How Much Do I Charge For My Gigs?

© 2015 Vinny Ribas

These are the handout notes from a 3 hr. workshop that I conduct. I think you’ll get the gist of what I talk about and explain from these notes.

Your Base Price = Your total expenses + the profit you NEED to make + the added profit would LIKE to make +/- various amounts for good or bad extras or circumstances.

 10 Keys to Successful Pricing:

  1. Decide beforehand what is included in your price (how much travel, how many sets, house provides sound and lighting etc.)
  2. Do your homework – find out how much the venue normally pays
  3. Do more homework – find out who else plays in the same venue and what they charge
  4. Ask around to find out the going rate for your kind of act and at your level
  5. Be certain that you know your total hard/fixed costs
  6. Know beforehand what any extra hard costs might be (hiring an extra player, renting a sound system etc)
  7. Have pre-set prices for common extras (an extra set, extra mileage etc.)
  8. Be sensitive to the venue owner/manager’s issues and concerns
  9. Know your band members and what they expect (you might be more tolerable than they are)
  10. Be willing to say NO if the venue is offering too little and you have no valid reason to comply. This establishes the integrity of your brand, maintains your reputation, and thus keeps your price in an acceptable range.

25 Things that you might lower your price for…

  1. It is your first time at this location and you want to come back
  2. It fills an empty date on your calendar that would have been hard to fill otherwise
  3. You’re a last minute replacement in a place where they have a limited budget
  4. You just LOVE playing there
  5. The gig doesn’t block you from taking other gigs (e.g. an afternoon wedding won’t keep you from taking a nighttime gig)
  6. Shorter hours than usual
  7. Great location to showcase for booking agents, engaged couples, club owners etc.
  8. It looks great on your resume
  9. They will provide meals
  10. They will provide acceptable lodging
  11. They provide sound and/or lighting, sound tech and/or lighting tech
  12. There is a chance for more bookings in the same location, so you just want to get your foot in the door
  13. You’re getting your base fee + a % of the door, bar or both
  14. Preferable location (close to home, easy load-in etc.)
  15. The venue is flexible with dates, times etc.
  16. The venue has a set or maximum budget
  17. The venue is not counting on you to fill seats
  18. The venue is not counting on you to sell food or liquor from the stage
  19. You know you will make great tips (type of audience, size)
  20. You know you will sell a lot of CDs and merchandise (type of audience, size)
  21. Slow season for you or them (ski lodge in late spring)
  22. The venue is hurting and you want to help them
  23. It serves another purpose (helps a friend, gets you in front of your home town crowd etc.)
  24. It’s just a hobby
  25. It’s an off-day when you’re usually not booked

25 Things you might raise your price for…

  1. You have a draw so you will fill seats
  2. Longer travel than what you include in your set price (gas, time)
  3. One-shot show with little or no opportunity to come back
  4. It’s last minute and the venue is desperate (this is also a chance to get on their good side by either NOT increasing your price or lowering it to meet their budget)
  5. Premium time slot (a Saturday evening wedding might keep you from booking a weekend gig)
  6. Premium date (Saturday night during Christmas season, New Year’s Eve etc.)
  7. No chance to sell CDs or merchandise
  8. You need to learn new songs, requiring a separate rehearsal
  9. They have a door charge
  10. Inconvenient (carrying equipment up the metal fire escape in winter while it’s snowing)
  11. Rowdy crowd – might be dangerous
  12. You need to buy your own meals
  13. You need to provide your own lodging
  14. You need to bring extra equipment
  15. You need to play extra sets
  16. You need to provide your own sound/sound tech
  17. You need to provide your own lighting/lighting tech
  18. Set-up time is long before the gig starts
  19. Multiple set-ups and break-downs
  20. You’re providing equipment to share with other acts on the bill
  21. They are difficult to work for
  22. The venue has a higher budget
  23. You have extra booking agents to pay
  24. There is no chance to make tips
  25. You’ve been playing at the venue for quite a while and you know that you make them money

What you need to know before giving a final price:

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.