Calculating Gig Pay in the UK
Calculating gig pay is a fundamental part of any musician’s career. As an artist, you should always be appropriately compensated for your time when playing a gig. However, it can sometimes be difficult to know what an appropriate fee request would be. Whether you’re an established artist or just playing your first gig, fee expectations and negotiations will always be changing and evolving and the outcome depends on a variety of factors.
What is gig pay?
Firstly, what actually is gig pay. Well, to put it simply, gig pay is the compensation you get for playing music. When you work a job, you are often being paid for your time through hourly earnings. However, it’s worth noting that when playing a gig, you will be compensated for the value you provide. For example, if you are a well known artist and will bring loads of fans and spending potential to the venue, then you will be worth more to them and will thus be paid a higher fee. Of course, if you invest more time into a gig you will be paid more, but it’s worth thinking about how you can convey your value when calculating gig pay. If you do this well, you are more likely to receive higher compensation.
Different types of gig pay
Through your career, you will likely be offered a range of different payment deals, so it’s important to know what they are to be in a strong position to negotiate. Here are some examples of common payment deals:
- Straightforward guaranteed fee (paid in advance, on the night or within an agreed timescale).
- Guaranteed fee + a percentage of the door/box office takings.
- The entire door take, whatever this may be.
- A split of the gig’s profits. This could include box office and/or bar takings.
While calculating gig pay, you need to acknowledge that most pubs/venues won’t have massive budgets to pay bands with. However, the general consensus on musicians forums is to expect around £100 – £300 (€115 – €350) for a couple of hours. However, be aware that most pubs will offer around the £40 – £100 (€45 – €114) mark, so don’t be expecting to earn fortunes from a couple of gigs. For musicians performing in groups £196.00 per musician can be expected at functions of up to 4 hours. Usually, when the band is not yet established, the pubs/venues will most likely offer artists a door split. It’s also worth noting that fees will differ depending on what country you’re playing gigs in. For example, in Germany and France payment for artists is generally quite good, however, in the UK, where the live music scene is much more competitive, the payment is far less.
It’s also worth making sure that you are aware of all the hidden costs that may be involved in an event. Sometimes additional aspects such as hire of PA, promotion, technicians etc. may not be named expenses. It’s a good idea to know all the details of a show before you accept a deal.
As an artist, you should always be aware of the additional fees that you may be entitled to as compensation. It’s important to know what additional fees are appropriate to ask for, as they will often not be offered by the venue. Here are a few examples of additional fees you can request:
Payable when time of return is 12:00am — 2:00am (£35 (€40) additional fee)
Payable when return would be after 2:00am (£150 (€172) additional fee)
Payable per day to cover meals and expenses (£60 (€69) additional fee)
What must be taken into consideration when calculating gig pay:
In this blog post, we’ve given you a thorough understanding of what to expect when calculating gig pay and how to ensure you get the most out of your talent. However, we want to make it clear that there are a number of factors that also contribute to determining a fee. These factors will have an impact on how much you get paid, so it’s important not to expect the same fee from every gig you play. Here are the factors that must be taken into consideration when calculating gig pay.
- Location: Country, region and ease of access — if you are travelling to a different city, country or even continent, things can get complicated and expensive very quickly.
- Capacity: The size of the festival/venue.
- Ticket price: This, and capacity, gives the agent an idea on how much ticket revenue they will make.
- Profile: How well known a festival is.
- Broadcasting / Recording Options: This can either increase or massively decrease the fee.
- Sponsors: What other shows the promoter organises.
- Billing: Is it a headline slot, support etc.
- Staging: Which stage the artist is on.
- Branding: Whether there are brands associated with the show/stage.
- Profile: How well known the artist is/how many fans do they have.
- Previous chart successes
- Availability: How busy they are at that time of year.
- Cost of bringing full entourage: Guests, band, backline, tech, media, videographers/photographers, transport, fees etc.
- Any upcoming releases
- Previous festival fees
Lastly, in order for you, as an artist, to be able to most efficiently calculate the remuneration you deserve for a gig in the UK, it is essential for you to follow these key tips we are providing you with:
1. Evaluate your popularity and demand
Assess your current level of fame, popularity, and demand in the industry. Consider factors such as your fan base, social media following, and the reception of your recent releases. Artists with a strong presence and high demand can command higher fees.
2. Research industry standards
Gain insights into prevailing market rates for artists of similar caliber and genre. Research industry publications, music event listings, and consult with booking agents or other artists to understand the typical fees in your niche. This knowledge will help you set a reasonable benchmark.
3. Consider the venue and event size
The size, capacity, and reputation of the venue, as well as the expected attendance or ticket sales, influence your fee. Larger venues and high-profile events generally warrant higher fees. Assess the potential reach and impact of the venue or event to determine an appropriate fee.
4. Highlight your live performance experience
Emphasize your track record in live performances. Showcase your past concert tours, festival appearances, and notable events you’ve performed at. Extensive experience and a proven ability to deliver engaging live shows contribute to your value as an artist and can justify higher fees.
5. Factor in additional costs
Remember to account for any additional costs associated with your performance. These may include travel expenses, accommodation, technical requirements, equipment, and any special production needs. Determine your specific requirements for each performance and factor in these costs accordingly.
6. Collaborate with your representatives
Engage in open communication with your booking agent, manager, or other representatives. They have industry knowledge and can provide valuable guidance in negotiating your fee. Work together to ensure that your fee aligns with your market value while considering the best interests of all parties involved.
With all this information, you should be ready and equipped for your next fee negotiation! Remember to always be respectful but firm, and make sure you know all the details about the opportunity so that you can negotiate a fair price for your talent. Calculating gig pay is never the fun part of the live music experience, but it is necessary if you want to build a sustainable career.