Don’t Work For Peanuts

Music here! Get your music! Ok, so we’re not selling peanuts at a ballgame.

What we are selling, musical performance, is a service, and pricing it can depend on a number of factors. Almost never is it so cut and dry as charging X dollars for X number of songs. It gets a bit more complicated than that. 

Many considerations go into finalizing the price tag of your band’s gig. Let’s take a closer look at exactly how to price your services, and how you can make sure you don’t end up working for peanuts.  


What We’re Sellin’ 

If you’re playing original music, you may be paid by ticket sales and cover charges. Gig bands, and more established original acts, however, are more likely to charge a flat rate for their services.


If you are charging a flat fee, you’ve got some numbers to crunch. 

  • How many performers do you have? You’ve got to make sure you charge enough to pay everybody in the group. 
  • What instruments, and what gear are you bringing? Providing your own PA can be an additional charge, so can providing auxiliary percussion, for example. 
  • How many sets are you playing, and for how long? If you’re playing multiple sets of 45 minutes, you’ll charge more than you would for a 20 minute set. 
  • Who is the client, and what is the setting? Different classifications of clubs and venues call for different rates. 
  • How far will you be traveling? Additional travel time and travel expenses will add to your cost.
  • Will you be required to learn new material, or will you be drawing from an existing repertoire? Regardless, rehearsal time can also factor into the amount you charge for a gig. 


All of these different variables contribute to your final fee. It’s not rocket science to conclude that 20 minutes at a cafe is different from 2 hours at a wedding, however it is tremendously useful to have a specific structure to generate your payment scale. 

Otherwise you might end up short changing yourself.

For reference, here’s a link to The American Federation of Musicians Minimum Wage Scale (fix link). Within it you can find a breakdown of various standard charges and rates, and it is worth noting that many of these prices are decidedly on the lower end of the spectrum. 

You may want to use it to establish a baseline (pardon the pun), and increase your rates from there. 

Curious how much you end up making at the end of the day? BookLive’s hourly calculator for musicians will help you determine how much you’re being paid, and could shed light on any shortcomings, or changes that need to be made. 

Once you figure out the right amount to charge, BookLive will save you major time and many headaches, organizing, accepting payment, and beyond. 

May All Your Performances Be Spectacular 

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