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  1. #1

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    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

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2
    A dilemma for sure, but I wouldn't pay a cover to see amateurs. If there is a cover, I would expect competent, professional musicians. The quality of venue often determines this as well.
    Jazz isn't dead. It just smells funny. FZ

  4. #3

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    I'm in a bit of a different place here; there is basically very little difference to me in playing a gig that pays $50 and a gig that pays nothing. And, I think that if all jazz musicians worldwide stopped deciding to play low paying gigs, the net result would be less jazz music in the world. In my experience, most restaurants and places that have jazz do this out of love for the music, not profit. Most club owners I know that have jazz lose money on it.

    I'm not so sure that our traditional notion of playing live jazz music for money is really a very common "profession" any more; outside of a few superstars, almost everyone supplements their income through teaching these days. I'm not going to name names but I will say that this includes people that headline international jazz festivals.

    I was living in San Francisco for a few years, and moving back to NY, it's pretty shocking to me how the scene has changed even in a couple years. Last night I went to see a very well known tenor sax player play at a great spot in the center of the west village, and there were 5 people at the gig. Couple weeks back I saw an all star quintet in brooklyn, and there were 10 people in the audience. This is not a moneymaking venture for anyone involved.

    In San Francisco, I knew very few people who made a full time living through music, and basically no one that did performing only full time, again, everyone seems to teach.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    The market for jazz (guitar) gigs over here is so small that most actually play for change or for nothing at all. Especially amateurs.
    Amateurs play for the love of what they're doing, for them to demand union wages or whatever is absurd. If amateurs are taking over the market, maybe the pros need to up their game or get a real job (like the amateurs), or teach...welcome to the real world. You either create a demand like the top pros do, or you follow where the demand is, eg other types of music and teaching.
    White belt
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  6. #5

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    I have a day job.

    I've also been in the situation where music has been my sole source of income. It's tough.

    I'll not forget that. So I don't screw people out of paying jobs by undercutting them just because I love to play.

    When you establish that you're worth nothing, you are.
    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

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I have a day job.

    I've also been in the situation where music has been my sole source of income. It's tough.

    I'll not forget that. So I don't screw people out of paying jobs by undercutting them just because I love to play.

    When you establish that you're worth nothing, you are.
    So should good amateur painters (that are wall worthy, but not great, say) not sell their work for cheaper than pros?
    White belt
    My Youtube

  8. #7

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    What price above free do you put on a gig, DB? Is $30-$50 enough, or is there a dollar amount that you need? I know lots of guys who won't leave the house for under XX amount.

    Also, does more money = more problems? The $500 weddings can be brutal, but sometimes playing for next to nothing in a club is really enjoyable. How do you square that circle?

    Great post, btw.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758 View Post
    Amateurs play for the love of what they're doing, for them to demand union wages or whatever is absurd. If amateurs are taking over the market, maybe the pros need to up their game or get a real job (like the amateurs), or teach...welcome to the real world. You either create a demand like the top pros do, or you follow where the demand is, eg other types of music and teaching.
    Most jazz amateurs around here I would not pay a dime for to watch them play. They should stick to jam sessions. Still, there's a handful of amateurs that really play on a pro level in my area. They all have jobs. Should they play for free? Because they have a job?

    What about the professional party band musician that knows three chords and plays 5 gigs a week. Should he make 300 bucks per night, just because he's a pro?

    What about the amateur DJ that has no musical skills at all - none whatsoever - and still gets the 500 bucks gig every week?

    Heck I did my 10.000 hours. Should I play for free coz I am just an amateur?

    Interesting point.

    DB

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by andrew42 View Post
    What price above free do you put on a gig, DB? Is $30-$50 enough, or is there a dollar amount that you need? I know lots of guys who won't leave the house for under XX amount.

    Also, does more money = more problems? The $500 weddings can be brutal, but sometimes playing for next to nothing in a club is really enjoyable. How do you square that circle?

