We all have to deal with it; the venue gives you part of the door and a couple drinks or a meal for the musicians. That means every time we show up for a gig or show we risk not getting paid enough to cover the gas to get there.

Time after time we’ve heard the stories and listened to musicians complain about not getting paid what they are worth. Those stories including breaking down how much someone got paid per hour and it comes out to less than $10 for every hour (drove an hour, had to sound check early, set up, tear down, play two sets, drive home an hour). Most of us are scared to ask more per show for fear of not getting hired. We’re all kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place as we build our music business.

Here’s some tips to consider about growing music revenue while building our music business and getting noticed by agents and tour managers.

First, think about selling out every show. That’s easier said than done, but it has an impact. The crowd feeds off each other – they share photos, videos and talk up your event with consumers who may be new to your music. The venue/promoter/event manager shares the success of your show with other music buyers (the crowd, the beverage sales, the tickets sold, etc.). That’s called “organic” growth. And its’ the least expensive way to Play More, Make More through word of mouth.

At the same time you want to leverage your social presence and building followers so they, the ticket buyers, know when you are playing. That’s anything from Facebook to Youtube and from Plink to Instagram. Think about it, when someone comes across you or your group on a social site or link can they hear or see you play right away?Perhaps using your Plink profile as your link to other media will work so that your music is always front and center when you are found – that’s why your Spotlight is so important. Bottom line, you need a social strategy (and that may include some paid boosting of posts). Plus, and this is important, you need to be consistent with it.

How often do you really want to play in each area or club? You don’t want to burn out your audience. Is once a month too much or is it just right? How far is the next town you want to play in that won’t cannibalize ticket buyers from your home base? If you oversaturate your marketplace then you become less of a commodity causing lower attendance or reduced ticket prices.

More importantly, when you have a crowd how are you getting them to buy a ticket to the next show? What’s the incentive you give the audience to follow you, to save the date, to buy a ticket in advance. Go into every gig or show with a plan of building your social audience, your email base, or even tickets for your next show in the area. Again, you need a strategy and have to make the effort to execute that strategy even though you have to break down, load out or are just plain tired. Make the connection and keep those new music lovers in your fold.

Be careful of playing freebie shows and programs. FOMO should not be your basis for a decision. Be tactical on every ‘Yes’; will that fundraiser help build your audience, will it help establish your group in a new marketplace/city, by playing for free are you getting a paid gig with no discount from the same promoter or planner? All those questions, and more, need to be asked (of yourself and the music buyer) before you say yes or no. Don’t say ‘Yes’ to everything so you can ‘be popular’…remember that guy who dated every new girl in high school? Word got around about him and the new girls were weary before he even asked. You don’t want to be him for local music.

Lastly, be sure this is the career path you want to follow. If you only want to play once a week, how much do you want to make for that one show? If you want to play once a quarter are you getting paid full price? If you want to play five times a week, then you gotta work hard, have a strategy and be sure to practice a lot. Whatever your goal is keep it in front of you; build your audience/followers, spend time with your online/social efforts and don’t let your fear of “not playing” get in the way of being compensated properly. You’re worth it…aren’t you?


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