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.