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Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.

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GUEST,Mark E. (at work) 14 Jun 07 - 01:27 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Jun 07 - 04:33 PM
Sorcha 14 Jun 07 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,meself 14 Jun 07 - 04:45 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Jun 07 - 05:20 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Jun 07 - 05:23 PM
Jack Campin 14 Jun 07 - 05:24 PM
Bert 14 Jun 07 - 05:27 PM
Sorcha 14 Jun 07 - 05:32 PM
Rabbi-Sol 14 Jun 07 - 05:32 PM
Sorcha 14 Jun 07 - 06:30 PM
Rabbi-Sol 14 Jun 07 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,Texas Guest 14 Jun 07 - 07:38 PM
dulcimer 14 Jun 07 - 08:11 PM
LukeKellylives (Chris) 14 Jun 07 - 08:14 PM
Sorcha 14 Jun 07 - 09:56 PM
Beer 14 Jun 07 - 10:02 PM
M.Ted 14 Jun 07 - 10:32 PM
GUEST,Texas Guest 14 Jun 07 - 11:43 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Jun 07 - 01:10 AM
Big Al Whittle 15 Jun 07 - 01:24 AM
M.Ted 15 Jun 07 - 01:48 AM
GUEST,Texas Guest 15 Jun 07 - 07:48 PM
Joybell 15 Jun 07 - 08:08 PM
GUEST,highlandman 16 Jun 07 - 11:14 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Jun 07 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,Texas Guest 16 Jun 07 - 09:28 PM
GUEST,highlandman 16 Jun 07 - 11:14 PM
GUEST,Texas Guest 16 Jun 07 - 11:46 PM
Genie 17 Jun 07 - 01:05 AM
Beer 17 Jun 07 - 01:12 AM
GUEST,Seagullplayer 02 Jun 08 - 02:12 PM
Maryrrf 02 Jun 08 - 10:07 PM
GUEST 02 Jun 08 - 10:40 PM
Genie 03 Jun 08 - 03:32 AM
GUEST,Seagullplayer 04 Jun 08 - 07:45 AM
Acorn4 04 Jun 08 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,Larry Massey entertainer 27 Jul 09 - 06:47 PM
GUEST 27 Jul 09 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,Leah 04 Aug 09 - 06:02 PM
Michael Harrison 05 Aug 09 - 12:18 AM
Allen in Oz 05 Aug 09 - 01:05 AM
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GUEST,dbe 28 Aug 09 - 05:38 PM
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Subject: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Mark E. (at work)
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 01:27 PM

I'm a folk singer/guitarist in the US (Eastcoast.) I'm trying to start singing in nursing homes, retirement and rehabilitation centers. I'll be singing and playing traditional folk songs and possibly hymns. What's the best way to approach the Activity Director? I will perform programs between 45 minutes to an hour. How much should I charge? Does it take them a long time to pay singers after the performance? What's the best way (s) to bring up fees and payment schedule? I welcome any advice and tips you have to offer.

Thanks,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 04:33 PM

First of all - don't sing just folksongs. You are there to entertain and and enliven these peoples day. there are a hundred tv channels and a thousand radio stations totally ignoring these people - because of their economic unimportance in todays society. Kids and DINKIES have all the money.

If you go in there saying well folksinging is what I do, you'll just be one more person ignoring them. Think popular music - the popular songs with well known choruses from Jolson to the Beatles. Engelbert is popular - so is some Sinatra.Only the folksongs everybody knows cockles and mussel, Goodnite Irene, you'd think the wild rover - but its not as well known as you'd think - thet generation weren't the folkies.

Approach your local authority for a list of all the homes in your area - tell you're looking for a home for your Dad. They all have them. Make a data base. Name your fee. Say you do an hour - more than that is too much for anyone to concentrate on. Put in a picture with you SMILING - you are not there to be mean moody and magnificent. All that hour - you are ON - you are performing - a live wire!

Small one off places - pay you on the day. Homes that part of a big chain will expect you to leave a bill and they pay you usually within two months.

