[Dixielandjazz] Whores and Big Bands

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Sun Dec 5 16:50:09 PST 2004

Music lessons support a lot of us as does teaching.  We are at cross
purposes when we tell a student how well they play then expect them to not
go out and try to do it.  I think that all of us fit into the student
category at one time or another.  As for me I have made my living from one
phase or another of the music business all my life.
Teacher/musician/bandleader/director/AF band.  This doesn't exactly make me
a part timer at it although the pure Professional musician may look on me as
a part timer because I don't play six nights a week in a pub.

Everything you said is true but there is no getting away from it.

People will pay for a name even a has been name.  A case in point.  Bob
Kuban - a one hit wonder "The Cheater".  Bob runs an agency but mainly books
the Bob Kuban Brass.  They are actually a pretty good band.  He gets or at
least used to get the ball park gigs.  He books at really top dollar but I
guarantee his musicians are getting scale.   They will also pay big bucks to
"out of town" musicians.  For what reason I haven't a clue.  I play with
several road bands that come through and they book for more than the local
talent normally.

Times are changing.  The first big shock we had was in the 80's when the
DJ's really hit hard.  Before that they were just a nuisance.  I didn't know
how badly we were outgunned until a friend that was booking 10 DJ set ups
wanted me to go out and spin records.  This is how it worked.

He was booking 10 setups on Saturday and 3-5 on Friday  nights at $500  each
($750 for lights too) ($7500).  He booked 10-12 gigs per week during the day
and other evenings at $300.  ($3000)  That's $10,000 a week.  His expenses
were $200 per DJ or $125 if he had the equipment set up for them.  He paid
about $1000 a month for yellow page ads and he was able to do mass mailings
through the coupon people who mail out to zip code areas.  His record
expenses were make copies for each DJ.  At that time he had a tape set up
that was really clever.  the tape machines could cue up a tune.  He had
everything on rolodexes with the tape number and the cue number.  DJ takes
request, looks it up. puts it into the machine and cues it up.  plays tune,
rewinds tape and puts it back.  Now the DJ's can do this with much more
sophisticated technology.

My friend sold out and retired a fairly rich man.

This almost came upon us as a surprise and killed the band that I was
playing with at the time.  We were doing well for ourselves but just
couldn't keep up.

We were playing a wedding fair for a Large Dept store here in St. Louis.
The band played for the fashion show and then got to hand out our literature
and talk to brides.  We were doing this for two other shows also.  A really
good trade off until  The DJ's said yes we'll pay you to play for your show.
We couldn't afford the $1200 they wanted to play for their show.  We usually
booked 3-5 gigs on the show.  The other shows followed suit.  This cost us
heavily in the wedding business.  We did however book well for a while by
putting flyers on the windshields of the people at the show although a DJ
came out and wanted to fight us.  He changed his mind when he found out
there were three of us there.

At that time the band as booking about 70-100 jobs a year with about 50-60
of them weddings.  The last year we played together we played 18 gigs.

Don't knock the Band in the box guys.  I now make more money using BIAB than
with all other bands combined,  My playing income would be about 60% less
without it and each year it gets more sophisticated and sounds better.  In
10 years the way technology is going  it will be a formidable music aid.
BIAB can't make you sound better.  You have to play well - BIAB can't help
you.  I work a lot of Duo-trio jobs with it and these jobs simply would not
have been there for me 10 years ago.  Yes it cuts out 3 musicians but they
aren't there to play anyway but the jobs are.  Do I musically like BIAB?
No, but a buck is a buck and I guess that's the true mark of a  Whore or pro
musician.  There is a benefit from this much playing - I get to make money
and I can keep up my chops easier than before.  Now there's another
difference between a Whore and a pro-musician.  They don't have to practice
to keep up.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <TCASHWIGG at aol.com>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Sunday, December 05, 2004 4:00 PM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Whores and Big Bands