    Great post, btw.
    I do not have the answers I'm afraid. I just really feel that playing for free is an insult to my craft. I'd say an amount covering expenses is the bare minimum for me to leave my house, which is quite comfortable 50 - 100 bucks for a local gig I guess, and that's still pretty much a joke for any pro in any field.

    DB

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758 View Post
    So should good amateur painters (that are wall worthy, but not great, say) not sell their work for cheaper than pros?
    Exactly. There's a gazillion amateur painters selling their stuff for nice to good to big money. We, as musicians, are expected to hand out those paintings for free.

    DB

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    I do not have the answers I'm afraid. I just really feel that playing for free is an insult to my craft. I'd say an amount covering expenses is the bare minimum for me to leave my house, which is quite comfortable 50 - 100 bucks for a local gig I guess, and that's still pretty much a joke for any pro in any field.

    DB
    Totally agree. Guys around here were making $100 in the 1970s.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    I do not have the answers I'm afraid. I just really feel that playing for free is an insult to my craft. I'd say an amount covering expenses is the bare minimum for me to leave my house, which is quite comfortable 50 - 100 bucks for a local gig I guess, and that's still pretty much a joke for any pro in any field.
    Sure, but what's the difference, here? it's not like anyone can make a living these days playing $50-100 gigs.

    I guess my main problem with this line of thinking is that the thought seems to be that some amount > 0 is better than 0, but then it either moves the conversation to "I wish people would not take $20 gigs because it undercuts pros", so, then the conversation is just about a new minimum. So, what's the point?

    Looking at it from a market angle, I just don't think there is a lot of demand for jazz music, there's plenty of supply of good players (a lot of whom make their living doing other things and don't need additional money), jazz gig rates are going to tend towards 0 and/or remain low. All the data I've ever seen or experienced in 25 years of playing jazz gigs supports this hypothesis.

  14. #13

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    It's a subject guaranteed to divide opinion. In the end, it is about supply and demand. If one wants to be paid then one needs to have a product that other people want and can't get cheaper (or free) elsewhere. If no-one wants that product (or are prepared to put up with the cheaper version) then no matter how much time and effort you have put into it, no matter how much gear you have bought, no matter how many years practising or how good you are... then none of it means anything. It's difficult, and heart-breaking, especially when this thing is a life-time passion. I daresay it's the same for ventriloquists. The key must be to find a way to generate the demand for one's own particular product. Not sure how, though.

  15. #14

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    Well, if you're selling paintings, you're not an amateur.
    Pricing yourself based on your worth and draw is not the same as playing for free, or undercutting to basically steal a gig. I'm not worth as much as Pat Metheny. But if I know a place pays $150 for a night of solo guitar, and I go in and offer to do it for $50, that $150 gig eventually becomes a $50 gig. That's simple economics.

    If we think this music has value, then we should act like it.

    RE: Price on a gig. $50 an hour is completely reasonable, and you're getting free travel and set up as far as I'm concerned. I don't leave the house for under $100. I don't leave the house much.

    When I did bigger theater gigs for country "shows," I worked out with the promoter a flat fee + a cut of the take + 1 paid rehearsal (since it was a touring solo act who put together a "band" in each city he went through. Let's just say that paid a lot more than a jazz gig
    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

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog View Post
    Most jazz amateurs around here I would not pay a dime for to watch them play. They should stick to jam sessions. Still, there's a handful of amateurs that really play on a pro level in my area. They all have jobs. Should they play for free? Because they have a job?

    What about the professional party band musician that knows three chords and plays 5 gigs a week. Should he make 300 bucks per night, just because he's a pro?

    What about the amateur DJ that has no musical skills at all - none whatsoever - and still gets the 5k gig every week?

    Heck I did my 10.000 hours. Should I play for free coz I am just an amateur?

    Interesting point.

    DB
    Yeah, but amateurs don't need to take free gigs, as a painter doesn't need to give paintings away, but if they want to why not (you don't want to give it away, so don't--you don't have to)? If they're amateurs that play at a pro level and can't get a paying gig, then I say take it or leave it-- it's not your lively hood. Keep the music to yourself or share it. If pros can't play better than an amateur to the point where the venue would prefer to pay for the better music, then they're not good enough to be a pro.

