Getting Higher Paying Gigs

concert_photos_1© 2009 Vinny Ribas

There are really only 2 ways to make more money than you are from performing, and they are never-ending quests. The first is to play more gigs. The second is to play bigger, better, higher paying gigs. Once you start playing bigger and better gigs than you were, your goal is to book more of them. While you’re filling your calendar with more of these gigs, you should be working on getting the even bigger and better gigs. Even major artists who sell out 20,000 seat arenas want to move on to playing stadiums! If you want to consistently increase your income,[private_member] these should be your 2 primary goals.

Here are some ways to get those bigger, better, higher-paying gigs:

  • Sell out the gigs you’re playing. Obviously, the bigger, higher-paying venues will be interested in hiring you if they know you are going to bring your fans with you.
  • Establish a large fan base. You can do this through social networks and a fan newsletter. That way you can know what zip codes the largest segments of your fans live in. Then you can target bigger or better venues in those geographic areas based on the size of your fan base there and your ability to let them know about your shows.
  • Target different kinds of venues. For example, it is relatively easy for a good bar band to start playing fairs, which would pay considerably more. What other kinds of venues use your kind of entertainment?
  • Get better at providing what the venue owners hire you for. For example, in most bars, the band is hired to sell drinks. This may require playing hardcore dance music to make people thirstier. At weddings and corporate events, the more styles of music you can play well, the better you can please the most diverse of audiences. If you’re the best at what you’re hired for, you’ll command top dollar.
  • Up your game considerably. What do the acts that play the bigger and better gigs that you’re after have or do that you don’t? Do you need to add or change players or instrumentation? Does the band need to be tighter? Do you need an image consultant to upgrade your appearance or that of the band? Do you need to create a brand by making all of your marketing materials, your website, your social networks sites look sharper and more consistent? Do you (individually or the whole band) need to take voice, instrument and/or stage performance lessons? Do you need to hire someone to arrange or tighten your vocal harmonies? Do you need better equipment?
  • Ask for referrals, especially from the entertainment buyers you work for right now. Bar owners know other bar owners, and some of them will be a step up from their own. Wedding couples know other wedding couples, and some of their receptions will be bigger and better than the ones you’re playing now. Fair directors meet regularly and exchange referrals.
  • Get positive publicity, and lots of it. Perform at benefits, or put on your own. Do as many TV, radio and print interviews as possible. Send press releases out when you’re releasing a new CD, changing or adding band members etc. Hire a publicist to help with this if you need to. The more you’re name is in the public eye, the more you seem in demand. The more you seem in demand, the more money people will expect to pay you. Sometimes it is all about perception.
  • Have a top notch, high-quality press/promo package and EPK. Also have a professional looking website with all of the bells and whistles that are expected of higher price acts. The more you look like a high-priced act, the easier it is to command a higher fee.
  • Network with artists and music professionals who play at the level you want to play at. Build honest relationships with them. They can give you advice, open doors for you, hire you as their opening act etc. Of course, always offer to help them in any way that you can as well. Make it a win-win situation or don’t play!
  • Find a booking agent who already books the bigger and better venues you want to play in. If you can prove that you’re ready and appropriate for those gigs, they can open doors that you can’t on your own.
  • If you’re ready for one, find a manager. A manager’s job is to constantly move your career forward. It will be his or her responsibility to find the right team members (booking agency, publicist etc.), land TV performances, get you booked as an opening act for more popular national acts etc.
  • Ask. We often find ourselves locked in a paradigm of who we are as artists and where we fit in. However, we often have everything it takes to move on to the next level, but we’re just afraid to ask. If you’re drawing a good crowd, or keeping the local crowd happy, ask for more money. Approach the bigger and better gigs and ask for a trial shot. Interview lots of booking agents and managers until you find the right ones. Take deliberate steps to chase the bigger and better gigs with confidence, and you just might be surprised how easy it is to climb that ladder. [/private_member]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.