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Posted By : james luke | Comments : 20

just a couple of thoughts

I was going to post on the previous blog about charity gigs , but didn’t want to hijack , and I think enough has been said on that one, so thought maybe a separate blog would be better.

This is not a rant or a pop at anyone. Its just that the other blog got me thinking, so this is merely my point of view to which I am entitled as is everyone !

It was said that invoking the MU didn’t really stand up, and it got me to thinking.

Invoking the MU stands up in my case as it IS what I do for a living,,

I have spent hours/thousands etc etc but that's not really what this is about,
I pay my MU fee part of which goes to making sure "original artists" get their just rewards from people like me who play their songs all be it they sing it "a damn site better" if they didn't I wouldn't like the song so wouldn't really want to cover it. but that's another blog.

I don’t care or bleat on about other "weekend warriors" stealing gigs from me because its my living..
I am still working after 15 + years in this "job" so hopefully that means I am doing something right
What does concern me is the amount of venues that play the charity card and don't really appreciate what they are asking sometimes.. This venue may or may not be one of those , I don't know them so I am not accusing, merely stating MY OWN personal point of view,

I would assume that the OP of the other blog would be taking a wage out of the venue each week to pay their own personal bills, food etc. would they be giving up their wages completely on band /charity nights and not only giving it up but handing it over to the charity, therefore leaving themselves short on their weekly income...maybe they are I don't know...but that's is what is being asked of some musicians who are asked to play for charity.

Yes its up to the individual band/artist if they want to do it or not ..and if you don't want to do it don't moan about it.. I'm all for that but spare a thought for what you are actually asking.

I do a couple of charity events a year usually with a charity close to my heart.. I buy poppies, raffle tickets for help for heroes, put money in buckets and I like to think I do my part however small it is to support what I personally think is a good cause.

I think maybe if a charity event is being organised ..do it midweek when most bands/artists are not depending on that nights wages to pay their bills and offer AT LEAST travel cost and a couple of drinks. It may be more appealing to some if they are not going to lose out that much, and not every week. Charity events are happening everywhere, everyday . A weekly charity event on a Saturday night is to my mind NOT a charity even but an excuse to try and get people through the door. People feel obliged to give at charity events and this type of action may be counter productive for the venue as people may avoid because “we gave last week”

Put buckets around the pub with different charities names on then people can donate to a charity of their choosing. I think the MacMillan charity is fantastic and I have had the pleasure of working with them in the past, I always got paid by them and I always made a donation directly out of my fee from them. But it may not be everyone’s choice, each to their own.

My wife works for a charity and I have on occasion given up my free time to help out in any way I can, but I would not donate to them as they have a chain of command that if all their wages were put together , would probably pay off the national debt.


# Posted by Sparrow - 26/08/2014, 08:48 (GMT)

There's a lot to think about, lot's of members of bands or acts give or do stuff for charities outside of music and more on a personal level, either as monetary contribution or giving their time as a volunteer which takes many forms.
Aside of not knowing some charities, none of us know the way they are run, the way some charities use their funds and actually what proportion actually goes to the front line of this particular charity, that percentage has diminished in recent years, operating costs of certain charities have become disproportionate to their worth. People should be aware of that. Find out more about these particular charities. NOT SAYING THEY ARE ALL BAD.
How many times, have you heard about landlords/landladies running off with the xmas club used to happen a lot so tempting isn't it. A lot of cash collected, does it all get to the charity??? Not saying any particular individual. But it makes me wonder! A lot of venues do very nicely thank you very much out of charities. If I were you if you want to help charities go directly to your chosen charity and give directly if you want to help. I genuinely do I have donated and done voluntary work for my local hospice and am happy I know enough about it.

# Posted by John Wilkinson: - 26/08/2014, 09:26 (GMT)

Oddly enough......

Ok it is rant time here....So here goes.

