minimum wage should not have live music; and

    Those who have not put in the time to play at a pro level (or who simply lack the inherent talent to ever do so) should not be doing public performances.
    Basically, I agree with these points, but I'd add one thing.

    One of the issues here is that there are amateur players who sound pretty good. In order to be a pro at something you have to be much, much better than an amateur. The marketplace seems to reflect that. Restaurant gigs don't have to pay very much because they can get decent musicians for a song.

    The major concert venues pay higher prices (I hope!) for musicians who are simply at a dramatically higher level.

  18. #67

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    If you think there's anything that can come up to prevent you from playing a gig, have a good sub in mind.

    It's called common human decency. Clearly, it's the damn wild west out here.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  19. #68

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    I've stayed out of this discussion, because I've never played music for a living, and never seriously thought it was possible. Growing up on a dryland cotton farm where there is never enough rain tends to sharpen one's focus. I got other work, not necessarily enjoyable nor well-paying, but work I could get. Once I had a family, providing a living for them was my focus, and spending money on frivolous things like music never entered my mind. Well, it did enter, but it couldn't be allowed to take hold. But the subject at hand does have some interest to me, because it relates to other fields. If no one can play for free, or for little money, how does one survive and eat while learning the craft? No one, or at least no one I know of, is born knowing how to play jazz guitar at a high level. Once upon a time, someone who knew basic guitar comping could get a job, right out of high school or even earlier, playing for dance bands, and learn on the job. Lots of well-known players started that way. Not much opportunity for that these days, though. So IMO it's a complicated subject. Perhaps only individuals with a high degree of talent, who can learn very quickly, should even consider a career in music, and only play for money from the start. Those without the high level of talent should just do other work. That was my case, and I don't really regret it, because without the high level of talent making a decent living playing guitar is almost impossible. The few exceptions just prove the rule. Or perhaps anyone who wants to should be allowed to try to make a career playing. What do those with lesser talent do? Just sit at home and practice alone? I believe most people learn better, quicker, playing with others. I must admit I'm conflicted, and I can see multiple sides of the issue. It's hard for me to condemn someone for working for free or for cheap if I don't know their situation well. Most people, I believe, are incapable of putting the welfare of others above their own, and that's what this discussion is about, in essence. Ideally we would all consider the needs of others before our own, but in reality it happens so rarely as to be astonish us when it does happen. I've experienced people thinking only of themselves so often I expect it. I don't think most can do otherwise even if they tried. So I guess the point of a very long post is "I dunno".

  20. #69

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    Around here, it's understood, among players struggling to make a living at music, that they may cancel to take a better paying gig. The player who cancels is supposed to arrange the sub.

  21. #70

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    It's a complicated issue. Most people sell their services for what the market will bear. Society puts a lower bound on that with a minimum wage, but there are ways employers get around it, like unpaid internships.

    So, should we disparage somebody who is willing to play for what the market provides?

    Marc draws the line at minimum wage, which makes sense, although most minimum wage workers don't have to supply their own tools while managing what amounts to a small service business. You'd hope a musician could at least net the minimum wage.

    Above that line, most musicians are working for less money than a worker in some other line with equal time in would earn. Once you're working for cheap, can you really criticize those working for cheaper?

  22. #71

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    There are similarities to the years that I worked as a flying instructor. First, I pushed myself to gain the experience and creditials to legally teach all the curriculums-learn my craft. The crowded, big city market, and competition (from other Pros) drove the price we charged. Sure, some CFIs around the U.S. wanted to (and did) teach for free.

    You hopefully won't give it away like some guys with day jobs might without a second thought.

    The fact that guys that used to work a crowd are now working in a room with 5-10 people is a terrible trend. So much of that is about fewer fans to replace the old ones who sought live music for their ears.

    We need to cultivate youth to take jobs that will get their hands dirty as well as young people that will walk out the door to hear live (instrumental) performance.

  23. #72

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    I hope all these folks that live and gig in a location with an active music scene don't think it's a reflection of the broader jazz scene, and realize how lucky they are. If you don't live near an active jazz community, there's not much you're gonna do, and moving somewhere just to play jazz is about as stupid as moving somewhere to pan for gold.

  24. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    I love that! So true.

    Just last Wed a bass player canceled on me an hour before a (not very well paid but regular) gig. Told me he fell off the stairs and damaged his hand. Knowing him and the way he worded it I highly suspect he got a call for a better paying gig and took it. Thing is he's also booked to play next Monday with me for a decent pay, and, he doesn't know it yet, but I took him off off it. Hand injuries are serious and need a healing time
    I dep out a lot fewer gigs now then I used to.

