The Key To Getting Paid Gigs In London

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The Key To Getting Paid Gigs In London

the following is an excerpt taken from our e-book - Be Seen, Be Heard: Making Money As An Independent Artist  - downloadable here.

Playing a gig that you’ve been asked to play - not the other way around - which also pays you is a highly coveted notion for the emerging independent musician. We know all too well how many gigs are offered under the basis of just covering transport, a free drink, a meal on the house or the classic ‘exposure’. While these things aren’t bad or shouldn’t be scoffed at, especially if the establishment offering the gig isn’t making a huge profit from your performance - the fact remains they still, unfortunately, don’t help pay bills.

Despite these widely sought slots being hard to secure, it’s important to not forget that this is not the case all the time and there are still a good amount of musicians and singer songwriters in big cities making money by performing music. One of the key ways of securing income by making or performing music is by working as a regular musician for a specific event-slot, for example by working as part of the house band or securing a residency as a performer. You might be required to play your own music or potentially covers too - maybe even a combination, but by locking in one of these types of gigs you’re securing additional income for an extended period, not just a one-off. There’s nothing wrong with working on a gig-by-gig basis but the job security is always going to be easier to manage through a continuous programme - working with an events team or being high up on the list of the person who books the gigs for a venue. This is where knowing an event promoter or manager can make a big difference.

In essence, the people booking the gigs or organising the events are going to be the ones who will have final say whether you’re going to, a) be performing with/for them, b) making money from the performance. They are the people who can really help you push your music further and help you make money by performing night after night. While it might not be literally one night after another, even a weekly or fortnightly slot - paid - is of great help to an emerging independent musician.

So let’s assume a promoter approaches you about a gig - with 5 open slots, he needs five artists playing a similar genre of music to the kind of music that you make. Some of the artists already booked in have large-ish followings, some are making a name for themselves, some you know have certainly been gigging frequently, some you’ve never heard of. So where does that leave you? You’ve been asked to perform but are you in the position to go in with a fixed figure for a payment? £100? £200? More? As an artist you’ll likely have one of two options going through your mind.

  • Option 1 - “I need the money. There’s no way I can do this gig without earning money”.

  • Option 2 - “I just want to play, share my music, and connect with as many different people as I can”.

While neither option is wrong, you need to remember that promoters and gig organisers aren’t usually at the gig for the same reason as you are. You will have likely accepted the offer on the basis of “this is a gig that will be good for my career regardless of the pay”, but the promoter doesn’t share the same type of thought. At the end of the day they’re running a business and it’s not his/her duty to care whether you ‘feel good’ about the gig. That sounds brutal, but once you understand it’s not an environment set up for you, it makes navigation a lot easier.

When it comes to locking in a fee, FOMO - fear of missing out plays a big role. The artist hopes to get the best deal without being rejected from the role and the promoter hopes to lock in the artist for the best rate without scaring them off. No artist wants to ask for £200 to find out the promoter was prepared to pay £1,000 - and similarly no promoter wants to offer an artist £200 if the artist is willing to perform for £20 travel expenses. Treading a thin line in terms of what you’re willing to accept as a payment is often an industry standard but don’t let it put you off. If the promoter respects the artist and the opportunity to work with them and they’re well aware that they can comfortably cover their costs then often the promoter is usually willing to settle for the fee that an artist might suggest and stick to it. In short, you can make money by playing shows organised by others but it’s situational when it comes to how much you can make.

So how much can you be earning? We’ve calculated that if you know the industry and have spent time fine tuning your brand and skills you can make an extra £2,700 through around 15 gigs - which could be done in the space of a month or two.  We’ve spoken with industry professionals on how this is possible and how artists can push forward to make money by playing gigs as a lead artist or instrumentalist.
 

For more information and a detailed breakdown on how we reached the £2,700 figure above, download our FREE e-book - Be Seen, Be Heard: Making Money As An Independent Artist - downloadable here. We show the independent musician how they can earn up to £24k extra each year as a musician based on first hand knowledge and experience from the pros who have been there and done that. We promise you’ll learn a thing or two and look at your earning capacity as a musician in a new way.

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Earn An Extra £1,476 A Year Without Doing More Work

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Earn An Extra £1,476 A Year Without Doing More Work

The following is an excerpt taken from our e-book - Be Seen, Be Heard: Making Money As An Independent Artist  downloadable here.

When starting a creative project, it’s often tricky to find your place on the ‘is this just-for-fun or deadly-serious’ scale. When everything starts tipping onto the more serious side of things it really pays to have certain systems in place from early on. While there’s no huge rush to be professional about certain things, especially when you’re just trying to enjoy yourself - if you’re planning to take things up a notch and turn your music into a way of making money then one thing you really shouldn’t overlook is signing up to PRS (Performing Right Society). PRS could be making your money without you having to do any extra work. PRS along with their partner organisations makes sure that songwriters, composers and performers receive payment for their music appearing in public. Mainstream composers, like Ed Sheeran can expect to make thousands in one day just from having their songs played on radio, TV or even in a pub.