I get an email from a venue in the Midlands asking if they can book Mama for a charity event this year. The cause is a very good one and is indeed close to my heart. It appears the organisers of this event are Genesis fans and indeed have seen us live. NOTE: The organisers are NOT involved with the venue.

The venue is a popular one ( I did my research) and hosts tribute bands. They ask me what price I would charge for us to appear. They also say that this is a "try out" for us to appear at this venue in a normal situation (bearing in mind they have tribute bands on all the time)

I want to get into the venue so after chatting to the rest of the band I offer a fixed fee which is around 40% of our usual fee. We tell them we will provide a PA and our theatre lighting rig for no extra cost which saves them hiring in.

I got an email back almost at once. I was dumbfounded...

Basically they want us to play for FREE. They have not even offered expenses but will provide food and a "few beers" (bearing in mind none of us drink.....)

They thought the price I quoted was "very high considering what a great cause this is" and have intimated that another Genesis tribute band are "Chomping at the bit" to play.

Now bearing in mind this is not around the corner from where we all live but at least two hours drive away ok.

My reply (which I copied the organisers of the event in on) is below


Just to clarify that you want me to ask the chaps in the band to leave their homes around 12:00 noon on a Saturday, travel 90 miles and spend three hours setting up all our equipment. Have a few beers (bearing in mind none of us drink....) and some food. Then play a two and a half hour set. Pack the equipment away and then drive home again arriving around 04:00 hr the next day....Sixteen hours work in total for no fee at all. I understand this is for a good cause however I feel we have already made a contribution to that by reducing our fee by a substantial amount (60 % to be exact). The price we quoted will just about cover fuel costs and expenses for us all. You may not know that our guitarist Mark lives in Suffolk so it will be a 400 mile round trip for him by the way

With that in mind......

Can I ask you will you be donating 60% of your takings on beer and food to the charity?

Can I ask will all your bar staff, doormen etc be working that night for 60% less than normal?

As for your assertion that another Genesis tribute band are "Chomping at the bit" to play this event, my advice to you would be to contact them and see if they agree to your terms and conditions.

I'm sorry if this seems harsh but the point needs to be made.

I wish you all the very best for the event and I hope it does indeed make a lot of money."

The people who organised the event emailed me back saying they fully understood why we were unable to play but they were at a loss to why the venue had asked us to play for free as they were prepared to pay the fee for us.

I told them to draw their own conclusions......As will leave the reader to draw theirs.....

Best wishes


# Posted by Havoc 51 - 26/08/2014, 09:46 (GMT)

I think that's the crux of it.

Treat us the same as the rest of the people helping out the cause. When we object to being treated as a free service to pull off the coat hangar when you feel like it, doesn't make us uncharitable. Most of us here do free gigs or expenses only gigs for great causes.

As long as the venues are honest about how money is collected and donated, as long as they are clear who is working on what basis then we can all decide if it's right or not.

# Posted by Marauder - 26/08/2014, 10:05 (GMT)

many moons ago I partook in a charity event. The venue insisted on £100 fee for each band but on the understanding that £50 would be donated by the band from that figure. Fair enough I guess but we insisted on our £50 donation to be in the form of a cheque written to said charity from my personal account. The venue said ''are you taking the piss?'' to which I replied....''no pal, this qualifies for my tax relief and ensures the charity gets every penny''. Needless to say, we were advised we weren't needed any longer.
Few weeks later it came to pass that said landlord had buggered off with all the money raised, including the £200 per band that the brewery had given him to put the event on.
Just saying

# Posted by Elektrospective - 26/08/2014, 11:10 (GMT)

Just my opinion, but hopefully some interesting points…..

There are in my experience 2 main types of charity event.

Firstly, theres the well meaning but slightly naive events that have got excited at the prospect of raising money (which is a good thing), but got no business plan together to maximise or implement the raising of money (it’s a charity event it will look after itself type of attitude).