I used backing tapes on a mini disc, were I starting now I would put them on a i-pod. Start off with something cheerful - I used Zip a de doo dah segueing into Fred Astaire, the beauty of the tapes is that you can shake hands with everyone individually. Also you can use anybacking from an orchestra to brass band. Make conatact and smile and have something to say. The world is ignoring these folk - (the people cleaning up after them and feeding them are generally underpaid, young and pissed off) - you will be amazed at the positive response. I used the guitar for about twenty minutes - stuff like sin to tell alie,, you are my sunshine, bye bye blackbird, someone to watch over me, slowboat to China, Tiperary...

I'm waiting for half a dozen folkies to write back say - what a patronising sod - what they really need is thoughtful stuff that doesn't insult their intelligence like Leonard Cohen and the Dowie Dens of Yarrow ......


To which I can say its nearly two years now since I was well enough to do this job that I loved, and this morning someone phoned up with a gig, and I had to send a booking to one of the few folkies I could trust to do it properly. Most of the buggers were just too arrogant to apply themselves to the job.

Its a wonderful job - try and be worthy of it!


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 04:43 PM

Wee is pretty much right on, but a lot of care centers don't actually have the budget to pay entertainers. They rely on volunteer help. I'd say go for it. But, think stuff like White Cliffs of Dover, Red Sails in the Sunset, Don't Fence Me In, My Blue Heaven, pop hits of the WW2 and Korean era.

If you can get into Veterans Homes, then do the top hits of the era they served in. Some vets are rather bitter, so I'd personally be careful about the 'patriotic' stuff unless it's requested. If you have VietNam vets, CCR always goes over well.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 04:45 PM

Great advice, WLD. It's worth remembering that people of previous generations were used to group singing - most all people, not just certain subgroups. Unless you're doing some kind of absolutely whiz-bang show that has them mesmerized, they're going to want to sing along. Most of them. (Then there's the odd misfit who never liked sing-songs when they were in their prime - and still doesn't like them!).

Not really what you were asking, of course. I'm just thinking back to my younger days when I used to do some old folks' homes - and wishing I'd had the brains or sensitivity to do more of the old sing-alongs that everybody knew ...


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 05:20 PM

Well i was a folkie and I didn't have the wit to work it out for myself. I started working for this agent who made me work to a script - it was horrendous - really took some getting my head round - but before the end of the first gig I could see he was on to something. After I'd done 18 months for him, I knew enough material and had figured out my own style. strangely enough, I found that certain songs evoked something in me, and that's the best stuff - Jolson was so lucky he had every top writer working for him . Similarly with Astaire. Somthing like The Last Waltz by Engelbert is quite technically challenging - verse is in the tenor range - the chorus is baritone - I'd nver thought of that stuff - just singing to my guitar!

Its not automatic - it takes thinking about. Put your price up at Christmas - you can work three times or more a day - one time I did five homes in one day! In December you can make enough money to help you through leaner months - but there is a steady demand if you get it right. You can't charge a lot and you can't travel as much as you would for a club gig. But you will get more work and no agents fee! You will get a load of confidence from doing this, for these people are the very cream of our society and its a great privilege to sing for them and be one of the few people in giving them something other than the bare essentials.

I always worked for older people. I was never much cop with a younger audience - I have nothing really to say to young people - although they were occasionally receptive - I usually turned down the work.

CCR ? Wouldn't Vietnam vets prefer AOR stuff - perhaps they are someone you could engage with your folksongs.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 05:23 PM

Reading through that - remember December starts the the second week in November. Don't charge too much when you strt off and most people will give you a tumble - but only once, so try and get it right!


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 05:24 PM

I did a few of those with friends a few years ago. We decided we would only take money from the privately run homes - nonprofit ones we did for free or fares only.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Bert
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 05:27 PM

CCR? AOR?


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 05:32 PM

CCR is Creedence Clearwater Revival, one of the few bands that had the balls to actually GO to Nam and gig for the soldiers. Don't know who AOR is/was/are.

I'd stay away from Jane Fonda stuff for the Nam vets tho. These boots are made for walkin.....


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 05:32 PM

Hi Mark,
         It depends on how you approach this entire matter.

If you are talking about nursing homes where the people are no longer physically or mentally mobile you will not get anywhere. The people who run these places are a bunch of bastards who are only interested in maximizing their profits and could not care less about the entertainment of their "inmates" let alone pay someone for it.

Now, if you are talking about Senior Citizens Centers where the people come there for the day and have active programs, that is an entirely different type of situation and has great possibilities.

