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The Biz

Published: 2005/08/07
by Allen Ostroy

Relocation and Sit-Ins

Welcome to another summer edition of "The Biz." It's been a great summer for live music. How many shows have you seen? Do you have any questions about how certain shows work? This forum/column is based on a workshop I teach called Music Biz 101. The workshop covers all you need to know about the music business before you read Donald Passman's, All You Need to Know About the Music Business. It will help you make sense of the industry and you should walk away from the workshop with all the knowledge and tools you need to succeed in the real world of rock & roll. I bring this up because I have begun to fill my schedule for the fall. If you think there would be people interested in learning about the "The Biz" at your school and would like to schedule a workshop email me at or call me at 603.659.0611. It’s as easy as nailing down a time and place with me and then getting some people together who are all interested in the same thing. To read some feedback about the workshop from some previous attendees go to


Up and Coming Band


I'm in a band in the low country of South Carolina, and we've been playing for a little under a year. I was thinking that at some point a couple of us would relocate to a bigger city to get more exposure. For a band in this scene (jam scene) what do you think the right course of action is? Touring without a record label support? Trying to get some sort of deal? Re-locating and making connections? It seems like the approach in the jam scene (which has a strong emphasis on touring on the live show) might be different from other scenes. I know these are a lot of vague questions, but I figured you might have some answers. Reply whenever, thanks



Your questions are good and I think you are questioning the same things all new bands do. I understand your questions about location and connections. When you are first trying to create a buzz it's helpful to have as many friends around you as possible to help network, pack your shows, and get the word out. I'm sure even if you don't relocate some of your friends might and they will help spread the word wherever they go. So for you SC might be the best place to launch. I will also add that there once was this little band from Burlington, VT that made a minor splash on the scene and Burlington isn't exactly a metropolis. As for touring without record label support? Well, I would assume you love to play music so I suggest doing just that and not waiting for a deal. I am a huge proponent of "do-it-yourself" and bring others like labels, management, agencies into my deal instead of having some label or agency absorb my thing into theirs. Although I will add that touring without some sort of support is extremely difficult and should be done strategically and it's helpful if someone in your organization has a ton of cash to spend. :-) I will also add that I wouldn't do much touring without an album to support and leave behind or merchandise. Both your music and your merchandise will help spread the word in a market while you are playing in another.

I think all scenes are starting to emphasize the live show these days. There are more acts than ever out there touring on every level. So you are correct in saying that the jam scene has a strong emphasis on the live show but I think a lot of genres are starting to take that approach. How many times have you seen information on "jam" websites for bands you would never consider calling a jamband? The reasons for this are probably a topic for another email but its happening. The lines are blurring.

Keep in touch and I hope this helped.


How Do Sit-Ins Work?


I was talking with somebody who is not all too familiar with the jamband scene, and I tried to explain the scene to them. They got a little confused with the concept of sit-ins by other artists until I explained it in greater detail. However, the next question they asked left me a little confused and wondering: Do artists get paid for sit-ins?

I would assume a situation like DJ Logic touring with Ratdog or Mike Gordon touring with the Duo would be a paying opportunity for the special guests. I would also assume that when Buckethead opens for and sits in with Galactic that he gets paid for the opening slot but not for the guest spot. But what about when Trey sits in with the Black Crowes or the never ending lists of guests from the Allman Brothers Beacon run? In general, do the artists who sit-in get paid for their guest spot or do they do it out of the goodness of their heart and desire to play music?

Any light you could shed would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the feature and letting some of us interested outsiders get a little bit of insight.




Great question! In my experience most of the time when someone joins someone else on stage its done organically. For example someone will pop in back stage and the band will invite so and so to sit in and the person sitting in does it for free. Or x band will send out an invite to y musician to come to the show and sit in. On the other hand when someone is billed as a "special guest" then in my experience they get paid. A good rule of thumb would be if the person is part of the draw and part of the reason people are buying tickets then you can assume they are getting a cut of the ticket sales. If it's unannounced and just "happens" then they are probably sitting in for free. There is a lot of respect out there and musicians who love to be musicians will jump at the chance to play with fellow pros. I'm
not sure how the Allmans arrange things but it could be as simple as Gregg, Oteil, or Derek agreeing to repay the favor sometime by sitting in sometime with whomever they have sit in with them. But let's be honest who wouldn't want to join the stage with the Allman Brothers if they got the invite and the chance? :-) So I'd guess those musicians are fans of the band and do it in order to do it.

Keep in touch and welcome your friend to the scene for me.


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