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Author Topic:  Whats the average pay for steel player
Pete Burak


From:
Portland, OR USA
Post  Posted 31 Dec 2017 5:56 pm    
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I am talking about playing a Steel based instrument (PSG/Dobro/Lap, etc), and playing with others in a band.
If you are not gigging, start gigging.
Having a gig coming up is incredibly motivational.
Just take the same pay as the other guys and go have fun!
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Don R Brown


From:
Rochester, New York, USA
Post  Posted 31 Dec 2017 10:00 pm    
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It's ironic, and somewhat of a Catch-22. But there are 3 themes we read about on here constantly, and ALL come into play here.

1. Newbies are often told to get out and play - join a band and you will learn at a much faster rate. So a bunch of amateurs - guitars, drums etc - jam together in a barn or basement, master the basics, and are ready to play. Should they demand the same pay as Drifting Harry and The Cowpokes, who have been playing country bars since 1979 and have forgotten more than most will ever know?

2. Veterans are frequently saying "No way would I play for less than $____ a gig, I'd sit home first." True, in 1994 there were 9 venues in your town booking country music 3 nights a week for way more money than today. And today there is one bar, an hour away, which has a country band twice a month. In many cases the musicians are not in a position to dictate to the bar owner how much they must get paid.

3. And the third theme is "I am a 40-year player, I'm damn good, but I can't get a gig because nobody has a steel in the band any more. And all my friends say the same thing, there's little demand for our services these days."

So you can mix and match those 3 any way you want. Can you blame a guy for deciding the hassle just is not worth it any more, he'd rather sit home than work for $40? Can you blame the band who decides they just can't afford the cost of a steel player any more? And can you fault a bunch of guys who are so happy just to be making music together, that they will play for peanuts just for the fun of it?

There is no right or wrong answer that fits all instances - it's a personal decision for each of them.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 1:48 am    
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and there is yet a 4th theme...

Going beyond " how many are in the band" which actually dictates how much we earn,

#4, do we only play a single Instrument ?

Just speaking out loud, I rarely play a Steel only gig, it's Guitars, Lead Guitars, Vocals, Dobro, sometimes Bass , many things which lead to getting calls. A typical gig for me personally is on Telecaster, Steel and vocals. A secondary might be just AC guitar in a duo or trio, a 3rd scenario is AC guitar and Dobro, while a 4th can be on E Bass.

There are many here doing this same routine , so there is indeed a 4th scenario.

While I didn't mention a #5, I get calls just for Telecaster now and then, and it's my choice if I want to bring a Steel, this would be in a trio.

Each of the gigs mentioned above typically draw $75 to $100 and even more . If it's less , it is known well in advance and I have the option to opt out but hardly every do.
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Pete Burak


From:
Portland, OR USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 5:22 am    
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Don't forget "Weekend Warriors".
Accomplished local Steel players who focus on their Steel Playing and playing Steel with a band, and like to either be going to a Steel gig, or a rehearsal for a Steel gig, pretty much every weekend.
Steel is a Hobby. We have a day job.
We gladly accept band pay.
If we don't have a gig, we go out and support another Steel players gig.
Sometimes we give Steel Lessons, for free.
We go to Steel Shows as much as possible, too.
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Steve Spitz


From:
New Orleans, LA, USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 9:08 am    
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I guess My Day job makes me more of a weekender, weeknight gigs have to be early.

I have a new criteria for taking work, and while money is a concern, it's not the only concern.
So...

1. The gig has to be musically rewarding. If not, It has to pay well and be easy on the load in/out. Otherwise, I will politely decline. I need to enjoy playing, otherwise , No thank you. I'm not desperate to play.

2. I need to feel I'm treated fairly by the venue/event. If someone's making money, the band should earn a decent share.

3. If I'm working with some really inspiring musicians, or if the gig makes me a better player, I'm more likely to not be as focused on the dough, within reason.

4. Sometimes I'll take a gig just for the challenge. Getting out of your comfort zone makes you a better player. That's rewarding.

If I was just starting out, I'd take every gig I could, just to get better ASAP. I started WAY before I was stage ready. I tried to tell that story to Jeff Newman, who quickly stopped me and said "Never wait till your ready. You'll never be ready" ....
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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 9:10 am    
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Everyone looks through their own periscope, but in fact it's a kaleidoscope.
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Pete Burak


From:
Portland, OR USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 9:30 am    
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Hey Herb, What's the typical pay down in your neck of the woods?
Like a one nighter at Jovitas?
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 9:40 am    
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To what Steve said:

A few years ago I booked myself for a couple gigs with a band I didn’t really know, but when I found out who the bass player and steel guitarist were, I didn’t hesitate. Everyone here on the forum would recognize the steel player’s name instantly, and the bass player was a local legend.