    Sure, the party band guy can make bucks because he's in demand. Doesn't matter that he's not talented. DJ's are in demand, that's why they make money.

    To go back to painting, Jazz guitar is like a style of painting that almost no one likes. If they want to make money then they better get a job or make art that sells.
    White belt
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  17. #16

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    No jazz musician should feel obligated to pay more than $50 to play for an audience.

    "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

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Well, if you're selling paintings, you're not an amateur.
    Then if you're getting paid gigs you're not an amateur
    White belt
    My Youtube

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbler View Post
    No jazz musician should feel obligated to pay more than $50 to play for an audience.

    He's here all week, people, try the fish, and remember to tip your waitress...and the guy playing guitar, we ain't paying him either.
    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

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758 View Post
    Then if you're getting paid gigs you're not an amateur
    Exactly.

    People don't seem to get this. You don't have to be a full time pro. But if you're getting paid, it's a job, act like it.

    I dunno. I'm cranky. I have no time for amateurs who show up late, drink on the gig, and play like shit. I'd rather stay home and play for the dog.
    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

  21. #20

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    I can see that, so I was a little confused because OP said he's amateur
    White belt
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  22. #21

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    I don't know about other places, but here in NYC tips mean a lot. If your base pay $50, you can hassle enough tips, it's worth it. You can demand more if you draw crowd. But I figured playing in restaurants and bars if you can get $100 it's really good. Some places even $150, and it's superb! The real dough though comes from private gigs, weddings, birthdays, whatever. But guess how you get those? Right, you playing $50 gigs so people can notice you and book for their events.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    The real dough though comes from private gigs, weddings, birthdays, whatever. But guess how you get those? Right, you playing $50 gigs so people can notice you and book for their events.
    Or befriend a wedding planner.

    We had a good friend who was, she'd do these trade shows, I'd give her business cards to put out--got dozens of wedding ceremony/cocktail hour gigs that way. That was back when people would check out a website.

    Sadly, she got married and moved to California...where she does the same thing...makes about 3x the money too...maybe I am in the wrong line of work Still have my tux, though, just in case.
    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

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    When you establish that you're worth nothing, you are.
    Unfortunately accepting this philosophy would lead to complete death for many arts. There would be no one to produce literary fiction, poetry, conceptual art etc. I have many artist friends, some do art full time. They rely on government grants or odd job here and there. One of my friends recently published a literary novel through a prestigious publisher. She slaved over the book for 3 years she got like 3 grands. 2 cents an hour. Can we say this is what she is worth? She is working on her second novel
    My GF just published a short story, got 50 dollars. Which was the submission fee. You need to send your story to 50 literary magazines to get published in one. That's if you are really good. All of them charge for submission. Will she ever cover the cost of her prestigious MFA graduate degree NO, but she had blast doing it.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Unfortunately accepting this philosophy would lead to complete death for many arts. There would be no one to produce literary fiction, poetry, conceptual art etc. I have many artist friends, some do art full time. They rely on government grants or odd job here and there. One of my friends recently published a literary novel through a prestigious publisher. She slaved over the book for 3 years she got like 3 grands. 2 cents an hour. Can we say this is what she is worth? She is working on her second novel
    My GF just published a short story, got 50 dollars. Which was the submission fee. You need to send your story to 50 literary magazines to get published in one. That's if you are really good. All of them charge for submission. Will she ever cover the cost of her prestigious MFA graduate degree NO, but she had blast doing it.
    But that's not what I'm saying.

    There's established values on some artistic services, you can find out what they are if you do your research. Creative writers, novelists..they know (or they should know at least) that their chances of becoming JK Rowling are like a kid on the playground's chances of being Manny Machado. And there's no real established worth on creative writing, unfortunately.

    But gigging music is really a service industry job...if you know a place is paying a cat $150 to play some music, that's what that gig is worth. You go less, well, you show you're not worth as much, and you bring down the value of the gig with you.

