Getting Paid

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
There may be some regional differences here.

If I’m getting the service of the waitstaff, I should expect to tip. Because the venue is definitely not making up for revenue lost to the server who is waiting on me, simply because I’m in the band. So I tip as if I’m a normal customer, because I am, as far as the server is concerned. But it bears mentioning that, because of geography, drinks are typically $6-10, and not $12-20. So I’m not put out financially very much at all. $5 will usually cover it.

In this conversation, it doesn’t seem like anyone is expecting free food, but it’s quite common for me to get 50% off food at a bar gig, locally here in Michigan. Maybe not so much on the coastal parts of the US or abroad?

I would never expect the waitstaff to tip the band. That’s absurd. However — again, geographically — the norm is for the band to make a guaranteed amount, not whatever the door cover charge brings, or a percentage of bar sales (which was commonplace before I started gigging).
I'm not sure why the staff is waiting on the band though? On a routine gig for me, if I want a drink, I go to the bar on a break and get it myself. I don't consider the band stand an additional table for the waitresses to wait on. What's with the band drinking while playing anyway? I never understood that. Our primary job is to make sure the paying customers are drinking enough to keep the bar happy so they continue to hire us. Is this a memo nobody got?

Granted, the rules could be very different from venue-to-venue, but in my general case, I'm hired to play and make everybody dance and drink. So on a four-hour gig, I don't need to be fed or given a discount (or free) alcoholic drinks. I look at it in terms of somebody's 8-hour job: I'm only there for a half-day so I don't normally take a lunch on days like that.

But, as a band leader, if the venue tells me what they allow, I gather the players around so they hear it too so they know what they can have (if anything). My players are usually pros and they expect nothing because we're of the same mindset. I do play at a place occasionally that offers a free meal, but in our position, once you start playing, you're working - there's really no time to sit down and eat. So I try to communicate that to the other guys and tell them if they want to eat, either show up early so they can enjoy a meal, or eat afterwards, provided the venue is still open to serving food by then.

Maybe my view is a bit strict, but it's certainly never left anything to question as far as pay is concerned. I'm just of the mindset that I'm there to work. It looks like we're having a party, but it hides the work that's taking place. We're there to make people drink. We're beer salesmen ;)
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
In my act, the venue is not asked to provide extras. If the event has a green room with provisions, that's fine, but it's not part of the financial settlement We ensure the fee is sufficient for band members to pay for any incidentals they want - it's their choice. We would certainly never pool incidentals like food & drink. The only time we pool expenses is for accommodation + mileage on distance gigs. Accommodation is block booked, & mileage is split evenly amongst the number of vehicles, or used for vehicle hire when required.

Tip jars are never a feature.
he's hugging on me a dozen times every gig.
That's the biggest red flag mentioned so far. You've known this guy for a few months? If this is purely a working relationship, frankly, that's both creepy and inappropriate. I assume he doesn't hug male band members with similar frequency?
 
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justadrummer

Junior Member
I had a venue that I played many times over the years, at least once a month with my last band before covid. We had a pretty elaborate stage setup that we used for those gigs. I would load my van after lunch, I'd pull out from my house at four in the afternoon, arrive at five PM and load in the subs, PA cabinets and drums. Our lighting guy would already be there and almost set up. I would set up my kit, mic it up, and have the cables neatly coiled waiting for the stage box to arrive. I'd slide the subs into place, screw the poles into the subs, and mount the PA mains on the poles. I'd put my monitor back by my drums and set the other monitors at the edge of the stage.

About this time one of the guitarists would show up. He'd bring in the stage box and place it near the drums. I'd plug in the mic cables from my drums and my set up work was done. That guitarist would run the rest of the mic cables, run the cables to the mains, subs, and monitors. About this time the bassist would show up and tape down all of the cables.

I'd sit down and order dinner. I could relax at this point. As each band member finished his part of the stage setup, he would sit down and eat as well. We had a "band table", a waitress would take care of each of us. We paid for our meals and tipped her separately. As for drinking, none of us were drinkers, that didn't factor into it.

I'm using that venue as an example, we did something similar at many venues.

