NWB - Community Blog


The "value" of an artist

Filed Under : Rants

Posted By : Mick (ex Bad Horsie) | Comments : 18

Not an easy read.....

I work in a company that has a presence in a really aggressive retail environment, and I've spent a long time playing guitar in bands.

I will use a caveat here: There are some venues who will try their best to understand the players viewpoint and that's to their credit enormously.

I've come to the conclusion that Artists do not understand retail markets.

It's not about how long you invest in playing and learning songs. It's not about how much you invest in equipment.

It's not about how much it takes you to get to the gig.

It's not about how much your mortgage is.

It's not about how much you put into your performance.

It's not about the message you put across.

What it IS about is how much money you get people to put over the bar. You can put all the emotion you want into your performance. You're in a random market.

If you only go out for £200 "minimum", don't get a gig in a pub that holds 20 people. No matter if you've heard "they are a good crowd". 20 people can't put enough brass behind a bar to pay you, no matter what your ego tells you.

Sorry if that offends the "working " crowd.


# Posted by Idle Promise - 31/03/2011, 23:41 (GMT)

Spot on Mick totally agree and thats my last comment on here for the forseeable future

# Posted by Jez - 31/03/2011, 23:52 (GMT)

bottom line is you can be bloody awful but if you have loads of "fans" keeping the tills ringing, you will be welcome back anywhere!!!

If you are good, in the right environment, you'll get repeats - but running a pub/club is a business; it IS about notes in the till

# Posted by Mick (ex Bad Horsie) - 01/04/2011, 00:01 (GMT)

Jez, as a hobby player, if I thought squeezing that long note out of the middle of A.N. Given guitar solo would make people flock to the bar and throw their wallets with abandon over it would make a profit flow them, I'd do it.

As it is in the real world it's not going to happen, :o) My solos don't get beyond 20 seconds these days :o)

# Posted by Jez - 01/04/2011, 00:16 (GMT)

(20 seconds!!!... can you send me tab for the other 10!!!) :0)

I see some great bands playing to nobody and some not quite as great, doing well, as said, its a business.

I had a chit chat on herec a few weeks ago about music being a hobby and with hobbies you lose money; they didn't agree but after outlay, travel, rehearsal etc, its not a money winner is it!!!

# Posted by Willow (of somebig™Fish) (Reti... - 01/04/2011, 00:49 (GMT)

You've too much common sense Mick!!


I've just been out tonight, leaving at 8pm, getting home after midnight.
I was asked by the landlord of a pub I frequent once a week, if I'd like to play a few songs at an open mic night at another of his pubs.
I went of my own accord, Johnny the drummer accompanied me and we took acoustic guitar and cajon, expecting an organiser, PA etc etc. We got ourselves there and back. (Thanks John)

On arrival, we were greeted by an empty pub, ok 3 in the tap room ..... and no Timothy Taylors Landlord (another promise)!!

So we got a couple of pints took a seat and started playing.

2 and a half hours later, after several free beers and a free homemade pizza (homemade as in pub made in proper pizza ovens) we went home. The (max) 8 people in the pub LOVED it ..... and I left with a warm fuzzy feeling

Will we do it again??
Will we get 'paid' (money)?
probably not
Do we care

All kinds of blogs lately about gigs and money and bands and venues .... if you don't want to do a gig, don't do it, if you don't want to hire a band, don't hire them ............ it's not a difficult philosophy is it ...... for bands and/or venues ...... DO WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT TO DO .... but live or die by your own decisions and don't go moaning on if you get it wrong ........ just use that experience to get nearer to right next time!!

Amen and hallelujah


# Posted by Tubthumper - 01/04/2011, 01:01 (GMT)

@ Willow - do you have a church I can come at worship at? I don't even mind if it's a cult and I have to sleep with old men with complexions the texture of their testicles.

# Posted by Face It! - 01/04/2011, 01:03 (GMT)

I agree with what's been said so far. It's difficult to define this problem imo because:

I don't play in a band to make money, if I could one day that'd be nice, but playing the pub circuit you really shouldn't expect to be making a mint. The nature of pub circuit means that both venue and band/artist have individual needs that tend to cross over, meaning a bit of selflessness and consideration from both sides can't go amiss.