    There's plenty of places to play that never paid anybody anything--and they're not going to start to. So if a person wants to "just play," there's a great place to start.
    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

  26. #25

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    I'd pay Peter Bernstein to play my party for X dollars, but that doesn't mean I'd pay your average weekend warrior the same amount for the same gig. He would play it for less, then I have to decide if I want to pay more for Peter Bernstein or if I'll settle for this other guy to save money.

    My wife's uncle hires a band from the 80's that have a name and songs on the radio etc every year to play 4th of July. I'm sure he pays a fair amount, but he wouldn't pay a local cover band that price for the same gig
    White belt
    My Youtube

  27. #26

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    I read that Van Halen used to throw big open parties when they were starting and play at them. People would throw them a few bucks (or not) but who cared, they got to play and have a blast. These parties became large affairs and word got around that the band was pretty good and this led to paid gigs.

    So there's an idea. Throw a party and you be the band/performer. (If you find this too intimidating then perhaps you are not ready for prime-time.)

    Invite anyone and everyone. Tell people to bring food and drink.

    My 59 year old college roommate (pop/folk music genre) does this at his house. Has a few steady bandmates of different ages who play with him. Invites the neighbors and friends. They play in his backyard and he gets anywhere from 20-50+ people who show up to have fun. Young people show up too.

    I've never been as he lives in another state but I've seen his pics.

    Just a thought. Have a jazz party. Keep your day job for now.
    "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

  28. #27

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    Plenty of free web traffic, though.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbler View Post
    I read that Van Halen used to throw big open parties when they were starting and play at them. People would throw them a few bucks (or not) but who cared, they got to play and have a blast. These parties became large affairs and word got around that the band was pretty good and this led to paid gigs.

    So there's an idea. Throw a party and you be the band/performer. (If you find this too intimidating then perhaps you are not ready for prime-time.)

    Invite anyone and everyone. Tell people to bring food and drink.

    My 59 year old college roommate (pop/folk music genre) does this at his house. Has a few steady bandmates of different ages who play with him. Invites the neighbors and friends. They play in his backyard and he gets anywhere from 20-50+ people who show up to have fun. Young people show up too.

    I've never been as he lives in another state but I've seen his pics.

    Just a thought. Have a jazz party. Keep your day job for now.
    I mean, why not?

    I had a band in high school/college...played weird rock (think Zappa interpreted by non-talented musicians), we were underage...we'd rent the local VFW hall with another band who was old enough to sign for it...sell tickets for a few bucks...made hundreds of dollars profit, which we blew on pizza and grass. But that's when we were young and nobody had anything to do, so they might as well come see us.

    It's the whole punk DIY thing. Jazz might need to embrace that. Could be 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

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I mean, why not?

    I had a band in high school/college...played weird rock (think Zappa interpreted by non-talented musicians), we were underage...we'd rent the local VFW hall with another band who was old enough to sign for it...sell tickets for a few bucks...made hundreds of dollars profit, which we blew on pizza and grass. But that's when we were young and nobody had anything to do, so they might as well come see us.

    It's the whole punk DIY thing. Jazz might need to embrace that. Could be fun.
    fuck yea (minus the hippie rock)
    White belt
    My Youtube

  31. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758 View Post
    Yeah, but amateurs don't need to take free gigs, as a painter doesn't need to give paintings away, but if they want to why not (you don't want to give it away, so don't--you don't have to)? If they're amateurs that play at a pro level and can't get a paying gig, then I say take it or leave it-- it's not your lively hood. Keep the music to yourself or share it. If pros can't play better than an amateur to the point where the venue would prefer to pay for the better music, then they're not good enough to be a pro.

    Sure, the party band guy can make bucks because he's in demand. Doesn't matter that he's not talented. DJ's are in demand, that's why they make money.

    To go back to painting, Jazz guitar is like a style of painting that almost no one likes. If they want to make money then they better get a job or make art that sells.
    I personally think there are plenty of free gigs out there which are completely appropriate: nursing homes, jam sessions, open mics. The problem is when you start doing (what should be) paid gigs for free or for close to nothing.