I just retired in January as the charter and tour manager of a motor coach company and the type of Senior Centers that we served spent big bucks on entertainment. I have a long list of clients in the tri-state NYC metro area. Some of these centers are run by local governmental entities such as towns & villages, others are run by Church & religious organizations, and still others are run by private individuals who are members of a condo or retirement community.

The secret to success is to seek out the group leader or entertainment chairperson for that particular club or centerand establish a relationship with him or her (not an easy task). That is the person who you have to do a super salesman's job on because he or she is the decision maker and the others will basically go along with whatever that person decides.

                                                    SOL


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 06:30 PM

Sol, I beg to disagree. The residents may not have control over their bodies, or even minds, but a LOT of residential homes DO care. Or maybe you live in the wrong place.

Some are 'bastards' yes...but not all by any means.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 06:42 PM

Sorcha,
       Apparently you do not live in the New York area. I know that it is different in other parts of the country but Mark was inquiring specificly about the east coast which includes my area. When I was with the bus company I had to do business with many of these places which left a very bitter taste in my mouth for the nursing home operators.
                                              SOL


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 07:38 PM

Well, gee, where to start. Alot has been said here already but I'm not going to go over it and fine pick it - some I agree with and some I don't, but that's o.k. I am a folkie - I guess - and since I'm not a singer-songwriter I cannot work the coffeehouse circuit; since I don't do contemporary hits and rock songs - the bars aren't too interested in what I do either; and, the restaurants don't need me because folks are there to eat and chat, etc. Therefore, you have to be creative.

I do, however, make a living singing songs and entertaining folks. I do festivals (mostly Irish an Celtic) and kids shows and community gatherings; but, my bread and butter is my "day job" - retirement communities, nursing and rehab facilities and "memory" homes. No, I do not make a fortune - but I do get by.

I don't want to tell you what to do here, so I'll tell you what works for me. I play guitar and sing - that's it; no tapes or back-up tracks or karaoke, etc., and I do songs from the 1800's to about the 1970's. Yes, most of the songs that I do they will know, except when I'm playing a "memory" unit and then "all" of the songs they will know and know well.

It is important to know and be able to read your audience - all retirement audiences are different; believe me, they are all different. Some groups are vivacious and eager to jump right in and sing along with you and others wouldn't be caught dead singing because singing is for "old people, not us" so they just sit there and look through you until you warm them up with some stuff they are fond of.

Some groups you'd better not sing the same songs to two visits in a row and some groups only want the same thirteen songs every time you come. Most folks love the stories I tell about the songs, the artists who originally sang the songs or the "true" history that a song may be written about - a few want nothing but a juke box, "shut up and sing." Retirement facilities are all different and each of them seems to have it's own "collective" personality.

Activity Directors (AD) are mostly female and they all generally come and go with the prevailing wind - in Texas that means lots of change. Again, every facility is different and every AD is different and one would guess that any particular AD is probably looking for that "perfect match" job for her/him. It is important that you get every AD "in your corner" but understand that you will have to be a persistent "bugger" to stay busy. It is a fine line between being a pest and staying in front of their faces so that they'll call you first rather than last. Also, some of them book only one month at a time and others will book you for a whole year in advance - they're all different.

Money. Oh, yeah, money. First off, I can't tell you what to charge in your area because I don't know your economy - hell, I don't know my own economy, for that matter. I also don't mind folks knowing what I charge - for a hundred different reasons that I won't go into here. I go in at $100 for a full hour. Will I play for less? Yes. Why? Because many - not some, many - facilities have a ridiculasly low budget for music (or anything else, for that matter). So how do you know? You go in high and you decide if you want to come down.
Personally, I like to put the ball in the AD's court and simply ask them what their budget will allow - then it's a read on your part.
Are they being truthful or not? You will get a feel for it over time, trust me. I have been surprised around many a corner where money is concerned and you will be too; but, most of the AD's are honest and you'll know when they're not being honest.

You know, as much as I'm on this site I should probably join up and then we could exchange information over the phone. I'd be more than happy to answer any question you have, or, throw some specific questions back into this thread and I'll respond if you like. Hope this helps. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: dulcimer
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 08:11 PM

I used to play with a small group in adult living/nursing homes. We did a variety of songs the people knew and liked although most of the group did country music. I played the mt. dulcimer and it was a novelty, so I could get away with about any kind of music. I usually did old time folk music.
Our leader arranged for the playing and sometimes got paid and sometimes not. Sometimes the management provided punch and cookies and we talked to the people. There were usually 5 to 7 people in our group and I don't think I ever got paid more than $10. I usually drove myself and the leader to each gig.
Some players may have thought we should get more money, but I looked on it as giving back to older people for their contribution our community.   I guess the money really wasn't as important as the sharing of the music.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: LukeKellylives (Chris)
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 08:14 PM

I don't ask for money from my retirement home of choice. I just play my songs, folk songs, Johnny Cash, and other country music. I don't know any big band (too hard to sing), but they tell me that they enjoy the other music just the same.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 09:56 PM

I see it as giving back too, and no, Sol, I'm not in NY...I'm in a small community in SE Wyoming. Lots of reasons I'm not in NY, but too many people is just one of them.

Some ARE bastards, I agree. The local help can be great and caring but when you have to deal with the Home Office oh my goodness.

I left a message on somebody's machine with Banner Health last week. I spent 30 mins listening to how sorry they were but everybody was busy, and they'd be right with me. Finally got a ring.......

To a voice mail and SHE was sorry too...I said...Well, I'm sorry YOU are sorry. Hire some more help and stop being sorry. Then, my phone number. 5 days ago...no call back yet.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Beer
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 10:02 PM

I started a coffee house in a Psychiatric hospital in August of 1967. Since then and now (retired 6 years ago) I still perform for the less fortunate,old folks homes what ever you want to call it and have never charged a penny.
Beer (adrien)

This coming August will be 40 years.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 10:32 PM

At one point I was going into this business, in the Northeast, so I know a few things--most of which has been posted already. Texas Guest's picture is pretty consistant with what I know--

Also, know that they are required by law to provide entertainment on a regular basis, though just how they do it is up to them, so there is always a need. There is a directory that you can find at a library, or some such place, that provides detailed information on all the nursing homes and residential facilities in the US--listed by state--and it also lists the chains--worth it's weight in gold..

One thing that I did was to walk through the facility with my uke, playing for the folks who were confined to their beds.   You don't need as many songs (though you have to be ready to improvise a verse and chorus of anything you get a request for), and you talk more than anything else, but for a few minutes, for them, you are Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and the Great Caruso, all rolled into one--and very few others do this-

Also, there are a few booking agents who handle this stuff, ask around, and you'll find them.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 11:43 PM

M.Ted - you are right about that publication and as far as I know they have a book for every metropolitan area of the country. The book is called, "New Lifestyles: The Source For Seniors," and is
available free of charge at: www.NewLifeStyles.com

To Chris - yeah, big band stuff is harder to play but you can break the songs down (go online and look up - theguitarguy.com - tons of lyrics and chords to big band and standards) and they'll work out.
I am a folkie and never thought I'd be doing stuff like: Beyond The Sea, Sentimental Journey and I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter along with my stuff such as - My Grandfather's Clock,
Sixteen Tons, Gentle On My Mind and The Yellow Rose Of Texas - a lot of fun stuff.

Playing for free is certainly honorable, and I'll come down on my fees when possible, but the fact is that I am hired by a corporation
and paid by a corporation. Yes, you play for the folks and at very
low end facilities, nursing, rehab and memory units I would find it virtually impossible to look those residents in the eye and say, "You can't afford me" - so the fee gets lowered. Needless to say, in some cases it doesn't, but you have to draw a line somewhere. Music is an art; and, to many of us it is also a business - balance is in constant movement. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 01:10 AM

Theres a difference between, people who do what they can do, and those who set out to find out what is required - and do their damndest to supply it. Get it right and people will be willing to pay for it.

The backing tapes and a radio mic for example really made all the difference. Its what many of places loved about what I did. I made physical contact - kneeled down and squeezed an old lady or gentle man's hand - and sang them a song they loved. One old guy in a place I used to do every month had been a submariner - and he loved Red Sails in the Sunset. To do this and be non threatening, non invasive takes skill, because you are interpreting your delight at the music.

