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Slimey Gig's

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by MadMax, Jul 18, 2004.

  1. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    A bit of a rant here...

    Did a live remote gig for/with a friend (I'll call him InnocenT) who runs a really decent pro studio. His client (I'll call him Toofless) wants to add some live tracks to "his" project. InnocenT contacted me about doing the gig about 4 months ago, but never gave me a deposit... that was cool... kinda'... The client is still laying down tracks and the project is only about one third done. OK, I spec it out and we agree on a price. Especially when dude is looking at doing 4 additional dates. InnocenT doesn't do live remotes and figures he and I can do some business. Fine by me.

    About 2 months ago InnocenT contacts me about the pending session. We go through everything he knows about. It should be really basic tracking... Drums, Bass, Gut, B3 and Piano. We'll track the choir, but probably do OD's at the studio. We figured about 12-14 tracks. About now, dude wants live sound.

    No problem... I'll do a split and take the keys and choir vox to FOH. All the musicians on cans and we're good to go. The plan is all set... yeah right.

    A month goes by... no deposit. My "spidey senses" are tingling. My buddy InnocenT sez, "No Problem, he'll come through." Hmmmmm.

    Two weeks to the session, and still no word. "Uhhhh, are you SURE this thing's gonna happen?" "Oh sure, he's just been busy and we've been trading voice mail."

    We got down to the week before the gig and still no deposit, no site visit, no communication from the client. (It's beginning to smell like 4 day old fish, if you know what I mean.)

    FINALLY, 24 hours before the gig, InnocenT got a credit card deposit and we did the site visit. The church sux acoustically! Flutter all over the place. We hammerred ol' Toofless about waiting so long to get the site visit. Now we've got to scramble to get some temporary treatment up to kill the flutter. He agreed to the extra charges.

    First, I get to the gig 6 hours ahead of time. We got approval for 3 extra, but I'm going to be a pro and give a little, just so I can do my best to get a good session... and the band is... 3 hours late! WTF! Now, its all scramble and down-hill from here...

    No sound check is going happen. Then the track map changes from 14 to 20 tracks. Oooooops! Seems that there are now 6 extra midi keyboard trax. A bit of a scramble to get the extra DI's in, but we got it all up and running. We get ready for the doors, and Toofless pops up asking where the lead 2 vox mic's were. What lead vox mic? "You NEVER mentioned a thing about lead vox!" By now, I'm ready to strangle this twerp. Not only is Toofless demanding all this extra crap he hadn't told us about, he stiffs us on food and even friggin' water!

    Doors are at 7. It's 7:40 when we're finally ready to go. To add insult to injusry, now the lil' turd wants it loud as hell for the performance! The whole gig, Toofless keeps gripin' about it needs to be LOUDER! I'm thinking; Does this guy just not care about the session he's paying for? -or- is he just a complete newbie and hasn't got a clue that he's destroying his own session.

    He had whined about needing the two extra mic's and then only uses one! He kept passin' one of the mic's to the next "vocalist" and then gripped about gain from one vocalist to the next! I'm ready to strangle this numb-nut! I keep as cool as I can. I'm a professional. I'm supposed to be able to handle the challenges. That's what I'm being paid for. Suck it up and just get the job done.

    We kept it reasonably clean and actually ended up with a few good trax. Not a great performance, but very respectable none the less. Snare drum all over the vocals, but it couldn't be helped. He just HAD to have the damn drums directly beside the choir! The vox were supposed to be OD'd anyway.

    After it's all over and I'm sweatin' like a ho', wrappin' cables and packin' it all up, this moron actually has the nerve to ask where his "rough mix" is! WTF!?! WHAT 2 TRACK!?! He didn't spec a 2-track, he didn't pay for a 2-track, we didn't do a 2-track, he doesn't get a 2-track! I've been on-site since 10am, no food, 1 bottle of friggin' water, band 3 hours late, no sound check, 8 extra tracks, and this POS wants his rough mix? God give me strength and somebody pray for this ass, cause' I'm about to strangle him with the mic cord in my hand!

    He backed off and finally got out of our hair. We got packed up, found some grub and a cold adult beverage. We felt good about handling all the adversity and still getting good trax down. We figured out that Toofless just isn't a sensless moron. He's a BarryGordyWannaBe on his first production. He's trying to "present" and doesn't know that he's responsible for every aspect of the production... Including making track maps, figuring logistics, and taking care of the different crews involved by proper planning.

