The Steel Guitar Forum Store 

Post new topic Touring musician pay scale
Reply to topic
Author Topic:  Touring musician pay scale
Mike McBride


From:
one end to the other
Post  Posted 27 Dec 2021 11:15 am    
Reply with quote

I saw some video of Kenny Vaughn playing with Lucinda Williams on Austin City Limits from 1998.

What could a sideman expect to earn for a 100 date tour in the pre-Covid days?
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Pete Finney

 

From:
East Nashville Tn.
Post  Posted 28 Dec 2021 6:22 am    
Reply with quote

deleted

Last edited by Pete Finney on 3 Jan 2022 9:54 pm; edited 3 times in total
View user's profile Send private message

Bill McCloskey

 

From:
Nyack
Post  Posted 28 Dec 2021 7:15 am    
Reply with quote

Interestingly, Miles Davis paid Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, some of the best jazz musicians in history, $200 or less a gig. And on the My Funny Valentine and Four and More live records, they were forced to play for free because it was a benefit concert. They weren't happy. But the albums are classics.
_________________
Eharp Player
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Fred


From:
Amesbury, MA
Post  Posted 28 Dec 2021 9:57 am    
Reply with quote

Bill McCloskey wrote:
Interestingly, Miles Davis paid Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, some of the best jazz musicians in history, $200 or less a gig. And on the My Funny Valentine and Four and More live records, they were forced to play for free because it was a benefit concert. They weren't happy. But the albums are classics.


$200 x 100 dates is $20,000. But that’s a long time ago.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 31 Dec 2021 7:06 pm     ...but...
Reply with quote

Bill McCloskey wrote:
Interestingly, Miles Davis paid Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, some of the best jazz musicians in history, $200 or less a gig. And on the My Funny Valentine and Four and More live records, they were forced to play for free because it was a benefit concert. They weren't happy. But the albums are classics.


Those cats worked for Miles in the mid-60s...

The $200 per day they were paid,adjusted
for inflation,would be around $1650 now...

SH
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Michael Sawyer


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2022 12:10 pm    
Reply with quote

I am not a touring musician,just a weekend hack.
The band i am in plays 2 four hour shows a month on average.
We spend about 2 hours setting up and tearing down,plus a 1/2 hour or more loading in and out at the band room.
Travel is anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours one way.
Our pay depends on the venue size...i generally take home "a cow and a calf"($150).
I consider it a hobby,like fishing or golf.
I will never break even cause i keep buying stuff πŸ’
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Tommy Shown

 

From:
Denham Springs, La.
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2022 12:37 pm    
Reply with quote

I too am a weekend warrior. However, I don't make the big bucks like you do Mike. I have worked in some bands where the bandleader made the bucks while the musicians got the the crumbs. He paid each one of us on the level of work we put out while playing.some got more than others. After gas and eats at the venue I am lucky to have maybe $20.00 left and that don't cover expenses. Like what Ton Elliott told me once.
A musician is someone with $5000.00 of gear, puts it in a $500.00 car, drives 100 miles to a gig that pays $50.00.
Tommy Shown
View user's profile Send private message

Michael Sawyer


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 1 Jan 2022 4:03 pm    
Reply with quote

Tommy,i feel you...
Lol,it surely won't braggin,hope it didnt come off that way.Might have been complaining a little...I am fortunate to be in an unselfish group and fortunate to have a few little bars that are fair with the pay,and patrons that appreciate live music,with the flaws and hiccups we have.
I couldn't pay my bills playing music,i figured that out 25 years ago.
Like i said its a hobby,i feel blessed to recoup a little of my investment here and there.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Miles Lang


From:
Venturaloha
Post  Posted 2 Jan 2022 6:55 pm     Re: ...but...
Reply with quote

Steve Hinson wrote:
Bill McCloskey wrote:
Interestingly, Miles Davis paid Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, some of the best jazz musicians in history, $200 or less a gig. And on the My Funny Valentine and Four and More live records, they were forced to play for free because it was a benefit concert. They weren't happy. But the albums are classics.


Those cats worked for Miles in the mid-60s...

The $200 per day they were paid,adjusted
for inflation,would be around $1650 now...

SH


$1650/day is about quadruple what I made per day as an attorney (base salary at 100k) It would be great if sidemen made that today, but I don’t think Miles Davis was being harsh at $200 per day fifty to sixty Years ago
_________________
Santo Fan Club - from the island of Coney to the sands of Rockaway

All aloha, all the time
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post  Posted 2 Jan 2022 7:44 pm     Re: ...but...
Reply with quote

Steve Hinson wrote:
Bill McCloskey wrote:
Interestingly, Miles Davis paid Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, some of the best jazz musicians in history, $200 or less a gig. And on the My Funny Valentine and Four and More live records, they were forced to play for free because it was a benefit concert. They weren't happy. But the albums are classics.


