The Day In The Life Of A Band

Phil Planet By Phil Planet, 1st Feb 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Jobs>Careers

Do UK bands overcharge for their services? maybe you think that a band just drops out of a cloud and starts playing? read this then think again!!!, this may be an interesting read for US citizens especially musicians, it will make you realise how hard it is to be a musician in the UK!!

A Day In The Life Of A Rock Band

having played in bands myself most of my life I think I can see the things pretty good from both sides of the bar.

First off: Do the bands charge to much for there services? lets base this on the info I have from a lot of bands on our website which I reckon is around £200 per gig on average, OK so what do the bands do for the £200, most people think that bands just drop out of the sky right on to the stage, begin their 90 mins of pure musical enjoyment and then pop back into the cloud taxi that brought them.

Reality: Apart from the small matter of spending half your youth learning to to play the the instrument, you then have to spend the other half of your youth working a day job to pay for it, you then have to buy all the other ancillary equipment a band needs to gig, (PA, lighting etc) you also have to learn the songs and pay for rehearsal rooms and fuel to get there, (4,5,6 people).

OK done all that, gig day:
Go to wherever your gear is, pack it all down and move it into the van or car, Murphy's law states that this is always either down three flights of stairs from some ones attic or up one set of narrow windy ones from some ones cellar (mind yer knuckles on that brickwork Eugene!) phew out on the street now, hope yer good at Rubicks cube coz you then have to fit loads of square pegs into round holes as you load up the van or one of the 4 cars, done that? don't forget the fuel, don't wanna run out of gas with all the gear in the vehicle do you?

Drive to the gig 1,5,10,20,30, Murphy's law says its normally the wide end of the mileage, once you are at the venue you need to take the gear into the venue, Murphy's law requires the up or down stairs here as well, (don't prop the door open with a mic stand or the punters will get cold and hate you all night, once in you then need to set all the gear up, a giant jigsaw puzzle of which the last crucial piece is either broke or someone left it back at the house! don't worry almost time for a sound check were nearly there, whoops why isn't the PA working?, anyone got a f*****g soldering iron?

Once this is all done you can then get on with the best bit, (this is the bit you get paid for right?) all being well you have a full house of appreciative punters who are just there to listen to the music, when all is not well you have 48% audience who think they are Simon Cowell and the other 48% who think they are George Martin, the other 4% are so p****d they don't even count!

Gig over, job done, or is it? nope you then have to wrap up the jig saw and put it all into appropriate case take it back up/down Murphys stairs, redo the Rubicks cube back into the van or car , battle through the pissed up crowd whilst making sure nobody makes of with any of it, once you done all this all you need to do is drive home right?, wrong, you have to unpack it all from the car/van at the other end and take it all up/down Murphy's stairs ready for to set up again for the next rehearsal.

Job done, now to share out all that £200 in cash, lets base this on a four piece without a roadie/engineer, easy £50 each right? wrong, you owe £5 for the last rehearsal and £5 in fuel,with the £10 you spent in the pub, oh and the two PP3's you got from the garage ect. if you are lucky you end up with a tenner at the end of the day unless your are Freddy Frugal! sorry I forgot about the mic you left at the gig and now have to pick up, whoops it's not there either and now you are minus £100!

OK, got the picture? I think you may agree with me that the bands do not overcharge for their services, far from it, far from it, you can earn more busking in the precinct without all the hassle, I reckon this puts the bands overcharging out of the equation don't you?

OK, this leaves the venues who others reckon don't pay enough, based on our £200 this is how I see this, (I am not a landlord and never have been so if you are maybe you can put in some real figures for this, all I can say that to pay out £200 you must have to sell a lot of beer to get this back and then realise a profit on top of that, and that needs a lot of punters, don't forget the venue also has other costs, yearly PRS payments are a prime example, you have to book the bands in the first place, unbook them and then re arrange gigs when bands split up or have personnel problems, print out and put up posters etc.

Sometimes the place may be empty all night for one reason or another in which case the venue looses money and wishes they had not put on a band at all, it's allright saying, yeh it was packed last Sat when such and such a band played but you have to take these thin nights into account as well, the whole thing of putting live music on must be a juggling/gambling act, in my experience the landlords normally put up with it all because they love and support live music, this is always the case in smaller pubs where there would not be enough people in to warrant paying £200 even if they were packed to the doors.

So who is at fault here, the bands overcharging or the venues not paying enough? the answer in my opinion is neither of them so who's fault is it?

The answer is it's the punters fault, yeppers, I will prob get slagged off for this but it's the only answer I can come up with, why? because they have got to used to having live music on at there local for free, when I here people complaining about the band you would think they had paid a fiver to get in, half of them spend most of their cash somewhere else and arrive to see the last show whilst they nurse a pint and complain, lets face it if they had to pay for a ticket or pay on the door they would get there earlier, if they got there late or did not even turn up it would make no odds if they had already bought a ticket, this way you would be keeping live music alive whether you were there or not.

It is my view that this is what will have to happen sooner or later, the bands can't charge any less and the venues cannot afford to pay any more, it's a stalemate folks, one or two things will happen, either the venues will close down, (you only have to read the posts on here to realise that is already happening) the other is that the crowd will have to pay to get in, I am certain that most people would do this if it meant keeping their local music pub open.

If the venue kept the gig money at the same level, lets say £200 again, on top of this they could send a pot around as well so the band get this as well, if the band are crap then their pot will reflect this and visa versa, this way the band get more money and the venue pays the same, (just sending a pot round is no good as it means the venue doesn't have to make any effort to get punters in), remember the acts are ultimately there to entertain the crowd at the venue not to promote it.

I reckon the best bet is tickets and pay on the door, maybe even pass a pot as well, the venue and bands should all do their bit to promote any gigs, tickets are great, you know more or less if its going to be full or not by ticket sales, if the bands/venues are guilty of anything it is promotion, people will not turn up if they don't know what's on, both should work together on this to ensure max turn out, I may be wrong on a lot of this and I am sure many of you will point stuff out, however these are just my own personal views and observations I have made from both sides of the fence.

One thing I am certain of is pretty soon something will have to change one way or another

If it keeps on raining levee's going to break
If it keeps on raining levee's going to break
When the levee breaks we'll have no place to play (courtesy LZ)


Band, Gig, Guitar, Music, Singer, Van, Venue

Meet the author

author avatar Phil Planet
I am a musician from Manchester in the UK, lots of my writing focuses on my life out on the roads with various bands, I also write short stories and other stuff.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
2nd Feb 2011 (#)

a good insight, and certainly apparent you know what you are talking about. Good guide for anyone thinking of cracking into the UK music scene.

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author avatar Phil Planet
2nd Feb 2011 (#)

Thanks Mark, your feedback is much appreciated and encouraging

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