    I depped my way out of a band on purpose once though. The bandleader ended up thinking it was their idea to work with other people :-) I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not haha

  25. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    Basically, I agree with these points, but I'd add one thing.

    One of the issues here is that there are amateur players who sound pretty good. In order to be a pro at something you have to be much, much better than an amateur. The marketplace seems to reflect that. Restaurant gigs don't have to pay very much because they can get decent musicians for a song.

    The major concert venues pay higher prices (I hope!) for musicians who are simply at a dramatically higher level.
    Indeed - but I think you are conflating the need to sell tickets with musical merit.

    A venue is most interested in whether or not they are going to lose money. In Greenwich Village jazz clubs I think audiences are more or less guaranteed so it’s the clubs who make the call, and I actually think it’s a bit more of a meritocracy (bearing in mind how problematic a concept that is lol) but in most cases here it’s, can you draw an audience? (Less so Ronnies cos it’s famous.)

    Furthermore, Peter Bernstein generally plays smaller venues than Pat Metheny.

    Imo it seems silly to compare them. Metheny has just got a bigger audience, for various reasons.

  26. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post

    So, should we disparage somebody who is willing to play for what the market provides?
    ...
    Once you're working for cheap, can you really criticize those working for cheaper?
    Couldn't agree more with this, this is my fundamental problem with disparaging "free" gigs. I don't think gigs that pay $20-$50 are that much different than "free" gigs. And we can disparage cheap gigs all we want, but, ultimately, the market for high quality jazz just isn't there in most places.

    My parents frequent a local restaurant in NC that I played at for many years, the restaurant has for 25+ years paid something like $50/person + dinner for musicians. Years ago, a lot of musicians boycotted the place because of the pay, but no one that goes there cares that much about the quality of the music, to be honest. Patrons like to see people playing on the small stage, the owner likes having live music, but they don't really need to have high quality music because no one really cares if the pianist is the next Keith Jarrett.

    I personally go out and see as much high quality live music as I can, and try to spend my money at places that have jazz.

    I think one thing that we miss here is that there are lots of things in the world like this; for example, Boxing. A relatively few elite athletes earn a lot of money boxing, virtually all other "professional" boxers work as trainers, or other day jobs. Everytime I watch the olympics, most sports that are showcased do not seem to have a path to providing a full time income for individuals, the olympic weightlifters all have day jobs, for example. We seem, culturally, to be stuck on the idea that musicians should be able to make a living, but I contend this is more due to recency bias (it's been possible for the last 100 years, sorta).

  27. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Furthermore, Peter Bernstein generally plays smaller venues than Pat Metheny.

    Imo it seems silly to compare them. Metheny has just got a bigger audience, for various reasons.
    If there's anyone who embraced the punk DIY aesthetic and applied it to jazz, it's Pat Metheny. In interviews I read, the early PMG did all the same things I did when I was a kid playing in ska bands: toured incessantly in a small van, slept on people's floors, would play literally anywhere, and sometimes lost money.

    Pat devoted a large chunk of his life to non-stop touring in order to build up the fan base he has today, I remember reading an interview from the 80s where he described his living situation as totally nomadic. I don't think he does this anymore (he has a family now), but he seems to have done this from when he was in his early 20s well through his 40s. that's a long time and a lot of dedication.

    I agree it's silly to compare Peter and Pat anyways, just wanted to point out that the level of touring that Pat has done in his career as I think we underestimate how much he scuffled early on.

  28. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    If there's anyone who embraced the punk DIY aesthetic and applied it to jazz, it's Pat Metheny. In interviews I read, the early PMG did all the same things I did when I was a kid playing in ska bands: toured incessantly in a small van, slept on people's floors, would play literally anywhere, and sometimes lost money.

    Pat devoted a large chunk of his life to non-stop touring in order to build up the fan base he has today, I remember reading an interview from the 80s where he described his living situation as totally nomadic. I don't think he does this anymore (he has a family now), but he seems to have done this from when he was in his early 20s well through his 40s. that's a long time and a lot of dedication.

    I agree it's silly to compare Peter and Pat anyways, just wanted to point out that the level of touring that Pat has done in his career as I think we underestimate how much he scuffled early on.
    'various reasons' :-)

  29. #78

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    Actually Pat's story should serve as a lesson to all.