    I mean... There are plenty of people out there who would love to work for a lot less than minimum wage outside of music as well, because they're desperate for work etc. At what point does sharecropping become less than charitable and demean someone's humanity? At a certain point, these conversations can get more philosophical, but there is such a thing as human dignity. what is an hour of anyone's life really worth? How many hours of work are represented in one hour of music performed etc?

    Most of these problems stem from how MUSICIANS view and value their OWN time, more so than the general public. Musicians who would never think of asking someone else to do fair work for NOTHING act as if they feel guilty for charging something at all levels. I have a friend with a fully booked studio who undercharges for lessons and feels guilty for thinking of raising rates.

    A hundred bucks is a meal out for a small family nowadays. If a musician can't consider that leaving their house for a performance is worth more than a single meal, the problem isn't with society at large.

    It really doesn't matter how you approach it philosophically.... You can go the route of "moral imperatives" for meeting human dignity ....or more pragmatically as supply and demand economics, ....but musicians doing something for next to nothing doesn't help ANYONE. I think it would be better to organize a jam or do something that is legitimately charitable. I take groups to nursing homes all the time, and it's really good for your soul. Do it.

    There are plenty of opportunities to help folks who need it, without doing "charity" for those who could reasonably be expected to pay for something. It's an indignity to both parties in my opinion.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 02-22-2019 at 03:37 PM.

  32. #31

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    Re: hippie rock

    We were probably so uncool we were cool. Looked like second hand Nirvana, played like the Dead on a bad night, covered everything from the Dead Boys to REM to Allman Bros..but also did comedy routines, had friends who'd dress up in costume. Went on a big Andy Kauffmann kick, once had a friend pretend to beat me up on stage (he got a little too into it, actually busted my lip) People used to request "alternative rock" tunes we hated, we'd hook up a discman to our PA, play a CD and "mime" to it. I wish some tapes existed. We were together for like 10 years, started as a six piece, ended as a trio...good times.
    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

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Re: hippie rock

    We were probably so uncool we were cool. Looked like second hand Nirvana, played like the Dead on a bad night, covered everything from the Dead Boys to REM to Allman Bros..but also did comedy routines, had friends who'd dress up in costume. Went on a big Andy Kauffmann kick, once had a friend pretend to beat me up on stage (he got a little too into it, actually busted my lip) People used to request "alternative rock" tunes we hated, we'd hook up a discman to our PA, play a CD and "mime" to it. I wish some tapes existed. We were together for like 10 years, started as a six piece, ended as a trio...good times.
    okay that sounds cool. I was in a punk band called stabbed in the face and we had a guy dressed like the ultimate warrior smash us with chairs
    White belt
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  34. #33

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    Many people do art at a serious level for self actualization. They are aware that the time they put in, what they produce won't be "paid for", but they still do because it's still worth it. Jazz is no different than other art forms in that respect. There are more poetry books than poetry readers and probably (a lot) more jazz players than the "paying" market needs.
    I see the "service industry" angle as it's a performance that the venue arranges because it helps with their revenues. But not enough that they can't do without in most cases unless it's a dedicated jazz club. In fact during most shows at Toronto's biggest jazz club (The Rex), musicians' income is whatever they can get in the tip jar. Bar pays the musicians only when they charge for cover which happens at certain "primetime" hours, mostly in the weekend evenings.
    The thing is most people enjoy playing in a band in front of a real audience (like most writers want to be published even if the publisher says they won't pay them). It is "service" but it's not cleaning tables for free. It has it's rewards. It's a great way for musicians to gain experience and play with more experienced players. It's "volunteering" for your own benefit.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 04-23-2019 at 02:58 PM.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758 View Post
    okay that sounds cool. I was in a punk band called stabbed in the face and we had a guy dressed like the ultimate warrior smash us with chairs
    Sounds awesome. That's some entertainment right there.
    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

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Sounds awesome. That's some entertainment right there.
    I'm imagining Joe Pass fake smashing a chair over Ella Fitzgerald's head during their concert together.