Also many people you sing for will have lost, or not have much sight - so when you take their hand you are providing another sensory stimulation - something you can't do, if you ar faffing round with a guitar.

As I've said, what lies at the seat of doing this thing properly is respect. Look around you; these are the people who built and fought for everything in our society. They had a sex life, they had a status - they had everything you've got, and they've washed up on this reef.

Your songs can take them back to places where their old friends and lovers and enemies lived. Remind them of a show they once sat and watched when they were courting. Many times I've had old ladies say to me, you know I first saw you sing before the war, and you haven't changed a bit. I was born '49.

In short its real folkmusic, for real folks. The depth of emotion you encounter makes the other stuff feel very tame.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 01:24 AM

AOR - adult orientesd rock - Radio 2 is supposed to play it in England - 1950's to the 1980's - I would have thought there was stuff on tv, video and radio that would stimulate a Vietnam vet sort of age range.

Like I say that was never my specialism.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 01:48 AM

Actually, my stuff was xeroxed from something called "The Nursing Home Directory", a very expensive industry publication that a friend had at work(she managed a facility, and actually got me started on the idea)--

As to chord changes for swing and jazz standards, the guitarguy stuff has lots of extraneous, if not outright wrong chords. For chord changes that actually work, go to Ralph Patt's Vanilla Book he played in big bands for 20 years, including Benny Goodman, Les and Larry Elgart, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Frankie Carle, and Neal Hefti, and knows that of which he speaks--


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 07:48 PM

M.Ted - thanks for the website tip - another tool to work with. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Joybell
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 08:08 PM

We've been singing in nursing homes - here in Australia for 30 years. While we do the old standards from the 30s on and 60s rock we also sing less well-known parlor songs from the 19th century. Also some traditional material and songs from the school books of the early 1900s. People really like them. Often these songs were sung by grandparents and great-grandparents of the people who are elderly now. The most common remark we get is, "We have sing-a-longs all the time but we never get to hear those old songs". I now write a simple play around the songs so that we use props and movements - but that's really because we got bored and I could.

Mark - I believe you might be able to sing the songs you know and love. People, regardless of their age and mental state, respond to a singer who does that. I started out doing just that and I was popular. Not rich but I made a modest sum.

ALSO -- many of us folkies are getting to be - well here goes-- Old Folks- so there are bound to be folkies entering the nursing homes soon.

Go for it. Ask a modest fee. Good luck.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,highlandman
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 11:14 AM

Interesting thread... it brings up a question that will mark me as a tryo... what about copyrighted material? All the "oldies" and "AOR" stuff referred to is certainly 99.9 % under copyright.
My understanding, right or wrong, is that normally a venue organizer (festival, club, etc) is responsible for paying royalties via their membership using arcane ASCAP formulae. But I wouldn't think that nursing centers are set up to do this.
What am I missing? Set the noob straight, please.
Thanks
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 05:09 PM

I think its a bit like music in shops. The PRS isn't in the business of putting musicians out of work by making gigs uneconomic.

Anyway we all owe that generation so much - call it the music industry's contribution.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 09:28 PM

Highlandman - back in the time when ronald the reagan was president of these United States my old VW micro-bus just simply up and quit - and I was left without a car. Then, dear old ronald the reagan decided, in all of his wisdom, that it wasn't quite yet time to bring down the Soviet Union (which, of course, we all know he did single-handedly) so he decided to cut-back government funding for certain jobs that were available in the early 1980's and mine was one of them.
In case you are wondering, the answer is: No, there was no respect on my part for ronald the reagan before he took our jobs away; hence, no love lost there.

Taking a very long road to a point, let me say that I took a job with
ASCAP as a regional rep for those folks, in large part - because the job came with a - company car, fuel included. I came to hate the job for a hundred different reasons and I finally left after only a couple of years. I also don't talk about it for a hundred other different reasons, not the least of which is that musicians who are not members of ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc., or any other licensing agency want to discuss it far too often. That, in itself, is not bad; but, the fact is that most of them have not a lick of knowledge about how and why ASCAP, BMI, etc., works and exists - ignorance abounds in most of these discussions, along with the vigorous assurance on the part of the speaker that they know what they are talking about.