    It's unlikely you are as talented as sometime wunderkind Pat.

    So don't moan about having no gigs. Go out and get them.

  30. #79

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    The gigs that annoy me are the ones where the band, or maybe some members of the band, are not getting anything out of the gig, whilst others are, and those others are taking advantage of the fact that musicians like to play, like to play live, and in the absence of anything else on will take such gigs. I've found it's not just pub owners, club owners, restaurateurs, (etc) but also other musicians who have this expectation that musicians will be happy to do freebies because they're doing what they love.

    There's a restaurant I know that gets a lot of bands and solo artists to play for nothing (because, of course, it's good for their exposure), and those artists bring in customers and the restaurant makes money.

    I know a songwriter who puts a band together and goes out for nothing quite often. He's happy doing so as he's retired and songwriting is his hobby and he loves to get his songs "out there". It's not a very good gig for his band members who have to go to rehearsals and learn all his songs and then for every paying gig, end up doing a free, or very low paying, one. They do so, because by then they're part of the band.

    There are numerous festivals put on every summer round these parts where the security company gets paid, the PA company gets paid, the advertisers, the car-parking stewards, the lighting team, the company that printed the posters and the tickers, all of them get paid. But the organisers can't afford to pay the musicians.

    There's a chap who plays in several bands who puts on a monthly "showcase" gig for his own bands (a good paying gig), and will pay a support act £10. Sure, that £10 means it's a paying gig for the support... until you buy a couple of beers and the petrol to get there. Now you're playing to pay. But it's good for your exposure...

    I've been in all of those situations over the last few years. But like DB, who started the thread, I've reached an age where I've chosen not to do them anymore. It means less gigs. But if I want to go out and play for free I can pick and choose - I can go to an Open Mic every day of the week, if I want, and play for free. Sometimes I do, if I have some new songs to try out.

    None of this is about making a living, or even about jazz - it's endemic in all genres - it's about being fair. If someone is making something from a musician, give them a little back. If no-one's being taken advantage of, then great, get out and play and have some fun.

  31. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Indeed - but I think you are conflating the need to sell tickets with musical merit.

    A venue is most interested in whether or not they are going to lose money. In Greenwich Village jazz clubs I think audiences are more or less guaranteed so it’s the clubs who make the call, and I actually think it’s a bit more of a meritocracy (bearing in mind how problematic a concept that is lol) but in most cases here it’s, can you draw an audience? (Less so Ronnies cos it’s famous.)

    Furthermore, Peter Bernstein generally plays smaller venues than Pat Metheny.

    Imo it seems silly to compare them. Metheny has just got a bigger audience, for various reasons.
    I think there is a strong, but far from perfect, correlation between quality and the ability to draw an audience.

    The jazz players I know who make the most money are pretty much the best players. They are also aware that they are entertainers, so that they try to make a show appealing. I can think of at least one player who is respected by other musicians and can't draw or hold an audience -- so the correlation isn't perfect, but it's there.

    The last few times I was in the Zinc Bar to see Strings Attached (five great guitarists, including the guest artist) it wasn't full - and it's a small room. Audience guaranteed?

  32. #81

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    Around here, I don't often hear anybody playing a standards gig. I know one group which does, but it's backing a vocalist for a clearly older crowd. And, their tunes are fully arranged (the kb player has an electronic kb adding parts, so it isn't even an entirely live gig). You might not call that jazz, but they do solo and that band has very good players.

    But, more often, the standards gigs are by more intermediate players. I don't think any of them really can draw an audience. And, from that, you might think there's no younger audience for standards.

    But, there's a local exception. There's a long standing Sunday evening jam, run by a jazz player who has a Grammy. Anyone can play, apparently, but the leader moves things along and does have the house band play a few tunes by themselves. They play jazz standards, they sound amazing and the youthful crowd responds enthusiastically. The difference is that the rhythm section is terrific and they take the music in unexpected directions that just work.

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    After the global communications giants relieve you of the money for TV, phone, internet, you are prone to immerse yourselves in a non-stop feast of an infinite source of music, movies, tv shows, gaming, sports, reading, web surfing, gambling, porn, social media.....whatever you want, they got it.

    Nothing is rare anymore, no limits, and that's how it's been for college age kids...since they were born.

    We just don't put any value on jazz, because a listen or a watch is just a click away, thanks to modern technology.

