When you take on a recording project or even a gig, it helps to define why you are doing it.
As a musician, there are so many opportunities to perform for free that sometimes it feels like you are just always giving for free. Getting paid as a musician shouldn’t be an ‘every now and then’ bonus. As a rule, the real estate agent or bank doesn’t usually let you live in a house for free; so there comes a time when you need to decide what you are doing and why.
I find it so much easier to decide what each gig is for.
Am I doing this gig for money as part of my musical business or am I doing this gig as a promotional or charity gig.
Am I recording this album to make money or am I recording it to use as a promotional product.
When you differentiate the two it makes decisions easier and it helps you justify the time and effort you are putting into the recording or gig.
Set some limits for yourself so that you don’t run yourself down doing free gigs.
And plan your paid gigs so that you know what income you can expect to make.
The clearer that you can define why you are doing the gig or recording, the easier it is to structure and cost everything else around it.
A young band I have worked with over the years participated in a short tour with the Post to Coast. A group of posties on postie bikes riding from Inverell NSW to Newcastle. The band knew that this was a charity run and had not intended to make money. What they did make was contacts with venues along the way. Found many new fans and performed at the Newcastle Knights season opener game in the Knights home stadium. An experience that will both look great on their resume and provide some great stories to tell.
This was a win-win for both and an opportunity to give.
On the other hand, when there is a gig at a venue in Brisbane, the band will negotiate a fair price for them to play for a few hours where the purpose of the gig is to entertain but also to make an income.
As a musician you should not feel bad about asking for money to perform. You are providing a service and your services bring people to the venues where the venues often make money from many other sources. Recognise your value as a performer and musician and don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth.