The Gigging Musician Podcast

Getting Sued For Running Your Band

April 21, 2021 Jared Judge
The Gigging Musician Podcast
Getting Sued For Running Your Band
Chapters
The Gigging Musician Podcast
Getting Sued For Running Your Band
Apr 21, 2021
Jared Judge

In this episode, Jared talks about one band on the west coast that was recently subject to a class-action lawsuit by its musicians. He discusses the value of what a bandleader provides, and tries to figure out what a bandleader should earn in addition to what they get paid to play the gig.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Jared talks about one band on the west coast that was recently subject to a class-action lawsuit by its musicians. He discusses the value of what a bandleader provides, and tries to figure out what a bandleader should earn in addition to what they get paid to play the gig.

What's up gigging musicians, it's Jared Judge. And I want to tell you a little story about a band that was recently subject of a class action lawsuit by their musicians. And I'm going to leave out names, of course to protect the innocent, but it's probably not that difficult to search for them. So for those of you who run a band, or those of you who don't, obviously, there are certain members of the band that do things differently than other members, which, of course, I'm talking about the band leader, their whole responsibility is to lead the band, and make sure that the band is busy enough in whatever capacity that is. And in this context of the gigging musician, podcast, we're talking about gigs. So the booking of the gigs, which I'm super passionate about, and I have, you know, worked very hard to become a good bandleader myself. And so this band out west somewhere, I'm not gonna tell the exact state, they are the kind of band that has a roster, a very big roster, hundreds of musicians, large, and they booked private events, mostly weddings, but also corporate events, and parties, that kind of thing. And they charge a very high price for them. And they are the kind of band that sends out multiple bands per day, they can handle multiple gigs per day, because they have a roster, and it's literally a branded band. There's examples of that all over the country, if this is a new concept for you, you should definitely check it out. Because it's a great way for musicians to be able to, you know, earn more money and play more gigs. But you really have to be passionate about systemising, what you're doing, using a tool like booklife Pro to do that. So this band out west, they are that kind of band, I don't know the exact number of gigs they handle a day, but it's probably in the dozens per day. And they get a lot of their gigs through what I call the showcase funnel, where they do showcase events. And I can talk a bit more about the showcase funnel another time I want to get to the lawsuit. So as a bandleader, you have different responsibilities, mainly, the booking, which is extra work for sure, you know, you're not just performing in the band, you're also doing the booking, you're sort of acting as the in house booking agency for the band. So this band that's doing dozens of gigs a day, they do a lot of booking per day. And the thing is the they do not expect any of the other musicians in the band to do any of the booking work, which is awesome, because, you know, many musicians, they don't want to do the booking work, they just want to show up and play. And that's perfectly valid. But unfortunately, that doesn't work if you don't have somebody who is willing to put in the time and effort to do the booking. So this band, they're doing dozens of gigs a day, tons of booking, and the extra work is valuable, it's earning money, and it is worth getting paid to do that extra work. So most people, most bands, add on a little bit of extra money to the gigs price. So it's a it's $1,000 gig, they might say, okay, for the booking work, I'm going to take $100 extra for that, for coordinating, you know, I'm spending several hours working with the client, the bride and groom or whatever, sorry about that siren, fire engine going by. And so they take they take a fee. And if you look at traditional booking agencies, you know, many of them take 20% for that. And some musicians are are angry about that, because they think the booking agency is not doing a lot of work. So why do they deserve 20% of our gig. So let's band out west, doing 10s of gigs a day. They were recently sued by a class of their musicians, for exorbitantly charging a fee on taking much of what the musicians make. And the lawsuit details exactly how much that is. and turns out it's 50% of the gig. So, you know, say they charge $5,000 for each gig. And they're the kind of band that does charge 5000 all the way up to like 13,000 or something like that. And so $5,000 50% $2,500 for marketing for the gig, which I do know they spend money on Facebook ads, then coordinating their showcases, which you know, setting that up, takes a lot of work. Then doing the actual work of the booking with the couple, the bride and groom, who they booked with which that is several hours and then following up and making sure that the gig goes planned including the choosing the setlist And then staffing the musicians coordinating with the venue, making sure sound equipment and all of what goes into making a gig successful. So they are doing a good amount of work. But is it 50% of the gig 50% of all the money that comes in? Is it? Is that how much work they're doing? And, you know, that's, that's not my place to answer that. But the musicians that initiated this class action lawsuit, clearly believe that that is not worth 50% of the gig. And the current status of that lawsuit, that lawsuit was filed back in like 2019. The lawsuit is still pending. You can research that and figure out the status of that. But it's crazy because, you know, as a musician, I don't know any musician, personally, who has sued their bandleader. And I also don't know any bands, except for the one in California and probably their franchises around the world, because they do have other bands under their franchise, that they're taking 50% of the gig. So how much is it worth it to run the band? It's obviously worth more than zero, because without the bandleader doing this extra work, the gig wouldn't happen. So is it worth 50%? Well, these musicians don't believe that. And that's kind of up to each, each band to decide that. And I, in one of my other podcasts, I kind of talked about the formula that I've used to figure that out. And the general basis of that is kind of like a, just like, how much is your your hourly rate, you know, if you are a full time band, band leader, then you kind of can figure out how much you would like to make per hour. If you have a full time job elsewhere, you know, but you putting in the work of running your band, you're basically sacrificing time that could be spent earning money through your full time job, although you know, many band leaders don't think of what they do is as work, although it is work, and it's valuable. So you can think about how much time you spend per gig during the marketing and the sales and the coordinating of the band, multiply that by your hourly rate, and you can get a general sense of how much to charge for that. Although most bands don't actually do it that precisely. And, you know, a lot of bands do under charge for the state of California has a labor board that sets guidelines for what they consider booking agencies. And in fact, that was one of the premises of the lawsuit. Whoops, I just revealed the state. One of the premises of the lawsuit was that this band is acting as a talent agency without a license, which in California, you need to be licensed. And the Labor Board in California sets standards for what percentage a talent agency can take from an entire gig. And that California says very clearly in their Labor Board standards, that it's 10% maximum, they won't approve contracts that are greater than 10%. And so 50% is a huge spread above that. 20% is even quite large over then it's double. But you know, this is talent agencies and the whole arts community and music. It's very fluid. It's not cut and dry. We are not, you know, it's not like we're bartenders, we provide an art, we perform, we entertain. I mean, I love bartenders, and they make the world go round. But it's a lot clearer how to how to handle their employment, because they their employees, they're not artists. So that's just interesting story for today. So I thought that would be kind of fun. Now, one way for band leaders to minimize the amount of work that they have to put in that way they can, you know, spend less time and still feel good about getting paid X amount instead of 50% would be by using a system. And that you know that this this band out west does use a system, but a system, a collection of tools and automations that handles the marketing sales coordination of demand, would cut down the number of hours that each individual bandleader has to spend running the band. And so that's why I would encourage everyone here to check out this system that I have created me and my team, book life pro.com. And that is a way to cut down how much time you spend. And when you're spending less time running the band. You get to spend more time playing. You get to spend more time with your family and doing the things that you love instead of you know, doing the work of herding cats, which don't get me wrong, I love it. I love doing that work. But I don't want to have to do more of it than I really have to. So that's that's the story for today. If you enjoyed this pie Feel free to give it a SUBSCRIBE and LIKE and SHARE and check out book live pro