    Making money playing jazz music is more about being an innovative business person, than being a musician. But, this leads to the fact that a smart businessman or entrepreneur knows that there is nothing involving jazz that produces a worthwhile return on time or money invested. It's destined to fail. Thus our business environment is just a reflection of market economics. No demand, endless supply = no value

    People don't want to show up to see jazz, even when it's free admission. Like selling air conditioners to eskimo.
    I don't believe that jazz's problem is that recorded versions are easy to access.

    Yes, the fact that recorded music is just a click away has devalued recorded music. But ticket prices to see popular musicians are massively higher than they used to be. People are more willing than ever to pay for live performance. Maybe spending some of the money they have in their pockets from not buying CDs.

    Artists used to use tours as a loss leader to sell their album. Now the album is a loss leader and they make their money touring it.

    Jazz's problem isn't technology, it's an over-supply of musicians wanting to play it and an under-supply of people who like it enough to buy tickets.

  34. #83

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    I think this thread has it all upside down. It's professionals who are "stealing" gigs from serious amateurs not the other way around. That is if we adopt a meaningful definition for these terms:

    Serious amateur: Has mastered common repertoire in a limited range of styles in at least one instrument. Can perform these at a high level. At the very least at a level that's enjoyable to listeners. May not be qualified to teach advance musicians as there may be gaps in musical knowledge.

    Professional: There are 2 types:
    1- (Sidemen) Well versed in many musical styles. Is hirable for large variety of gigs/recording sessions. Is an excellent reader. Perhaps a multi instrumentalist. Can learn new repertoire very quickly or on the fly and not waste studio time or time of other highly paid personnel on short notice gigs. Can teach music at a high level. Difference between this type of professional and a serious amateur is the breadth, not depth so much. That wide skill set is key to constant stream of opportunities required to make a living in music without a day job.
    2- (Front-men) Naturally great musician. Either a charismatic performer or a brilliant musical talent that transcends common standards and magical in the way his or her music can capture the audience.

    Listeners buy tickets to see type 2 professionals in good music venues. Type 1 professionals are hired by type 2 professionals both for performance and recording needs.

    Serious amateurs take dive bar, restaurant/cafe gigs, occasional barmitzvahs, weddings etc. They provide affordable access to quality live music in styles that they specialize.

    Well. That's how it used to be at least. Now that the music scene has dried and session musicians replaced by computers, professionals are lowballing themselves to get gigs serious amateur bands used to get. Those are gigs offered at wages pros would laugh at 20-30 years ago. So I hear from older pros.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 02-25-2019 at 04:34 PM.

  35. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ozymandias View Post
    I don't believe that jazz's problem is that recorded versions are easy to access.

    Yes, the fact that recorded music is just a click away has devalued recorded music. But ticket prices to see popular musicians are massively higher than they used to be. People are more willing than ever to pay for live performance. Maybe spending some of the money they have in their pockets from not buying CDs.

    Artists used to use tours as a loss leader to sell their album. Now the album is a loss leader and they make their money touring it.

    Jazz's problem isn't technology, it's an over-supply of musicians wanting to play it and an under-supply of people who like it enough to buy tickets.
    It's certainly an issue for musicians who used to rely on an income stream from selling recorded music.

    From personal experience selling CD's is tricky when much of your audience doesn't even own a CD player.

    If you rely on the fees from gigs for your income you are essentially living hand to mouth.

    But in terms of the live experience I think you are right.

  36. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    The last few times I was in the Zinc Bar to see Strings Attached (five great guitarists, including the guest artist) it wasn't full - and it's a small room. Audience guaranteed?
    My experience is that there's, at any given time, a few clubs where you're gonna have a guaranteed audience in jazz: right now, that seems to be Smalls, which is always packed, Mezzrow, which takes overflow from smalls, and probably a few more places (I never go to the blue note and rarely to Dizzy's but in the past these places have always been packed). Additionally, there are always a few musicians that will be such a draw as to fill any place they play: when I moved to NYC in the early 00s, Brian Blade was most definitely in this category, as was Brad Mehldau.

    As for the rest of the places, even in the west village I think you are right that it is hit or miss, in my experience, anyways. Even the Vanguard is not always packed, particularly the late set on weeknights.