Well...the drummer couldn’t even count off a song let alone keep time and establish a groove, and the singer had the weirdest delivery of anyone I had ever heard. It was supposed to be straight ahead classic pop country, but it was a trip back to the garage and even top notch players could not make that group sound good.

The gigs paid $200 each and they were on the same day. I never worked with them again, and I wonder if they ever got another gig. I don’t know if either of the other players did, but when I recall that day it is a memory of unknowingly selling my soul. If it never happens again it will be too soon.
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Pete Burak


From:
Portland, OR USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 10:20 am    
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I love gigging horror stories, but in my experience they are far and few between.
I'm glad to hear the Steel player made at least $400 that day.
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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 11:00 am    
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Pete Burak wrote:
Hey Herb, What's the typical pay down in your neck of the woods?
Like a one nighter at Jovitas?


Hey Pete, howya doin'? Smile

I'm at a point in life where I'm only playing gigs I want to do with kids my own age Wink or guys who know what my bag is. I rarely play in the city of Austin... usually just once or twice a month. I live about 25-30 miles outside of A-town and don't do late night gigs for 30 bucks any more. There's lots of excellent young pickers in town that get the large majority of in-town jobs.

I haven't done Jovita's in 14 years, and the place doesn't exist anymore, but because it was a 10-piece band, it was a $50 gig for 2 hours, 6-8 on Thursdays. Good band, though.

So, for the record, I played 65 gigs in 2017 and the average was $175.91 per gig. The least was $50... there were a few of those... and the highest was $500.

I haven't totaled my product sales for the year yet, but it's nowhere near that, probably a small fraction.
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Son, we live in a world with walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with steel guitars. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg?
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Greg Lambert


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 11:59 am    
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Fred Treece wrote:
To what Steve said:

A few years ago I booked myself for a couple gigs with a band I didn’t really know, but when I found out who the bass player and steel guitarist were, I didn’t hesitate. Everyone here on the forum would recognize the steel player’s name instantly, and the bass player was a local legend.

Well...the drummer couldn’t even count off a song let alone keep time and establish a groove, and the singer had the weirdest delivery of anyone I had ever heard. It was supposed to be straight ahead classic pop country, but it was a trip back to the garage and even top notch players could not make that group sound good.

The gigs paid $200 each and they were on the same day. I never worked with them again, and I wonder if they ever got another gig. I don’t know if either of the other players did, but when I recall that day it is a memory of unknowingly selling my soul. If it never happens again it will be too soon.


thats Great Fred !! Laughing I carry a bag just in case I need to cover my head for gigs like that.... Laughing Laughing
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Steve Allison


From:
Eatonton,Ga. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 3:37 pm    
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You guys are all spot on from what I observe and the scenario here in Ga. Most V.F.W. halls and veteran clubs used to be the best places to be years ago. Enough vets to fill the places up, trouble is the WW2 vets made it a social affair and didn't really want the Vietnam Vets in there so called circle. They have paid the price for that now because they have all died off and no more clubs as they used to be. I will gladly play for nothing if it is a benefit for a needy person or fellow musician. Its a slap in the face for these clubs to offer anything less than 100 dollars a man for an above average band. I ask them to hire 5 plumbers or electricians for 5 hours and see what they charge. The trouble is the word "PLAY" music. I have fun but I'm serious, I aint playin"!
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 3:45 pm     Country doesn't pay that well
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A very well-known player in this area (singer/multi-instrumentalist) related to me last week that country music pays the lowest. He said..."We have no trouble getting $200 per man working as a 5,6, or 7 piece rock group. When playing country, we're lucky to make $75-$100 per man."
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John De Maille


From:
On a Mountain in Upstate Halcottsville, N.Y.
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 4:23 pm    
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I'm getting the same pay per night or show $80.00 - $150.00 as when I worked 30 years ago. However, I worked 5 nights a week back then, plus, a day job and the money was quite adequate. In fact, I was rolling in the dough!
But, the funny thing is, that, after al these years I'm a better musician, but, the scale hasn't gone up. Actually, I guess that I'm lucky to be still playing. I don't really want to retire from playing as of yet. I love it so much! But, having said that, I won't play for nothing unless it's a decent benefit. Then, I'll do it.
All in all, if you're willing to play for less, then, do it. But, you are hurting the pay status for all in the long run.
As to comparing us to plumbers, carpenters, electricians, mechanics and the like, they are needed when needed, we are entertainers and are not a necessity. We are somewhat of a luxury.
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Niels Andrews


From:
Salinas, California, USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2018 9:58 pm    
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Interesting thread. Good thing we have people who play for the love of PSG! The pay sure would not be a motivator.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 2 Jan 2018 1:09 am    
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The bigger question is still, HOW much is the BAND making ?
Not the individual player in the band.

