How Much Do You Get Paid for a Gig? | Performance Fees for Musicians 

Posted on

How much do you get paid for a gig? Well, performance fees for musicians vary enormously. It will depend on the type of event, the area, venue, your experience and your profile as an artist. Taking into account these factors you can calculate a fair rate.  

Are you starting out as a professional singer and wondering what you should charge? In this article, we’ll look at the different forms of performances and how to work out your fees for each. 

How much do you get paid for a gig?  

Many bands and artists book gigs without knowing how much to charge, or even how much they can make. Charge too much and you may lose the gig. but charge too little and it may not be worth it. Ed Sheeran’s record-breaking tour made $6,862,620 on a single night, showing how much could be made at gigs. 

To begin, ask yourself a few questions about the gig:  

How much will you have to pay to travel there and back (and how much of your time will travel take)? 

If you pay £60 to get a return train to the gig, or spend £60 on petrol to get there, and then only charge £56 for the gig, all you’re getting is exposure. You aren’t limited to accepting gigs within a few miles of where you live, but if the gig is far away, it’s okay to turn it down or charge more. 

Have you invested money for your gigs? 

how much do cover bands charge

Though some gigs will have their own PA system, others will not. As a professional singer or musician, you do need your own mic and speaker, unless you play a very limited number of gigs. You want to be able to make that money back, or else it wouldn’t be worth it. The same goes for instruments. Even small things such as re-stringing guitars or replacing lost plectrums cost money. Make sure it’s worth it and that you’re eventually going to earn that money back – and some. 

Have you learned new songs specifically for this gig? 

If you’ve been asked to learn a new piece, that takes time and you should factor in that time to your fee. Generally, practice time is less per hour than performance though.  

What is the event like? 

If you are performing for a corporate event then it can be anything from an award show to a company Christmas party. The budget will probably be sizeable since the corporation is paying for it. Therefore, don’t charge too low. However, take into account the size of the company. Private events, such as weddings and parties, will obviously have smaller budgets but are still relatively generous. However, don’t be afraid to make them pay for quality either. Of course, this is within reason. If you’re just getting started, don’t overcharge because you might get some bad publicity. 

What are other performers getting paid for similar gigs? 

This is by far the best way to work out what you should charge and be paid for a gig, as it does vary from region to region. Ask around and get some perspective from others doing similar work near to you – although be aware that many people won’t want to share this info. Or have a look online. Last Minute Musicians, for example, have created averages for different types of performers, including singers which is really helpful.  

You can also ask venues and bookers what budget they have. You should also see what the musicians Union recommends. More on that shortly.  

How much should a singer charge? 

If you are a solo musician then expect to be offered less than if you were in a band. However, the payment could end up being more than the split fee you would share with band members. 

For example, a £300 fee for a 5-piece band would give £60 per band member. Pubs and venues will take this to account and may offer something similar. Make sure you take into account your experience and what other acts on the night are being paid. A single performance fee of £142.50 is the Musicians Union’s advised fee per musician. It covers one performance in a venue with a capacity of under 200, plus a rehearsal on the same day with both being no more than 3 hours long. If the capacity of the venue is over 200 then this fee rises to £158.50. 

If you are offered to do two performances and include a single rehearsal, this fee per musician becomes £250 for venues with a capacity under 200 and £278.50 for over 200. Any time longer than the 6 hours covered by both performances is considered overtime, where the advised fee is £20.25 per musician for every 15 minutes. 

Performance fees: Musicians Union hourly rate

average gig pay

The Musicians Union represents thousands of musicians across the country. You should consider joining f you are considering a long career as a performer. They are there to help offer you advice and intervene if things go badly. For example, if you agree to a fee to perform but don’t get paid. 

There are a lot of resources online from the Musicians Union. This includes draft contracts and the Fair Play Guide, which covers unfair deals. It also covers things to avoid and expectations from other types of performances like competitions and showcases. 

How much should a musician charge per hour? 

The Musicians Union sets advised minimum hourly rates. This can be a great tool to use when working out how much you should charge for gigs. Also, if you are offered less than the rates, you can give them evidence that they are charging below the Musicians Union standard. Hopefully, they will bring the fee up once you do this. The Musicians Union hourly rates help you work out how much you charge for gigs and is well worth joining if you work in the music industry. 

