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#1137344 - 11/12/08 04:34 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:

Tim, please enjoy your practicing for me! What are you practicing for?

Betty [/b]
JJ (famous jazz trombone pioneer) said, "there'll never come a time when you don't need to practice!" Life should always include the struggle to learn and improve. Sometimes it's fun, more often it's ......ah........rewarding.

Until my recent move I played for a couple of worship services, now I don't have a regular gig. (Those church services were considerably above my performance ability, yet somebody had to do it.) Except I'm directing a handbell choir, now there's a challenge.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1137345 - 11/12/08 04:41 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
To Tim,



Enjoy your new networking and establishing yourself in your new location. Having a handbell choir is certainly a unique and worthy challenge. If you are going to be involved with church services, I hope you soon find your niche.

Do you also teach?

Betty

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#1137346 - 11/13/08 07:57 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
I know I get carried away sometimes and I don't mean to be offensive.

I feel strongly about live music, but I also feel strongly about civil liberties, coercion, etc.

I support the right of anybody to choose to be a starving artist in any genre no matter how silly it may seem. But having made that choice, if you feel entitled to be supported it rubs me the wrong way.

Regrettably, live music that we like to play has declined somewhat. That's mostly driven by the changing desires of the customer, I think, though the economy has something to do with it.

Popular music is not in trouble, it is a vastly profitable industry. Niche markets (modern jazz, classical piano, zither ensembles, etc.) seem unlikely to be self supporting. My brother has a regular brunch gig at a nice restaurant playing Dixieland. There's a niche market for sure, but he found that spot where it's profitable to the restaurant owner to pay him to play.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1137347 - 11/14/08 10:34 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Hi Betty, Hi Tim!

Excellent discussion, and good points made by both of you. I've been in this business long enough that I've learned to see things through the eyes of management. It's not easy running a restaurant, bar, or hotel. Or department store for that matter.

I've never felt entitled to any job. Never. I still think it's a miracle that people pay me to play the piano. I am grateful for every job I have.

I also feel, very strongly, that customers who pay a fortune for a meal, a drink, a hotel room—these people ARE entitled to quality music. If you go back to the start of this discussion, it was about a musician in a five-star hotel in Manhattan's B'way district being replaced by a machine. Last time I checked, hotel room rates for this particular place were upwards of 350 dollars a night.

I understand it's management's right to say, "hey, I know we raised the rates three times in the last year, but we don't really think you people need live music—just listen to this machine instead."

But it's insulting. Not just to musicians, but to anyone who walks in the doors of that hotel. It's one more jab at humanity to raise the prices on everything else, but cut back on an artistic endeavor like live piano music.

I'm headed out the door to my steady job at a castle here in Germany. It's a 5-star hotel with a Michelin 3 star restaurant. I play every Friday and Saturday for two hours, during the cocktail hour for the fancy-pants restaurant. It is a dream job—great piano, great acoustics, people who listen and appreciate what I do. I've been there for 7 years. I expect, with the economy being in a shambles, that sooner or later, the job will end. Flowers and music are always the first things to go. I also know, that this place will do everything possible to keep me there.

I don't feel entitled, I feel blessed.

Thanks for your comments.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1137348 - 11/14/08 10:36 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Thanks, Bachrock!
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1137349 - 11/14/08 03:57 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Pete the bean Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/04
Posts: 454
Loc: Canada
I rarely play out any more. I have not been replaced by a machine. I have been replaced by musicians willing to work for peanuts. I would rather sell slurpies than practice my art for the low pay.
_________________________
http://www.poppianopro.com/

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#1137350 - 11/14/08 04:04 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Yeah, that's a problem.

They get what they pay for. And so do the guests. Not good.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1137351 - 11/14/08 04:33 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
dpvjazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 287
Loc: phoenix az
When I started to play gigs in my 20's pay wasn't so bad and that was in the late 70's but things have change since then. Everyone is different and the one thing I knew for sure was that I did not want to be competing for the few gigs out there at 50 with 20 year old musicians that can always do it for less. You are going to spend a lot of time trying to get jobs today and the pay is not that great. But say you spend your time creating a business that supports you and your music. Is it hard to open up a restaurant or coffee shop that supports music? Well yes but if you work hard and succeed your reward will be playing music that you enjoy with people you like. Believe me when I say this path is not for everyone but it has work for me and I AM HAVING THE TIME OF MY LIFE. It is something to consider and it will not be easy but I really did not want to leave the passion I have to play music in someone else's hands. Its my destiny and I want to have control of it not some club or hotel manager. DPVJAZZ

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#1137352 - 11/16/08 01:23 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Dear DPVJazz,

Well this the ultimate in taking matters into your own hands. Congratulations. The older I get the more I realize how important it is for artists to create their own opportunities. Please tell us the name of your venue and I'll be sure to show up there and support you if I'm ever in your neighborhood.