As regards retirement homes and nursing centers, I think that it can be reasonably argued that the owner of said facilities is not making
money off of the performance of music in his facility; unlike a pub owner who is using live (or recorded) music that he/she does not own to attract patrons who will then come inside so he/she can profit.
And that, my friend, is not only my opinion, but also that of Kookla,
Fran and Ollie. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,highlandman
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 11:14 PM

Texas guest, thanks .. I think ... I guess what you're saying is that nursing homes have shallow enough pockets that nobody is going to bother them...
The reason I asked was that there are organizers around here who keep out of trouble with the agencies by allowing strictly only performer-written, trad and/or pd music to be performed. I wondered how the nursing centers fit in to the scheme, is all.
Details of how the royalty agencies work and whether/why to join would belong in another thread, but anyone can read enough on the ASCAP and BMI sites to get the general idea.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 11:46 PM

Highlandman - yes, you are very right about certain organizers who get around the payment issue by only allowing performers to do "self-penned songs or trad songs, etc. Personally, I think that's why the
coffeehouse circuit has become so singer-songwriter oriented - it
eliminates the copyright fees. Unfortunately it also means that singers cannot perform songs at those coffeehouses (and other venues)written by those who have died and left songs under copyright to their wives and families. A few good examples might be the songs of
Stan Rogers, Harry Chapin and Steve Goodman - all great writers whose songs should be heard because they wrote some wonderful songs that should go on forever.

Hey, maybe somebody will start an ASCAP/BMI thread and we can all jump in and further confuse everybody. I'm sure the structure and policies have changed immeasurably since they last saw me driving one of their cars; and, while I'm certain that I know little or nothing of how they operate these days, I can say that there seem to be more ASCAP/BMI stickers on the glass in pubs and such these days.
Be safe. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Genie
Date: 17 Jun 07 - 01:05 AM

Most of my comments have already been posted in the related threads linked to at the top and/or stated by others above.
I've been doing music full-time for the gamut of "senior facilities" for over 12 years and I manage to make a very very modest living at it, provided I put in the necessary "tedium hours" (on the phone and computer doing promo, booking, and record keeping).   As for repertoire, I find the larger and broader, the better. Some of my clients are Jewish homes, where having some songs in Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, Russian, etc., really helps, as does familiarity with musicals such as Fiddler On The Roof.   Some rehab and convalescent homes value my services because I can sing Ya, Vi Elsker Detter Landet for their Norwegian-American residents, De Colores for their Spanish-speaking residents, Sakura for the Japanese Americans, etc.   But knowing songs (especially soft rock and country) from the '70s and '80s also comes in handy for rehab centers and some group homes, where the ages may range from young adulthood (or occasionally younger) to over 100.   
I do get a lot of requests for "songs from the '20s, '30s, and '40s," but there are also specific frequently requested songs that go back as far as Stephen Foster or were popular in the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s.

Familiarity is valuable, partly because music (especially participatory music) can stimulate both memory and emotional release.   But I find some songs -- e.g., Ripple and a couple of my own compositions -- are very well received even by people who have never heard them before.

What I usually avoid are wordy songs that require uninterrupted attention from the audience.   Some independent-living settings work for that type of song, but nursing homes and even assisted living residents seldom do. Many residents tend to be easily distracted, plus in many settings the visitors and staff tend to think nothing of upstaging or interrupting the residents' activities.   (It's not unlike singing in a bar, in that respect.)

As for pay, well, I use a sliding scale.   Some places pay me two or three times what others do. That's partly because facilities' budgets vary widely and partly because, frankly, some gigs cost me a lot more in time and money "overhead" than others do.   I basically negotiate a fee with each client, and generally I am paid from about $30 to $70 for a one-hour program. Few of my clients (Portland, Seattle, San Diego areas) can/will pay more than $70 for a solo performer and I usually am unwilling to do a program for less than $30 (e.g., nearby gigs that take hardly any time for booking, billing, etc.) to $45 (less frequent gigs that cost me more in gas and time).   As I tell clients who ask me:
If I asked everyone for $60-$70, I'd work half as many jobs, because so many can't afford that.   If I charged everyone $30-$40, I wouldn't net enough to keep doing it.