Secondly, theres the well organised well budgetted event, where the ethos is simple and business like: spend £x on everything with the plan that you will raise more in ticket sales and events on the night and the difference between the two goes to charity. Spend x, Receive y. Donate y-x.

I’m full time and we get asked to do a lot of both, and have done a lot of both. Now we only do the ones that pay the full amount. The irony is the ones that pay us our full fee actually raise more money for the charity than the loosely organised ones who want us to provide for free. Simply because they have thought it through, put a plan in place and worked hard to implement it. Spent to raise interest and got the rewards.

Almost every one of the haphazardly organised ‘free’ events that weve done have always left us deflated because the promises of drinks and food were not honoured, we got treated like trash off the people running the event (some couldn’t even manage a ‘thanks’ or ‘hello’ and just told us what to do very rudely - and they usually wanted more on the night than agreed) and they were that badly organised it took us 3 times longer to set up and take down with no plan how to implement what they ordered, never mind the fact there was no real focus to raise money. A bucket on a table doesnt count.

I’m not knocking anyone who tries to raise for charity on any level – its very commendable. If an entire night raises £20 and everyone is happy, then that’s £20 more than that charity had before. BUT there are better ways of doing it.

I find it hard to believe that the type of band playing for free or minimum amount will be a big enough draw to fill a pub to the brim compared to its regular usual turn out. The business plan makes no sense. If the venue usually pays £200 for a band and has a regular amount of turn out, how can they expect to get more clientele in AND ask them to pay on the door or donate to charity when paying a band nothing or a lot lot less? If the band is the main draw to pull in ticket prices, then putting a renowned band or several renowned bands on, as well as other entertainment and events is the way to go if you’re serious about raising money. It creates interest and sells tickets. Then you have to factor in the hidden jobs…….. paying someone (or losing their services from somewhere else) to be the ticket collector/checker on the door, and so on and so on…….. only then can you see if it’s a viable objective.

I guess what im saying is if the band are the main draw to get people in, that in itself should be the cue to realise how important they are to the fund raising. Paying them zero or minimum amount is almost determining the amount you are going to raise before the day has even begun.

Good luck to anyone trying to raise anything for charity, i certainly won't be knocking them for trying or participating.

# Posted by james luke - 26/08/2014, 11:12 (GMT)

It beggars belief sometimes..really it does..

charity events which I have done in the past are normally with venues where I gig regularly and have a good relationship with the LL/manager and certainly not for one that would come on out of the blue and just throw the idea down without any thought..

Charity events are supposed to be for a "cause" not just one that seems a good idea at the time because its splattered all over FB. There are many worthy charities around and good luck to all of them.. I will donate in a way that I see fit to the charities that are close to my heart and that actually mean something to me personally .

# Posted by Mr Cottonhouse - 26/08/2014, 11:39 (GMT)

@Marauder - I never thought of that....what a good idea! Pay by cheque..... I'll remember that one in future.

# Posted by Marauder - 26/08/2014, 12:03 (GMT)

I do all charity donations like that pal, ensuring it is made out to the charity itself. Not that I don't trust people....just that I don't trust people

# Posted by WAGONTOWN - 26/08/2014, 16:45 (GMT)

Well said James ... My sentiments exactly.


# Posted by abominablebassman - 26/08/2014, 20:33 (GMT)

When you find the CEO of a well know charity is on over £300k per annum, it makes you think a bit.

# Posted by Howard - Sound and Light Produ... - 26/08/2014, 20:51 (GMT)

i have posted a bit about this in previous blogs. just to say that I agree whole heatedly with James. and Marauder.
I had a band talking to me about a charity event and asking if I would be interested in providing PA services for 12 hours (plus prep, load in and out). I explained that we only donate for those we already work for regularly and to charities close to our heart. I explained that it would be cheaper for me to stay at home and write a cheque for £50 for their charity. I never got any details of that charity and the band never got in touch again.
I did take exception to a recent blog that assumed was something crooked about sound companies being paid to set up stage and pa for a festival while bands donated their time for free. Donating time is a personal choice but i am pasting below my lengthy explanation.
this is the original blog. http://nwb.co/blog/post/70465/jaycrow/festwichis-it-charity-
scroll past if you want to get an early night!

