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Musicians Contact Spring Newsletter The Source For Jobs Since 1969 818-888-7879 from Sterling Howard, Founder/Owner

Need a player? Click "I have a job to offer" on our website. Need a gig yourself? Click "I'm an individual seeking work" on our website.

Spring greetings!

Our newsletter is actually more of a forum where we report what YOU think about various musical topics so we can print YOUR thoughts for many other musicians to read.

We need your input on how to increase live music, what’s right or wrong with live music today, is music getting better or worse, how can the pay scale be raised, etc. Give us your thoughts, solutions, gripes and comments so we can feature them in future newsletters.

Concerning comments on live music, here is what drummer Phil Roach sent us recently:

"What's wrong with live music? The whole pay-to-play scenario. Proof positive that musicians are easily duped into believing that they have to pay for their ‘art’. Any other profession would receive compensation for the effort. Even other 'artists' don't get snookered this way. Actors don't have to pay to act, writers don't have to pay to be published, etc. The whole concept is ludicrous and demeaning.

There are less jobs because music is in transition. The advent of digital downloads and digital recording has turned the industry upside down. Musicians have to adapt and become more versatile. Jobs will again be plentiful, but the model will be different than before and the smart musicians will be prepared for what this new landscape will require.

I wouldn't say that music is getting better or worse, it seems to be stagnating. The 20th century saw incredible growth and development, mainly due to technological advances that allowed music to be recorded, broadcast and easily sold and allowed for music from around the world to be discovered, explored and integrated into the existing music. Something new was always around the corner. Now, we seem to be repeating ourselves and there appears to be little left to discover.

Oh yes, the pay scale. Today, the average gigging musician can make the exact same amount of money on a gig that he made 20 or even 30 years ago. So, in terms of today's dollars, musicians earn far less when you adjust for inflation, perhaps 50% less than years ago. Virtually no other profession has seen such stagnated wages. I believe that modern musicians of all types need to organize as a union and establish the ground rules. We are generally right-brain creative types with little business sense, but we need to take some sort of collective action to make the playing field a bit more level. Booking agents need to be more aggressive about cost-of-living increases for their talent. Entertainment is viewed as an afterthought by more establishments and musicians need to stake their claim. The rise in the cost of fuel alone should have been enough to warrant an increase in the pay scale over the last 18 months. Most other industries pass along their cost increases to the customer and so should we."

Well stated! Have something to say? Send your comments and views to:

Commentary from Musicians Contact owner Sterling Howard:

It has always astounded me how much money musicians spend on their equipment, lessons, schools, rehearsal studios, etc., but how little they spend on actually PROMOTING themselves to find employment. Some players have over $20,000 in equipment, take weekly lessons for years at $50 a crack, shell out $50,000 for advanced schooling, and spend ongoing monthly sums for rehearsal places. But how much effort is spent on basic promo to get a JOB?

For many years, when Musicians Contact had an office on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, available players filled out paper questionnaires that were placed in giant notebooks. Bandleaders came in and looked through the pages and contacted whomever they wished, (much like it's done today online). I still remember employers saying they were amazed by the fact that only about 10% of the musicians supplied a photo, tape, bio, or song list. The point I'm making is that it costs so little to have promo BASICS compared to all the other expenses, and yet these cheap items may get you a job faster than all the other stuff that costs so much more! Especially in today’s Internet world, where simple websites can be very reasonable or even free, there is no longer any excuse not to have some basic promo for employers and bandleaders to view. Agree? If you're a bandleader needing a player, remember we've always been a free service to find replacements. Go to our homepage, enter a free ad and contact some great players by cruising through their profiles.

And if you’ve never been listed with us as an individual seeking gigs, go to our homepage and click "Job Samples" and "Famous Clients" for info.

Now for a little fun, reach back into your memory and send us your fondest experience on any of the following topics. The best are printed in future newsletters. Here are the 5 categories:

1. Worst or Most Unusual Gig: This can be a job featuring you playing with a group, or it can feature your entire group.

2. Best Gig Ever: Self explanatory. Go ahead, but keep it honest!

3. Weirdest Audition: Again, this can be an audition you went to by yourself, or your entire band, but it must be...weird.

4. Closest Call To Fame: Most everyone has a story on how they got aced out of fame or fortune.

5. Bad/Best Musician Joke: You’ve heard plenty. Send us your newest or favorite oldie. Submit at


1. Worst or Most Unusual Gig: (Submitted by John Kloczkowski)

It was back in 1986, I was working for a local wedding group in the southeastern MA area. We were playing for a late afternoon wedding. The groom seemed to be outside in the parking lot every time they needed him to join in the usual garter throwing and all of that other wedding stuff. By the time the job was over the bride's brother and the groom got into a fist fight and the couple called off their marriage before the reception ended. As the guests were getting ready to do a send off dance we announced that the couple were not available and sent everyone on their way. By far one of the most unusual gigs that I have ever played.