Those cats worked for Miles in the mid-60s...

The $200 per day they were paid,adjusted
for inflation,would be around $1650 now...

SH

I'd gladly work for $1650/day. If I played 300 gigs in a year, that would be half a million bucks per year. Heck I'd work for half of that and, yeah, I might even play the recording session for free to create the album we'd be touring on. Who's complaining?

(Of course I'd never get the gig anyway; they'd hire Steve Hinson. πŸ˜‰ )
_________________
www.JimCohen.com
www.RonstadtRevue.com
www.BeatsWalkin.com
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Karl Paulsen

 

From:
Chicago
Post  Posted 2 Jan 2022 8:04 pm    
Reply with quote

This is a really interesting conversation.

Kind of makes me feel glad to have gotten $100 per gig on bass in my last group. It was 3-4 weekend (usually evening) gigs a month, 3-4 hour gigs. It was an average of an hour drive each way, but very minimal setup time (I could pull up 30 minutes before start) and no rehearsals. I was the first guy hired and BL looked to me to bring the "cool" and a little bit of of Musical Director type direction to the group, but nothing complicated.

Was a nice arrangement that lasted for a few years until the combination of the band growing in size and Covid made it so the leader could no longer meet my fee and we parted amicably.

It wasn't alot of $ in the scheme of things, and $ wasn't the whole motivation, but it was a vital piece that helped balance out the drive and regularly taking a weekend evening away from the family. Not that I'm looking but I doubt I'll be regularly making that much per gig anytime soon.

The cats who can make a living primarily by playing have my respect and then some. Almost all the professional musicians I've known who achieve any kind of middle class life have some sort of institutional music teaching gig as their prime income and insurance platform and gig/sub/etc and private teach along side that.
_________________
Nickel and Steel. Sad Songs and Steel Guitar.
https://www.facebook.com/NickelandSteel

Chicago Valley Railroad. Trainspotting and Bargain Hunting...
https://chicagovalleyrailroad.blogspot.com/


Last edited by Karl Paulsen on 3 Jan 2022 9:44 am; edited 7 times in total
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA, USA
Post  Posted 3 Jan 2022 8:54 am    
Reply with quote

I imagine that professional musicians on the road, backing a "star", can make an average middle class income, but I'm not 100% sure. Those playing with acts that are struggling to "make it" certainly make less. It's a hard life, in any case.

In 1979 I spent a few months on the road for $500/week (if memory serves). Seemed like good money at the time, but family issues brought me back home.
_________________
-𝕓𝕆𝕓- (admin) - Robert P. Lee - Recordings - Breathe - D6th - Video
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 4 Jan 2022 5:47 am     Re: ...but...
Reply with quote

Jim Cohen wrote:
Steve Hinson wrote:
Bill McCloskey wrote:
Interestingly, Miles Davis paid Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, some of the best jazz musicians in history, $200 or less a gig. And on the My Funny Valentine and Four and More live records, they were forced to play for free because it was a benefit concert. They weren't happy. But the albums are classics.


Those cats worked for Miles in the mid-60s...

The $200 per day they were paid,adjusted
for inflation,would be around $1650 now...

SH

I'd gladly work for $1650/day. If I played 300 gigs in a year, that would be half a million bucks per year. Heck I'd work for half of that and, yeah, I might even play the recording session for free to create the album we'd be touring on. Who's complaining?

(Of course I'd never get the gig anyway; they'd hire Steve Hinson. πŸ˜‰ )


Nah,he's too old now... Evil or Very Mad

SH
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post  Posted 4 Jan 2022 5:55 am     Re: ...but...
Reply with quote

Steve Hinson wrote:

Nah,he's too old now... Evil or Very Mad

SH

Oh, you're in the 3rd stage of your career, then:

"Get me a young Steve Hinson." πŸ˜‰πŸ˜
_________________
www.JimCohen.com
www.RonstadtRevue.com
www.BeatsWalkin.com
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 5 Jan 2022 1:27 pm     Re: ...but...
Reply with quote

Jim Cohen wrote:
Steve Hinson wrote:

Nah,he's too old now... Evil or Very Mad

SH

Oh, you're in the 3rd stage of your career, then:

"Get me a young Steve Hinson." πŸ˜‰πŸ˜


...or maybe even the 4th:

"Who's Steve Hinson?"