# Posted by Howard - Sound and Light Produ... - 26/08/2014, 20:54 (GMT)

i usually keep my head down for for posts like this but found the the original poster's assumption that professional companies are not charitable to be so disgraceful and unthinking that I feel moved to post.
I had nothing to do with the festival and if anyone I know was working that gig as band or crew it would be purely co-incidental.
there is certainly an issue for bands to decide whether they wish to perform for free or not and an issue as to whether it is truly a charitable donation or whether the local landlord just wants a freebie and passes the bucket round for a good cause. that's another debate for another blog.
My specific issue is questioning the integrity of sound and light production companies because they want their weekly wage.
now i should say that as a part time company we do the odd charitable gig, for causes we care about (you done one for the musician's benevolent fund lately??) but overheads and the large amount of prep time mean that rolling out for a show is expensive and we choose carefully and infrequently/

organising the production of a festival of this size is a serious undertaking - it is not a friday night roll up and set up and a weekend off.
If you work stages at this level as sound engineer, crew or whatever this IS your living. this is what provides the food on the table and the poster is suggesting that families should go without their usual weekly wage.
a festival of this size starts planning well before the event - often a year before, seldom less than 3 months out. the sound engineer is likely to have spend a week in planning, including stage plots, channel lists, desk programming, and on and on. lighting ditto. stage erection ditto.
on top of that there are risk assessments, method statement, meetings with the council, compliance with HSE festivals guide, outdoor events insurance, in some cases even a civil engineers certificate for the stage, lighting and PA. which means often it has to be drawn on cad and submitted - just like if you submitted a home extension for planning.
obviously these companies work in public friday to sunday - monday is often their ONLY day off and tuesday to thursday is repairs, the above planning, truck loading, testing (if a PA fails that's a lot of ticket to refund) and other backroom activities. there is an investment to be made with equipment for this sort of work and that investment has to be insured and every day it stands idle is a day the company is losing money. forgetting for one moment the stage - the cost of lighting and sound including consoles is likely to be more than £50,000. (based on my inspection of their photos of the stage on facebook). that means that BEFORE any wage or insurance is spent the PA and lighting company is losing £2,500 for the event if they give it for free - and the risk that they could still incur damage and have to pay for that.
then those guys who have been working on testing, maintaining, loading, unloading, setting up, working and breaking down, re-loading and unloading at base. 7 days work for at least 4 men which the original poster expects the company to donate. so he is now looking for a donation of £5k plus and we haven't started with the stage!. then there are your office overheads, the weekly cost of the tructs and so on and so forth.
NO one is making a fortune out of PA, no one has high wages but the poster seems to suggest that these hard working people should donate tens of thousands of pounds.
working a theatre gig with one band can be fun - it's a long day but you can have a crack.
working a festival is not fun. it's close to hell at worst and it's incredibly hard work at best.
sleeping out with the gig to guard it, covering over all the gear to protect it from overnight dew (ever left you amp in the back garden and turned it on the day after? no - thought not). Unable to sleep because you need to keep the generators going to keep the amps heated and dry.
12 hour days IF you have had the pay to set up the day before - more likely the client doesn't pay so it's 18 or more hours on the first day.
30 odd bands, 150 odd musicians (in both meanings of the word odd). each one with their individual channel requirements all gear to be shipped in and out, every channel to be kept track of. I worked a festival last year with a sound engineer and it damn near killed him (and that was one day)
- i mixed a 4 band event earlier this year myself
- i felt like i needed a shotgun and i am damned sure i deserved the pay at the end of that day.
4 bands in one day was two days prep, and one 16 hour day or the show.
would i do it again? not if i have a nice little one band theatre gig - but maybe, just maybe if the pay day is right.
would i do it for free for someone elses choice of charity while my family go without that food on the table?
come find me and tell me to my face and I will show you how charitable I think we should be about what you think about what we do.
better still put up a week of your wages and time and then we can talk about me working for free