Obviously whilst I don't play in a band to make money, I can't pretend it isn't nice to earn a bit more for NYE or something like that as it goes further towards getting new gear...but I'd play gigs at £10 for the enjoyment rather than holding out for £250 on the premise of getting new gear/covering expenses/making sure the fee matches the 'effort' in terms of practise and rehersal which is a ludicrous argument, it makes it sound like practising and gigging is a chore that you deserve paying for??? Surely we're lucky to be paid at all for doing something so enjoyable, unlike most other paid work!

We all know pubs are having a hard time at the moment, for the owners it is a livelihood, for me (and most people on here I assume) it is a hobby (which doesn't devalue the seriousness of it, it's just not a primary source of income or a 'job')...we rely on the pubs so surely we can all get along without putting so more importance on a fee!

An ideal relationship with a landlord/lady over time is as follows (for me personally):

- On a quiet night you offer to lower the fee slightly to accomodate for the low crowd, with no blame ('venue didn't advertise' 'band didn't bring any people') bullshit, just consideration and kindess...what you give is what you get etc..

- On a busy night they may give you slightly more than agreed/some drinks as a thanks for the situation mentioned above, or if not, I don't care, I'm glad they've had a good night and that it will help them to live a better/more comfortable life..

Its late and I think all that is rather rambly but the I hope the you can get the gist of things! Cheers,

Face It!

# Posted by Willow (of somebig™Fish) (Reti... - 01/04/2011, 01:14 (GMT)

@ThumperofTubs ...... who are you calling a cu ........ oooh .......... sorry ....

well my complexion is not of a testicular texture .... my testicles are the texture of my complexion!!

You may worship at my altar anytime you want (or can find me!!)


@Face It ...... whilst I agree with most of what you're saying, I'll just say that there are "workers" of all kinds who are lucky enough to enjoy what they do .......... plumbers, electricians, accountants, footballers, MPs ... (ok ok that's one step too far) ...... but might we apply the same criteria to those ..... i.e. they should not expect fair recompense for training and working (read practising / gigging). It kinda annoys me that musicians are singled out in this respect.
But ...... I do agree with you and am not starting an argument in an empty blog!!

Happy Days!

# Posted by Drummer Boy - 01/04/2011, 07:15 (GMT)

Mick I completely agree!! I've seen some truely awful bands pack pubs out and work a lot, and I've seen briliant bands (muscially) have problems getting gigs, due to not dragging a crowd along.

I've made a fair bit of money, and I know people who have had to hold down day jobs after coming off major tours after their 3rd album and being on magazine covers.

I have said to landlords that my band would rather take a cut in money and keep a venue open than hold out for money and put the venue at risk, as they can't afford bands.

Same with bands who cancel, it's the landlord's livelihood your messing with - it's your hobby, but their life, please remember that.

Yes there are venues who take the micky, and there are bands that do the same.

If you want good mony then fill a venue and argue from a position of strength. Advertise the gig (and not just on facebook ;-)), put on a SHOW, and learn your craft.

Most of all enjoy music for it's own sake, and you'll never be pi**ed off with it.

# Posted by Synthy Mike - 01/04/2011, 08:30 (GMT)

It's the fundamental law of music industry economics I guess and it explains why there's musical geniuses struggling to fill Academy 3 whilst The Wanted and the X-Factor tour sell out the MEN.

One of the reasons for it I suspect is how insanely marketted music like that is practically brainwashes a crowd into coming. No normal band can compete with that but the lesson about targetting fans and attracting new ones through creative and engaging ideas is something everyone can take on board.

# Posted by madfrankfan - 01/04/2011, 08:42 (GMT)

I was going to start a post myself yesterday saying much the same as Mick...

I am not and never have been a landlord or music promoter of any kind - I fall into the (loose) category of being a musician myself, but it has always amazed me how yer average boozer can even afford to pay bands £150 -£200 or more, on an evening where the place is anything less than rammed solid with beer guzzlers.

I'm sure we've all done plenty of pub gigs where if you stop to do a quick head count, there might be 25-30 people in the place, making the place seem at least respectably busy to the casual observer (...I'm sure we've all done pub gigs to less people than that too!).

Making vast assumptions and generalisations here, but hear me out for the sake of argument.. If those 30 people drink an AVERAGE of 3 pints each (some will be driving, some might be getting leathered), thats approx £9.00 per punter, (of which there are 30) - thats £270 going into the till, plus a few additional quid for crisps etc... Lets say £300 in takings.

