Thursday, June 30, 2011

Touring Musician Pay Rates

Most young musicians would love to tour with a major artist and my book The Touring Musician's Handbook describes how to get that gig. That being said, there's always a major question about how much a touring musician is paid. Here's an excerpt that sheds a little light on the subject.
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"One of the first questions that you’ll have either before or right after the audition is, “How much will I get paid?” If it’s your first touring gig, you probably don’t care so much about the income as long as you get the job, but a few months down the road it will start to bother you if you settled for a lot less than everyone else in the band. That’s why it’s a good idea to know what the expected pay range might be and when, where, and how you’ll receive it.

Touring musicians are usually paid by a weekly salary or a flat fee for the tour. You’re a hired gun, so you’ll be paid the same whether you play 2 shows or 7 shows in a week. If the tour does well and makes some extra money, you may be paid a bonus at the end, but it’s never safe to count on that happening given the touring economics that we currently live in. The Musician’s Union is usually not involved, except in the case of some orchestral player. Most of the time, you’re strictly an independent contractor doing a work for hire.

Most pay rates are normally negotiated in $250 increments. An entry level artist might only offer about $750 a week, but it could easily be as low as $500, plus per diem (which we’ll cover later in the chapter). You might decide to take a gig like this just to get your foot in the door, or the money might be immaterial because you might want to build a long term relationship with the artist.

A mid-level artist may pay between $2,000 and $2,500 a week, again negotiated in increments of $250. If you’re good enough to play with a superstar act, you can expect a weekly salary between $10,000 and $20,000. Some superstars may even pay their sidemen with a piece of each gig, which could mean a substantial financial upgrade. This usually applies only to longtime support band members though.

There’s more to what you’re getting paid than your weekly salary. You will be compensated for rehearsals, but they’re paid at a lower rate than the tour, usually half or even 1/3rd of the tour rate. An artist might say, “We need you from February 1st to Feb 14th. The tour starts on the 7th and there’ll be 3 rehearsals somewhere between the 1st and the 5th. We’re going to pay you $4,000 for the 2 weeks.” You can break that down a lot of ways, but one way to interpret it is that you’re making $1,000 for the rehearsal week and $3,000 for the tour week.

Other things that you want to know is if you’ll be paid extra for doing radio promos or clinics while on the road, and if so, how much per performance? These may be duties that fall under the category of what you’re being paid a salary for, but maybe not. And although this is almost never an issue on any legitimate tour, you’ll also want to confirm that any transportation and hotel expenses that you incur are covered if you have the slightest inkling that something doesn’t feel right in your discussions with management.

You”ll also want to know if you’ll get extra compensation if you do extra band duties. Can you act as the artist’s keyboard tech as well as play in the band in order to make some extra dough? If it saves the tour a body to house and feed, management might consider the extra compensation well worth it. As you move up the the touring food chain, this is less of an issue since you’re compensated much better and there are dedicated people for each position.

Remember that everything is open to negotiation, but some managers may say, “This is all we have. Take it or leave it.” If that’s the case, then other factors go into making your decision. You’ll have to ask yourself questions like; how much do you like the music? Will doing the gig help your career? Do you like the people involved? and is the travel easy?"

Go to the excerpt page of bobbyowsinski.com to read additional excerpts from this book and others.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Next Step In Music Creation?

Here's a very interesting user interface for making electronic music that provides a modular way of connecting software synthesizer and sequencing components together. It's called AudioGL, and even though it's in a "pre-beta" form, it provides some insight into where music creation and audio mixing might be heading.

You'll find a full 3D interface here, and while it may be a bit too cutting edge for some old school players, it holds a wealth of intriguing possibilities. I've included a couple of videos here. The first one is an overview of the app, and the second shows the actual operation of AudioGL in creating a song. Unfortunately, there is no website and only an email address, if you're interesting in learning more.






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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Behind The Scenes At EDC

The Electronic Daisy Carnival moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas this year and by all accounts was a huge success. Electronic music is huge these days but still flies under the radar to most of the media and music fans, but the following video gives you a look at just a bit of the scope of the event.

If you were ever curious how a big stage production for a concert goes together, this short video will show you. It's extremely well done but gives you a look at all of the behind the scenes work that it takes to construct something that we so often take for granted.

EDC producers plan to re-broadcast the event in movie theaters nationwide on August 4th, where the Electric Daisy Carnival Experience will be shown in 520 theaters. More details can be found at FathomEvents.com.


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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Metallica "Enter Sandman" Backing Track

I haven't posted a backing or isolated track for a while so now is a good time. It's the backing track from Metallica's huge hit "Enter Sandman" which has only the bass, drums, vocals and an occasional guitar. The song is from the band's 1991 breakthrough album entitled "Metallica"

According to engineer Randy Staub, the drum track was composed of nearly 50 takes because drummer Lars Ulrich recorded each section of the song separately in order to maintain the intensity. Supposedly a combination of 40 to 50 microphones were used in recording the drums and guitars to simulate the sound of a live concert (that's a bit over the top if you ask me). Producer Bob Rock and Staub then took 10 days to mix the song, which isn't that unusual in that they were trying to create the sonic template for the album.

Here are some things to make note of as you listen:
  • Check out how dynamic the builds are between sections. It's really difficult to do this and maintain a powerful sound, but this song illustrates how it's done.
  • The snare reverb is on the long side but it's timed to the track. Notice how it fades out just about the time of the next snare hit.
  • There's a lot of verb on the vocal but it's somewhat short so it never gets in the way of the cadence of the lyrics.
  • Listen to how perfectly in the pocket the lead vocal is. It fits exactly with the bass and drums so the track sounds extremely tight.
  • The guitars that do creep into the mix are used to augment the power of the other existing guitars. Note where they are and then go listen to the full mix and see how much they enhance the song where they enter.

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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

15 Steps To A Better Mix

Mixing is a nebulous art in that most musicians and engineers today learn more by feel than being taught. As a result, a number of important items are easily overlooked, and these can mean the difference between a mix that sounds polished and professional and one that sounds amateurish. Here's a checklist of items taken from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook that can help you think in a little more detail about you mixes, and tighten up as a result.

1. Does your mix have contrast? Does it build as the song goes along? Are different instruments, sounds or lines added in different sections?

2. Does your mix have a focal point? Is the mix built around the instrument or vocal that’s the most important?

3. Does your mix sound noisy? Have you gotten rid of any count-offs, guitar amps noises, bad edits, and breaths that stand out?

4. Does your mix lack clarity or punch? Can you distinguish every instrument? Does the rhythm section sound great by itself?

5. Does your mix sound distant? Try using less reverb and effects.

6.  Can your hear ever lyric? Every word must be heard.

7. Can your hear every note being played? Automate to hear every note.

8. Are the sounds dull or uninteresting? Are you using generic synth patches or predictable guitar or keyboard sounds?

9. Does the song groove? Does it feel as good as your favorite song? Is the instrument that supplies the groove loud enough?

10. What’s the direction of the song?
Should it be close and intimate or big and loud?

11. Are you compressing too much? Does the mix feel squashed? Is it fatiguing to listen to? Is all the life gone?

12. Are you EQing too much? Is it too bright or too big?

13. Are your fades too tight? Does the beginning or ending of the song sound clipped?

14. Did you do alternate mixes? Did you do at least in instrumental-only mix (TV mix)?

15. Did you document the keeper mixes? Are all files properly named? Are you sure which file is the master?
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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

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