# Posted by james luke - 26/08/2014, 21:05 (GMT)

got to agree with Howard on every single point...even the ODD musicians..we have just done a festival and I'm pretty damn sure that everyone earned their money over the three days. More for sound & light crew..They have a tough job at best and I do not envy them one bit..they work bloody hard and whatever they get paid..its not enough ha ha...

# Posted by Mark L - 26/08/2014, 21:11 (GMT)

Without wishing to blow smoke up his arse, Howard is one of the few people on here who actually talks sense

# Posted by Neil Aspinall - 26/08/2014, 23:18 (GMT)

As a working musician and how I also make my living I restrict the number of charity gigs I do to 3 a year and chose carefully the ones I do.
I equally try and avoid the free festivals that end in "fest" or "stock" who don't appreciate the added value of a band by offering only a few beers, I can nip to bargain booze and buy an 8 pack for the petrol money I save, stay at home, scratch my balls and have a few beers in the comfort of my arm chair.

# Posted by VANKWISH - 26/08/2014, 23:47 (GMT)

A few years back, along with a few others we started Wheatstock.
A charity event held in my local pub.the first year we had 3 bands on a sunday night.
The year after we went balls out.
Jam night on the friday, to be fair, this was just to try out the rig.
6 bands on the Saturday and 6 bands on the Sunday.
2 stages, one outside, one inside. There was a gang of 8 organisers, and on the weekend we had about 25 people help out. From security to cleaners.
We did it again the year after.
Through out the weekend, the only peope paid were the brewery with the beer sold.
None of us took a penny.
We had people going into shops in town for raffle prizes, we got loads.
Raffle took about an hour.
Did we work hard? You bet we did
Did we love every minute of it? You bet we did
Will we do it again? You bet your ass we will.
Not many of us on here do this for the money, we all do it for love though, we have a talent we like to show off.
I think if a charity doo is done well, you know where the money is going most people on here would help out. I know at least 15 acts on here who would, because I've asked and they have helped and not took a penny, in fact most have dipped in their pockets to give money as well as time.

Any one for Roxfest 2???????

Charnock Richard 2015??????

# Posted by The Cheating Hearts - 27/08/2014, 00:18 (GMT)

I'm with Neil on the free festival thing. Years ago maybe they'd have some kind of cultural resonance and actually be memorable events in their own right but long and bitter experience teaches us that mostly they're poorly attended, badly organised, ill amplified wastes of time for all concerned. Christ, you don't even have to worry about the brown acid at most of 'em...

# Posted by The Cheating Hearts - 27/08/2014, 00:24 (GMT)

And, Howard, I love your post. I'm quite certain that any festival you did would not be ill-amplified!
Thought I'd clear that up.

# Posted by Hush - 27/08/2014, 08:12 (GMT)

We have done festivals but have always been paid. But from what I've found out others at some have not, but have done it for the experience and exposure, their choice. It's easier realistically to support charities of your given choice in other ways. Not as a band, but donating as Neil says. Ultimately there are always some bands just glad of the gig, but generally they are not regular gigging bands. I do personally support charities but not through the band. Generally the type of bands, usually not always are hobby bands, or bands starting out, I have found with the greatest of respect. This sometimes clouds peoples judgement who seek to run these events, that think all bands are like this, and are desperate to play for sweet FA, As a lot will know there's a lot of work goes into a band.

# Posted by Marauder - 27/08/2014, 09:17 (GMT)

put us down for Roxfest 2 Marc, as long as it isn't in August lol

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