Bravo. Brava. Whichever the case may be.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1137353 - 12/07/08 05:31 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
On this forum we have a captive musical appreciation society. This is far from the case in hotels where Joe public have a musical interest of probably 10%. The rest are oblivious of pianists and music. I feel for these guys who play so lovely and I stand and listen and speak to them when able.

On the basis of average I suppose the hotel might just as well have canned music. We, on this website are dedicated lovers of piano. I just think we should let the canned music suffice for background music and possibly give proper recitals in a room, as a feature of the hotel. Like the New York, 'Red Blazer' bar which was really good jazz,when my wife and I went to NY some few years ago.

Alan (swingal)

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#1137354 - 12/08/08 04:22 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Rob Mullins Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/04
Posts: 318
Loc: LA CA
Hi,
Best comment on this thread was by RMG saying that pianists have to create their own opportunities. True dat.
_________________________
Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
28th album on sale now.

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#1137355 - 12/08/08 10:00 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
It just looks cheesy..a dummy dressed in a tux
at a player piano.. \:D

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#1137356 - 01/02/09 03:16 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Horwinkle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/08
Posts: 1011
Nice discussion, people. Times are tough, so there's no surprise to see these changes taking place.

The economy will eventually return to normal. But will the live music?

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#1137357 - 01/03/09 04:52 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Hi Everyone,

Here is a recent press release from Local 802 of the AFM (New York local). The piece refers to the incident that started this thread.

Press Release about Hilton mechanical piano

Happy New Year to all of you!

Best.

Robin
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1137358 - 01/03/09 10:27 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
PhysicsTeacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 99
Loc: Texas
I've got to say that while I truly enjoy good piano music, I despise unions, their tactics, and their outright arrogance. "...Your job may be next....Wouldn't you rather that your friends and family stay in a hotel with live music...?" That article is nothing but a bunch of union demagoguery. The fact is that people do not stay in a hotel for the music. They couldn't care less if the music is live, Memorex, or non-existent. These union reps would have us believe that they are all about the music; but in reality all they care about is maintaining a job and their power. I am pretty confident in saying that most union people do not choose hotels based on whether or not there is live music there. I couldn't afford to stay in that hotel if it featured the N.Y. Philharmonic! Most people who belong to a union can't afford to stay there either.

I am all for piano music, but I am 100% against programs like the endowment for the arts and the mentality in this country that we should all be able to do what we want and make a good living doing it. In the end, if we don't produce a product or service that people want and are willing to pay for, then we need to think about doing something else.

Just so I am not accused of being a pot calling the kettle black, I am opposed to unions in teaching (they stand for all of the wrong principals)and I am opposed to public education as we know it today -- it is surely messed up! I am all for privatization of education and a voucher system of some sort. If I am a good teacher and we run a good school, then people will be willing to send their children to my school and send me their money as well. If I am not a good teacher or don't run a good school, then parents and students should be able to go elsewhere and I should find another line of work.

I don't mean to sound cruel or unsupportive, I hate it when people lose their jobs. But I fully respect the rights of business owners to make their own business decisions. I also respect the rights of consumers to make their own choices. But I really doubt if the loss of a live pianist is going to effect the bottom line of these businesses in a negative way.

Let's hope these folks find another job or find a way to make money doing what they love most. Perhaps they can teach, perform at a concert, cut a CD, or find another venue that is willing to pay for their services. They have to find a way reach the niche market that appreciates what they do and are willing to spend money for it. I wish them all well.

I am just curious. How much do you suppose these pianist earned? How many were there? And how hours per week did they play? Any ideas?

Good luck to everyone in 2009!
_________________________
Casio PX-320, Fabers' Adult Piano Adventures 1
"If you drive faster than I do, you are a maniac. If you drive slower than I do, you are are an idiot."

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#1137359 - 01/03/09 11:47 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
DeepElem Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/27/06
Posts: 366
Loc: USA
PhysicsTeacher, this being a union press release obviously struck a nerve. While I am in agreement with much of your political/economic world view (at least as you expressed here) I think that is no reason to dismiss the idea of raising a stink about this move by Hilton.

While fully acknowledging the proprietors right to do this, and probably the economic sense it makes, wouldn't you as a customer (if you could afford to stay there) prefer a live pianist ?

I for one think it is tragic and while I won't be staying at that hotel (I can't afford it either) I will take any opportunity I get to let Hilton know how disappointing that decision is. Maybe I'll talk to their central reservations number to make a reservation at one of their cheaper lines, or maybe I'll attend a conference at one of their hotels, or any number of other ways I may interact with that corporation, and each time I'll make it a point to express my disappointment with this decision to get rid of live piano players. After all, as a customer what is more fundamental then letting a proprietor know what you thought of their goods/services.

