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S-L-A-C-K-E-R
05-21-2007, 10:24 AM
Hi,

I'm new to this site and new to performing.

I'm hoping to get to the point where I can do solo acoustic gigs (guitar, vocals, and Looping with RC-2) at small coffee houses and bars and outdoor places.

I am in the process of seeing how I could manage this financially. I am married so I don't have a ton of money to drop on gear. :D So I am hoping that the money I can raise at gigs will pay for my equipment eventually (PA system, mics, mic stands, effects, etc.). So in order to put some numbers to my reasoning, can you guys who do similar type gigs give me some gig rates that you charge so I can do some calculations?

Thanks

:guitar:

Guyute
05-21-2007, 10:48 AM
This is really dependent on the market. If you let people know where you're planning to play, I'm sure someone around the area will be happy to help you set up a pricing schedule.

As for me, I play everything from paid gigs to gigs for just tips. I base the rate on what the market will bear.

Feedback100
05-21-2007, 12:10 PM
I charge $150 minimum for gigs I book myself. $200 for gigs booked through my agent. These are for gigs in resteraunts and bars playing covers. Guys playing originals make a lot less in my area. Parties are $400 minimum. Gigs are anywhere from 3 hours to 4 hours. The 4 hour gigs are brutal, but pay well.
Try not to play for small money as it waters down the market for people trying to make a living.

Guyute
05-21-2007, 12:14 PM
Amen to that. That's why it's important to find out what others in YOUR area charge.

mapletrees
05-21-2007, 12:39 PM
if the dog pees on my feet....

I'm out the price of shoes...

if he just farts and walks away...

I break even...

Guyute
05-21-2007, 12:54 PM
Someone needs a new dog

MikeVB
05-21-2007, 01:07 PM
How many songs, generally speaking, does one need to have worked up tohave enough material to do 3 or 4 hours at a gig?

How many sets and how long each?

Thanks

preston
05-21-2007, 01:18 PM
I generally charge about $25,000 so I only have to play two or three a year . . . .http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/36/36_1_13.gifhttp://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/36/36_11_6.gifhttp://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/5/5_5_140.gif

don't buy that ? OK . . . I usually take a percentage of the door at paying establishments or rely on the kindness of the venue when playing houses of worship.

Like the guys said, depends on where you live and what opportunities there are.

Guyute
05-21-2007, 01:35 PM
How many songs, generally speaking, does one need to have worked up tohave enough material to do 3 or 4 hours at a gig?

How many sets and how long each?

Thanks
Again, it depends. Some songs are longer than others and if you've got a duet thing, then you can always draw them out with long exploratory jams ;)

But, if you figure 4 minutes per song, you should then figure around 60 songs for a 4 hour gig? Of course, factor in things like talking to the audience, how long of a break you're going to take. I generally take about 5 minutes every hour just to break it up and let my fingers rest or get a refill on my drink.

I think the last 4 hours show I played had around 40 songs, but about 35% of the show was played with my friend playing lead, so those songs tend to be more like 7-8 minutes. It differs for every gig though.

You should also figure that if you're going to be doing it regularly, you probably want at least 100 songs in your repertoire or people are going to get bored seeing the same thing over and over at every show.

Feedback100
05-21-2007, 01:48 PM
You take 5 minute breaks?! Round here, the 40/20 rule definetly works. Are you sure you have to? You may be working way to hard.

min7b5
05-21-2007, 01:54 PM
Almost all my gigs are private events in and around Portland Or, and often Seattle. As an acoustic jazz soloist, I charge between $300 and $600 for two and a half hours of music. There are some variables, notably travel... and sometimes people will need a little less time, but thatís about average for me. I do about two of those gigs a week. I also play a regular restaurant gig here in Portland. Iíve played there every Friday for four years, Thereís almost never a private or corporate on a Friday, so that works out well for me. He pays me a very modest hourly rate, but I can sell CDís, receive tips, and drink a lot of great local pinot. That gig usually ends up only being about $100 or so, but itís fun, relaxing, close to the house...:)
It all depends on your market. When I lived in San Francisco I was able to charge more... but of course my mortgage was lot more too... I guess itís relative. You just have to ask around, maybe call a few musicians that are advertising themselves. If you want to make more in venues/ coffee shops you have to of course bring in people... If you want to make more in the private events it takes money up front. You need to get an advertising plan together, business cards, letterhead, at least one nice suite...

lfyost
05-21-2007, 02:08 PM
I go either 45-15 or 50-10.

