[Dixielandjazz] Whores and Big Bands

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Sun Dec 5 18:36:57 PST 2004

In a message dated 12/5/04 4:43:36 PM Pacific Standard Time, 
sign.guy at charter.net writes:

> 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.

Hi Larry:

There is noting wrong with what you do or any other guy or gal  who does the 
same thing, diversification in our business is not a bad thing at all, you are 
still a professional musician when you do multiple tasks because you are 
capable of doing so.  Bravo.

 While working six nights a week in a PUB does qualify one as a professional 
musician, it does not necessarily speak to your level of professionalism so I 
would not scorn the musician who makes his professional living doing that any 
more than I would the guy who makes his strictly as a teacher, or the one who 
makes his playing with the symphony, They indeed are all Professionals albeit 
at different chosen levels.  Not a thing wrong with that.  However, playing 
six nights in a week in a pub also does not necessarily make one a professional 
musician either, there are many amateurs who do that as well, some good and 
some bad.  All professionals are not necessarily good either, just like every 
guy with a Law degree is not good or the Dr. or whatever.

People will pay for a name even a has been name. 

 No question about it, Everybody wants to be in show business or know 
somebody who is, and the wannabe promoter will pay ten times what a Has been act is 
worth just to get his picture made with the guy and brag to his friends that he 
is close personal friends with the Has Been.  When I wear my Agent/Talent 
Buyer Hat I love to get a call from one of these idiots, who will offer me 
$80,000.00 for an hour show by some has been act for their convention or Gala 
Fundraiser for some good cause.  I have on occasions taken their money and bought 
the act for four days for the money and promoted them properly in other markets 
to make money for me and them.  Did I rip them off, Nope not in the least, 
they threw the money out which was not theirs usually anyway, because they did 
not ask what the act would cost or care, they were just dead set on getting them 
and getting that photo with the guy that they were listening to on the radio 
in the back seat of their daddy's merry oldsmobile with Betty sue, etc., 
thirty years ago.  These are the guys who buy talent from the agents who sell the 
bands that sound like the stars, they call them "Tribute Shows"
us Professionals in the business call them "Almost As Good" shows.  Like the 
band that had several hit recordings but the lead singer is no longer with the 
band so they really don't sound like the records anyway.  You know like Tom 
Jones show without Tom Jones, or Blood Sweat & Tears without David Clayton 
Thomas on vocals.

They will also pay big bucks to "out of town" musicians.  
 For what reason I haven't a clue.

Because they are not over exposed and familiar with the local audience like 
most of the local guys, familiarity often breeds indifference, as your sound 
and show become predictable.  The trick here is to find out ahead of time who is 
coming to town and then rehearse and prepare a show to kick their ass and beg 
borrow or steal your way onto the show as their opening act, kick their ass 
and make sure the press and local media see it and hear it and write and talk 
about it.  That is how you get respect at home, then take your show to the next 
town and do it there.  The touring traveling acts always get paid more money, 
other wise they could not tour and or expand their following and income.

  I play with several road bands that come through and they book for more 
than the local
talent normally.

The fact that you are called to play with these road groups speaks very 
highly of your talent and skills, and if they pay you better than you can get 
normally at home by yourself than that is also a good thing and shows respect for 
your professionalism.  You might even be making less money than they are but 
you don't need a hotel room or meals and transportation provided for you because 
you live there.  On the other hand they have to pay all their expenses for 
maintaining a home and auto, etc., back at home and spend money for food on the 
road, transportation, and housing on top of their regular pay for performing.

Therefore the road warriors must and should always make twice as much money 
on the road as they do at home for the same job.  It is by no means cheap to 
tour with a band and or keep a good road band working, and often because the 
promoters are not sophisticated enough to realize that the out of town acts can 
and do bring out folks to see them simply because they don't see them every 
week in the local pub, it is something different at least for one night and will 
be a lasting memory for them, and it is usually still cheaper than them having 
to travel 3oo to a 1000 miles and get a hotel, etc., to go see that act in a 
far away city.

