3 Lessons on How Much Musicians Should Charge for a Performance

There are many things to think about when setting your price as a musician. What you charge as a musician says a lot about how you value your time and the quality of your work. Let’s say you have 2 similar flat screens at a store. Television A costs $300 and Television B costs $900. Which one do you think will be the better TV? Which one do you think is the Vizio and which one do you think is the Sony. Why do you think Sony charges more for a TV? Because Sony presents their company as a top quality manufacturer while Vizio brands themselves as a TV that just gets the job done. If I were to look at both TVs I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in quality. What about a band who charges $500 compared to a band that will do the gig for free? Don’t get me wrong, for the bands or musicians just starting out, it will be tough to charge someone the same price as a band that’s been performing together for years. You still want to be fair when you charge someone to perform, but never undervalue yourself as a musician.

This article is not a concrete, set in stone way to charge. But it’s a good outline to build from. Nothing is ever a cookie cutter way to do things. You might be a starting out band that plays all originals. You might have a set that is only 45 minutes to an hour. You probably won’t be able to charge as much as a cover band that has 3-4 sets and can play for 3-4 hours and brings the house down.

It depends on the gig. If you are a 4 piece string section, then you can probably charge a lot for weddings and cocktail parties as opposed to a solo singer songwriter that writes all original music and can only play 2 sets. It depends on the situation. You might have to learn some covers to seem more appealing. The important thing to take from this article is to educate yourself by researching what other established musicians are making and to NEVER undervalue your skills and time.

Lesson 1: Research what your competitors are charging.

The best way to research would be going to a website like GigMasters. Gigmasters allows you to research other bands in your area and what they are quoting. Just find 5 bands that are similar to you and look at what they’re charging. What’s the average quote on an anniversary, birthday party, or a wedding? You should take into effect what other bands are charging or you might totally undervalue your time. It’s possible you’re charging more than you should or not charging enough.

Lesson 2: Whatever value you think you are, then that’s what you get.

If you think $100 is what you think you should be making for the show, then that’s what you will get. But if you think that your time and skills and the show you put together is worth $1000, then you’ll more than likely get that amount. Now again, don’t over charge yourself. If you think that you’re the best performer in the world and you charge $1000 for a show and you can’t hold a note to save your life, then $1000 might be too much for a show.

You need to take a hard evaluation at yourself as a musician and charge accordingly. Every musician starts off paying their dues and you’ll be no different. Maybe start at charging $100 and start moving towards the $1000 range.

Lesson 3: Find a comfortable price range

So you figured out what you’re worth and you’re ready to start looking for gig. People are always trying to find a good deal and what if someone offers you something lower than what you value yourself? What if you ask for $150 for a solo show and you value yourself at $200. It’s up to you to make that compromise, but you should have a “lowest price range” possible for gig. Don’t undervalue yourself and your band just to get paid, but also don’t turn down a decent gig because of a few bucks. It’s all a subjective call to make and each gig varies.