Figure 12-14 songs per set.

You will play more songs per set in the beginning of your career due to nerves and lack of patter.

It get easier and easier.

Some years you may make hundreds and hundreds of dollars!

Guyute
05-21-2007, 02:24 PM
You take 5 minute breaks?! Round here, the 40/20 rule definetly works. Are you sure you have to? You may be working way to hard.
I just stop and start when I feel like it. If I don't get back up and play more, I start getting antsy :lol:

S-L-A-C-K-E-R
05-21-2007, 02:29 PM
For you guys that play the 3-4 hour gigs, do you do that out of your own free will or is that the amount of time places ask you to play for them?

4 hours sounds like a lot to me.

This music stuff is my hobby really. I want to perform places mostly for my own enjoyment. I'm hoping the money just pretty much supports my equipment expense so I can break even. 4 hours sounds like hard work. The last thing I want is my hobby to turn into a second job that I begin to dislike.

Do you think that places would let me play for less time? Say an hour or two? Of course, I would ask for less money.

Also, I don't have near enough songs to fill 4 hours. I'm just starting, so I still need to build my setlist up to an hour.

Thanks for the numbers so far guys. It's a big help. I'm sure I would be asking for quite a large sum less than what you guys have mentioned since I am a hobbyist and not a professional. I don't plan to play for free but I don't think I am good enough to charge hundreds of dollars a gig because I'm just not that good ...... yet.

Thanks for the help so far. Keep 'em comin'

LiveMusic
05-21-2007, 02:52 PM
It's not worth your while or theirs to play for an hour. Figure two hour minimum. Bar gigs are usually 3 to 4 hours. Restaurants, 2 to 3 hours. And always charge a fee, don't play for free. Also consider using a simple contract.

12 to 14 songs per set is about right.

You do have to take breaks now and then. 45/15 is pretty standard. I often play two sets before I take a break and I always end up playing more than agreed upon. I mean, I take fewer breaks and shorter breaks. But at least 10 minutes. You need to go to the bathroom, let your fingers rest, chat with patrons, etc. But you don't want to have them walk out the door, either. Breaks can kill a crowd.

You can use lead sheets if you have trouble remember words. It's best not to but if it's a problem for you, do it. Hardly anyone will notice. And undoubtedly, a musician. Who cares what another musician thinks? :D

lfyost
05-21-2007, 03:17 PM
In the electric band I'm in, 3 hour sets (Friday's) and 4 hour sets (Saturday's) is pretty standard.

When I do solo or small acoustic group coffee house or restaurant gigs it's more often 1.5 - 2 hours.

12-14 songs per set either way.

Yes, 4 hour gigs can be brutal, but the dancing get better and better as the night deepens.

gjensen7
05-21-2007, 03:25 PM
Our band will generally do a 3 hr gig...3 sets (about 10 to 12 songs per set).
Price definitely varies..we live and work in Southern California and a lot depends on the venue.

We've played gigs that have paid as low as $50 (really doesn't amount to much divided up). I think that most local establishments pay between $200 and $600 for an evening. Weddings can be a real money maker (relatively speaking ;)- $1000 and up). We've played a few "freebies", but frankly really resent it! I feel that anyone who has live music has an obligation to offer something...even if they are on a low or tight budget. It's just common courtesy to offer some $$ to cover expenses at the minimum.

TRW1
05-21-2007, 07:14 PM
I'm in the Atlanta area. Some places pay $150 for a solo, usually 4 hours. More places pay $100-$125, three hours. I try to stay away from bars- had enough of that years ago. Restaurants (that still serve alcohol) are more fun for me and easier. I get some really great regular crowds and try to have fun with them. If I have a receptive crowd and can get some patter going, around 45-50 songs is typical. I take breaks when it feels right, never really on a set time table. Of course, it helps a lot if the house is sending me free beers! I'll gladly take the shorter/lesser paying venue, especially if it's only a few miles from home. With gas inching up towards the $4.00 per gallon mark, travel distance is becoming more of a factor. I have managed to book a few private parties or corporate gigs in the $300-$350 range, but those are rare for me.

GmanJeff
05-22-2007, 07:01 AM
My 4-piece Northern Virginia classic rock band usually plays for 4 hours, 45 minutes on, and 15 minute breaks, with 10-11 songs per set. We have played for as little as two hours at a corporate event, and sometimes have played for 3hours, but 4 seems to be the norm at restaurants.

