How much should performers charge for a festive gig?

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Knowing how much to charge for a performance or event can be a tricky balance. Quote too much, and you could price yourself out of the running. Quote too little and you might find yourself making next to no revenue at all.

We take a look at how to get the balance right during the winter season, the prime time for festive gigs and events.

How much should I get paid for a gig?

The Musician’s Union suggests solo musicians should charge an hourly rate of £41.50. They suggest charging between £146 – £162.50 for a single performance (up to three hours), including an additional three hour same-day rehearsal.

Pubs expect to pay up to £250 for bands generally, with this figure doubling for special events and festive gigs such as New Year’s Eve.

Private functions and corporate events often have a much bigger budget, and you can command well over £1,000 for a general performance at a party, wedding or corporate event.

Well-established bands can command a much higher fee, because they’re likely to bring in more customers. If you’re a known band with a large following you’ll be able to charge upwards of £2,500 for an average weekend gig (and much more during peak times).

Encore music has published the ultimate price guide for hiring live musicians, which provides a decent benchmark for the amount you should be charging.

Should Christmas and New Year make a difference to my fee?

It’s accepted that most bands and musicians charge double their normal fee for a New Year’s event or festive gig.

There are several reasons you should look to increase your fees over the festive season:

Musicians are in high demand

Most musicians tend to be all booked up over the festive break over six months in advance. With many bars, pubs and clubs looking for bands and DJs to perform in their venue, the best are snapped up very quickly. Demand is high, and so are the charges. As the supply for musicians dwindles, the prices increase which makes it a very competitive and lucrative time of year.

You’re giving up a precious festive break to perform

Christmas and New Year’s is a time most people want to spend with friends and family. You’re giving up a special time of year to play a festive gig, and you can rightly expect to be compensated for this.

Travel distance

As demand is so high, it’s likely you’ll be called upon to play at an event a little outside your usual stomping ground. Take into account how long it’ll take you to get to/from the venue (and how much it’ll cost you) and add this to your overall quote. Don’t forget to add in additional time for festive traffic, delays and disruption.

Event times

If you’re used to performing early afternoon gigs or corporate events, then you may not want to play a gig that keeps you up until 2am. Consider how many hours you’re expecting to be present – and performing – and make sure you’ve accounted for this in your budget.

Of course, if you’re given the opportunity to play an event of a lifetime, or a gig you know you’re all really going to enjoy, then it’s worth adjusting your price to make sure you secure the booking.

Should I accept a flat fee or a split for a festive gig?

Most event organisers and venues will pay you a straight fee. A flat fee is a guaranteed, pre-agreed sum of money you will be owed (either paid fully or partially in advance or on the night).

Some venues will offer a percentage split of door / box office takings instead. You should establish whether this includes bar takings or not and adjust your split accordingly. This approach is a gamble – if the gig’s a sell-out, then you’ll probably earn more money than you would with a flat fee. Having said that, if there’s a disappointing turn out then you could end up making very little.

That’s where a guaranteed fee plus a split percentage comes in. This means you are guaranteed a smaller flat fee to cover your costs. If the gig ends up not selling enough tickets to go over your fee amount, then you won’t receive anything additional. However, if it sells really well you’ll get a percentage of the takings on top of your fee, too.

What about travel and expenses?

It’s up to you whether you choose to roll this into your overall fee or break down expenses and charge for them additionally. Expenses include travel time and expenses, parking charges, porterage, subsistence, insurance costs and overnight stays where applicable.

Agree in advance if your band will receive a free bar tab, and if friends/family can come along to the gig for free. It will save time trying to negotiate this later once a booking’s already been finalised.

You should also be aware of any hidden costs you may be stung for, such as the hire of equipment or promotion. If you don’t want to see money deducted from your bill at the end of the event, make sure you check with the venue, promoter or event organiser that there are no additional charges from their side.  

Have you got an offer in writing?

You should always get an offer in writing, including what’s expected of you and how much you’re getting paid in return. Therefore, if something goes wrong, you can refer to the agreed terms and recovering your fee becomes a much easier process. Ideally you should get a contract signed by both parties.

Insure your festive gig

Good luck for your festive events!We hope your festive line-up is a complete success, but don’t forget to arrange insurance for event equipment, public liability and event cancellation. This will make sure you’re covered financially if something does go wrong. Get in touch now for a quote!

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