Dealing with money is part of being a pro. How do you approach pay?
What did you get paid for your first gig?
- Dave: Wait…I can get paid for playing bass? $25 – Early 2000’s bluegrass w/10 players
- Paul: I think it was $40 and beer at my first college gig, a fraternity party
How do you deal with the topic of pay when someone calls you for a gig?
- If the person asking doesn’t come right out with it, I make sure to confirm before I say I’m available.
- The truth is, either I do it for fun or for the money. I play free/low paying gigs if I want to be there. But I am up front with what I expect to get paid. It’s a trade and I’m honest when I approach the time with family vs. pay bit.
- Sometimes I’ll get calls where people say, “What are you doing on ___ date?” Unless it’s someone awesome, that’s not a great call to get, because it’s not the real question. (If it is someone awesome, they probably won’t make that call.)
- I usually want to know where, when, what, how long, how much
- If that’s not in the pitch it’s the first thing I’ll ask 😉
How does caring about pay make you look as a musician? As a person?
- It’s a trade. The carpenter with 20 years of experience and quality of work will demand $x/hour. While some may see it as cold hearted, there is a value I bring.
- Has the issue of pay ever come between you and a gig?
- Yes – a few times. Being a one time sub requires learning 20+ songs that takes hours. For $75, including travel, play, practice: $5/hour?
- When will you do a gig for free?
- Paul: benefit for a cause I believe in; favor for someone I care about; if I’m certain it’s going to bring me paid gigs in the future (more than just vague promise)
- For a friends benefit or a benefit I really have ties to
- For my band (with limitations)
- If it’s a gig for the love of my music life (ex: Skaggs)
- What made you change from not caring about pay to caring about it? (If applicable)
- It really started when my schedule started to look like a part time job
- Playing in my first truly professional band… the members took it seriously and weren’t ashamed to treat it as a business, looking for pay