At the end of the night we tore down and loaded fast. Every band member helped tear down and load out. Whoever booked the gig would go get our pay from the owner, manager or bartender depending on the venue. It would be split up and handed to each of us in front of each other there were no games.
 

Lefty Phillips

Well-known member
"The drummer needs $20.00 to fill his tank?"

Your drummer gets his kit on the back of a motorbike?
No need to be obtuse; I usually carry most of the band's gear in my truck. If a player needs a bit of money to cover his or her immediate needs, be it gasoline or food, or what have you, that's easily paid out on the spot. Point being, after expenses, everyone gets paid equally for a live performance. Simples.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
There may be some regional differences here.

If I’m getting the service of the waitstaff, I should expect to tip. Because the venue is definitely not making up for revenue lost to the server who is waiting on me, simply because I’m in the band. So I tip as if I’m a normal customer, because I am, as far as the server is concerned. But it bears mentioning that, because of geography, drinks are typically $6-10, and not $12-20. So I’m not put out financially very much at all. $5 will usually cover it.

In this conversation, it doesn’t seem like anyone is expecting free food, but it’s quite common for me to get 50% off food at a bar gig, locally here in Michigan. Maybe not so much on the coastal parts of the US or abroad?

I would never expect the waitstaff to tip the band. That’s absurd. However — again, geographically — the norm is for the band to make a guaranteed amount, not whatever the door cover charge brings, or a percentage of bar sales (which was commonplace before I started gigging).

here in Ohio, most clubs my metal and surf punk band play don't offer food b/c they don't have a kitchen...dive bars. The band members who drink get their drinks at the bar, so there are no servers coming around. You get paid what you make at the door, and there is no guarantee. 99% of the time, we have to supply the doorman/money collector as well.

the cover bands I am in play places with food more often, but we still never get free food. Some of the clubs will discount it, but you still have to pay. Those places do have a guarantee, and the door is absorbed into the bars kitty. Our band also plays a lot of outdoor festivals and car shows too. The festivals often times give you drunk and food vouchers for the vendors there, but car shows are almost always "on your own"
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
the cover bands I am in play places with food more often, but we still never get free food. Some of the clubs will discount it, but you still have to pay. Those places do have a guarantee, and the door is absorbed into the bars kitty.
Our last gig offered us food discounted 50%, but I didn't find out about it costing anything until after the gig, when the band got paid. All previous gigs - 6 gigs so far - it was my impression that food and drinks (I drink water or tea) were free. I'm prepared to bring my own food and drink if I'm driving myself. If the band is traveling for a long distance gig, we pack tightly into a large SUV and hit a fast food joint before and after. I suppose I can bring food for myself on those as well. Certainly I can eat a big meal before I leave the house.

Question before I make a stink with the bookee: Do band member bookees usually draw up a contract with the venue when booking a band (vs hired professional bookees)? In the one case where we got underpaid, I overheard our singer/bookee say he had a text message proving what the agreed upon rate was.

Would it be out of the question to ask our singer/bookee to give the rest of the band the contact info for the venue booker? Seems if they want us back and we pull a better crowd each time - because we're a new band and our following may grow - that our price may increase. Especially if we're a brand new band where each member is a founding member with equal pay and say.
 
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petrez

Senior Member
I guess I have been in bands that almost never got paid that much, for too long, to actually care that much about the economics of it all (as Xstr8... said, playing original metal for the most part, you are glad just to get gigs, until you made a name for yourself. I guess I stayed in a band like that a little too long, thinking it somehow would be better down the road. It didn't until I recently, when I got a new band, it helps to do cover songs as well, and to find a band that actually a lot of people seems interested to check out 😄). But yeah, trust between the members of the band is the biggest factor, I think. Tip is something I never had to think about, but we usually get paid a bit every gig now, and we only use the money (in a bank account) on our expenses (merch, gas money, hotels, travels, studio). We have never taken any money out for our own private use, we might do if we suddenly start making way more money than we can use, but it seems far fetched. For a band that tries to make albums every second year, it takes a lot of money. And we all have day jobs, so... As long as my expenses are covered, I have no huge ambitions to make money of it. Sorry for rambling, some might get something out of this 😆
 
