Play For Free Strategy

– Posted in: Biz Booster Hot Tip! Touring Strategies
Play For Free Strategy
Play For Free Strategy - by Jeri Goldstein     

Do you have a play for free strategy? How often are you asked to play for free?

As with every part of your career development, you need to create a strategy to get paid for your talent. Let’s face it, the electric company doesn’t offer you a free month, neither does your mortgage holder or your car loan entity. So why are artists so easily talked into playing for free?

Exposure you say! Ha! I know “free” is the new thing. These days music is “free,” books are “free and giving away some free content gets folks to buy more content. It allows them to get to know you, like you and trust you before making a larger commitment.

But, playing your gigs for free needs to have a strategy behind it so that you are not just playing for free all the time.

So what is your play for free strategy?

4 Play For Free Strategy Ideas

  1. Decide when it is worth your while to play for free. What is your upside to any occasion? Does playing for free get you other goodies specific to that gig or gigs? Are there benefits in terms of building new audience, opening new markets, creating a new niche? If you cannot quantify these values you may not be playing for free in the right situation and may want to save your free play for a more worthy opportunity.
  1. Who have you targeted as worthy markets, venues, audiences to play for free and how many free performance are you going to dedicate to this audience? Have a number in mind before you begin. What do you expect to happen after you do those specific free performances? What is your next step once you have played those freebies?
  1. When you play for free, what are the peripheral benefits you want to have happen because of this free performance? Make a plan for those benefits, whether they are media coverage, merchandise sales, more gigs from other members of that specific audience or invitations from certain decision makers for new performance opportunities? Design your outcomes and plan for them. Don’t just play and go home. Make it worth your time and energy to have done the freebie at all. Otherwise, what was the point to putting out all that effort?
  1. What immediate benefit can you get, if not money? Get the performance sponsored and get money. If you play for free for a not-for-profit organization, you may claim any expenses incurred for that gig, but you may not claim a deduction for your equivalent fee had you been paid for performing the gig. Make a contract for a paid performance next time around because this time your performance was free.

If you must play for free then make it part of your touring strategies and goals to build your overall career. Next time you accept a gig to play for free, do so as part of your play for free strategy and understand how this is going to impact your growing career. Plan it, strategize it, implement it. Make your free performances really work for you.

So what’s your play for free strategy? Are you often talked into playing for free? Wouldn’t you like to limit those situations and turn them into paid performance opportunities?

Leave me a comment on the blog for this post.

I can’t wait to hear about your success.

Thanks to Carol Ehrlich for this week’s graphic image. Check out her work at

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, tele-seminars and online courses, visit me at

2 comments… add one
  • j4ckm00n February 25, 2019, 10:47 am

    I just want to take this time to tell you thank you Jeri for all the awesome info you always provide !

  • Shaun Eli February 25, 2019, 3:04 pm

    NO! Ask for a tax receipt from the not-for-profit organization for in-kind services and deduct the value of your free performance from your taxes. NO
    THIS IS ILLEGAL. It is tax fraud.
    The ONLY thing you can deduct are expenses. You don’t get to work for free and claim foregone income as a deduction.
    The tax laws on this are darn clear. If Picasso paints a painting, gives it to a charity that sells it for a million dollars, he gets to deduct the cost of paint and the canvas, NOT the million dollars.
    If he sold it himself for a million dollars and gave the money to charity, he’s got income of a million, a deduction of a million, and it’s a wash.
    PLEASE, Jeri, revise your post. You give good advice but this isn’t.

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