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Should Your Band Charge for Gigs?

Should Your Band Charge for Gigs?
A Guest Post by The Musicians Guide

On one side of the coin, we see artists like Taylor Swift who built her success by giving away several million copies of her songs and performing for free for years. On the other side, there’s the bills that need paying, the ‘moral duty’ of paying an artist for their hard work (just as you would any other profession) and the fact that being a musician is an expensive hobby, and something has to fund it.

Here’s my take on it.

Yes, you should be paid. But it shouldn’t matter if you’re not, and it also shouldn’t matter if you have to pay to perform some gigs.

When we offer a service that we’re passionate about, the traditional ‘business model’ of receiving payment for providing a service is allowed to turn upside down once in a while, that is, it’s okay for us to pay to deliver a service, why? Because we enjoy doing it, and the real source of anything we do is to be happy. If you’re truly a passionate musician, you won’t mind – as long as you have enough money to carry on doing what you love.

Another way to look at it is that performing gigs can be a great investment. If you get the opportunity to perform and sell your CDs to 5,000 music fans, and it costs £200 to perform the gig, so what? If you can hustle, you’re going to make your performance fee back in no time, and the exposure is invaluable.

Okay, if you’re playing the V Festival 2012, or some other large national festival, it’s probably fair to say that the promoters have very little excuse not to pay you, but if it’s your local pub or venue, or a mini-festival, consider it an investment in your career.

The light at the end of the tunnel – all gigs end up paid

The metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel for musicians is that eventually, when you have a large and passionate enough fan base, all gigs become paid in plentiful quantities.

The reason why some gigs don’t pay is because they have the bargaining power – they can still get you to perform without paying you (which is fine – it benefits you), but when your options begin to open wide, and you receive multiple gig opportunities per day, you will naturally be able to select the ones which work best for you.

Work hard now, forget about the money and pursue your passion. Eventually, things like ‘having enough money’ will become irrelevant if you’re great at what you do.

Image Credit: Elawgrrl

The Musician’s Guide was launched in 2009 by Marcus Taylor, a former indie label manager and artist from Oxfordshire, with a passion to help musicians learn about building their fanbase. attracts over 300,000 musicians from all over the World every year.
To learn more about Marcus, click here. Alternatively if you’d like to get in touch or arrange a coffee date, you can email (below) or send him a tweet.


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