The time goes by really quickly, and we don't mind the length of the shows at all.

crowdedstr
05-22-2007, 08:30 AM
You take 5 minute breaks?! Round here, the 40/20 rule definetly works. Are you sure you have to? You may be working way to hard.

wow... crazy. if i play a 3-3.5 hour gig, i'll take one break for about 15 minutes... 20 if i'm really stretching it and/or mingling/drinking with the bar patrons. i'd feel bad if i took much longer than that.

crowdedstr
05-22-2007, 08:47 AM
For you guys that play the 3-4 hour gigs, do you do that out of your own free will or is that the amount of time places ask you to play for them?

well, i really only play bars. so that usually means a 9:30pm start on weekends and they want you to play till relatively close to bar time.

sometimes i'll get summertime afternoon gigs which would be like a 3-6pm type thing, so with my break it would be a bit shorter, but those are more laid back shows where people are just hanging out, not really tying one on like the majority of the places i play.

This music stuff is my hobby really. I want to perform places mostly for my own enjoyment. I'm hoping the money just pretty much supports my equipment expense so I can break even. 4 hours sounds like hard work. The last thing I want is my hobby to turn into a second job that I begin to dislike.

i have to admit, sometimes it feels like work for me (but usually only before i have to load up the car and actually go to play... once i'm there, i'm happy!), but not too often... it's always a good time.

as for the timing of the shows, when i started, i basically knew the market i was getting into, and the longer weekend gigs (and some 3hr midweek gigs) are what i came to expect. the difference between you and i is that i definitely use gigging as supplemental income to my day job. it works well for me and allows me to have a lot more financial freedom

Do you think that places would let me play for less time? Say an hour or two? Of course, I would ask for less money.

as guyute said, this is going to completely depend on your market. if some places will not "book" you for just an hour or two, maybe you could talk to them and say you'll just do it pro-bono and play for tips, or sell cd's and such (if you have any).

just be friendly, willing to cooperate, and realize that this is a business transaction... so treat it as such. professionalism and willingness to negotiate is key.

Dilbert
05-23-2007, 06:13 AM
Crickey, you guys play long shows in the USA. Over here my function band will play either 2 x 1 hour sets or 3 x 40 minute sets. We will very occasionally do 3 x 1 hour sets but these are very rare. The duo tends to be similar, time wise. I have never played for 4 hours :eek:

As for money, it varies between £600 ($1200) and £1000 ($2000) for the band (excluding New Years Eve of course where the rate is nearer £2000) and the duo £200 ($400). If we were based in London, these rates would be double.

We play the occasional pub gig for publicity purposes and have a couple of charities where we play for a reduced fee.

Guyute
05-23-2007, 09:56 AM
Crickey, you guys play long shows in the USA. Over here my function band will play either 2 x 1 hour sets or 3 x 40 minute sets. We will very occasionally do 3 x 1 hour sets but these are very rare. The duo tends to be similar, time wise. I have never played for 4 hours :eek:

As for money, it varies between £600 ($1200) and £1000 ($2000) for the band (excluding New Years Eve of course where the rate is nearer £2000) and the duo £200 ($400). If we were based in London, these rates would be double.

We play the occasional pub gig for publicity purposes and have a couple of charities where we play for a reduced fee.
That's it. I'm moving to the UK!

phuufme
05-23-2007, 11:34 AM
We're in San Antonio, TX. We play at one restaurant that gave us our first gig and they pay $50 for Thursday or Sunday, and $80 for Friday or Saturday. This is a 2 1/2 hr gig. We started with a Sunday gig and now we are regulars there once / mo on Friday or Saturday. Since they gave us our first shot, we'll play there as long as they'll have us.

Otherwise, for restaurant gigs, we charge $50 / hr generally, although we do play at one place (friends own it) for tips. For private gigs we charge $100 / hr plus a "travel" fee depending how far the gig is away from town.

We do a bit less talking, but our 2 sets are typically 15 - 17 songs long for our 2 1/2 hr gig. This weekend we have a private gig for 4 hours, and we did 3 sets of 17 songs. Sometimes we end up cutting out a song or two towards the end, but we'd rather have a few extra planned that we can remove than the other way around.

Also, at restaurant gigs, several times during the night we make sure to remind patrons to tips their wait staff, and also us.

Good luck.