> In a message dated 12/5/04 12:43:40 PM Pacific Standard Time,
> sign.guy at charter.net writes:
> >
> > There may be a basis for this.  We share some similarities besides we
> > what we are best at.  Both professions decry the wannabes and amateur
> > talent that insists on giving it away for free or at very low prices.
> > only difference between the two is that as the group of musicians gets
> > larger the price goes down.  Not so with whores.
> > ----- 
> Yes, Larry you make a good point here as well.
> Part of the major problem is that for decades we have nurtured and given
> and sold music lessons to millions of people (I did not say musicians or
> entertainers here) as I meant people in that context.  Now everybody wants
to be in
> Show Business and thinks that because they took some lessons in high
> they can go do it professionally and make millions of dollars for an hour
> two a day of fun.
> None (at least that I ever met or heard of doing so) of the sometimes
> paid professors ever had a class where they taught the musicians how to go
> and make a living actually playing his instrument.
> It is one thing to sit in a lab and play Ellington Charts, Basie Charts,
> Dorsey charts etc. and even make some alterations in the arrangements to
give it
> your own sound, but it is entirely a different world to go out and try to
> a reputation for you and your band and sell it for anywhere near the money
> that those bands made in their hey dey.
> Even in today's market, as evidenced right here on this list every day the
> people who are into that particular sound and KOM want to hear Ellington,
> and Dorsey, etc the way they remember hearing it originally.  Just like
> of them want to hear Louis as Louis, not Kenny G's version of Louis music.
> Etc.  There was nothing wrong with the original music but so many
professors of
> music continue to try and reinvent the wheel without digging down deep
> themselves and actually finding anything worthwhile to advance the
original and
> make better.  The opposite often happens and they send a bunch of kids out
> the world hoping that they will have been duly influenced by their Ph.D.
> music and that their graduates will someday play their charts and make
> royalties for them.
> I also believe that anybody who is issued a drivers license should be
> required to have take a basic auto mechanics class so they can know enough
about an
> automobile to tell if they are out of gas or have a dead battery.  Nobody
> teaches them the basics of the tool they are expected to operate.  Keeps
the tow
> truck drivers in business however, and the battery jumper cable folks do
> well off of them too.
> Not all of us can be Rocket Scientist, nor Heart Surgeons, Lawyers, or
> Accountants, or countless other honorable professionals.  But if we and
they expect
> us to be able to afford to pay them professional fees for their services
> they damn sure should be prepared to pay the professional musicians their
> going rate.  Do you think open Heart surgery or Liver transplant
operations are
> negotiable?  Do we have the option of shopping for a cheaper Heart
Surgeon, and
> hire a drummer who does a little Brain and Heart surgery on the side for
> and some extra bucks?  I don't think so.
> Musicians have pretty much self destroyed their own marketplace by
> the exact thing we all hate "unfair employment practices" It is not all
> fault of the Dirty rotten promoter or sleazy booking agents, and
> managers in this business, although there are plenty of them, and surprise
> surprise, many of them are former musicians or wannabe musicians who could
> become successful as a player, so they moved over into the rip off the
> musicians game.   It is much more profitable for them to sell the wannabes
than it
> is to actually work and sell true professional working acts who know they
> and how much money it takes to run their band and what they are really
> As in the Dr. who HOLDS the Trumpet while getting the band to play for
> or no money so he can massage his alter ego as a wannabe musician, and you
> can probably bet that he did not book the band for free either, after all
he is
> a prominent Dr. with wealthy and wannabe wealthy friends all around him to
> support his lifestyle.  They often have a hard time separating their
> profession income level with their amateur musician status and charge the
same as
> they would for a Heart Surgery to play for the Hospital Foundation Annual
> Holiday Gala fundraiser where all their peers and community leaders pay
$250.00 to
> $500.00 a head to attend and see and be seen.  This has nothing to do with
> what the other musicians make however, since he knows they work for free
> fifty bucks all the time, that in his mind is what they are worth.
> Now take the same scenario with the Jazz Professor, who cons his class
> going out and performing with him for free for the Alumni association
> fundraising event, etc., etc.
> There are pots of money all over in every profession to tap into if you do
> your homework and go find and negotiate them before these guys on the
> track snatch up the cushy gigs.  These kind of gigs can finance a lot of
> promotion for your band and give you additional revenue to save and
disperse fairly to
> the players for less paying gigs that are worthwhile and that can lead to
> more and better paying gigs.
> YOU are only as Good as your last GIG.
> If it was a bad one whose fault is it you booked it or accepted it.  Do
> homework, check it out and do not be afraid to turn one down for
> reasons.  The money is not everything, but is certainly a major factor to
> considered in the overall career development process and financing your
> Business" and if it is not a business for you then you should stay at home
> play for your own abusement and leave the market to those who do.  What
> Hell, someday the poor musician will probably need a Heart Transplant and
> will get all of his money anyway.  :))
> No, I don't want to get a bunch of hate mail from the Drs. and Lawyers ,
> etc., on the list, I am not picking on you personally, there are similar
> in all professions, Hell even some of them claim to be Professional
> musicians, :))  there is a time and a place for free performing, but we
need to look
> into it and address it accordingly.  If any body is getting paid then
> should be paid, YES, even the musicians.  The more money musicians have
> more they will spend, so we all need to feed the economy, keep the money
> around in circles.  The trickle down theory to the musician simply does
> work, especially with the price of alcohol, gasoline and drugs and health
> and legal fees and taxes continuing to rise at record rates.  If the shoes
> feel free to wear them, if not then pass them on to the guy they will fit
> better.  :))
> Sorry about Accountants guys and gals, musicians don't have enough money
> count so most of them don't need your services.  However you might call on
> Drs. and Lawyers Bankers, and other highly compensated professionals :))
> Cheers,
> Tom Wiggins
> New bumper sticker:
> Help Stamp out BAD music break up a Band today.
> The Government in it's efforts to fix this problem, have developed a new
> program which will go into effect at midnight on New Year's Eve.  They
will offer
> $50.00 for every instrument turned in for destruction between Jan 1 & Jan
> 2005.  This maneuver is expected to create a lot of higher paid gigs for
> Real Professionals by altering the supply and demand side of the music
> industry.  Now if you own more than one instrument for God's sake turn it
in, most of
> you can't play more than one at a time anyway :) DO NOT loan it out to
> wannabe player who will take your gig.  If you own a synth. Or band in a
> the government will pay you $100.00 to turn it in, they are collecting
> for use in all their new Iraqi  & Afghani Disco Chains planned for
operation in
> 2009. :))
> OK back to my Cave.
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