It’s crucial to understand PRS isn’t about making money from you - the artist, as their job is to make sure that you make money, by collecting fees from their customers - the people, organisations, venues and so on who use licensed music in a public domain.  PRS is the governing body that makes sure that the artists who create the work get paid for their music. In simple terms, PRS’ involvement in making you money goes as follows:

The composer makes a song > the composer registers the song with PRS > the music is performed or played publicly > PRS collect royalties for performances from customers > PRS give the composer & relevant members royalties.

The main reasons to join PRS would be to get paid for your music when it’s played or performed in public by you or someone else, whether in an open-mic jam night or playing at the O2 Academy. This also holds true if your music it’s streamed on YouTube - and radio performances too. Film & broadcast can earn a larger amount for songwriters or composers, and by joining PRS and registering your music with the organisation means that you’ll get paid for all of the aforementioned recitals, performances, features and appearances. Some of the types of people who would benefit from signing up to PRS would be the following: 

  • An independent songwriter working from his/her bedroom/studio.

  • A songwriter writing with the aim to sell on the songs to different artists.

  • A composer working in a semi-professional environment like a school/college.

  • A small record label with more than 15 songs to their name.

So how much money can you expect to earn from a music performance after becoming a PRS For Music member?

 We’ve calculated that an artist who has their music taking off - with their career implementing systems to help them grow can earn an additional £1,476 a year without having to do anything extra other than sign up to PRS For Music.

For more information and a detailed breakdown on how we reached the £1,476 figure above, download our FREE e-book - Be Seen, Be Heard: Making Money As An Independent Artist  - downloadable here. We show the independent musician how they can earn up to £24k extra each year as a musician based on first hand knowledge and experience from the pros who have been there and done that. We promise you’ll learn a thing or two and look at your earning capacity as a musician in a new way.

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How Much Can You Earn In A Function Band?

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How Much Can You Earn In A Function Band?

The following is an excerpt taken from our e-book - Be Seen, Be Heard: Making Money As An Independent Musician - downloadable here.

Function bands or corporate gigs can often get a bad rap. If your mind immediately raced to the idea of a dead-end gig, a no-passion performance, playing ‘Wonderwall’ with a band in the foyer of an accountancy firm in an industrial estate on a grey Tuesday lunch time you’re not alone. It’s not quite how you imagined spending your time and using your talent. The good news is however, that not all function work has to be like this - in fact if done properly, being part of a function band can provide a stable and regular income. It might have its up and downs but then again most jobs have the same.

Function bands or corporate gigs can range from weddings to Bar Mitzvahs or birthdays and Christmas fairs. Most of the time the music isn’t original, and will usually be a collection of songs written by other artists, songs which have become household names over the years. If someone - whether an individual person or company - wants music for their event then one way or another you’ll usually find a function band filling in that role.

So why play in a cover band? For starters there’s a huge amount of autonomy with this job. You get to set your own hours, you can build your timetable and you report to yourself (unless with an agency). The downside to that however is that if you don’t have a business mind you could quite easily falter at some of the hurdles found early on.

Make no mistake though, with cover band gigs, the money speaks for itself, especially if you’ve spent time on the circuit and worked on perfecting your craft. It’s better paid work than other type of gigs and the work is regular too - something you can rely on if you’re looking for make a career out of music in the long haul. So what are you options if you want to generate additional revenue from playing in a covers band or a function band? You can go full time or part time but If you’re tempted to go all-in, going full-time can really pay off. You’ll be earning a good amount of money and you’ll also be playing music on a regular basis as a career - something a lot of musicians would love to do.

But what can you expect to earn as a full-time band member? A full-time band member should successfully boast a repertoire of 30-60 songs. It’s easier to play in multiple bands where you can technically drop in and out of a line-up as the knowledge and repertoire should be established. The earning capacity is therefore higher than before because you have more options. Loosely speaking, the average  rate for an artist with that repertoire is around  £175 - £200 per gig, but understand that this can depend on the quality and type of band that you’re playing in.

Although you might be really good at what you do, don’t forget that ultimately with cover bands or functions bands you need to be supplying what the client wants. People might not necessarily care about your vocal riffing or that slick guitar lick you spent a week learning - you might be playing a far less complex group of songs night after night but if you’re able to do that to a good standard and work efficiently and professionally as a band you could technically demand a higher price than if you were to play something much more complicated - something that engages you more. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re a great singer so you can therefore ask for the top tier fees.

We’ve calculated that you can earn around £15,000 by doing one or two gigs a week - whether a birthday, a wedding or a corporate gig. Do keep in mind however, it’s not unheard of for top-level musicians to receive £200-£600 per gig, taking that figure of £15,000 and doubling or even tripling it.