  37. #86

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    My experience is that there's, at any given time, a few clubs where you're gonna have a guaranteed audience in jazz: right now, that seems to be Smalls, which is always packed, Mezzrow, which takes overflow from smalls, and probably a few more places (I never go to the blue note and rarely to Dizzy's but in the past these places have always been packed). Additionally, there are always a few musicians that will be such a draw as to fill any place they play: when I moved to NYC in the early 00s, Brian Blade was most definitely in this category, as was Brad Mehldau.

    As for the rest of the places, even in the west village I think you are right that it is hit or miss, in my experience, anyways. Even the Vanguard is not always packed, particularly the late set on weeknights.
    I attended NYU in the mid 70's. Back then I could go to Stryker's, a small bar on the west side and on Tuesday nights see Chet Baker, on Wednesday nights it was Lee konitz and on Thursday nights it was the guitar duo of Chuck Wayne and Joe Puma. No cover, all you had to do was buy a cocktail ($2-3) and sit and enjoy the music. Or on Wednesday you could go up to the West End café and see Tiny Grimes (same deal). It was never crowded to see any of these legendary musicians. I often saw Joe Pass and Jim Hall perform at places like the Vanguard or Sweet Basil or the Bottom Line for a modest cover and again, never a big crowd. Not far from my apartment/dorm room in the Village was Bradley's where Barry Harris and Ahmad Jamal held court. No cover, never a crowd.

    Jazz has been dead (and a dead end money wise) for jazz musicians for a long, long time. Let's not act like the musical chairs just ended.

    All of that said, back in the late 70's and early 80's, I was making about the same pay for gigs as I am now with todays dollars being worth about 25% of what it used to be. The supply of willing (and sometimes able) musicians has increased while the demand has gone down (and it hasn't been great in the 46 years that I have been playing jazz in any case). I accept the free market, but I do not accept those who break the law (playing for free is illegal) nor do I accept those who publicly perform who are not competent to do so (in the old days, venue owners could tell who was competent and the incompetent were restrained from public performance, today ignorance about the music prevails).
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I think there is a strong, but far from perfect, correlation between quality and the ability to draw an audience.
    Ask David B about this hah. Suffice to say it's not quite so simple.

    True, there are famous jazz musicians, and there are indeed those with star quality.

    Also, those musicians tend to hail from a time when instrumentalists were a bigger deal culturally.... Jarrett is big because every boomer music obsessive had a copy of the Koln concert, not just the jazz fans... Metheny had PMG, and so on... I'm not those musicians could have the same career now.

    But the outliers like Metheny aside, jazz guitar is so.... marginal.... I mean the quality of the playing is obvious ridiculously high, but how do we evaluate it as an artform?

    I mean there's jazz that does well with the young people in London, it's a big cult thing, my students rave about it and then I listen to it.... It's OK. A bit bland. I don't really care for it, but what I know?

  39. #88

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    In my corner of the world, the better players get the bigger audiences.

    The groups that have audiences have a few things in common.

    The rhythm sections kick a**.

    The arrangements are varied and interesting.

    The true jazz players create great variations of the tunes, on the fly.

    They don't have mediocre soloists taking long solos

    Somebody personable fronts the band.

    The music is a mixture of accessible and challenging.

    For all but the concert attractions, the seating is at tables, not rows of seats like a theater.

    The successful groups have build a following over time by playing a lot of good music.

    And, first, last and not least, the rhythm sections kick a**.

    The bands that don't do well have a few things in common too.

    The rhythm sections aren't tight.

    Mediocre soloists play for too long.

    The tunes aren't arranged well, or at all.

    There is little group interaction/creativity.

    Some groups play overly challenging music all night.

    Etc..

    And, I've learned from some of the major concert groups which fill halls:

    1. They aren't afraid to play a familiar standard, but they don't do it all the time.

    2. They aren't afraid to get a groove on and vamp a few chords. They don't do that all the time either.

    3. They understand that a jazz show should be entertaining, so they front the band pleasantly, pace the show, sing something (even if they don't have a singer) feature different combinations of band members and so forth.

    For example, last time I saw Eliane Elias, she played Jobim standards, took off her shoes and danced the samba, and had an extended vamp on a 3625, among other things. She played with Steps Ahead. She can play. If it's good enough for her, it ought to be good enough for most people.

  40. #89

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger View Post
    None of this is about making a living, or even about jazz - it's endemic in all genres - it's about being fair. If someone is making something from a musician, give them a little back. If no-one's being taken advantage of, then great, get out and play and have some fun.
    It's just the market. In lines of work where supply outnumbers demand people will be offered little or no pay. Newspaper editorials (google translate) is a line of work where I've seen friends work 60+ hours a week for minimum wage in hopes of being promoted/fear of getting fired.

