Negotiating percentage gigs is this week’s topic as so many artists have to make these sort of deals. I thought I’d offer some guidelines to help when you are faced with this type of negotiation.
Playing for a percentage isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the right situation, you may have an opportunity to make more money than what would have been the guarantee.
So, what’s a fair percentage? This will vary and again may be dependent upon your value in the market.
If you are only getting a percentage, without any guarantee at all, you would most likely want to negotiate for the highest percent possible. If the venue is investing in advertising or is putting anything into the gig up front, they are unlikely to give you 100% of the ticket sales. If, however,
you are doing all of the promotion and marketing, you are providing the money collector and are not getting any percentage of the bar, (if it’s a bar gig), then I would start by asking for 100%. You will have a lot of wiggle room then to come to a reasonable percentage if they are not inclined to go with 100%.
You will be more likely to get the higher percentage if you have a proven track record in the venue, have a solid fan base in the market and can get some press. This situation is the most advantageous situation where a percentage gig actually makes sense for you to pursue. If you know you can get a crowd at a particular venue, you may even suggest a high percentage deal, especially when you can set your ticket price to reflect your status in that venue and market.
If you are playing a new venue, where you have no track record, no fan base and little or no press attention, the venue booker is probably going to push for a percentage deal. Negotiating percentage gigs in these cases is however not really to your advantage and I would try to get them to commit to a small guarantee plus a reasonable percentage. This could at least cover your expenses and if you do well, you both benefit from the percentage. Here a standard percentage split might be a good place to start with 65% going to the artist and 35% to the venue. They may want to adjust this to a 60/40 split and they may even try for a 55/45 split. Even though a 50/50 split sounds really fair, you should just be aware that it is not the norm.
Don’t be afraid of negotiating percentage gigs when it has a chance to really work for you. Weigh all the factors going into the deal to negotiate the best percentage so that you each benefit.
How often do you find yourself negotiating percentage gigs? What percentage do you often end up with?
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