[Dixielandjazz] Whores and Big Bands

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Dec 4 09:33:48 PST 2004

Tom Wiggins wrote: (snip out of context)

> We are all considered WHORES in this business and often forced to be just
> that,

Hey, wait a minute, stop disrespecting whores. They work for a living,
supply a much needed service and charge a proper amount of money for it.

Not all bands are so inclined.

In Philadelphia, we often face under priced competition from Mummers Bands.
Thank goodness they have limited appeal and do not undercut the market for
OKOM. Occasionally we might lose a gig to one of them, but not often.

On the other hand, we do face tougher competition from folks who undercut
the market. They go specifically to venues where we play and offer "a
similar band for less money." We do lose gigs to these bands, but that too
is usually only a one time thing. Once the venue becomes aware of the
difference, we get the gig back. We bring in more bottom line profit. That's
what we sell, net profit to the venue, not cost of the band.

There is a balancing act as to how an emerging band can manage to play.
Simply stated, play anywhere you can, for any price you want, AS LONG AS IT

Case in point:

A few years ago a local OKOM band here wanted to play in a very famous
"Modern Jazz Night Club". So the Band leader took the gig, once a month, 3
months, 7 piece band, 3 hours for $400. (The club's maximum total rate
because of small size) In order to hire 7 musicians, he subsidized the gig
by putting in his own money to pay the going rate, even managing to bring in
high profile out of town players. It cost him a bundle, but he was happy.

One of my fellow local OKOM musician/band leaders ranted and raved. Said the
guy was undercutting the market, making the club owner think he could hire a
7 piece band for $400 etc., and that it would ruin the scene for all of us.

Not really. Because here is an OKOM band, playing where no OKOM band had
ever played before. There was no existing market for OKOM there. This leader
had CREATED A NEW GIG VENUE, made the music available to a new audience and
not harmed any other OKOM bands. (No it was not me, I am in business to make
money, and do not pay to play)

So I opined that the leader was well within his rights to present OKOM
there, at whatever price he wanted and if he subsidized the gig to make it
work, that's up to him. (The small size of the club guaranteed that any band
larger that a quartet could not be supported) As I saw it in this case,
though I would not work that way; No Harm, No Foul.

On the other hand, had he gone to a venue where OKOM is regularly played, or
one of the venues where our band plays and undercut the going rate, I would
have been mightily pissed.

Steve Barbone 


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