    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    The last few times I was in the Zinc Bar to see Strings Attached (five great guitarists, including the guest artist) it wasn't full - and it's a small room. Audience guaranteed?
    Yeah ... The market really isn't great

  41. #90

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    Actually I believe amateurship is getting more and more essential in general in today's world in marginal genres like jazz or early music.
    More important to keep some artistic movement living.

    I mean good kind of amateurship when people do something for love first of all but they have some skills and talent.

    t is very important in music.

    The thing is that real dedication to this music is getting possible mostly this way.

    It is very seldom that someone sets for jazz, medeival or renaissance music to earn lots of money, mostly people just really love this.

    Besides I know a lot of formal professionals who actually are very bad musicians, much worse than some amateurs.

    After all let us not forget that music essentially has nothing to do with money - it is all for love.

    We never say: oh Kafka, Faulkner and Proust were an amateurs! John Grisham is real pro! One should be pro!

    It works the same way in music. Just music has different social enviroment than literature but essentially it is the same thing.


    It is never-ending sorty though... of course amateurs - even very advanced - usually just do not have time to to bring up their skills and ideas to perfection.
    On the other hand proffesional often drown in routine, trying to convince themselves that this forced circumstances give them some invaluable skills (well it is true when you 20... but whne you are already 50 and still the same BS for money... I am not sure)

    Besides I know quite a few good professional players who say that they like to play at least occasional gigs with advanced amateurs because it is more interesting for them musically.

    For me the idea situation would be to have a nice daytime job that is not killing me and to play a couple of gigs per week preferably with the same group. And I think at least 2 rehearsals per week.

    For jazz it would be better to be in teh same style

    For early music I would prefer to have more or less the same program

    I really enjoy things when I hav epossibility to develope something but only stars can afford to rehearse a program and than tour with it for a year.... most pros I met play Vivaldi in the morning, country in evening... and next day some BS called 'Vivaldi-jazz' and the a catholic mass and then whatever they are paid for.

    I played for a year in classical group, theu met only before rare concerts - just ran through it all and that was it.
    I stayed there just for the sake to get to know some people and get used to classical stage feeling.

    But as a result it is not what the music for at least for me. It is not worth it.

  42. #91

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    My understanding is that modern jazz came from pit musicians jamming on show tunes in bars late night after their paying gigs.

    The man pays you for the show gig. The late night jam session music pays you with a different currency.

    “Jazz is the music of the unemployed.” Frank Zappa

  43. #92

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    Helps to bear in mind the primary form of jazz expression - the improvised solo - does not legally exist.

  44. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    A Blog entry from March last year:

    Dutchbopper's Jazz Guitar Blog: No more free gigs

    The market for jazz (guitar) gigs over here is so small that most actually play for change or for nothing at all. Especially amateurs.

    Return On Investment wise, I could not think of a worse occupation than that of gigging jazz musician. There is simply no significant market for it.

    Still, I refuse to play for free. A dilemma for sure ...

    DB

    Even Jesse Von Ruller plays free ? Gotta be in top 20 Jazz Guitarists today or top 40 ...

  45. #94

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Helps to bear in mind the primary form of jazz expression - the improvised solo - does not legally exist.
    My lawyer never told me that!

  46. #95
    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa View Post
    Even Jesse Von Ruller plays free ? Gotta be in top 20 Jazz Guitarists today or top 40 ...
    No, not JVR, MVI and some other name players and pros at the top. But below that people are playing for change and sometimes even for free. Even if they have a degree in music ...

    DB

  47. #96

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    Club owners don't care if someone has a degree, ( ! ) they care about Performer being able to draw customers into the Club primarily as they should...

  48. #97

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    My lawyer never told me that!
    Well if you could copyright solos, imagine....

    Would also get rid of those stupid videos where someone plays along with a solo to impress their mates

    OTOH would be a problem for jazz education textbooks - which is also a plus I suppose

  49. #98

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    There's always busking.

  50. #99

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Vinnie View Post
    There's always busking.
    sometimes it seems like there's ONLY busking...

    everywehre in the street (real busking), in the cafes and bars (play for donations), in the interent (please, support me, if you want to support it is just a price of a cup of coffe)

  51. #100

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    If ‘everyone is teaching’ where are the students at these gigs?