Musical gigs were a part and parcel to the life and times of the ancient Greeks as well as the Romans, and it has continued since then- in that very same tradition. Every aspiring musician needs a gig to get a lift off to the world of musical fame. For any new artist, the first gig will be a daunting task. It is not, in fact, is it a fine line between music and business. Should the musician concentrate only on his music or should there be that niggling thought of "am I going to make some money, if at all?" The reality is somewhere in between. The musician and the audience are interwoven in an intricate dance. He loves to play, and they should pay to hear him play.
The musician has to choose between ticket sales or whether he should ask for a guaranteed amount. If he knows the crowd that would attend he would at least have a ballpark figure of what he could make at the end of the show. If however, he is playing blind, then a guaranteed amount would be the wise thing to do. No matter how small or big the guarantee. He would be playing it safe with a guarantee.
If the musician has pre-recorded CD’s, it is worth his while carrying them with him as he could always flog them at the end of the show if anyone showed any interest and asked for his music. It would be a loss of potential income, wouldn't it? While he is selling their wares to the crowd, why not think of other merchandise? Shirts, bands, caps, chains?
Why not tap into the corporate world? They always have something to offer for alternative promotions and can be used in commercial advertisements or even TV and film music, depending on your worth. The plus point here is that you get free "word of mouth" publicity even if that promotion doesn’t pay anything or just a flat fee for the music rights. Things could even snowball from there. Corporates pay higher than pubs, don't they? Register with Performing Rights Organization so that you get paid royalties for your own music. It is yours, isn't it? So why should you not get paid for it if someone else covers it? Promote your own sets by registering yourself as your promoter for that show- it costs peanuts. So if anyone else covers your songs played during that gig you will get some royalty.
Go for sponsorships. It is not only the big names that get sponsors. Brands need publicity and for them to sponsor smaller gigs is not a big deal, but it is a big deal for startup musicians. All you would have to do is place some roll-ups on the stage and plug the brand during the show and that is about it. They might even sponsor all your future gigs. That is so cool.
The next way to make money at a gig might not sound too good, but it is a fact. If it is a three-hour gig you need to eat and drink a bit. So if the venue or the client pays for those then it is a saving, isn't it? This is a minor saving but always a saving nonetheless, which converts to an income for you as the ‘gigger’. The methods mentioned above may not make you Bill Gates, but who is not happy with some extra cash?
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