Primary Blog/Gigging Musician Podcast/Episode 123 - The Hidden Work of Band Leadership: Paying Yourself What You Deserve

Episode 123 - The Hidden Work of Band Leadership: Paying Yourself What You Deserve

Thursday, March 23, 2023

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Episode Recap

In this episode, Jared discusses the issue of fair compensation for band members. Using a specific example of a FMA student who feels resentful of the unequal split in payment among her bandmates, he suggests a solution: building a profit margin into each gig and proportionally compensating the band leader who does the extra work of coordinating gigs, doing the booking work, and marketing the band. He also encourages bandleaders to provide opportunities for other band members to earn additional compensation for doing administrative work like social media management and website maintenance. Ultimately, the episode emphasizes the importance of fair compensation and valuing the contributions of all members in a band.

Best Quote

"It’s obvious people shouldn’t have to work for free, this is the 2022 here. And Then if they are still unhappy with that, then we can provide them with opportunities to earn additional compensation."


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So we were looking at her the breakdown of how she pays her band. And for regardless of what type of gig it is, and regardless of the pricing, she has, to this point been roughly doing an equal split with all the members of her band 33.

Like, they oftentimes play as a trio. So 33% 33% and 33%, which, you know, sounds all fair up from the surface. And I know many musicians do it this way. However, you know, the bandmates, what they all do, none of them are helped with the booking.

So what they do is they rehearsed, they learn new songs on their own time, they traveled to the gig, they set up, bring their equipment that they need, and keep those equipment maintained, and then play the gig, and then pack up, travel back home, leave and get paid.

This student of mine, what does she do, she learns new songs, she rehearsals with the band, she, she travels to each gig, she shows up with her instruments and sets up, plays the gig does an awesome job, and then packs up leaves travels home.

And in addition to all of those duties that the rest of the band does, she also spends between one and two hours every single day, responding to emails, responding to text messages, getting on phones, writing contracts, scheduling musicians, finding new songs, working with clients, put building the website running the social media.

In fact, she shared her screen with me and showed me the laundry list of things that she does outside of what the other musicians do. And then, as she was saying this, I could tell she was getting frustrated and feeling resentful.

She actually said she feels resentful of the other other musicians because she's doing so much more work than that, and not feeling adequately compensated, she feels burnt out.

And, you know, I said, Well, that's why you've got this community first to vent to the full time musician community that you can lean on us, like we've all been through those situations.

But on the other hand, it's time to actually make her pay, reflect the work that she's doing. And then compared it to a concept of wage ship effect.

Have you guys ever heard of wage theft before, if you haven't, wage theft, I don't know the exact legal definition of it.

But I've seen it especially a lot because there's been a lot of like, talks about Starbucks unionizing, and just different places, demanding more of their workers that most workers feel adequately compensated for.

And I asked her to compare it to like working at Burger King. You know, if you are a, a cook or cashier at Burger King, you are given an hourly wage, and you're given the duties and responsibilities of your job.

So compare that to being in a band, which I know this is a big stretch. But if you treat your music career as a business, it's exactly the same, you're just not cooking burgers, or, you know, ringing people out at the checkout counter.

But so basically, you get compensated for your job. And if at Burger King, all of a sudden, they said, you know, you're working for $15 an hour, your normal schedule is, you know, nine to five, or whatever, let's just say it's an eight hour shift.

But Friday is going to be busy. We need you to work 12 hours, but we're not paying you for any of those extra four hours that we're asking, you know, you just have to do it suck it up, it's part of your job that would piss people off.

And honestly, that's the reason why a lot of places are unionizing. Which is because you know, workers don't feel adequately compensated. And so think about it from the band perspective.

Now, you know, the typical band job of the musician is to learn the music, practice with the band play, and then you get paid, right?

But if the band and even the people that are hiring the band, expect one of those members to do a 12 hour shift instead of the normal eat that all the other musicians do. And saying you're not getting compensated for those extra hours.

Well, you know, you would be out of that place faster than you could say, I'm loving it, because you would not be loving it. So it's the same same concept like essentially, you know, even though I'm sure that the bandmates are not intentionally doing this, in fact, this is probably just simply a matter of her compensating herself for this and saying yes, this from the next gig. I'm doing this now.

But you know, you can see why she would feel resentful in the sense situations.

So the solution then is to paying the band mate or pay the band leader who is doing the extra job of coordinating the gigs, doing the booking work, which is technically a sales job, doing the marketing work like building the website, doing the social media, compensating them, proportionally to their efforts.

And the way that I like to do that is by building a profit margin into each gig. We've actually chatted about this on the Gigging Musician Podcast before, but it just came up today.

And I thought it was so relevant, which is on top of the amount that you're paying all of the musicians yourself included, if you're performing, you really should build in a profit margin a percentage, on top of the dollar amount that's being paid out.

What that percentage is, varies from band to band varies from, you know, different tolerances. I will say I've seen profit margins from 10%, all the way up to 50%, which 50% seems high to me, it's up to each band to figure it out for themselves.

And I mentioned the last time we chatted about this, there is a band on the west coast that called the lucky devils that has a class action lawsuit against the band leaders for taking a 50% margin.

So I would not necessarily do 50%. But again, it's totally up to you what what you want to do and what your band will tolerate. But regardless, what you do is you charge this money on top of what's being paid out to musicians.

And then you use that to cover expenses, which your job as a salesperson to who sells the gigs. That is an expense. If you think about like commissioned sales roles, you know, if you ever go to like the State Fair, and you see somebody selling, I don't know, like new roofing or, like, let's get you a new vinyl top for your bathroom.

The people there are salespeople, they're working a commission based sales role, where they get compensated a percentage of each of the roofs or tubs that they sell.

So that is how we should treat what we do as salespeople when we're selling our gigs, we deserve a percentage of those gigs for doing the sales role. And then all the follow up everything else.

Similarly, the the rest of the profit margin goes back into the band's bank account, which if you don't have a band bank account, now might be the time to do that, like it's spring cleaning time. Let's get it done.

So, yeah, that's the extra percentage goes into the band bank account, to then cover the rest of the band's expenses. If you're paying a monthly fee for your website, or you're paying for Fulltime Music Academy. If you're paying for equipment like that all goes into the bands fund to pay for that.

And if you are really an on top of it and organized bandleader you will have a budget for that too, you'll understand like, predictably, we know that we're going to book X amount of dollars, which means that we're going to have X amount of profit margin in our bank account by the end of the year.

So each month we can spend $200 on new gear, we can spend 150, on, you know, marketing and promotional materials, and so forth. And what that does for this musician who is feeling frustrated and resentful, is that it now puts their compensation in line with the actual work that they're doing, which feels fair, right, all of a sudden, it now feels like a fair exchange.

And it reflects the disproportionate amount of work that she's putting in compared to the rest of the musicians. And if they have a problem with that, like the first thing would be to show them exactly what kind of work you're doing in exchange for the extra money that you're taking. Like,

it's obvious people shouldn't have to work for free, this is the 2020 22 here. And then if they are still unhappy with that, then we can provide them with opportunities to earn additional compensation.

That's something that I'm working on right now with one of my groups is a referral program where if any of the bandmates who are not typically in the administrative role, refer a gig to our group, and we book it, then I am happily going to throw them a percentage of the gig that we booked from their referral.

Right because they did that marketing work, they basically did the sales work. So all I had to do all that I will have to do is write the contract and and coordinate the gig. So they deserve money for that.

And similarly if they're doing you know work on the website, or if they're doing social media management with by the way, if you're asking them and your social media management and you're planning on compensating them, you got to set standards like you know the band will pay you X dollars a month.

In return, you will do two posts a week, which comes out to I don't know he posts a month. And keep in mind this is completely hypothetical. I'm just driving sitting in traffic. So don't take These numbers as law, but yeah, provide them with opportunities to earn extra money.

Because that gives them skin in the game like you're gonna get compensated by doing the work that actually matters to help us grow our band, build our income, build our following and so forth.

Alright, so I'm gonna get off my high horse today I'm gonna have to edit together these two podcasts because I got interrupted in between this podcast.

So thank you so much for tuning in to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast. Remember to tune in to our next episode, and remember, "You are just one gig away!". Thanks for listening!

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