The current economic conditions have been especially tough on live bands. Gigs just seem to be drying up and disappearing altogether. There is very fierce competition between bands to get the gigs that are still available. Sadly, this has led to many bands lowering their gig rates simply to get any bookings at all. So what should you do when it becomes a matter of money that is the final deal breaker between you and another band getting a gig?
That’s a very tricky question to answer because lowering your rates will not only hurt your band, but it will hurt every band that plays at the club you lower your rates to play in. The biggest problem with lowering your bands going rate is that the new, lower rate will become the accepted pay standard for your band every time you play in that club. The club owner can then use your lower rates as leverage against other bands to get them to drop their prices as well. So as you can see, it hurts all of your local bands if you undercut everyone in pricing just to get a gig.
The ideal situation would be to have every band in your area stick to their guns on pricing and make sure that nobody lowers their prices. The sad thing is, bands are all too willing to do anything to get a gig right now. That means you’re going to have to do some price slashing to stay competitive getting gigs.
The best thing you can do is get a signed contract when negotiating gig payment that states that you are giving the club or venue a one-time discount on your booking prices. Make sure it’s written down that on future bookings, standard gig fees will apply. That doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be able to charge your regular prices next time you play the venue. It does mean that if the economy rebounds and gigs become plentiful again, that you will easily be able to get your prices back up to a profitable level.
It’s a sad thing to have to lower your live bands gig rates just to be able to keep playing paying gigs. Especially when bands are paid so little already. Remember, the best thing that can happen is for all local bands to stay on the same page when deciding gig rates. Don’t be afraid to ask around and see what other bands are charging to play out. By communicating with other bands, you should be able to give the club owners a token drop in gig rates without dropping them too much. It’s better to knock off $50 than $100 and if all the bands are only giving a $50 break to club owners, it’s going to help all live bands stay viable.