I don't know what the typical profit is on a pint (a lot more on soft drinks admittedly), but if they make £1.00 on a £3.00 pint (again for arguments sake), thats £90.00 clear, with which to pay the bands... And don't forget you have to consider that they will have taken a certain amount of money anyway, if they hadn't bothered to put a band on at all....

So to my mind, the formula for working out if it's possible to pay a band and how much, is essentially the difference of the nights profit with the band playing, minus a night's profit with no entertainment on. You can play about with the figures a bit if you like (add more punters, a bit more profit maybe), but based on my £1.00 profit argument, the principle remains that in order to pay us £200, they have to take an additional £600 that they wouldn't have otherwise done with no band on, just to break even on the night.

Or am I way off course here?

# Posted by Mark C Marauder + Whitefake - 01/04/2011, 09:15 (GMT)

In this current climate, everyone is feeling the pinch NOT just the venue. In an ideal world everyone would play for free but some of us need the extra income. Would people take a pay cut at work just to help the boss out? I have said this before, SOME venues will sit around and wait for things to happen rather than do something about it themselves then blame everything else when things dont go as they'd have liked. The venues that have a constant supply of punters have not got there by sitting on their arses. Now before some folk set the gallows up, there have been venues that have done everything they can but it hasn't worked out and I truly sympathise but for most. . . . It is not 1984 when it was easy for pubs etc

# Posted by Mick (ex Bad Horsie) - 01/04/2011, 10:10 (GMT)

Mark, the point I'm trying to make is that when a company goes to another company with a service bid, they come to an agreement on price. The buying company doesn't care about the background of work/transport/development/materials costs that go into the bid. They pay a price for a set product.

In the case of bands a venue pays a price for a couple of sets of music. The transport costs, rehearsal time, equipment wear and tear aren't their concern.

I'm making this point purely from the side of a band member rather than a venue. That's a different subject for a different blog I think.

I wish we got paid enough to earn a living, but the market value of bands simply isn't based on the amount we put into it. I'd say that in an ideal world we could do 2 or 3 nights a week gigging and not have to work during the day, but it's just not like that. Even the majority of the full time musicians on here supplement their gig pay with a day job or teaching their instrument :o(

# Posted by John Wilkinson: - 01/04/2011, 16:11 (GMT)

I suppose it depends on where you play.

We will pack out The Moses Gate on Saturday yet we cancelled a gig in Barnsley last week as only 45 tickets were sold... :-(

The thing I have learned from this is that bands need to advertise themselves more widely. Facebook and Internet are ok but there really is no subsitute for old fashoined posters at venues and around the local area. Any advertising you can get in local press is a bonus.

I do feel sorry for the venues who want live music and are willing to invest time and money promoting the gig, but there are a few in my opinion who want it "on the cheap"

Best wishes


# Posted by egbert - 01/04/2011, 16:14 (GMT)

Good blog this and 100% spot on. As a band you are worth what the market is willing to pay and if someone offers you a valuation below what you believe to be your worth then don't do it - equally accept that venues have a right to be operating at whatever price point they feel suits them (he said quickly, mindful of one or two other blogs that are continuing at the moment). After all with pubs we're mostly an attraction intended to boost beer sales, if (and as is the case with a lot of pubs) live music doesn't increase the flow from the taps then they don't have bands, simple!

I must admit that I do get a tad pissed off with the occassional comments such as "originals bands are cheaper", then again I accept that we don't neccessarily bring the punters in as much as a covers band, in an established covers venue, will - YET :-)

# Posted by viking - 01/04/2011, 17:56 (GMT)

nail on head with a jackhammer, bro. (goes for you as well, willow ;-D )

# Posted by Asa - 01/04/2011, 19:20 (GMT)

Nail>>>head. Enough said.

# Posted by Bobo - 01/04/2011, 21:43 (GMT)

Madfrankfan - you have a very good point. I was told by a musician friend who also ran a pub for a while that the rule of thumb is that to justify having a band on it is necessary to triple the normal takings on that night. Otherwise it isn't worth it. That is of course a generalisation but from the venue's angle it has to be financially worth while - unless the landlord/lady subsidises the night out of enjoyment. It's a difficult environment at the moment for both sides. I play in 3 bands at the moment and still don't work every weekend - to the relief of my partner, she says my cellar looks like Dawsons!

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