[Dixielandjazz] Re: New Years Eve Gig

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Fri Dec 17 10:51:12 PST 2004

In a message dated 12/17/04 6:04:39 AM Pacific Standard Time, 
barbonestreet at earthlink.net writes:

> Barbone Street has been booked since January 2004 for December 31, 2005.
> Doing a double. First one is the opening hour of a First Night celebration
> from 6 PM to 7 PM. Second one is at an upscale Retirement Complex, from 8:30
> PM to 12:30 AM. Both local within 20 miles.
> First gig pays $2100. Second gig pays $3600. (Six piece Dixieland band)
> Basically, because we are a "working" band that supplies music to a broad
> variety of venues all year long, we have a lot of pull through requests for
> the date. We turn down several New Year's Eve gigs each year because we are
> already booked so early.
> The Retirement Community gig is a repeat performance from last NYE.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone

See folks those good paying gigs are still out there, but you have to getup 
early int he year to nail them down, or book them on the way out the door like 
I always did with old Ernest Tubb & the Texas Troubadours, simple to do when 
you have a good act and everybody is making money.  I used to book dates on the 
way to the bus with one simple phrase to the promoter or club owner, " Same 
time next year?" "yep, see ya, drive carefully and hurry back."

The biggest problem I see with bands not working is that the leader needs to 
be a good TALKER, Salesman,    Now, think about it a minute folks, what the 
Hell does a DJ do?
He talks and talks and talks for a living, and once he has talked the person 
with the checkbook in his hand into the idea that a DJ is his best bet and a 
lot cheaper than hiring a band which is their best line, along with "The people 
don't want bands anymore they prefer DJs"  he snatches up your gig and gets 
more money most of the time than what your band would work for.

Musicians have been out sold and many times have simply sold themselves out, 
Right out of the marketplace.

There is some truth to what Trumpet Tom said about musicians pricing 
themselves out of the game as well.  I have stated it before and I will say it again, 
you are only worth what your last gig paid for you to perform, and many times 
you are not worth that much, you just got lucky and got an idiot with a 
checkbook to give it to you.

If you play local gigs at say $350.00 to $500.00 a gig, the word gets around 
and those in the know, know how much your band usually works for, and the only 
reason they would pay you double that or triple that is because they are 
desperate for a band for New Year's Eve.   In the past ten years and especially 
since the great Millennium fiasco where they all expected to make a killing 
because they were sure every moving and breathing person on the planet was going 
to go out and celebrate,  WRONG, nothing changed from the previous years,   
Heck I had twenty six bands gigs canceled in three days before New Years Eve, 
fortunately I had 50% deposits on them all so the bands got paid for going to 
another party and not playing as if they had a regular gig.

The greed factor sets in with the organizers too folks and the price of the 
band, and everyone else keeps going up up up and no matter what business you 
are in there is a ceiling on it.  Since there are many more unemployed musicians 
than there are gigs it has reached a saturation point and only the Best 
talkers are getting the gigs.

I have not sought a New Year's Eve Gig since 1975 and do not really want one, 
prior to that I played at least one every year from 1965 to 1975.  I call it 
amateur night, amateur promoters, amateur drinkers, and a lot of amateur rock 
bands doing the partying.  Now think about it, Does your mother go out on New 
Year's Eve, Aunt Hazel?  Any of your close friends unless they go with you on 
a gig?   

My suggestion is to book early and often, better you canceling than them or 
splitting your act into two groups to cover both gigs before a DJ gets them.  
If you are really a popular act you can put a clause in your contract (you do 
use contracts don't you)? That lets you send a suitable replacement band in the 
event you get an offer for a much higher paid event.

If you have a substantial reputation and people will pay a hefty cover charge 
to see and dance to your band then you are in a much better position to call 
the shots, if not and you are just a run of the mill group of musicians 
available generally anytime they call you are simply not in the position to demand 
big bucks just because it is New Year's Eve.

Just because the amateur promoter is greedy does not mean you should be, you 
should be smart enough to second guess him and figure out realistically how 
many people he is going to attract, whatever number he tells you a safe bet is 
to cut it by at least 25% and expect it to be 50%.  That is about the norm with 
all the competition for that New Year's Eve buck.  Not everybody can or will 
sell out their events, and for every one that loses his shirt you can bet 
there won't be a repeat gig next year no matter what you charged for the band.  
Bottom line understand the gig and your client, keep it realistic and holding 
out for more or big money till the month of December will usually get you a 
night at home on New Year's Eve.    Many bookers have New Year;s Eve gigs booked 
in August,  you like every other successful business need to plan and book 

Personally I work six months to two years out in front and know when and 
where I want to tour and then I have plenty of time to organize it and make it 
happen or pass and go somewhere else if it is not shaping up to my expectations.  
It ain't easy folks and you need to spend about forty hours a week doing it 
like all other businesses and employees do.  I spend much more time booking my 
shows than the shows spend performing on stage bet on it.  It is amazing that 
most sidemen think these great gigs just fall out of the sky.

About Dec. 30th those $350.00 and $150.00 a man gigs start to look pretty 
good don't they? times have indeed changed, and there are many more smaller gigs 
than big ones, why because there is a big shortage of Real Professional 
Touring Acts, and often even good hot regional acts, that have enough of a following 
to attract a reluctant crowd out on a bad night to pay to see and hear them, 
especially if the New Year's Eve is on any thing other than a Friday or 
Saturday night.


Tom Wiggins

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