Solo Acoustic Guitar Gigging
March 22, 2005 11:03 PM   Subscribe

I am having a mid-life crisis and would like to become a professional restaurant musician who plays James Taylor songs for baby boomers eating their filet mignons - help me.

Here in Australia or in the US, how much money should I expect to earn in an evening?
How many sets would one normally have to play, and how many songs are in a set?
Can you suggest some good PA equipment? Something like this maybe?
posted by Dag Maggot to Work & Money (12 answers total)
I'm sorry I cannot provide you with advise Dag Maggot, but I have to ask... What aren you doing now? Are confident in your skills? What does your SO think?
posted by Dean Keaton at 11:49 PM on March 22, 2005

What happened to the laundry idea?
posted by Witty at 11:57 PM on March 22, 2005

I can share a bit with you, Dag Maggot, but not sure how relevant...

During my mid-life crisis I became the lead singer in a funk band. I didn't need to buy any equipment, the real musicians already had all the needed stuff.

Our first show was just a short little set - five songs. I got paid 300 som (about US$7), which almost paid for the cover charge for my four buddies who came to watch. But I am guessing there will be a lot of differences between a Kyrgyz funk band and an Australian lounge act, so adjust accordingly for your own context.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:45 AM on March 23, 2005

Best answer: I have a buddy who does this in Budapest, with occaisional forays into Austria and Germany. At best it pays him between US$40 to $75 a night solo. No tips. Sets are about 40 minutes, which is about eight to ten songs. At least three sets a night.

It sucks but pays the rent. He's applying to do the same on a Scandinavian cruise ship for much better money: Five sets a day but $5000 after six weeks.
posted by zaelic at 3:53 AM on March 23, 2005

Response by poster: Hey Witty - I'm having a mid-life crises, I'm allowed to jump wildly from idea to idea, right??

uhmm actually, I'm still working on the laundry idea, but you know ... those machines are kind of pricey - I was shocked. But sersiously this whole restaurant gig thing ... this is it, for real. My SO is very supportive of on this one - but may not be if I'm only making 300 som.
posted by Dag Maggot at 3:56 AM on March 23, 2005

The Carvin AG100D (US$400) has 3 inputs, each with its own channel. One for microphone, one optimized for acoustic guitars or bass, and one general purpose. You will have to find a Carvin dealer in Australia since the company does not ship direct to overseas addresses.

Look around a bit more, you shouldn't have to pay $800 for the Fender system.
posted by mischief at 4:36 AM on March 23, 2005

Before you drop the bucks, go test-drive the Bose system. Far more expen$ive than the others mentioned here, but it is highly portable, easier to set up & run than a traditional PA, feedback has been eliminated, sounds amazing.
posted by omnidrew at 7:51 AM on March 23, 2005

I fit your demographic. Be advised that were I contemplating a steak dinner and the restaurant's entertainment was some youngster playing James Taylor songs, you couldn't get me inside, even if you paid me.
A better sell, if your act doesn't involve singing.
posted by Rash at 8:58 AM on March 23, 2005

I'm looking forward to my inevitable mid-life crisis when I will probably decide to become a cabaret singer in sleazy hotel lounges. Live the dream, man. Live the dream.
posted by aGreatNotion at 9:27 AM on March 23, 2005

Best answer: In New Zealand, for bar gigs you would expect 3-4 sets of 45-50 minutes, and to leave with 80-150 NZD, maybe dinner as well. I haven't seen anyone playing in a restaurant for a long time.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:31 AM on March 23, 2005

If you have a local music union, you can use that as a guide for figuring out scale and overtime pay. If you join, bear in mind that dues will also subtract from your paychecks. Also, you might find you've priced yourself out of some potential gigs. I guess it depends if what you're doing is more busking than a full-out contract gig. So, choose wisely and good luck.
posted by Sangre Azul at 11:32 AM on March 23, 2005

You can do better than $75 night if, and only if, you are willing to travel. Setting aside a summer and playing in a seaside resort town is the way to go. Big bucks to be had on Martha's Vineyard, Block Island, Nantucket, etc. $200 a night easy. The challenge is always, where do you live? The answer can be as simple as "in the camper shell on the back of my truck, and I shower at the beach changing room". But you have to be young, or completely all right with a freewheeling lifestyle, to deal.
posted by Miko at 1:30 PM on March 23, 2005

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