Founder and CEO of el-live Productions
Hello, beautiful musicians all over the world. Coming to you live from the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong overlooking the ever-vibrant Hong Kong Harbour.
Today I’m going to attempt to shed some light on a recurring question that many musicians ask themselves, what is a fair price for a gig?
I just watched a video on YouTube and the title was: “Never play for under $100” which I thought was ridiculous and unrealistic because of the following:
It all depends on the musician and on the venue and the circumstances, there really isn’t a blanket price you can put on a gig, you see so many musicians or aspiring musicians go on social media complaining about how unfair it is and hey man, don’t expect me to play for under this amount or that amount, and in many ways that is true, you decide what price you want, it’s your right, and the venue will decide what price they can afford, that is also their right.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, where are you on the path of your musical journey, are you going from YouTube to a gig, are you just starting out or are you a seasoned pro, are you a bunch of friends that just want to have some fun on the weekend and play at your local bar.
What kind of a venue is it, is it a small cafe, a small bar, or a concert hall, all of that matters, are you a 5 piece band or a duo, all of these details matter as well, are you in demand and you have a local following which causes the venue to be packed whenever you play, or nobody knows who you are and the club is empty?
Have I played for under 100 dollars a night? Hell yeah, and loved every minute of it, we were music students studying at university and it was great, I have played for 20 dollars a night and I have done gigs for free, would I do it again? Yes, I would, it all depends on everything I just listed, I also may do it just for fun, this is where this point always gets misunderstood, am I suggesting that you should make a career out of it, of course not, it wouldn’t be much of a career now would it? I have done a weekend for almost zero money just so I can hire great musicians and make a name for myself and then nailed the gig for two years straight,
And yes, you have to prove yourself, just telling a potential employer, I’m a great musician and I practiced my 10,000 hours so you have to pay me X amount, I am sorry to say that in the real world, this doesn’t work, nobody cares, yes yes, nobody cares, just like you don’t care much either when you go shopping and pick the orange that is 5 cents cheaper, somebody somewhere is saying, have you any idea how many hundreds of people, farmers, truck drivers, packers, ships, airplanes, store workers it took to get you that orange in the middle of winter from across the world and all you care about is saving 5 cents, you unappreciative beep beep, you may say that a musician is not like buying a product at a store, actually yes it is, you are offering your service and you want someone to pay for it, I know it’s very unsexy but in the end, the service is a product, that is how the real world works, You want to play music and make money so you can pay you rent, the club owner needs to make money so he can pay his rent, if your presence can help him achieve that, you should be able to ask for your price,
I invite you to consider designing your career so you can name your price and enjoy this amazing lifestyle but sometimes along the way, it’s the 50 dollar gig that you have had to do that may end up getting you the gig with Sting.
Would love to hear your opinion,
This is G signing off from vibrant Hong Kong