On gigging and economics

Last week I played my first ‘solo artist’ gig with a full band behind me.

We played well, the band were great and more importantly I crossed a new threshold – people came because they know me as a musician, rather than a family/friendship connection.

Okay, not many people, but considering that I don’t often play live it was a good start and I am very grateful to those that came.

So in terms of a piece of art I was happy with it.

However, in economic terms it was awful. Rehearsing a band costs money, and this was one of those ‘bring enough people along and I’ll pay you’ gigs, rather than a straight cut of the door.

I just missed the threshold, I didn’t get paid. I’m not complaining, this was the deal I agreed and my main motivation was to make the gig happen rather than to cover costs.

Even if I’d kept every penny that people who came to see me paid at the door, I still would have been out of pocket by more than £50.

I can’t afford that.

I enjoy gigging?

What to do?

The obvious solution is to cut costs and cut middlemen. My next little project, after initial online promotion of the new album, will be to have a go promoting my own gig.

The princples I’ll follow will be:

  • Small, not too expensive venue
  • Solo – just me and one or two other solo artists. I love playing with a band but economically it doesn’t make sense at this stage.
  • Good quality – I’ve asked my family and friends to come to too many gigs where they don’t see any great acts apart from mine (That sounds conceited, but I think it’s fair comment).
  • Make very clear to all audience members the costs and be exceedingly grateful for their contribution. Get a bit of fellow feeling and support.
  • Record – get a decent recording audio and/or video that can be shared.

That’s the plan, as vague as it is. Only good gigs from now on!

4 thoughts on “On gigging and economics

  1. Have you considered forming a solo artist collective, where you and a number of other multitalented solo musicians learn and help perform eachother’s material? You could all benefit from eachother’s fanbases drawing more people to each gig.

    • Hi Paul,

      I’ve certainly been thinking about the different options, and that’s a really nice one.

      I shall get me thinking cap on…

  2. Nothing wrong with putting a cap round at the end. Most people who go to small gigs who aren’t friends/family probably get that there are costs and an artist’s profit margin is slim to non-existent. The other option is more merch – postcards, pin badges, cloth badges, signed lyric sheets … fans will pay for stuff.

  3. Hi Steven,

    All good ideas. (Profit margin… I’ve… I’ve heard of such things, but never seen them)…

    Hmmm, I need a merch hat as well as a thinking cap….

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