Paying To Play

– Posted in: Biz Booster Hot Tip! Book the Gig
How Many Gigs Do You Really Need

Paying To Play - by Jeri Goldstein     

I know all about those gigs that make you pay to play in their venue. I’m sure you’ve come across a few. But that’s not exactly what I want to talk about here today.

I want to help you realize when you are actually paying to play in other situations when you don’t even know that that is exactly what is happening. And I want to help you avoid those situations in the future.

It’s easy to spot one of those gigs that are upfront with their charges to pay to play at their venue. It’s not so easy to spot the gig that offers you a certain fee, you accept the gig and then you figure out it actually cost you money to do that gig. Why did that happen—how could you have missed it and what exactly went wrong?

It’s all about setting appropriate fees. In order to do that, you need to know how to value yourself and what goes into that process.

There are 3 steps to the process of setting appropriate fees.

Step One: Understand your value in the various markets in which you play. In order to do that, you need to see what others at your same level of performance are getting paid. You need to do a bit of research to find out what similar acts in this new market are getting and understand that you won’t be able to match the fees of a known market act. But it doesn’t end there. You need to know what you are offering that can set you apart from the others and then to value and emphasize those differences accordingly. If you’ve never played in a market, but have some value in other markets, you need to use that value to leverage your fees and build your market value in this new market.

Step Two: You need to know your cost to do each gig and each tour. In other words—you need a budget. If you play close to home your budget is going to be different from an artist who tours away from home. And those budgets will differ for artists who tour far from home for long periods of time. It is your absolute duty to yourself and your act to begin working with budgets for each gig and for each tour. You need to know what it costs you to simply step outside of your door to do a gig down the block, in the next town, or half a country away. Without a budget, you will not know whether you can accept an offer for a gig and make money. It is as simple as that! Creating budgets for each tour is your key to negotiating the right fee.

Step Three: Once you have your budget, you need to be brutally honest with yourself about which gigs you can accept and which ones you need to turn down. You’ll need to realistically, with a budget in hand, assess the benefits of each gig to determine whether it is worth taking—benefits such as media coverage, audience reach, venue prestige, peripheral plusses like travel and accommodations. When you compare your needs covered within your budget with the overall benefits offered from each gig, then and only then can you make a business-based decision to accept or reject or renegotiate any gig. Then you are able to view each gig that is below your budgetary needs as an investment in building your career, rather than purely a loss, (if it makes sense to accept that kind of gig in the first place.)

If you value your business as a performer, then treat yourself like a business and sit down this week to make a realistic budget of what it takes for you to play a gig. I’ve got a sample budget form in my book, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent in Chapter 6 as well as in my Contract Forms Packet.

I don’t care whether you use mine or you create one for yourself, just include all of your expenses, from gas to equipment rental fees, hotels, meals or per diems, rehearsal fees, postage, phone, you get the idea. Your budget will help you negotiate better gig fees from now on. This is one project that is a must if you want to have any success and stop paying to play from now on.

Are you using a budget to book and negotiate your gig fees? Has it helped you negotiate better fees and ultimately better gigs?

Leave me a comment below or on the Performingbiz Success Strategies Facebook page

I can’t wait to hear about your success.

Now, Thanks to the Band Curfew from the UK for providing the Biz Booster theme Music, “Future Dance.” Check them out at

And for more career-boosting tips, articles, books, resources, teleseminars, and online courses, visit me at

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