Guyute
05-23-2007, 11:38 AM
Good point about reminding people to tip their waitstaff.

I've recently realized that when people at a restaurant stick around, the waitstaff makes less money (because the tables aren't turning). So I started telling people, "I hope you enjoy the show enough to stick around. If you do, please remember to tip your waiter a little more than usual."

The staff loves that :)

Chicago Sandy
05-23-2007, 01:42 PM
For us it's all over the place pricewise. Most of the places we play are either tips-only or have a nominal "suggested donation" (if they call it a door or cover charge, they'd have to get a cabaret license). A very few will give a guarantee against the door, which usually varies from $50-400. Most of the time at the non-tip gigs we will net about $30-50 apiece plus CD sales. Some radio concerts give us a $125-300 flat fee, and some regular (not house) concert series pay $200-400 for the two or three of us as a band. (We had a $120 guarantee Sat. night and got $270). Church services range from a cut of the offertory plus CD sales afterward to a flat $50 per member. (Sun. was the former, but we did get nearly $60 each). If I take a private party gig myself, I generally charge $200-600 depending on length of gig, type of person/corporation/organization hiring me, and whether I have to hire a bassist and drummer (though I suppose I should record some backing tracks).

FLDavid
05-23-2007, 02:04 PM
For a standard four-hour gig, I (we) would much rather play longer sets (say 70-80 minutes) because time passes more quickly when playing rather than standing around yakkin'.
We tend to keep the audience that way. Also, we end up playing only three sets over the same time period.

We segue between songs a lot, do medleys, reprise a verse/chorus we started with twenty minutes ago, depending on the mood of the room.

Four-piece prices normally vary between $90-125 per musician.

markm2553
05-24-2007, 01:00 PM
Slacker, you might find some useful info here if your just starting out.
I have found it pretty interesting:

http://smallgig.com/forums/index.php

gjensen7
05-24-2007, 01:18 PM
It's been said before, but I'd like to comment a bit on the issue of fees. Some performers and bands are obviously much more serious about where they play and how much they charge. Obviously, for some, it may be a primary or significant source of income.

For those of us that choose to perform as more of a hobby, there's not the pressure to be as picky. That being said, your time and talent are still worthy of compensation.

I really feel that even a small coffee house or "low budget" venue should offer something beyond "tips" for a performer or band. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but just out of courtesy, I don't think that an establishment should expect live music and not offer something of a flat fee - even if it's as low as $50....just to help cover some expenses.

Now there are performers like Chicago Sandy who can promote CD sales which is great..but until you have that avenue, I feel that you should get something for your time. Frankly, "tips only" are usually pretty minimal - I remember one "freebie" we did. I think we played about 2 or 3 hours and split up about $7.00!

Again, this is my "pet peeve", but I think sometimes musicians have a way of devaluing themselves or thinking that an establishment is doing them a favor by letting them play free. If you've got the talent and skills to market yourself, at least demand some kind of minimum flat fee unless it's for family, church gathering (even then, they probably should offer a flat fee or donations) or a very close friend.

Guyute
05-24-2007, 01:27 PM
It's been said before, but I'd like to comment a bit on the issue of fees. Some performers and bands are obviously much more serious about where they play and how much they charge. Obviously, for some, it may be a primary or significant source of income.

For those of us that choose to perform as more of a hobby, there's not the pressure to be as picky. That being said, your time and talent are still worthy of compensation.

I really feel that even a small coffee house or "low budget" venue should offer something beyond "tips" for a performer or band. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but just out of courtesy, I don't think that an establishment should expect live music and not offer something of a flat fee - even if it's as low as $50....just to help cover some expenses.

Now there are performers like Chicago Sandy who can promote CD sales which is great..but until you have that avenue, I feel that you should get something for your time. Frankly, "tips only" are usually pretty minimal - I remember one "freebie" we did. I think we played about 2 or 3 hours and split up about $7.00!

Again, this is my "pet peeve", but I think sometimes musicians have a way of devaluing themselves or thinking that an establishment is doing them a favor by letting them play free. If you've got the talent and skills to market yourself, at least demand some kind of minimum flat fee unless it's for family, church gathering (even then, they probably should offer a flat fee or donations) or a very close friend.
I understand what you're saying, but personally, I look at these coffee house "for tips" gigs as advertising and write off a commensurate amount on my taxes. I usually make a few bucks in tips and it just supplements my normal gigging income.