Why your band should never play for free
Photo Courtesy of Elmer Martinez, writer
If you didn’t already know this, a young band or artist should take every opportunity they get to perform. Contrary to popular belief, building an organic fan base is more important to your growth than how many followers you have on social media. Playing shows enables you to mingle with potential and established fans and, in addition to promoting your music, you have opportunity to show them your personality and stage charisma, further strengthening their love for you.
Every musician who has been in a band will tell you that they do not play shows for the money. That statement is so true it’s become cliché and the idea of the broke musician living off of ramen noodles and spam is the stereotype anyone ever envisions when you tell them you want to make it a career. You can’t really expect to make more than $50 from playing at a small coffee shop on a Wednesday. More often than not, you might not get more than $12 and your friends in for free.
The fact that you are getting paid at all says a lot more than the amount. It is a thank you and a sign of respect when the promoter hands you that white envelope or that stack of one dollar bills at the end of the night. They appreciate that you put on a decent performance and that you helped bring people in the door. You are being paid for the time and effort you put into writing a set of songs and for practicing in sweaty garages and living rooms every weekend. You should not settle for less.