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Dear Foreign Musicians

rocket (8 posts) • 0

Having spoken to many people around town who do a lot of 'monkey shows' (companies need foreign faces to play music), I think it's time we all got together and got some stuff sorted out. For everyone's mutual benefit!

There are many excellent local musicians in Kunming, yet companies still (for whatever reason) love to get some foreign faces at their events. My point is this: yes, you may be a musical genius, but the main reason you are being employed is because you don't have an Asian face. Sorry, but it's almost always true. (I have had Kazakh and Thai musicians cancelled for 'not looking foreign enough')

Which brings me to the main reason for writing: let's try and make a price list for monkey shows. Despite what agents say, they are not doing you a favor, and they are not poor. So, after talking to a few people, the general consensus I got (so far) is this:

Really short (1-2 hours), in Kunming city - 600-700Y each person

One day, in Kunming city - 800Y each person

One day, outside Kunming - 1200Y each person

Overnight stay outside Kunming - 1500Y plus, each day, each person

Please comment if you think I am way off/correct/almost there/whatever. I think it's in everyone's benefit if we are all united on pricing.

Let me know your thoughts.


roberto (24 posts) • 0

I agree with you, I support your idea and your prices also. Just you know many people tried to organize this kind of "union" before but it never worked.
Sometimes people needs money and they can work for less,but I think mostly some people might feel that they get less gigs than somebody else so they lower the price to be in.

How can we be sure that every musician in town get more or less the same load of monkey shows? and human greed is everywhere.....

weekapaughead (51 posts) • 0

There needs to be a bare minimum for any gig, anything past that should be up to the performer.

In my opinion the bare minimum should be 1000 for any gig. The agents have this much money and the people are willing to pay it.

Agents always lie and and try to get more money. When is a 2 hour gig actually 2 hours? They complain about your price being too high but they forget that behind the three hours of work for a monkey show is countless hours of practice. Try to get 5 plumbers to come out to your house for 4 hours on a saturday night for 600 kuai each.

If you have ever done a show without an agent it is always painless and the companies dont even bother to negotiate the price. I just did one for 3-4 hours @ 1100 each with a great dinner served. The sound guy they had even spoke english and knew what he was doing! I made a mistake and made my price too low. There was no agent an the company would pay whatever. Do the agents ever try to get you more money? No, they just try to get themselves more money.

1000 minimum all the way. Also network when youre at gigs, we dont need a third parties.

rocket (8 posts) • 0

Sure, agents suck, but they exist, hence the need for us all to band together on price. I won't deny that part of the reason for this post is to alert anyone in town doing shows as to what the usual rates are. Don't get shafted. If you do a gig for 300y, that agent is still gonna charge 1200+ for you and pocket the difference.

If everybody agrees and stays strong on the prices, we can all win. Agents will be annoyed but they'll start just charging the companies more. Who cares?

1000 minimum for every gig is great idea, but unless everyone agrees, it's just not going to work. I totally support it though!

Dazzer (2813 posts) • 0

Musicians are in a strong position. Compared with teachers who often get shafted.

Unlike teaching positions, that can be easily filled by FOBs, there is not a surplus of musicians to fill open gigs.

Many musicians know each other, and seek each other out when they arrive. It is a tight network compared with teachers.

Music is not the main job. The extra money is nice, but not essential. It would be easy to stick out for more. OK you lose a few gigs, but the control goes back to the performers.

A few musicians might break ranks, or get involved without knowing about this effort, but I doubt enough to fill demand.

I have seen more agents advertise on here this year, than ever before. Has anyone here thought about setting up an agency themselves? Cash business, no office required. I am sure the local agents do this on the side, not the main job.

Good luck, I wish you every success.

Liumingke1234 (3297 posts) • 0

@Dazzer I agree. Teachers get shafted because there's no unity. I think that all musician should get together and setup a network. Maybe through a QQ number?

Marc0746 (33 posts) • 0

I'm a 10 year laowaier here, big deal, 10 years, but I've seen things so can comment on this. We live in this city, we want to create a stronger musical environment, an environment where music can develop in a healthy manner, right? Forget the union, it's illegal to create one in the first place (not that illegal activities are anything that would ever be controlled by authorities). The commercial monkey shows should be ENTIRELY boycotted and not done for any price or reason. They are a harm to the so called music scene as it gingerly exists today in Kunming. We should put ALL of our energy into converting every single bar in Kunming into a real music venue. A venue where bands or soloists can go to perform music, as it should be performed with an audience that has come to listen to music, with musicians that have properly prepared their mateiral and with proper reimbursment to all. So when do we start?

Marc0746 (33 posts) • 0

There's excellent musicians everywhere, excellence has nothing to do with it. It's a matter of creating a healthy music environment where music can grow. Commercial gigs they don't give a rat's .ss about the music. You get your true audience one person at a time, by gigging in places where people want to here music, not in places where they want to by houses or cars, or whatever.

Marc0746 (33 posts) • 0

I'm going to say a crapload of stuff here, this is a sensitive area and needs some major changes in thinking by US!

I've lived here in Kunming since 2004, studied Chinese for 4 years at a local university and started gigging in 2006. I've done the "monkey" show thing for more places then I can count, with both Chinese and whities. Done the beer bar thing singing Chinese love songs to cheering Chinese customers, wow big deal, done the whitie singing Tears in Heaven and Hotel California deal so much I'm ready to kill both Clapton and the Eagles for writing such stuipd songs.

Foreigners boycotting the commercial gigs will force the commercial enterprises to hire Chinese musicians (as it should be in the first place!), will put fair gig fees into the hands of the Chinese musicians, allowing them to leave their ratty .ss day jobs working in some pathetic music store where no one gives a .hit about what they do in the first placeand will also allow them to leave their ratty .ss night-time beer bar gigs where again no one cares about what song they are singing, except of course when the patrons are drunk. Once this is in place, the foreigners then "unionize" and using their accumulated overseas musical experience in their own country,proceed to change the music scene in Kunming by creating more venues for concerts, more open-mics, more opportunities for communication, etc. On the other hand, as long as foreigners continue to receive compensation (which is illegal anyway without an Entertainment class work-permit) for commercial shows, then China will once again continue to be exploited by invading laowai. We need to think of ways to help this city improve, not think of ways to put more money into our own pockets. Need money? We can go teach English somewhere, that's easy enough to pull off.

Wanna talk about it? Great, you can add me to your QQ: 1014875237. My name is Marc Hollingsworth

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