SH
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Justin Emmert

 

From:
Martinsville, VA
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2022 4:26 pm    
Reply with quote

As of Jan 9, 2022, the average annual pay for a Touring Musician in Nashville is $44,715 an year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $21.50 an hour. This is the equivalent of $860/week or $3,726/month.

While ZipRecruiter is seeing salaries as high as $102,039 and as low as $11,176, the majority of Touring Musician salaries currently range between $28,182 (25th percentile) to $57,336 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $82,117 annually in Nashville.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Bill Cunningham


From:
Atlanta, Ga. USA
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2022 7:51 pm    
Reply with quote

Here is the AFM 257 scale for a touring musician FWIW as a reference. I have no idea what percentage of touring gigs are on the card. Maybe Hinson or someone in the know will chime in.

I’d venture to say most β€œroad gigs” these days are one or two days a week out on the weekends. Not a lot of groups out there 300 days a year like ET and The Troubadours used to do.

https://www.nashvillemusicians.org/sites/default/files/Live%20Road%20Scale%20April%2015%2C%202019.pdf
_________________
Bill Cunningham
Atlanta, GA
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Mike McBride


From:
one end to the other
Post  Posted 17 Jan 2022 3:33 am    
Reply with quote

Great resource Bill! I am now glad I became an engineer instead.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 18 Jan 2022 1:31 pm    
Reply with quote

Bill Cunningham wrote:
Here is the AFM 257 scale for a touring musician FWIW as a reference. I have no idea what percentage of touring gigs are on the card. Maybe Hinson or someone in the know will chime in.

I’d venture to say most β€œroad gigs” these days are one or two days a week out on the weekends. Not a lot of groups out there 300 days a year like ET and The Troubadours used to do.

https://www.nashvillemusicians.org/sites/default/files/Live%20Road%20Scale%20April%2015%2C%202019.pdf


Bill,the money fluctuates re:live stuff like it does for sessions, etc.,but generally it all
hovers around"scale"...unless you get in on the"good stuff",in which case it might be 3-4 times the"per day"scale...or more...

Hope you are well, my friend!

SH
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Samuel Phillippe


From:
Douglas Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 19 Jan 2022 7:48 am    
Reply with quote

Happy to say in the early years of my playing I would only play fill in type gigs for whatever.....Made my living as an engineer.
Fast forward to late 1980's. Started playing small venues for $100 p/hr (playing time)
Never did this for a living , just to help me buy instruments and things. Now at 84 still only play for fill ins.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA, USA
Post  Posted 19 Jan 2022 8:16 am    
Reply with quote

b0b wrote:
In 1979 I spent a few months on the road for $500/week (if memory serves). Seemed like good money at the time, but family issues brought me back home.

Yesterday I came across some records from 1979. That road work with an unknown band only paid $300/week. It was better than the $35/night I was making at home, but with 4 kids we were still struggling. The following year I abandoned the idea and took a day job building amps at Mesa/Boogie. I became a "weekend warrior" for the next 20 years. Guess I just wasn't cut out for road work. Oh Well
_________________
-𝕓𝕆𝕓- (admin) - Robert P. Lee - Recordings - Breathe - D6th - Video
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Don R Brown


From:
Rochester, New York, USA
Post  Posted 19 Jan 2022 1:58 pm    
Reply with quote

I've seen guys post on here something like "Back in 1980, I'd play a 3-set 4-hour gig, and they'd hand me $40. Now, these days, I play a 3-set, 4-hour gig and they hand me $40." Mr. Green
_________________
Many play better than I do. Nobody has more fun.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Roy Carroll


From:
North of a Round Rock
Post  Posted 20 Jan 2022 7:06 am    
Reply with quote

Back in the 70's I was working the road and made $90 a night. Today, I work 2-3 nights a week and still make a $100 a night. I have no idea why the pay anywhere hasn't increased in 40 years. It seems that the clubs nowadays can't afford a full band. They want to use 1 guy and a guitar or a karaoke machine, but that is another story for another time.
_________________
Just north of the Weird place, south of Georgetown
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail


All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Jump to:  
Please review our Forum Rules and Policies
Our Online Catalog
Strings, CDs, instruction, and accessories
www.SteelGuitarShopper.com
BIAB Styles
Ray Price Shuffles for Band-in-a-Box
by Jim Baron
The Steel Guitar Forum
148 S. Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425 USA

Click Here to Send a Donation

Email SteelGuitarForum@gmail.com for technical support.