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Quai34

Junior Member
hmmm...I have never thought to ask if we get tased on that account. It is not set up as a business account...
I'm under a small business status for me, in Manitoba, if you don't make more than 5000$, it's tax free but you could deduct all expenses from this account. As I have a day job, my tax return is usually 2 or 3 times more what it should have been!!! Ok, with Covid, deduction of expenses when you had no gigs is a bit tough....I still have deducted the 10% of my gas, telephone bill, internet etc, that kind of expenses when 10% is supposed to be for your activity, mine is band/studio/photos. So, 5000$ means 10 shows at 500$ each per member, all, we are not there yet, will see.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Not every gig, of course, but sometimes it’s very packed and too crowded at the bar, like 4 or 5 rows deep, and so it’s just easier and quicker for a server to come to the band, rather than 3 or 4 or 5 of us adding to the already slammed bar/bartenders.
I say if the gig is only four hours - who needs to drink? I could easily pack water and go out to the car and drink it on a break too. I don't feel the need to lubricate for a gig.
 

Nictarine

Silver Member
I've never really made much money playing gigs, punk rock isn't the most lucrative genre of music!

But if there are trust issues I'd talk with the rest of the band and see if they agree, if they do I'd say make a united front and say something to the singer. If it's just you then maybe there is something you're missing or maybe it's time to find a new project. From the sound of it doesn't sound like you're making enough money to compensate for the stress.
 

Bozozoid

Well-known member
This happened to me a couple bands ago. The band was supposed to get beers for free, but a couple were getting mixed drinks too, so they felt they should tip the bartender. The second time it happened (that they tipped the bartender out of the band's pay) I asked why my pay was short $5 again, and out of the blue, they asked me "You're going to quit the band over $5?", and then dude just walked away.

I should add that I don't drink, quit years ago, and enjoy not paying for it.

They haven't played again since, but I found a much better band right away. I didn't really trust that guy either, for that matter.
Free beer or mixed drinks?..recipe for attitudes...your going to quit the band over 5 bucks?sounded rather nice for an intoxicated musician. Could have been worse. At least you didn't have to open your can of whoop ass.
 

Quai34

Junior Member
I'm not sure why the staff is waiting on the band though? On a routine gig for me, if I want a drink, I go to the bar on a break and get it myself. I don't consider the band stand an additional table for the waitresses to wait on. What's with the band drinking while playing anyway? I never understood that. Our primary job is to make sure the paying customers are drinking enough to keep the bar happy so they continue to hire us. Is this a memo nobody got?

Granted, the rules could be very different from venue-to-venue, but in my general case, I'm hired to play and make everybody dance and drink. So on a four-hour gig, I don't need to be fed or given a discount (or free) alcoholic drinks. I look at it in terms of somebody's 8-hour job: I'm only there for a half-day so I don't normally take a lunch on days like that.

But, as a band leader, if the venue tells me what they allow, I gather the players around so they hear it too so they know what they can have (if anything). My players are usually pros and they expect nothing because we're of the same mindset. I do play at a place occasionally that offers a free meal, but in our position, once you start playing, you're working - there's really no time to sit down and eat. So I try to communicate that to the other guys and tell them if they want to eat, either show up early so they can enjoy a meal, or eat afterwards, provided the venue is still open to serving food by then.

Maybe my view is a bit strict, but it's certainly never left anything to question as far as pay is concerned. I'm just of the mindset that I'm there to work. It looks like we're having a party, but it hides the work that's taking place. We're there to make people drink. We're beer salesmen ;)
That's true if you are here for 4 hours only but for us, with all the gear we bring for the show, it's more a 8 hours day job:
Loading 30mn, driving 30mn to 1 your, dropping off and set up, 1h30 to 2 hours, balance and sound check 1 hour, 4 hours show, tearing down 1 hour, driving back and dropping off the gear, 1 hour, without counting the de set up in the practice place, it's 10 hours of working non stop full speed, full steam so, that's why wemcanmit have that every night of every week end.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I'm under a small business status for me, in Manitoba, if you don't make more than 5000$, it's tax free but you could deduct all expenses from this account. As I have a day job, my tax return is usually 2 or 3 times more what it should have been!!! Ok, with Covid, deduction of expenses when you had no gigs is a bit tough....I still have deducted the 10% of my gas, telephone bill, internet etc, that kind of expenses when 10% is supposed to be for your activity, mine is band/studio/photos. So, 5000$ means 10 shows at 500$ each per member, all, we are not there yet, will see.

yeah...I think in America it is less than $3000 does not get taxed...and there is no way we make that in a year.
 