What’s the secret to getting your foot in the door with a good function band or function band agency? We’ve written about this in depth in our second FREE e-book - Be Seen, Be Heard: Making Money As An Independent Musician  - downloadable here. We show the independent musician how they can earn up to £24k extra each year as a musician based on first hand knowledge and experience from the pros who have been there and done that. We promise you’ll learn a thing or two and look at your earning capacity as a musician in a new way.

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Getting paid gigs at weddings and functions by Last Minute Musicians

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Getting paid gigs at weddings and functions by Last Minute Musicians

The music industry has undergone a massive amount of change over the last twenty years, in an almost unprecedented way. In this guest blog, Jon Fellowes of Last Minute Musicians discusses some ways to help fund your creative projects by performing live.

Some of the recent developments in music have been very progressive; it has never been easier to record and share your music, and this can help you build a following and reach new fans. However, the abundance of new music being distributed every day, combined with the ever-changing platforms through which the public chooses to consume it, means that it is becoming harder and harder to monetise your music effectively. 

With diminished revenue being brought in by royalties and streaming, more and more independent artists are looking for other ways to fund their creative projects. Traditionally, live performance has always been another route for musicians to make money and this has seen many acts hitting the road, hard… some of which may have been “retired” for some time!

But what about smaller acts, who can’t immediately guarantee large audiences, paying top dollar for tickets to shows for their originals band? Fortunately, there is still another way to make money playing live - thousands of clients are booking musicians for weddings, corporate events and other functions every single day. 

These gigs are not only well paid but can end up being very regular. Just a couple of shows over the weekend can leave you with a good wage and plenty of time during the week to devote to writing, producing and marketing your original music.  

So how do you go about getting booked for these shows? Below are some basic steps to take to set yourself up as a function act. If you want more detailed information, check out the Last Minute Musicians Blog or How To Get Gigs.

Step 1: what you’ll need

Whether you are looking to perform solo or as a duo/band, there are a few requirements you’ll need to get things off the ground, and establish yourself as a function act:

2 x 45-minute cover sets
 
One of the major differences between gigs with an originals band and functions is the set lengths. When you’re playing your own material, a support slot can be as little as 30 minutes - the absolute minimum most function clients will want from you is 2 sets of at least 45 minutes in length. You will also need to take into account the variety of material you might need, as well as encores. 

Top tip: If you want to learn more about putting your material together, read our blogs on The most popular cover songs on 2500+ set lists and How to write a great set list.

Promotional material

Being able to promote yourself effectively also requires some basics. Obvious things like high-quality recordings and photography are a good start, but a well-written biography and showreel/promo video are also worthy of consideration.  Some physical materials like business cards and banners will be a necessity for effective networking.

Top tip: For more advice on room vids, read our blog Why promotional videos are important for musicians.

Online presence

It’s always a good idea to establish yourself on social media and make sure you secure all of the relevant handles for your act fairly quickly. A good website (utilizing all your promotional material) will act as a central point to direct clients to. It’s important to keep both of these things updated regularly. 

Top tip: For help on social media, check out Reload’s blog on Social Media Marketing for Musicians. 

Step 2: Promote yourself

Once you have everything in place, it’s time to get out there and get some gigs booked! Local pubs and clubs are a great place to start – they won’t be as well paid, but they are a great opportunity to get yourself in front of an audience relatively quickly and try out your new covers. If they are well attended, you can also utilise open mic or jam nights in a similar way, meeting other musicians and potential clients.

If you have more of a budget in place, consider doing some local wedding shows – although they will cost you to exhibit, they are an excellent opportunity to get yourself in front of an audience of potential clients that are actively looking to book live music. 

Top tip: Check out this Last Minute Musicians blog – Wedding fairs: What musicians need to know.

Lastly, make sure you get “out and about” online. Joining Facebook groups like Dep Musicians in the UK and UK Musicians for gigs is a great way to see regular work opportunities being posted and being active and engaged on social media will help get the word out about your function act. 

Step 3: Join an entertainment directory or agency

Once you have the experience of your first gigs in the bag, it’s time to think about expanding. Getting on the books of an entertainment agent is a brilliant way to get more shows. An entertainment agent fills the role of connecting prospective clients with their preference in the act. 

While this can be a brilliant way to attract lots of new enquiries, they will charge commission for the service and usually have a whole roster of acts for you to compete with for the booking. 

An entertainment agency, such as Last Minute Musicians, operates in a similar way, but without the commission. The band pays a small contribution to be a member of the directory, but keeps 100% of whatever they make from the shows they book and negotiate directly with clients. 

From everyone at Last Minute Musicians, we wish you the best of luck with your music career!

LastMinuteMusicians.com is the UK's leading live entertainment portal. More than just a directory - it's the most convenient way to connect potential clients and there preference in entertainment. Visitors can browse profiles, read reviews, listen to audio, watch videos and choose from a rapidly growing selection of the best musicians, bands, entertainers and related companies. For musicians, the service represents a very cost-effective way to pick up more gigs, without paying any hefty commission - register for a listing today!
 

 

 

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