Also as stated right above by John , I play gigs all the time where the magic number is $300 to $600. It's been the same for the last decade or more.

The band leader determines how many will come on the gig. Generally, $400 is the point of 4 players or more. $300 would be a trio, $200, small club, would be a duo.

Anything less than $400 for a 5 piece band will drop each of us into the " under $75 or $80 " per man category.

IF we are working for $50 or less, in a 4 or 5 piece band, all that means is the leader booked the band for a very low rate. That has nothing to do with being a Steel player. One has nothing to do with the other. We are not earning under $50 because we play Steel guitar, we are earning under $50 because the total band pay is too low and we accepted the gig . Everyone else is making the same pay, not just us, the Steel guys (or gals) .

Now is it true that some band leaders cancel a Steel player ? Sure, it's not because we are Steel players , it's because he can't book the band at a higher rate and he can't hire OTHER players ( drummers, bass, Guitar etc) for less than $50 ! remember, we are not the only ones complaining. Shocked
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Don R Brown


From:
Rochester, New York, USA
Post  Posted 2 Jan 2018 7:58 am    
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John De Maille wrote:
I'm getting the same pay per night or show $80.00 - $150.00 as when I worked 30 years ago.


I used an on-line site to calculate the value vs. 30 years ago. What John gets today would be about $37 to $69 in 1987.

Looking at it the opposite way, $80-150 back then would be $174 to $325 today.
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Rich Upright


From:
Florida, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jan 2018 5:22 pm    
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$50-$65 per weekend night here in Florida, but it comes at a greater cost...most of the bands & musicians here are very substandard & completely unprofessional, so you REALLY hafta work for your money. Plus lousy players work more then good ones, because band leaders do not like "hot" pickers here; they think it steals their thunder. I am lucky to be in the best band in the area; all traditional country & 60s.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jan 2018 7:06 pm    
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Rich Upright wrote:
Plus lousy players work more then good ones, because band leaders do not like "hot" pickers here; they think it steals their thunder..

Idiots.
Name your favorite great star and tell me which one had a crappy band.
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Don R Brown


From:
Rochester, New York, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jan 2018 7:30 pm    
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Disregard - I thought Fred mis-read Rich's post. Upon further review, I mis-read Fred's post! The ruling on the field stands!
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Roger Rettig


From:
An Englishman in Naples, FL
Post  Posted 4 Jan 2018 8:27 am    
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Well said, Fred. On the occasional gigs I've undertaken with country bands here in FL I have encountered minimally-talented 'wannabes' with delusions of grandeur.

I'm sure there are exceptions even in the amateur ranks but, so far, I've been unlucky. These days I won't take those jobs. Feeble singers and poor rhythm sections make for a long, long night. No amount of money is worth it.

The stars surround themselves with terrific players - anything less would make no sense.
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Barry Blackwood


Post  Posted 4 Jan 2018 10:05 am    
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Quote:
All in all, if you're willing to play for less, then, do it. But, you are hurting the pay status for all in the long run.

A word to the wise.. Oh Well
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Glenn Demichele


From:
(20mi N of) Chicago Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 4 Jan 2018 10:25 am    
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Fortunately I usually don't have to make the money decision: All my gig money goes to my wife: She won't sell me a Saturday night for any less than $75.
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Herb Steiner


From:
Spicewood TX 78669
Post  Posted 4 Jan 2018 10:30 am    
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Quote:
Rich Upright wrote:
Plus lousy players work more then good ones, because band leaders do not like "hot" pickers here; they think it steals their thunder..


For sure, many singers... big plastic ducks in small bathtubs... have delusions of grandeur and want their asses kissed by all involved.

OTOH and often simultaneously, sometimes hot players resent having to play with others whom they feel are beneath their skill level, and sometimes that resentment shows itself in subtle, supercilious ways like snarky bandstand comments and sidewards glances. Especially if they need the money the gig pays, for which they should be grateful, rather than realize it was their own choices that got them to that "low" point in their careers that they find themselves.

It's called playing your way into a gig and talking your way out of it. In both cases, it's a problem of egos.

Nice guys who are adequate for the job and are easy to work with will always get a gig over the maestro who's a prick. Bottom line is: if you feel the job is beneath you, do yourself and everyone else a favor and hand it off to someone else, or simply STFU.
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Son, we live in a world with walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with steel guitars. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg?


Last edited by Herb Steiner on 4 Jan 2018 11:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Roger Rettig


From:
An Englishman in Naples, FL
Post  Posted 4 Jan 2018 11:14 am    
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Ouch!

I will never show any bad attitude on a gig. If I've accepted it I will give it my all in every respect, including the social aspects.

It doesn't stop me grimacing a bit in the privacy of my car on the way home, though.
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