BGDurham

Well-known member
Our last gig offered us food discounted 50%, but I didn't find out about it costing anything until after the gig, when the band got paid. All previous gigs - 6 gigs so far - it was my impression that food and drinks (I drink water or tea) were free. I'm prepared to bring my own food and drink if I'm driving myself. If the band is traveling for a long distance gig, we pack tightly into a large SUV and hit a fast food joint before and after. I suppose I can bring food for myself on those as well. Certainly I can eat a big meal before I leave the house.

Question before I make a stink with the bookee: Do band member bookees usually draw up a contract with the venue when booking a band (vs hired professional bookees)? In the one case where we got underpaid, I overheard our singer/bookee say he had a text message proving what the agreed upon rate was.

Would it be out of the question to ask our singer/bookee to give the rest of the band the contact info for the venue booker? Seems if they want us back and we pull a better crowd each time - because we're a new band and our following may grow - that our price may increase. Especially if we're a brand new band where each member is a founding member with equal pay and say.
If not a contract (a formal contract seems rare for smaller gigs), then at least a checklist in which each topic is basically summarized is wise. For example:

Pay, arrival/soundcheck/downbeat time, food, drinks, who provides PA, etc...

Put this checklist in a shared Google drive so it's accessible to everyone. Not necessarily to monitor the booker, but to provide the gig particulars to everyone in the band. Also discuss the checklist prior to the gig so everyone is on the same page.
Texts and emails provide a basic record of the agreement but they are only available to the bookee, the checklist would make these communicated details available to the whole band. As my mom would say, what if the bookee gets hit by a bus? Then no one in the band has any info about any shows. He can redirect his hugging energy into putting details in a shared document.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I say if the gig is only four hours - who needs to drink? I could easily pack water and go out to the car and drink it on a break too. I don't feel the need to lubricate for a gig.
Probably best, since you're a singer now anyways haha!

Agreed that there's no "need" to consume alcohol or food on a gig, but for the purposes of RhumbaGirl's situation, I'm just saying it happens, and it's not all that unusual.
yeah...I think in America it is less than $3000 does not get taxed...and there is no way we make that in a year.
Whoa, not true. My wife is a tax accountant with a Masters Degree. She does taxes for us, obviously, and many of my musician friends. The IRS can legally tax every dollar you make, even the one you find on the street. Whether or not you report all of your income, that's on you. For example, many servers only report part of their cash tips.

You should find out what you earned from that band each year, and you would report that as income on your Schedule C form, as well as your share of expenses (if there are 4 band members, you would claim 25% of any PA equipment that the band purchased that year). If the band is earning money, then the band should report it as income, even if you only make $5 per year.

If you have a business that loses money for many years, then the IRS could legally claim that your "business" is actually a "hobby", and so you wouldn't be able to deduct certain things as expenses.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Whoa, not true. My wife is a tax accountant with a Masters Degree. She does taxes for us, obviously, and many of my musician friends. The IRS can legally tax every dollar you make, even the one you find on the street. Whether or not you report all of your income, that's on you. For example, many servers only report part of their cash tips.

You should find out what you earned from that band each year, and you would report that as income on your Schedule C form, as well as your share of expenses (if there are 4 band members, you would claim 25% of any PA equipment that the band purchased that year). If the band is earning money, then the band should report it as income, even if you only make $5 per year.

If you have a business that loses money for many years, then the IRS could legally claim that your "business" is actually a "hobby", and so you wouldn't be able to deduct certain things as expenses.

hmm...good to know. I was just going off of when I had heard from other people...but I also thought I remember hearing, as a young'n back in my 20's, that you didn't get taxed on any income less than $3000 b/c there was no tax bracket for that little money...
 

Ghostin one

Senior Member
Xstr8edge, that's true if that's your only income. But if your band mates have other jobs, the band income is supposed to be reported along with your other income.
 
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