Episode 028: Dealing with Dollars

Dealing with money is part of being a pro. How do you approach pay?

What did you get paid for your first gig?

  • Dave: Wait…I can get paid for playing bass? $25 – Early 2000’s bluegrass w/10 players
  • Paul: I think it was $40 and beer at my first college gig, a fraternity party

How do you deal with the topic of pay when someone calls you for a gig?

  • Dave:
    • If the person asking doesn’t come right out with it, I make sure to confirm before I say I’m available.
    • The truth is, either I do it for fun or for the money. I play free/low paying gigs if I want to be there. But I am up front with what I expect to get paid. It’s a trade and I’m honest when I approach the time with family vs. pay bit.
  • Paul:
    • Sometimes I’ll get calls where people say, “What are you doing on ___ date?” Unless it’s someone awesome, that’s not a great call to get, because it’s not the real question. (If it is someone awesome, they probably won’t make that call.)
    • I usually want to know where, when, what, how long, how much
    • If that’s not in the pitch it’s the first thing I’ll ask 😉

How does caring about pay make you look as a musician? As a person?

  • Dave:
    • It’s a trade. The carpenter with 20 years of experience and quality of work will demand $x/hour. While some may see it as cold hearted, there is a value I bring.
  • Has the issue of pay ever come between you and a gig?
    • Yes – a few times. Being a one time sub requires learning 20+ songs that takes hours. For $75, including travel, play, practice: $5/hour?
  • When will you do a gig for free?
    • Paul: benefit for a cause I believe in; favor for someone I care about; if I’m certain it’s going to bring me paid gigs in the future (more than just vague promise)
    • Dave:
      • For a friends benefit or a benefit I really have ties to
      • For my band (with limitations)
      • If it’s a gig for the love of my music life (ex: Skaggs)
  • What made you change from not caring about pay to caring about it? (If applicable)
    • Dave:
      • It really started when my schedule started to look like a part time job
    • Paul:
      • Playing in my first truly professional band… the members took it seriously and weren’t ashamed to treat it as a business, looking for pay

Photo by Aidan Bartos on Unsplash

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