How to Price Yourself for Live Shows

Today’s question comes from @shae_money on Instagram. She asks:

“I’m just getting started in the music business, but I’m stuck getting little to nothing for shows. How do I price myself when working with other artists or bands?”

To understand your worth as a performer, you must first understand the business of live shows.

Why Venues and Promoters Pay Artists to Perform

Venues, Promoters and Talent Buyers hire people to perform at their events for one reason — bringing people out. When a bunch of people get together to have a good time, they tend to spend money (particularly if alcohol is involved). So the more people you have at your event, the more money you potentially make. If you charge admission to your event, the possibility skyrockets. So the gatekeepers need you to keep their events packed and their pockets full. This is why your value lies solely in how many people you can bring to the venue.

Your Value Proposition – The Draw

The number one thing that determines your value for booking a show is your draw – the number of people who you can expect to come to a show because you’re performing.

The higher your draw, the more negotiating power you have. Think about it. If a venue holds 1000 people, and typically charges $10 per ticket to get in, if you can pack that venue, you can make the venue owner an easy $10,000! If even half of those people spend $20 on food and drinks in the venue, they’ve doubled that income.

Now that you see just how much power you have when you can cultivate a strong fan base, let’s break down the typical performance agreements you’ll see.

Payment Arrangements for Live Shows

Depending on the size of your draw you will be offered one of 3 different arrangements:

1. Percentage of The Door – This one is simple. You’ll get paid a certain percentage of every ticket sold to your show. Standard door splits range anywhere from 50% to 100%, depending on whether or not you’re getting a cut of the bar.

2. Percentage of the Door + Bar Splits – the same as above, plus you get a cut of the profits from Drink/Food sales!

3. Guarantees – the ultimate goal. You name your price, and the venue pays you, no matter how many people show up. These are typically reserved for the acts expected to bring the most people out.

Where to Start

If you’re reading this article, chances are you haven’t gotten very many paid shows under your belt. That’s okay, because you’re well on your way. But getting booked for paid shows doesn’t start with pitching venues. It starts with building a fan base. If you’re interested in learning more about how to get more fans, check out our free training below.