A lot has happened in the year or so since this page was updated. We’re making real progress.The radio’s up and running [though occasionally off the air],The Dungeon’s not officially open yet, but we’ve been unofficially jamming down there anyway. We didn’t make our grand opening, and subsequent opening dates were missed too. We have some problems to deal with, regarding heat and plumbing. We are working on that. We HAVE had several more secret sessions, but to invite the public, some loose ends need to be fixed. Keep tuned.
Musicians Inc is now ready to launch the Uptown Jam Underground. The grand opening is scheduled for Nov 22 in the wine cellar of the Westchester Tavern. We’ve had a few undercover rehearsals and jams, and feel the place is ready for you, the professional, aspiring or armature artist. The UJU will be a rehearsal, recording, broadcasting, creative space where ideas will be born. We hope to have a radio station by then, and to broadcast all over the known world via the internets. Come down and check it out. The festivities will start at 8 pm.
Musicians Inc where we’re putting the music back in the music business.
Aug 14, 2014
Musicians Inc. is starting to take shape. It will be in the business of music. That is providing music for as many purposes as we can handle. It will be the best music we can produce, live, or in studio. It will be run by and for musicians.Currently we are working on taking over the wine cellar of the Westchester Tavern as a place of music: education, jamming, recording, filming, and promotion.
Changing the Business of Being a MusicianThe music business is a huge field, depending on how you define it. If you include giving lessons, selling or renting instruments, stage hands, and CEOs of companies like Universal Music [Lucien Grange]. This is about music performance business, and not about the many ancillary jobs that are fed by the musician, like publisher or booking agent or lighting tech.
I have been lucky and blessed with a career, actually playing music, but I have seen so many phenomenal talents that were forced to take day jobs to eat and never came back to full time. I’m a rarity in the music world. But looking at how I actually make money, it could be argued I’m really in the travel business. Most of my work hasn’t been local. Chubby Checker, Gary US Bonds and the other acts I play for usually require serious travel. Time spent playing on stage for money is usually in the low single digits, hours per week. Time spent traveling or hanging in a hotel is about 98% of it. And I am one of the lucky ones.
The big names that I work for can bring in what sounds like a very healthy paycheck–until one considers expenses. After they’ve paid for the travel, rooms, backline, me and the band, taxes, recording costs, promotion, agents, crew, manager…. they are frequently just about breaking even. To that, names at the very top of the live performance field are expected to live a lifestyle that keeps fans and entourage in place. The result is Michael Jackson went bankrupt–and he was big during a different time. Live music has changed a lot.Those at the top now typically employ huge crews many computers, tons of expensive gear. Serious money can be made. But a big-ticket act’s income typically go to the name at the top, and a decent, usually seasonal or part-time, salary for the band members. So from a multi-million-dollar show, you have a handful of musicians paying the rent. There are still studio musicians and Broadway pit musicians, but these jobs are getting harder to get and keep every year. And they pay less. The bulk of the ‘music business’ income goes to non-musicians and the most successful in it don’t even play.
The music business is like most businesses today: shrinking except for those at the very top. Are those at the top really in the music business? They don’t play. Most kids planning a career in this are musicians. Most want to be the next Beatles, but most would settle for playing regularly, making enough to live on. This is becoming more and more a dream unlikely to happen. Why? Many reasons
1. Since Reagan, the world’s become more materialistic. People want to own things, and need to, or at least think they need to own more [what happens if I lose my job? health? whatever.] People at the top pay less to workers and are rewarded for it by stockholders. So people have less time, money and energy to go out to listen to live music.
2. Except for the $50-and-up tickets, most live music has been married to the sale of alcohol. In years gone by, a local band could average 4 nights a week for decent pay. People with 2 jobs and kids can’t go out, and certainly not drink enough to fil the bar’s til as in olden days. For the few remaining that try, there’s the cops looking of DWIs, noise complaints code inspections, and anything else that can shut down a bar. Like rent. Most musicians know about a venue that was so successful that its landlord doubled the rent. These places generally are quite volatile, and eventually hit a dry spell, and closure.
3. It’s hard to compete with free. Recorded music today is very hi-fidelity, and whether your taste is hip hop or old time rock and roll, a studio production is hard to beat especially when you can chose your song, volume and are sure the guitar player won’t take your girl. And it’s free, in your house, or occasionally a bar. If a bar still chooses to have the excitement of having a quality live band, he must pay them, and ASCAP, which demands and gets a fee for the privelege of playing popular songs. Juke boxes and TV’s pay far less if anything to ASCAP.
For these and other reasons, live musicians must divorce themselves from the sale of alcohol. Or at least find something to add to it. There are parts of the world where musicians can make a living doing little other than playing, but in the US and increasingly around the world this is drying up. Busking can make money, though you’re unlikely to buy that big house in the country from it.
Drop a message for Jim Wacker
Musician’s Inc is starting a booking agency.
Call us at 212 567 2216 first for all sizes and shapes of musical entertainment. Or write to [email protected]