(When I talked with a local musicians union a few years back, I was once told that I should charge no less than $60 for a gig, regardless of location or length of program, but that their rules did not mandate charging more for travel time/expense or for longer sets. In other words, I could drive 150 miles and play for 3 hours and the union would allow me to ask only $60, but if I played for my next-door neighbor's kid's party for 15 min., I should also charge $60. Maybe it's just me, but that seemed kind of silly.) ;D

By the way, as for "making money" from the use of copyright-protected songs at retirement homes, I have a feeling anyone trying to prohibit the use of golden oldies and standards in those settings would have about as much luck as Disney did when they tried to keep the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from using their songs at camp.    It would be pretty easy to demonstrate that, with the low pay most music therapists and entertainers are paid in retirement homes, all the expenses they incur in providing those services, and the inclusion of public-domain songs (e.g., songs written before 1900), the providers are actually losing money from such use.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Beer
Date: 17 Jun 07 - 01:12 AM

Hay!! my Red Wing Buddy, I have to tell you that every time I see you post or respond to a thread the song that comes to mind immediately is "East Texas Red" by Woodie. Great song.
Beer (adrien)


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Seagullplayer
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 02:12 PM

The wife and I have been playing a local Nursing Home for the last couple of years, 1 hour every month. Lots of jokes, some old hymns and sing alongs, some duets. Everyone seems to love it, including us.
We are thinking about expanding, and charging.
We do this one for free and always will.

Do we need a demo CD to send out?
Do you make a phone call first, or just drop mail?

We are on very good terms with this AD (there have been five), I could use her as a referance?


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Maryrrf
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 10:07 PM

I play in retirement homes sometimes - mostly Irish songs around St. Patrick's day. I would definitely call first and ask if they would like a demo. Usually you'll need to track down the activities director. Put together a little package with a demo CD (3 songs should be sufficient), and a flyer or brochure. Mention the other places you've played. Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 10:40 PM

LOVE!!! the "Seizure World" gigs.

NEVER ask for a pharthing!

ALWAYS...pass around the donation can.

Makes one feel positively ROMA!!!

Watches, Rings, Cathaturs, Diamonds, Rubies, PaperClips, Necklaces, Perals, gawdy paste, Used Tissues (probably the BEST of all ... the stored DNA could prove a fortune to your heirs.)

Sincerely,

Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Genie
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 03:32 AM

Mark, I second most of what Wee Little Drummer has said.   And I've spoken to this topic in several other threads (links above).

I would add several things:
1 - I use and advertise a sliding scale.   Generally, nursing homes pay me considerably less than retirement homes, but they also book music a lot more often.
Sliding scales are commonly used by other professionals, including many doctors, so it's not hard to justify.

2 - Basically, I negotiate the fee.   I tell people my "standard, undiscounted" fee and ask if that's pretty much what they pay other entertainers.   If it's higher, then I negotiate downward, depending on things like travel and setup time involved, frequency of repeat bookings, and how heavy the demand is for the time slot they are requesting. E.g., I rarely discount a Friday afternoon program, but people can often get me pretty cheap at 10 AM, or, beter yet, noon, on a week day.

3 - I offer to send big print song sheets, if desired, for the facility to run off and use for residents to sing along.   They can then keep them if they like. (But they often give them to me to take with me.)

4 - Not all senior populations have the same tastes. Some groups are heavy into country. For others it's mostly show tunes or big band songs. And of course, there are the ethnic differences such as Jewish homes or homes with many Hispanics.    I try to find out something about the group's collective tastes and gear my playlists to them.

5 - It's nice to include songs that younger people such as staff and family members can also relate to.   Songs like You Are My Sunshine, Singin' In The Rain, Proud Mary, La Bamba, Don't Fence Me In, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Hey Good Lookin', Under The Boardwalk, The Gambler, and Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, Amazing Grace and The Battle Hymn of The Republic will usually get pretty much everyone singing along at least on choruses.

6 - Most of the time these audiences care a lot more about your being energetic ("lively") and enthusiastic and involving them than they do about trivia such as whether you screw up your lyrics or are an instrumental virtuoso or golden-throated crooner or belter.

7 - If they don't pay you at the gig, you really should get some sort of signed invoice to prove that you performed that day and are owed such and such.   Staff and even ownership can change in a heartbeat and you can end up getting stiffed if you don't take precautions like that. (Don't ask me how I know this.)

