[Callers] Band, Sound and Caller Fees was: Caller Fees

Camilla Streeter camilla_streeter at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 22 15:48:00 PDT 2011

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Martha Edwards <meedwards at westendweb.com> wrote:

>The relative merits of pay for callers, musicians and sound people  would be
>a good topic for discussion.
>I'm both a musician and a caller, too, and while calling is harder for me,
>it's possibly because I've not been doing it for 60 years, which is about
>how long I've been a musician. So you might say I put in the hard work years
>ago on playing music and am putting in the hard work now to call. If I
>became a sound person, I'd have to work pretty hard, too. But just about the
>time that I got to be worth paying a lot of money for, it would probably be
>But I am curious - in your groups, are callers paid more, or less, than
>musicians (on average)? How about the sound guys?  And on what do you base
>the amounts?
>I remember a discussion on approximately this topic a couple of years ago,
>where someone had moved from a large dance community, where she was paid
>rather handsomely, to a small community where everyone was a volunteer. If I
>remember right, she enjoyed being a part of both communities, but noted that
>the one difference was that the volunteers were more likely *not *to show up
>if there was a difficulty, whereas the paid talent would show up even in a
>snowstorm. You were paying, in other words, for professionalism.
>Then there is a curious situation that has developed here. Our musicians,
>years ago, were part of the dance community. They'd come to our dances, and
>at our dance weekend, they'd dance, and jam on the lawn, and we'd all dine
>together. Then we started rewarding them with higher pay because we liked
>their contribution so much. The result over time was that they started
>treating it as a gig rather than as a social event. Now they show up about
>ten minutes before dance time, they play, and then they either go home or,
>at our dance weekend, they find some out-of-the-way place to jam, away from
>the dancers.  I just looked at our list of bands, and there's only one
>person - okay, two - listed in our local contra dance bands that regularly
>dance with us any more. Is that normal in your communities?
>On Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 6:52 PM, Cynthia Phinney <online at starleft.org>wrote:
>> At our series (a small local dance in rural Maine), we divide the door up
>> into one share each for band members, caller, and sound (sound gets one
>> share) for bands of five people or less. Once the bands get over five
>> people, the caller gets a larger share.
>> My experience of being both a caller AND a musician, is that calling is
>> significantly more work than playing. I also find that it is more work,
>> usually, to call for a large band than a small one. Communication is more
>> challenging, and there is usually more doodling and chatting in the
>> background from the band. Plus - for us - some of our larger bands are
>> students and so the music isn't perfectly honed for dancers, which means
>> that the caller is needed even more to help keep the dancers on the phrase
>> since it isn't so crisply defined by the musicians (our dance also has a
>> significant percentage of inexperienced dancers).
>> -cynthia
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: callers-bounces at sharedweight.net
>> [mailto:callers-bounces at sharedweight.net] On Behalf Of Dan Pearl
>> Sent: Sunday, June 19, 2011 12:50 PM
>> To: callers at sharedweight.net
>> Subject: Re: [Callers] Caller Fees
>> Interesting!
>> I chair the Thursday Night Dance Committee of NEFFA, which runs a weekly
>> dance
>> at the Concord Scout House, in Massachusetts. I would characterize our pay
>> as
>> good. Here are the basics:
>> 1. We expect equal shares for all performers (musicians/callers).  In only
>> very
>> unusual circumstances will we pay different amounts.
>> 2. Guarantee (per performer) is dependent on # of performers. 3 => $155; 4
>> =>
>> $145; 5 => $125; 6 => $104; 7 => $89.
>> 3. Performers who travel a distance (say over 1 hour) to get to the dance
>> get
>> $15 extra.
>> 4. Bonus *is* dependent on attendance. We assume that if people came out in
>> droves to dance, the performers probably had something to do with it, and
>> they
>> should be rewarded.  For a well-attended night, it is not unusual for
>> performers
>> to make around $200 each. For an exceptionally well-attended night, they
>> might
>> make $300 each.
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>For the good are always the merry,
>Save by an evil chance,
>And the merry love the fiddle
>And the merry love to dance. ~ William Butler Yeats
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