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 
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.

This should have been easy to see coming Larry, Hell we had already seen the 
injection of the electronic drum/rhythm machine, then came the synth to 
replace all the horns and even the bass.  Musicians rolled over and played DEAD all 
over the World for this Technology boon.  They should have brought it into 
their own shows and kept the Damned DJs under control as sidemen and not let them 
slip into the position of being in Show Business and becoming Personalities 
in their own right.  Any Chimpanzee can play a tape or record machine.

Now many of them make more money than live bands on a regular basis and have 
brainwashed the music buying public with their marketing that they are better 
than a live band because they play what the customer wants. HEllooooooo.  Many 
of these ruthless clowns finding new money for playing records constantly 
dissed musicians at all levels and simply out sold the musicians to their own 
marketplace.  I might add that the AFof M stood right there and watched it all 
happen too, but what could we expect, after all they too were mostly musicians 
out of touch with the changing market place and trends to eliminate our 

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.

How did He and they get away with this? very simple folks: MARKETING 
not sitting around the house moaning and complaining because the phone was 
not ringing or the Big Yellow Gig Buss was no longer stopping in front of your 
house.  They went out and took your gigs and your market right out of your bank 
account.  I think they call it competition and to the victor go all the 

My question to you and not as a smart ass response is if you and or others 
saw what this friend of yours was doing, and understood the formula described 
above, why in God's name did you not go do the same thing for live music 
promotion and sales and at least maintain a greater percentage of the marketshare in 
your territory?

Musical content: from a friend of mine's band  "Asleep at the Wheel"

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 flyer on the car was not a bad comeback but not any more ethical to do 
than the DJ who recognized the value of the Wedding Show as a showcase to put 
him in front of all your potential customers and lure them away for his own 

 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.

Obviously Larry the DJ's proved you terribly wrong again as they paid it and 
took all the business away from you, as a cost of doing business. You guys 
just gave up the fight when you should have dug in and fought back.  There are 
other ways to play that game too but I will save that for another time.  You 
guys should have been the first to go tot he Wedding show promoters and offer 
them a win win situation to control and protect your marketplace.

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.   

Larry I can't knock the band in a box guys any more than you can knock the 
DJs that took away your live gigs, they fall into the same category in my 
personal opinion, for many reasons, and certainly not because I do not understand 
you and your situation perfectly clearly.  But as good friends with differing 
opinions on this list as I have with many of my peers and colleagues I see it 
more a a we can't beat them so we will join them attitude, lets you have less 
hassle with sidemen who you say are not available for the gigs with you, 
(perhaps because they are out doing other gigs with their Band in the Box so they 
don't have to hire you)   Just as an example.  I am also about as equal a fan of 
Karaoke singers for much of the same reasons, and I have a few friends who do 
that, but I would not book them for Free.

.   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.  

You are right, but personally I would rather flip Burgers for a living or 
drive a truck or dig a ditch and be appreciated for what I did.  Fortunately I 
made marketing decisions differently than many other musicians did back in the 
70, s & 80, s when indeed it was tough, but they paid off very well in the 90, 
s and is currently getting stronger and better every year, but I do not 
restrict myself to working at home.  I am a road warrior and go where the money is.

Musical content: Hank Williams
"You got the money Honey? I got the Time" and the Band to make it fun.

 Now there's another
difference between a Whore and a pro-musician.   They don't have to practice
to keep up.

I assume you are speaking of the musician here in reference to keeping it up 
I don't agree with that either since I find the more I practice the better I 
can keep it up. :))

Cheers and keep-swinging man.  As long as they are still hiring you and 
paying you to play live music, you are still a professional in my book.  However do 
not look for me to fly out to St. Louis and pay a cover charge to hear you 
and the Boys in the Box.  :))  I'll catch you when you on a gig with one of the 
road bands keeping the faith.  :))

Tom Wiggins

 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.

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