[Dixielandjazz] Re: was First Night/ Now New Years Eve Fees.

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Fri Dec 12 19:09:21 PST 2003

In a message dated 12/12/03 7:35:01 AM Pacific Standard Time, 
barbonestreet at earthlink.net writes:

> Usually we've booked First Nights when we don't get a more lucrative
> booking. Since 2000, our New Year's Eve Bookings have been very strong
> and so we have had to turn First Night Bookings down.
> Currently, First Night bookings for 2 hours ending at or before midnight
> are in the $300 per man range on average. We turned one such first night
> offer down this year that paid $400 per man, because we were already
> booked at higher rates. (I do not book New Years Eve simultaneously, but
> do refer them to other bands)
Now this brings me to ask a question that has never been answered with a 
reasonable explanation since I have been in the music industry.

Who came up with the Cockamamie Idea that musicians playing the same songs on 
New Year's Eve should make double triple or better money than they did 
performing exactly he same songs and often to the same people the night before?

Now I ask you does a Dentist get more money for filling a tooth on Saturday 
than he does on Monday-Friday?

Does a Brain Surgeon get more money for Brain Surgery on Wednesday than he 
does on Monday?  Because it interferes with his golf?

I have known many musicians who say that they are holding out to the last 
minute on committing for a New Year's Eve to try and score a one shot for big 
bucks.  I have also seen bands working steady gigs in good paying nightclubs get 
fired for pulling out on New Year's Eve and sending in a sub band so they 
could go off and score big bucks.

In my professional opinion that has always been a direct slap int he face of 
the club owner who hires the band all year long, and to try and extort big 
bucks out of the guy for one night is not good business practice, if your band is 
in that kind of booking circumstance.

Many establishments do charge higher prices and admission fees on New Year's 
Eve, but they were forced to do so to try and make enough money to pay the 
greedy musicians, the bartenders and waitresses and cooks and dishwashers do not 
get paid extra money for that day doing the same job they do all year long.

This is particularly disastrous for many establishments when New Year's Eve 
falls in the middle of the week anyway and not even on a weekend.

I have heard the argument that many more people go out on New Year's Eve to 
Party so business is just going to be better anyway.

That is not necessarily true, many folks, particularly the older ones do not 
go out at all on New Years Eve, some because it is considered amateur drinkers 
night, others simply because the times have changed and they don't go out 
much anyway so New Years Eve and fighting the anticipated crowds that often do 
not materialize anyway keep them at home or at best within walking distance to 
avoid drinking and driving and the greater chances of getting caught by the 

I remember New Year's Eve 2000 which was supposed to be the New Years Party 
Night to end all Party Nights, The New Millennium and all that.  It was 
actually the biggest BUST in history for Live Music and Parties.  Every body and 
their brother tried to cash in on it and make all these plans and promote all 
these big parties with very high prices.  It was common belief that they would all 
make lots and lots of money that night.

Well, folks, I saw and read about hundreds of canceled parties and gigs all 
over the country because the folks just decided to stay at home and not go out 
and get ripped off paying exorbitant prices to hear nobody musicians in a 
hotel room or bar that they normally could go see for free any other night of the 

Musicians who attest to the fact that we should get high bonus pay for 
working on a Holiday fail to remember that Holidays are good for our business 
because the average working guy gets those days off to come out and hear and see us 
and spend some of his hard earned money, let off a bit of steam and keep the 
coffers filling to pay us to work the rest of the week.

How many of us ever offer to give the promoter or club owner back his money 
on the nights nobody comes out to hear or see us and he has to pay us anyway.

Now of course I am speaking of just musicians in general, certainly not those 
established professional groups and players who have worked long and hard 
marketing themselves and building a reputation sufficient enough to be able to 
consistently attract a crowd willing to pay to see and hear them.

There are many Great musicians out there who don't promote and market 
themselves but rather sit around at home waiting for the phone to ring with a good 
paying gig on the other end of the line.  That's kind of like playing the 
lottery without buying a ticket, yeah every once in a while you might get one, but 
you can also get a small winning ticket for the lottery in the garbage can at 
the liquor store too, that the serious player overlooked.

While it is considered Shameless for real Professional Doctors and Lawyers to 
advertise for business, they are beginning to learn that if they don't, those 
shameless young ones who do, are taking away all the new clients that they 
used to get by word of mouth.

The new ones starting out had to advertise because they had no former or 
current clients to refer other clients to them.  Times have changed, but in the 
OKOM world there used to be only one doctor in town and only one lawyer, when 
these rules of ethics were established.

Same theory might have worked in the days when there was a shortage of 
Musicians too, or at least good ones who could draw a crowd of paying patrons.

As for my show, It cost the same everyday, like all  quality goods and 
services, and if one of my sidemen informs me that he just has to have three times 
his normal pay for playing with us on New Years Eve or any other holiday I just 
tell him to go ahead and find another band to pay him that kind of money for 
that night, and at the same time see if they will hire him permanently since 
he is not welcome to come back to us.

If you were in any other working situation, you could not call your employer 
and demand such a thing or ask permission to take the day off to go play for 
someone else for more money, at least and not expect to be fired.

Every year on New Year's Eve I see schlep throw together bands get bookings 
for $300 to $500.00 per man to play the same crap they play in mediocrity every 
other night of the week, for $40.00 to $80.00 and in many cases, play with 
just any musician good bad or indifferent that is available to cover the body 
count on the gig.   I also see leaders splitting their group into three or four 
groups and booking them all for big bucks and paying the sidemen the same as 
usual, often using the sidemen who were holding out for a high paid New Years 
gig, that never came, so they will take anything that is left at the last 

Did I forget to mention the bandleader booker who books so many gigs from the 
suckers who do not know any better that he sends out six players for one gig, 
(three drummers and two piano players and a violin), or (Two bass players, a 
bongo player and an organist with no organ).  How about a bongo player, a 
drummer and a bass player for a trio gig?  Mind you folks these are supposed to be 
"DANCE ORCHESTRAS."  Happens every year and causes many parties to fail and 
promoters of the gigs to never try it again.

Food for thought.  Happy Holidays and A Happy and Prosperous 2004 to you all.

I plan to take New Year's Eve Off again this year, but if anybody has a fat 
$20,000.00 to $50,000.00 gig unbooked, I still might be able to get my sidemen 
to come play that night.
 We would also like free Booze, and Dinner for thirteen plus three guests 
each for Dinner and free booze all night.  And it would also be a nice gesture if 
you would provide limo's to pick us all up and take us to the gig, and bring 
us home afterwards, with a fully stocked bar in the limo as well.

I ain't cheap but I can be had!

Want a real nightmare story? ask me about the Great New Years Eve gig of 1976 


Tom Wiggins

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