2. Best Gig Ever: (anonymous submission)

I played with a ZZ Top Tribute Show at a bike rally in southern IL. I asked the promoter for some girls to dance onstage for the song Legs. So, as we begin to play, two totally naked hotties walked out onstage, and then onto the runway extending out from the stage. As I played the song, more naked hotties joined us, and of course I enjoyed it immensely. So I told the gals to remain onstage, since we had a couple more songs to do. As we went on, more naked women came up, until at the last song, appropriately titled, Tush, there were about 14 gals totally naked dancing around me on the runway. As I finished the final solo, one jumped on her knees in front of me, pushed my guitar out of the way, and mashed her face in my crotch. I think it slightly altered my slide ending. I remembered that my wife was in the crowd, and wondered if she had captured any pictures for me. But apparently she was having trouble seeing me through the crowd at that point. Well, at least she won't have any evidence should we ever part, which I doubt anyway!

3. Weirdest Audition: (submitted by Joe Byner)

My original rock band was auditioning for "America Votes for Tomorrow's Stars", around 1980. It was sorta like Americam Idol but using bands. They had a huge audition and lots of bands showed up. Right before we played our one song, which was filmed with tv cameras, our bass player dropped a huge amp on my foot as we were moving it. OUCH!! Never have I been in such pain. Within minutes I had to appear happy as I sang our song right into the camera. Immediately after I went to a clinic and sure enough - broken toe. Nothing ever became of that show, except a typical ending to another band story.

4. Closest Call To Fame: (submitted by Drew Daniels)

Way back in 1972, I cheated an audition for a position in The New Christy Minstrels by renting a string bass and teaching myself two tunes, then with taped fingers went to the audition. Fortunately for me and fortunately for him, the only two people to audition as bassist were me and... Jimmy Buffett. I played my two tunes and luckily was not asked to play a third tune. Instead I was told I was the "wrong look" for the New Christy Minstrels, but then when Buffett's turn came he took out his guitar and played an original song and a whole room full of other auditioning kids, (for singer positions), came to a silence to listen and kept demanding he play more until he'd played about six tunes and the manager Sid Garris stopped him and asked him if he played bass. Again fortunately for both of us, he said "I can learn quick" but Sid gave me the gig even though Jimmy looked perfect. Then Buffett asked Sid (who also managed Jose Feliciano, Barry White The Crusaders, etc.) if he could help him with his tunes. Sid said he would love to but that he was not the right guy for that style, and handed Buffett a business card on which he'd written the name and number of a pal in Nashville at Glenwood Music. Two weeks later, Jimmy Buffett was on the charts and I was on the road! I tape recorded that first audition call from Bob Drew, the Christy's road manager, telling me I'd be auditioning against Buffett, (whom no one had heard of at that time of course). Every now and then I listen to it just to ponder how providence and chance work together in such strange ways.

5. Bad/Best Musician Joke: (submitted by lots of folks)

What's the difference between a violin and a viola? None, the violin just looks smaller because the violinist's head is so much bigger.

What do Ginger Baker and coffee at donut shops have in common? They both suck without cream.

What is the similarity between a drummer and a philospher? They both percieve time as an abstract concept.

Conductor: A musician who is adept at following many people at the same time.

What do you call a keyboardist who had 3 keyboards but now has only one? Divorced.

Unusual sight: Guitarist with an amp which has a volume knob with the numbers 5 or lower.

What happened when the bass player locked his keys in the car? It took the drummer over an hour to get out.

How many singers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One, they just hold the bulb and the whole world revolves around them.

Why do bagpipe players walk while they play? To get away from the noise.

When will a musician never leave the stage? When he hears the announcement "Would the owner of the Porsche please turn your headlights off".

...these could go on forever but this is it...

Female vocalist asks her pianist, 'I'd like to do My Funny Valentine again tonight, but can you think of a way to jazz it up? Pianist says, "Sure, we can do the first chorus in G minor, then modulate to G# minor for the second chorus in 5/4 time, then modulate to A minor for the bridge, then cut off the last 3 bars". She says, "Wouldn't that be too complicated without a rehearsal?" The pianist replies, "Not really, that's how you sang it last night!".

Ok, if you can't think of anything right now, email us when you remember something good. Submit at:

Stay healthy until next newsletter!

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