So rather than rail against the political/economic/philosophical objections I may I have to union tactics I will choose to let business owners (not just Hilton) know how important live music is to me. That is what is important to me about this thread.
_________________________
-Buck
------
If you knew what you were doing, you'd probably be bored.
- Fresco's Law

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#1137360 - 01/03/09 12:38 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
PhysicsTeacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 99
Loc: Texas
Good Points DeepElem. I whole-heartedly agree and support your strategy to make your desires known to the proprietors. That is the way to do it! I believe union rhetoric is actually counterproductive to your efforts. I seldom use terms like "tragic" or "not right" because I see the logic in economic forces and generally disagree with making social or business decisions based on feelings.

In answer to your question, I love live music. My wife and I go to the symphony several times a year and we enjoy going to the local college to hear recitals - they are quite affordable, by the way \:\) ! But no, live music in a hotel lobby is not important to me. When I go to a hotel, I am typically there on business or vacation. In either case, my focus is not on what goes on in the lobby. I pass through the lobby several times a day, but seldom do I stop to listen to the music. And more importantly, when choosing a hotel, having or not having a live pianist in the lobby is not a qualifier or disqualifier for me.

Now if we are talking about evening entertainment, that is a different story. I will choose a nightclub or lounge with live music over a DJ or football game every time.

Good luck in your campaign to get these jobs back. If enough people believe as you do and take action, it will happen.
_________________________
Casio PX-320, Fabers' Adult Piano Adventures 1
"If you drive faster than I do, you are a maniac. If you drive slower than I do, you are are an idiot."

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#1137361 - 01/03/09 01:46 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Elssa Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1556
Loc: NY
Hi Robin:

I'm glad the union is making the public aware of what is going on so that we can express our feelings about it if we choose.

At least there are still a few places in New York City that have piano bars:
http://www.lamediterraneeny.com/piano_bar

I took lessons from an awesome piano player/teacher (when I lived in his area a few years ago), "Dr. Joe" Utterback, who I noticed recently played at that restaurant, as well. Here are some other places in NYC where he says he plays: Regents, The Hotel Mark, The Regency Hotel, Il Calcio
www.joeutterback.com

I think if you took a private poll, the vast majority of people would say they prefer the live music to canned and that the live pianist lends a real "touch of class" to any establishment. \:\)

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#1137362 - 01/04/09 08:08 AM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Deep Elm!
I love what you wrote and commend you for your actions. Bravo/Brava, whichever the case may be.

PhyschicsTeacher,
Thank you for your well-written thoughts about unions. I understand and relate to many of your points. Unions make mistakes. They can be arrogant and stubborn and can occasionally lose sight of priorities. That being said, I defend the musicians' union for attempting to hold onto some dignity for its members.

As a former member of Local 802 (I took an honorable discharge in 1994 when I moved to Europe), I can tell you that the benefits—health care and a pension plan—made a huge difference in my life. Maybe for some people these things aren't so important, but they were for me. Without my hotel jobs in Manhattan, and the hard work of the union reps to hold onto the very basic benefit packages offered to NYC musicians at the time, my life and the lives of my children would have been very different.

I am the daughter of a retired drummer (Pittsburgh local) whose AFM pension plan has allowed him to have a decent(not fancy, but decent) retirement.

In answer to your question about salary, give or take a few bucks, musicians (with decent steady jobs) have been making 100 bucks a night for the last 30 years. Private parties pay a lot more.

Elssa, thanks for your research! Spread the word.

Good discussion, this.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1391672 - 03/08/10 09:00 PM Re: Being Replaced by a Machine [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
chris_scotland Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/06
Posts: 3
Loc: Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Hello. I haven't had the misfortune of being replaced by a player piano, as yet. Maybe because the up-front purchase costs of such an instrument/machine for the venue are so high...whereas I can be paid per gig to play the standard piano which has been there longer than anyone can remember, or can be acquired for much less outlay. I'll have to halt any plans should I catch a hotel manager perusing a Disklavier brochure! It's true that where they are installed they are usually 'on' non stop, not maintained, and therefore wear out quickly.

A great option for non-playing private buyers looking for a home showpiece, but in no way good for public venues. Not for pianists, or even the casual listener.

Robin - I am so pleased that I have stumbled upon your book extracts. You have a sale.
_________________________
Chris Connelly - playing piano at weddings, parties, corporate events, hotels, bars and restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh and across Scotland.
http://www.chrisconnelly.co.uk
http://twitter.com/weddingpianist
http://scottishweddingpianist.blogspot.com

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