How to Get More Pay for Live Music Gigs

I often compare managing a band to running a business. If you’re looking to get higher guarantees/pay for your services (performing live music), then you should approach things from a business point of view. How do you get a raise from work or a higher wage when interviewing for a job? Here’s a clue: just showing up doesn’t cut it. You have to demonstrate that you deserve it and show how it will ultimately help them out. Here are some guidelines to help you out:

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask: I’m surprised how many artists book shows without asking what the terms for the gig are initially. They just show up and hope for the best. Well, it doesn’t hurt to find out how pay structures work at the venue and if they’re willing to provide a guarantee or not. Imagine accepting a job offer from an employer without knowing what the pay rate was!

2. Create a sense of Value: This is where you have to sell the value of what you are offering the promoter. You have to find what resounds with their goals. Clearly explain how you will accomplish those goals. Things such as: how you will make them more money (for example, a large draw that will buy many drinks), how booking your act gives their event credibility (if you have a good reputation in town), how you will entertain and excel expectations of the audience, how they will receive publicity for booking you (it helps if you have a publicist), the level of professionalism that you offer, etc. Find out what they’re looking for and how you can meet those needs. Then explain why you are worth the investment.

3. Prove Your Worth: It might take a few experiences to show a promoter that you’re worth some extra money. But if you consistently have a large draw and put on a great show that makes your customers happy, it might be a good time to explain that and ask for a solid guarantee. If you’ve never worked with a certain promoter and want to get more money, you’ll have to show your worth in other ways: how well you’ve been drawing elsewhere, the press you’ve been receiving, your caliber of musicianship, etc.

4. Learn From the Other Guy: Learn as much as you can from other artists or businesses. If you have good friends in other bands that are about the same level as you, you can find out what kind of pay they’ve been receiving and ask for something in the ballpark. Look at how some organizations sell their products and services: what tactics do they use to show that they are worth the asking price?

5. The Right Fit: You can receive better pay in certain situations than others; for example, larger venues, festivals, or events tend to pay better than a local coffee shop. Know your worth in those instances and why certain factors will determine your pay (set length, amount of work required on your part, etc). Know when to charge less (charity events, opportunities for great exposure).

Ask For That Raise!

In conclusion, making more money from gigs is just like trying to make more money at your job. If you demonstrate your worth, your track record of success, and know when/how/why to ask, then the chances of you getting that raise are likely to happen.

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