    I agreed not to rip his eyebrows off and promised to be at least reasonably professional in educating him how to get some of the stuff done he wanted. e.g. not bitch slapping him in the back of the head with the nearest stringed instrument when he gets all whiney about needing this or that... that would have been item 4 or 5 on anybody elses list of necessary items to have.

    That was week before last.

    InnocenT was out of town for the 4th of July. My buddy finally returns my call about when we're gonna dump into his PT rig and do the pay thing... He starts with; "Uhhhh, Max, Uhhhhh"...

    Yup, you guess it.... we're screwed. It seems that Ol' Toofless put the deposit on someone elses Visa and it gets declined. The card owner calls InnocenT raisin' hell about the charges on the card. Come to find out, the little scum didn't have the authority to put the added charges on the card. Toofless was only approved for the initial tracking... which was already done at InnocenT's studio and he doesn't know when, or if, we're gonna get paid!

    I KNEW there was some stinky, slimey mess in this gig. I should have listened to my inner self when I had the chance. This makes three gigs in a row... two of em' were on me and now this 3rd one on another studio owner.

    Thank goodness none of them have tapes or any mixes. The two of em' I did, haven't even called me back. Fortunately/unfortunately only one was tracking. The other was a small FOH/Monitor club gig I did for a "friend." Even if/when they do call, I'm tempted to inform the one that due to they're failure to pay their balances in a reasonable time, the tapes are clean, the files are dumped and nothing else exists and not to bother to call me ever again.

    Some musician/producers just plain suk...

    Is this a trend, or am I just lucky enough to get the dirtbag clients? I go the extra mile. I do my job. I do it to the best of my abilities and I deliver what I say I will.

    I just don't understand it. Why is it that some people think that it's perfectly OK to screw the very people they need? or at least say they need?

    Am I wrong to be miffed about being shafted out my pay, time and $1000 worth of acoustical treament/materials... let alone the total disrespect shown two business owners?

  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the world of live recordings......

    First off no real money (not a piece of plastic) up front NO recording. Plain and simple. ( and the money has to be "in your bank" before the recording)

    No pre concert visit to the venue - No recording

    No pre planning meeting with all parties present and a contract later to solidify the finer points that both parties have to sign - NO RECORDING

    Secondly it sounds like your "friend" was more interested in making money for his studio than getting you paid which means that he is doing what comes naturally.

    I have been in too many situations like what you are describing. They all start out well and then proceed downward as you get closer and closer to the date of the concert.

    I worked for a pro recording company that did live sound and live recording. We ran into a number of "problem" clients over the years and learned our lessons the hard way by making all the mistakes you are describing.

    There was the time that we were doing a live recording of a "famous" country western female drummer who just has to have 32 microphones on her drums (we had a 24 input console) and the sound company wanted $200 for us to hook up our splitter and snake to their microphones.

    Then there was the time that we did a recording gig for an outdoor venue and all the microphones (Shure M57s and 58s) had been in the sun all day and were all cooked and were distorting all over the place and we were told that we could not substitute our microphones for theirs because the system was EQ'd for their microphones (excuse me??????) plus the only place we could park our remote recording van (according to the management of the venue) was next to the place where they dumped all the garbage from the restaurant. With temps in the high 80s and 90's it was quite a smell. Plus our boss had booked us into a flea bag motel 35 miles away from the venue in a really BAD section of town so we were up half the night worrying that our van would be broken into during the night.

    Then there was the time we were suppose to do a recording and it was in the middle of a blizzard. We get to the venue only to find that the sound company was delayed (they were closer to the venue then we were by a factor of 5) so their was going to be no sound check and the concert was going to be delayed for an hour (turned out to be two hours) and by the time the concert was over we were literally snowed it and had to sleep in the remote recording truck with a $10 heater keeping us from freezing to death. They would not let us stay in the venue for "security reasons" and we had to use the outdoors if we wanted to answer "nature's call" The drive back the next day was in a blizzard and we ran into a white out just before getting onto the turnpike.