The Musicians Union’s casual stage rates are the best reference you can use for working out how much to charge. These cover any casual engagement that involves performing on a stage. This includes one-off public performances, commercial touring tribute acts and any independent artist or musician without a record or management deal. 

Average gig pay 

There are a few other fees you should be thinking about charging when performing. One is a late fee of £22.50 if your expected return from the performance is between midnight and 02:00 am. If you return later than this then you could charge an overnight fee of £99.40. Also, if you are expected to be feeding yourself then there is a subsistence fee of £44.90 to cover meals and expenses. 

These are all just advised rates and are by no means bound by law. So they’re not guaranteed, just supplied to give you an idea what you should be charging. What it does provide is a great reference for negotiations and figures that can help you anticipate your expenses, as well as value the worth of your service as a performer. 

How much to charge for a pub gig 

If you’re over 18 (or when you reach that age), there’s a good chance that you will start getting your first paid gigs by performing at a pub. There are a lot more pubs than venues so these gigs are often easier to get. They can also be a good bit of extra income on the side or working. 

Most pubs won’t have massive budgets to pay you or your band. However, the general consensus on musician forums is to expect around £200 – £300 for a couple of hours. However, be aware that some pubs will put their offer around the £100 mark.

It’s up to you to decide if it is worth it or not. Think about the kind of audience your music is for and whether you’ll find them in a pub. If you are young and performing originals, a Sunday night pub crowd might not be your target market. As a result, performing for ‘exposure’ won’t really go far. If you are doing covers then this may be better suited for the audience. You also might be able to negotiate a better rate. 

How much do pub singers get paid – UK rates 

Performing on big holiday nights like New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day and Valentines Day can be a great opportunity to charge extra. While there’s no set guideline for New Year’s Eve performances, these are generally far higher paid than normal nights. It may be worth doubling your usual fee for a new years eve performance. Bear in mind you can always haggle! At the end of the day, it depends on who you are dealing with. 

How much do bands get paid for gigs? – UK rates 

 session musician rates uk

The amount a band makes could depend on the size of the venue. Where it is and the type of music your band plays also affects the amount of money a band makes. 

For example, a wedding band could charge quite a high fee to play a gig. This is because people who supply tailored services to weddings tend to be able to charge a higher price. After all, it’s the happy couple’s most important day, so they want quality and will be prepared to pay for it. Cover bands can also charge quite high for gigs. They perform music that certain crowds would actually pay much more for. It’s not the same, but it’s far cheaper than the real thing to hear the same songs.  

However, if you’re in an original band, you might not be able to charge much for gigs. You are likely to be at the early stages of your career where you and your songs are unknown. The more people know and enjoy your songs, the more you’ll be able to charge 

How much should a band charge for a gig?. 

A band is entitled to add 15% of the fee for each additional instrument. This is because these fees are based on how much you need to charge to earn a liveable income, factoring the hours you put in to train on your instrument (or instruments).

You should also consider transport costs to the venue and the expense of bringing your equipment – which will be far more for a band than a solo act. The Musicians Union transport and porterage guidelines say that you should charge £10.50 per hour of travel time, £27.50 for electric and bass guitar transport (including amplifiers) and that drums and keyboards should be subject to negotiation. 

It’s a good idea to look for live music agencies near you and ask if you can go onto their books. This can be a shortcut for gigs and will save you having to discuss fees with the venue or booker. You’ll need to send videos of you performing, or they’ll want to see you live to decide. But there are also websites (like Last Minute Musicians) you can use to advertise your wares, which don’t require an application.  

Remember that your rate as a singer or musician can easily increase as you accumulate experience, skill and popularity. The better you get, and the more renowned you become, the more people might be willing to pay. 

Related Questions 

  • How do you ask for a gig? 

Email, message or phone the person who may be able to offer you a gig. Some venues and events may have online applications you can fill in. For bigger events like large festivals, you’ll probably need an agent or manager to approach the bookers.  

  • How do singers get gigs? 

A lot of it is word of mouth and who you know. But it’s also about having a great online presence and people finding you through it. Be persistent and ask for gigs, advertise where appropriate and network. 

  • How do I get my first gig? 

You can start by applying for open mics and jams. Then once you have some experience you can work toward a paid gig. If you spend enough time on the unpaid circuit you should build up some contacts to help get paid work. Or we recommend emailing care homes, who are often looking for paid singers.  

How much do you get paid for gigs? Do you find it changes a lot from place to place? Let us know about your experiences as a professional musician in the comments below?