    Wow, that would wake the audience up.
    "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

  37. #36

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    In reality an amateur musician with a day job can't compete in quality with a pro, not in NYC. The standards are too high. So if it's a place with reputation, they are not going to hire a band to play for free because everyone understands the value. But a lot of places dont have budget for music anyway, so they only happy if someone volunteers to play for free. Usually though, its singer songwriters or rock bands. Not many jazz musicians, if any.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew42 View Post
    I know lots of guys who won't leave the house for under XX amount.
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I don't leave the house for under $100. I don't leave the house much.
    No offense to either of you, but my regular response to that line is: "So, how much does it take to get you to play your best?"

    Because that's the next step down that path.


    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbler View Post
    I read that Van Halen used to throw big open parties when they were starting and play at them. . . . These parties became large affairs and word got around that the band was pretty good and this led to paid gigs.
    That turned into a career for The Grateful Dead. Here's Lesh, Garcia & Weir at an Acid Test:


    "Don't worry about that. Everybody talks about finding your voice. Do your homework and your voice will find you." - Branford Marsalis

  39. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Re: hippie rock

    We were probably so uncool we were cool. Looked like second hand Nirvana, played like the Dead on a bad night, covered everything from the Dead Boys to REM to Allman Bros..but also did comedy routines, had friends who'd dress up in costume. Went on a big Andy Kauffmann kick, once had a friend pretend to beat me up on stage (he got a little too into it, actually busted my lip) People used to request "alternative rock" tunes we hated, we'd hook up a discman to our PA, play a CD and "mime" to it. I wish some tapes existed. We were together for like 10 years, started as a six piece, ended as a trio...good times.
    I might not pay for much, but I would pay to see your reunion tour!
    Jazz isn't dead. It just smells funny. FZ

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    No offense to either of you, but my regular response to that line is: "So, how much does it take to get you to play your best?"

    Because that's the next step down that path.



    That turned into a career for The Grateful Dead. Here's Lesh, Garcia & Weir at an Acid Test:


    I always play my best. If I'm playing in public, you get all of me. Not sure why you'd think differently. I dont have time for bullshit phone ins...you hire me, you get a pro who earns his pay. And anybody who doesn't give their all doesn't deserve a dime.

    I'm fucking insulted you'd think differently. I dont think I I've ever represented myself here as someone who'd half ass a gig.
    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

  41. #40

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    In my professional life I work a lot with start-ups. One thing I have to tell clients all the time is that the customer doesn't have to make your business work for you. If they have unreasonable expectations, they have unreasonable expectations. If they don't value the quality you offer, they don't value the quality you offer. If they are paying more for less elsewhere, they are going to pay more for less elsewhere.

    I wish I could have made a living as a craftsman or artist, but the public is not interested in paying money to hear most of us play jazz (or the Piedmont blues that I spent decades playing). There seem to be a couple of cities where the VERY BEST might eke out a living. For the rest, it doesn't matter how much you have given to your art or how empirically good you are. If they are not willing to pay you to play, they aren't going to pay you to play.

    But the flip side to that is that you don't owe it to anyone to play for free. Why bother? I think we all know that playing for free isn't going to magically transform into the exposure needed to command a reasonable fee later. The problem isn't exposure, it's the market. The market is going away, not the other way around. So if it isn't going to pay your bills you better be doing it for love. And if playing for free at a gig doesn't bring you joy --F it!
    Attached Images Attached Images No more free gigs-peanuts-4-3-10-gif 

  42. #41

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    I play in a big band and an octet. Most of the players involved in these groups are pros in music. There might be a few who can make a middle class living at it (I'm not sure about that) but nobody is making much money playing in groups of 19 or even 8.

    My octet was playing for dinner twice a month and yet we had pros .. not names you'd be likely to know, but players like the lead alto for a band you'd know. One of them gigged all the time with good bands (names you'd know locally and maybe beyond) but I can't believe there'd be much money. Most of the good players taught; some in a music store type situation, others in regular schools.
    At least one former NYC Broadway guy gigged all the time -- but I think it helped that his wife had a tech job of some kind.

