Mudcat Café message #2291389 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #109300   Message #2291389
Posted By: Genie
18-Mar-08 - 03:59 AM
Thread Name: Gigs (that pay better than coffee houses)
Subject: RE: Gigs (that pay better than coffee houses)
KT, when I started doing this work full time in the mid 1990s, I generally had between 15 and 20 gigs a week, most of them 1 hour.   I was paid anywhere from $20 to $60, but mostly $30 to $50. Around 1998 to 2002 I was grossing over $30,000 a year doing this.   (Mind you, there's a LOT of REAL overhead, such as buying equipment, auto expenses, various kinds of promo and publicity and office expenses, and, in my case, air fare to San Diego from Portland. Still, I'd say I cleared about $18k to $20k, in addition to being able to write off a good portion of some ordinary expenses that you generally can't when you work for an employer.) My fees have increased, as have my expenses, and now most of my gigs pay $40 to $65 for an hour program.

But things started to get tighter around 2002, and I kind of dropped the ball (for reasons having to do with my personal life) in terms of client contact and publicity in 2003 - 2005, and it's been hard to regain all the ground I lost. Plus, frankly, I think I've been experiencing some age discrimination in the past 3 or 4 years.   (Sounds odd to say that when you're talking about "old folks homes," but a lot of activity directors and other staff are 20-somethings or 30-somethings, and sometimes they do show a preference for musicians closer to their own age. And some "elderly" people also seem to prefer being entertained by the cute young ones too.)   It's hard to tease out the impact of the various factors, though I think the rotten economy is the biggie.   When times get hard, entertainment and activities budgets are the first to get cut. That means fewer gigs and sometimes it means the pay doesn't keep up with inflation.   

BTW, KT, I have discussed the issues we talked about (unnecessary interruptions of resident activities) with activity directors who are receptive, but often they tell me they themselves have the same problems when they're trying to call Bingo or do an educational program or show a video.   One of the most blatant acts of rudeness I've encountered, in fact, was when a woman was pounding nails into the wall of the lobby where I was doing a concert/sing-along, and the activity director told me, "I'd say something to her, but she's the administrator."   (Sigh)

But you're right, a music program can be much, much more beneficial to the residents -- in terms of stimulating memory, emotion, learning, social interaction, etc. -- when the setting allows for minimal distraction than when it's treated as unimportant.