    Then there was the outdoor gig to end all outdoor gigs. We arrived at a remote "horse racing track" (actually a dry field with a fence around it and bleachers at one end) for a country western concert that we were going to provide sound lights and a recording for. It was a beautiful day in the low 70's with little humidity. As the day progressed we ran into more and more problems. Problem one was power - their was not enough of it to power our recording van and the concert sound system. They had assured us they had "plenty of power" but it turned out that they were thinking 100 amps was a lot of power and it was not ( by the way it also powered the lights for the stage and the lights for the track) We had not brought a generator which we normally would do if the venue was underpowered. Problem number two there was no town or cross roads convenient store around so we did not have access to water or food for the crew without driving 10 miles one way. The concession stands that the promoter had promised us would be there, would in point of fact, not be there until about an hour before show time. Problem three was that there was no stage for the artist to perform on. It was being provided by a local company and they had not planned on putting it up until late afternoon (I mean the concert was at 8:00 pm so why rush putting up the stage????). This meant we did not have a platform for the concert sound console setup either and found out that the promoters, in an attempt to save money, had only had specified a stage large enough for the performers and not for our concert sound speakers (which meant that the concert sound speakers would be sitting on the ground) . We overcame most of these obstacles and were looking forward to a nice concert in the middle of a field until we saw on the horizon some very dark very ominous clouds that seemed to be headed our way. We turned on the weather radio and got the news that there was a 70 to 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms about 8 pm which was the start time of the concert. Well the skies opened and we got drenched. The rain came down in buckets and the dry field turned to MUD. The promoters, also trying to save money. had not had the foresight to order a cover for the stage nor for the concert sound equipment so everything got drenched, including the performers and their instruments, and we finally had to cancel the show after about 40 minutes because of the danger from lightning and wind. We packed up all of our concert sound equipment and the recording equipment and got ready to leave (the microphone snakes all had about 6 inches of mud on them and would not fit into the containers) We sought out the promoter for our check and he informed us that they had "losta lot of money" since there was no real concert and no concession sales and that they did not have the money to pay us. I was ready to take the promoters head off but decided not to and simply left hoping that my boss would have more legal ways to deal with this. As it turned out they finally paid a portion of the fee and promised to pay the rest off over a couple of years - since I no longer work for the sound recording company I don't know if they kept to their promise or not.

    I got into the motel about 2:00 am and was drenched from head to foot, even my underwear was wet, and I had mud up to my knees and to top it all off the motel where we were staying lost power from the storm so no AC and no TV. That was my last gig with this sound company.

    So as I said before welcome to the "club".

  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    :D I'm retired ... :lol: and the kind of stories you guys are telling, are the reason why ...

    All I can say you guys are better men than I ... if those things had happened to me, there is no way I would have let it go without killing somone ... Congratulations on your professionalism :!:
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Jeeze Tom,

    You've DEFINITELY had more than your share ain't ya?!?

    This ain't the worst gig I've ever done by any means. I'm just appalled that this is the 3rd in a row! I'm really startin' to loose my faith AND patience with these church types.

    I just don't see how these people sleep with themselves at night.

    ... but whatayagonnado?

  5. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I have done a lot of gigs for non profit organizations including churches, municipalities, and fraternal organizations. Most of them are very well done and very well funded and we have no problems getting paid. However there are the few that are done on shoe strings or are done on a whim and those are the ones that will drive you NUTS.

    Recently a good friend of mine helped do a Bluegrass festival for a local township. It was going to be three days of Bluegrass and there were five bands providing the music for the festival on a rotating basis. My friend was asked if he would do the concert sound for the three days for 1/6th the total money that was brought it. In other words each of the bands would each get 1/6 of the total profits and my friend would get 1/6th. All parties agreed on the plan but no contract was drawn up and signed. My friend also agreed to record all the bands for their uses and for three days did the concert sound and the recording. This involved being at the venue at about 1 pm every day and tearing down about 11 pm everyday for the three days. So my friend put in about 30 hours of his time plus he had a couple of friends helping him.

    When the festival was over the bands decided that they wanted 1/5th of the proceeds and not 1/6th as previously agreed upon. The township went along with the request and my friend was told that he would get something for his troubles from the township to make up for the loss of the 1/6th share. The mayor came up to my friend and handed him a check for $100.00 to cover his time and trouble. This meant that my friend was working for approximately $3.33 an hour. My friend was flabbergasted to say the least and was a far cry from the $700.00 per day that he normally charges for concert sound. He was somewhat pissed but vowed that it was the last time he would work for a percentage and not charge a flat fee for his services especially if he was going to get screwed in the end.

    I too have gotten screwed by well meaning poorly funded organizations.


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