8 - I do not recommend doing freebies if you plan to charge for other programs.
When I first started doing this I was warned that if I did some music as a volunteer I would probably find resistance if I later started charging.   I have also run into one activity director asking me to lower a fee because she heard I had made someone else a lower offer.   The sliding scale can and does work, but it's very hard to charge upwards of $50 for a gig that you keep giving away free elsewhere.

I would add that, as a general rule, the stingier the facility is in terms of entertainer fees, the more likely they are to totally shaft you in other ways (e.g., double booking, dragging their heels on paying, canceling at the last minute with or without notice).   

9 - Instead of doing "auditions" or spending lots on demo tapes, etc., I just offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.   

10 - When possible, I try to get lists of some of the residents' favorite songs or types of music.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Seagullplayer
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 07:45 AM

Some mighty good advise there, thanks.

Our youngest son will finish high school next spring, so we are very near "empty nesters". We are looking at a lot more time on our hands then. Our plan is to work on a demo CD and our package, and scout out a few prospects this year, test the waters as it where.

There are still a lot of people around here that volunteer, God Bless them. But I still think there is a need for our type of low budget operation...

Out setup is almost nothing, my acoustic guitar a stool and music stand, sometimes harmonica, my wife shakes an egg or tamborine. I do have a nice 100 watt acoustic amp, on wheels when needed.

Your sliding scale is just what I had in mind.

When it comes time, I was leaning toward paying a visit to area Homes and meeting the AD face to face, I thought I might get a better feel for how interested they are?
Thought I could use the visit to case the location and see if the amp would be needed...


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Acorn4
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 11:16 AM

As an added bonus, you can always rely on one or two proposals of marriage!

On a more serious note, as a friend of mine pointed out, all these people were someone's sweetheart once!


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Larry Massey entertainer
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 06:47 PM

Even the private homes have a limited budget. Depending on how far you have to drive. I get paid 50.00 dollars for a 1 hour high energy
show. I play the other ones for free. There is a tremendous need for people to give some time to these people many have forgot. God Bless, Larry Massey


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jul 09 - 06:57 PM

One of the best things you can do with older folks in these homes
is talk to them. They want to be listened to and the songs will stir up memories.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,Leah
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 06:02 PM

I am a singer and only a singer. I have in the past run karaoke shows at bars. I now have two little boys and it has slowed me down a lot! I was thinking of trying out a little singing in nursing homes. Do you think it would be appropriate to just go in there with karaoke background music and sing songs of the 40's 50's and 60's? I don't want to make a fool of myself!


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Michael Harrison
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 12:18 AM

Leah - I basically earn my worldly keep performing at nursing homes, retirement facilities, etc. That given, I can assure you that you can go in with a karaoke/track program and you will be accepted just fine.

I believe there is a preference for "real" music on the part of most residents, but, on the other hand, the holding corporations are not going to put out funds to bring in a "big band" for the folks to dance to (there are exceptions, to be sure)so the closest thing they may get to Jo Stafford w/ Billy May and the Orchestra is you singing on some afternoon with Billy May tracks blowing behind you.

Good luck with it. Cheers,...............................mwh


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Allen in Oz
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 01:05 AM

Our trio here in Australia has been perfoming in retirement villages and nursing homes for 4 years. Some ideas for you are:

1. Start with one or two slow well known sing along songs eg Alice Blue Gown, My Blue Heaven, Black Hills of Dakota etc)

2. Tell one or two quick jokes between songs

3 Do an instrumental if possible

4. Sing an Irish or Scottish song

5. Ask for requests

6. Talk about some old radio shows and personalities

7. Finish with some fast stuff...Five Foot Two then Wish me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye


Remember to smile a lot and have a cup of tea and a yarn with them afterwards

Best wishes

Allen in OZ


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: Maryrrf
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 02:17 PM

Yes I think you could do that. As long as you are entertaining, they won't mind the Karaoke backing.


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Subject: RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent.
From: GUEST,dbe
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 05:38 PM

If you can make your show different/more fun than those you're competing against you will do well and always have work. Obviously have respect for what you're doing and your audience...smile a lot, be friendly and make contact you'll do well. I recommend wireless gear. Nothing elaborate...but reliable stuff. My band uses it at our weekend gigs and people love it when you walk up to their chair/ table doing your thing. It allows you to get right in there with your audience.


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