    One guy I play with does Real Estate Open House gigs with a singer. Trio or quartet. One high end Realtor uses them at his open houses for big homes. I think they pay around $100 per person. Another guy, a guitarist who is well known locally plays nursing home and hospices -- I think he may have some kind of training or credential for working in those situations.

    I know some truly great players. The ones I know all teach.

    Some of the players I know who take the trouble to be leaders and book gigs often report that they pay their sidemen decently and may not make anything themselves.

    There may well be players around who are able to get enough high paying gigs to make a decent living, maybe we'll hear from some in this thread.

  43. #42

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    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.

  44. #43

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    When I have friends over for a party, I have to put my guitars in storage. The last time we had a Christmas party some friends were singing carols and they asked me to play. I told them my wife would come around and collect $10 from everyone. That didn't go over well at all. Losers.

    David

  45. #44

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    What a topic. In my mind is shows how we have to be able to adapt to changing times, social values, and markets. And accordingly, we have to put a realistic value on what we are trying to offer given the current climate so that we can make good decisions.

    I personally feel that the old verse of "Casting your pearls before swine" may apply here, at least a little. But, maybe that is arrogant of me to hold Jazz music, especially well-played Jazz music, in such high esteem.

    I dunno....

  46. #45

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    Here's a thought.

    If the idea that jazz used to be an elite club were true because back then pro musicians were plenty busy performing and didn't have time to teach amateurs on the side, wouldn't the worst thing to do be to teach hoards of amateurs then dispatched to the music marketplace to compete against the teaching pro, directly where they live and try to work, offering less value, for less?

    Seems to me teaching others to do what you depend upon would be the definition of counter productive. Even more so if the amateur student hoards' inferior music is performed and spread around enough that people in general grow to believe jazz just isn't that good a sounding music. So the harder it is to make it as a pro, the more one strives to make it by teaching others to do that same work...

    Anyone ever consider the way to save jazz might be to stop teaching it?
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    Anyone ever consider the way to save jazz might be to stop teaching it?
    Great point. Tell all the Jazz majors lol

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    Here's a thought.

    If the idea that jazz used to be an elite club were true because back then pro musicians were plenty busy performing and didn't have time to teach amateurs on the side, wouldn't the worst thing to do be to teach hoards of amateurs then dispatched to the music marketplace to compete against the teaching pro, directly where they live and try to work, offering less value, for less?

    Seems to me teaching others to do what you depend upon would be the definition of counter productive. Even more so if the amateur student hoards' inferior music is performed and spread around enough that people in general grow to believe jazz just isn't that good a sounding music. So the harder it is to make it as a pro, the more one strives to make it by teaching others to do that same work...

    Anyone ever consider the way to save jazz might be to stop teaching it?
    Yeah, because pro's are just superpowered mutants. They were born pro. Nobody taught them how to play Jazz.
    May be you haven't given much thought to the idea you're proposing

  49. #48

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    This came to mind.

    In the NYC of my youth, the playground I played ball in had a section with tennis courts. To use them, you had to have a "tennis permit", meaning you paid a fee to play tennis.

    My guess is that a lot of people who paid that fee didn't play tennis well enough to get paid to play -- and knew perfectly well they never would.

    Should they have given up? Should teachers have refused to teach them?

    I know, it's far from a perfect analogy, but the fact is, people like to play this music and enjoy playing for others' enjoyment.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Yeah, because pro's are just superpowered mutants. They were born pro. Nobody taught them how to play Jazz.
    May be you haven't given much thought to the idea you're proposing
    I am one who believes the musical part of music may be learned, but can't be taught.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I always play my best. If I'm playing in public, you get all of me. Not sure why you'd think differently. I dont have time for bullshit phone ins...you hire me, you get a pro who earns his pay. And anybody who doesn't give their all doesn't deserve a dime.

    I'm fucking insulted you'd think differently. I dont think I I've ever represented myself here as someone who'd half ass a gig.
    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.
    "Don't worry about that. Everybody talks about finding your voice. Do your homework and your voice will find you." - Branford Marsalis