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Gig Pricing for Musicians and Bands: A Guide to Pricing Your Shows

The academic answer is to charge whatever the market will bear. However, the real-world answer is slightly more complex than that. We'll discuss some of the factors you'll want to take into consideration when pitching your gigs to talent buyers, along with an overview of some of the costs involved in setting up a show.

From a business standpoint, it'd be helpful to know what other bands are getting paid for similar shows. Knowing this information ahead of time will help you determine whether or not a particular venue is worth pursuing. Also, knowing this information early in the booking process could save you from wasting your time on venues that won't offer you fair compensation.

As long as you're honest with yourself about the state of your music and your skill level, you won't get ripped off by talent buyers who think they know better than you. If you're a relatively new band with new members, and you only practice together a little, if at all, then you're going to find it harder to ask a rate similar to an experienced band with a following and a well-developed sound. As you become more familiar with a particular talent buyer, bring a crowd out reliably, and improve your sound and stage presence, you can start to negotiate that rate upward when you return to play later shows. As a professional musician, one goal is to become that experienced band that venues want to have back regularly and speak highly of to other talent buyers. 

Factoring in your expenses

A great starting point for pricing a show is considering all your expenses and ensuring you are at least covering your costs. 

Administrative expenses

If you use hired guns for backup singers or musicians, it is crucial to consider that it takes time to sort through everyone's schedules, confirm they're available, and call backup players if needed. Using a tool like Green Room to track who is playing which shows can be a good time saver. 

Regardless of the tool you use, that time spent coordinating everyone is an expense. Think about your hourly rate for that time spent. You might settle on $30 an hour, which equals $60K per year. You can pick whatever works for you. If you're not booking and managing your own gigs, figure out what your management is charging and be sure to factor that into the price you are charging.

Equipment costs

Another potential expense is equipment. Whether you are renting equipment for a show or bringing your own, that is a cost to consider. If you are renting, you should charge the venue that much. If you bring your own equipment, you want to account for the wear and tear and eventual need to replace any equipment you use regularly. Add this amount to your budget before booking any gigs. Do the venues provide you with the equipment needed for your performance? Excellent! You don't need to factor this cost in.

Paying your bandmates

If you are a solo musician, this is less relevant. But if you play with a band, each member has pay expectations. Knowing what those are will help you determine your pricing. It is also important to remember that you will spend time setting up and breaking down a show, so a two-hour show is more like a four-hour event. Say, for example you are the band leader of a four-piece band, and the three other musicians want at least $100 per two-hour show. Your cost per musician is $100, and assuming you want to be paid too, you are looking at $400 to pay yourself and your bandmates. What the average musician expects will vary based on the style of music, your geography, and the tier of shows. While talking about money can be uncomfortable, having those conversations upfront can reduce conflict and stress down the line with your band. 

Travel costs

Let's say you are invited to play a corporate function at a pay rate of $2000 for a one-hour show for your three-piece jazz band. That sounds great! But the concert is three hours away, and you'll need to spend the night at a hotel. It might still be worth it, but factoring in the travel costs like mileage, fuel, accommodation, and meals is an essential factor when you play shows outside your home base. 

Add up your expenses, and you may be surprised! This can help you determine whether or not a venue's offer is reasonable, given the costs incurred. You can use Green Room's Gig Pricing Tool to input critical factors like your band size, show duration, and travel to do the math for you.

Entering a new market

If you are trying to play in a new market for the first time, you might bend your pricing rules. Taking a gig below your estimated costs might be worthwhile if you are open to considering the loss a "marketing expense." If you're well-established in a market, it would be wise to raise your prices over a year or two to match or surpass your expenses on any given gig. You should also plan to increase your prices over time as your reputation grows and your band sound improves (you should always be striving to do this).

One local musician in Houston shares the following examples: I've taken several under-priced openers for a regionally-famous musician at low fees simply because I wanted to get my name out there and build credibility. However, I'm careful not to undercut myself too severely, as I know I can charge more later if things go well. In addition, I've been booked for several well-paying private events from people in the audience at these "underpaid" openers. While not guaranteed to generate more bookings, it's a possibility worth considering. 

Private Events and Corporate Events

The type of event matters. Is it a private event or a bar/club show? For whatever reason, music industry professionals have determined over the last few decades (and probably before) that corporate events should compensate their musicians better than a bar or club show. When someone approaches you about private events, remember that these higher rates often cover some of the “marketing costs” incurred for underpaid shows. Private shows are also more likely to negotiate with you rather than simply refusing if they find your price too high. It can be helpful to set standard rates for private events and share them. For example, if you can do solo, trio, or full band for various lengths, you could share a grid of prices for each of those and let the private party choose the option that is in line with their budget. It could look something like this:

Example Gig Pricing Matrix

Be mindful of staying within the range of what others charge as their standard rates. You're providing an experience for your client, not extracting every dollar out of them.


Many different variables go into determining gig prices, and we've only scratched the surface here, but it should be enough to get you started. Long story short: be honest about where you are in your music career, research, and think about your costs. With these three things in mind, you'll be set up for success (and growth) in your music career.

Green Room's Gig Pricing Tool is a great way to ensure you are accounting for all your expenses and coming out profitable!


What factors should I consider when deciding how much to charge for a gig?

When deciding how much to charge for a gig, you should consider the cost of administrative expenses, equipment, paying your bandmates, travel expenses, and entering a new market. You should also consider the type of event, such as a private or corporate event, as well as the state of your music and skill level.

How can I determine what other bands are getting paid for similar shows?

You can research the local music scene and talk to other musicians to determine what other bands are getting paid for similar shows. You can also attend shows and ask the venue or talent buyer about their payment practices.

How do I factor in expenses when pricing a show?

When pricing a show, you should add up all your expenses, including administrative fees, equipment costs, paying your bandmates, and travel costs. You should also consider the type of event, your music's state, and your skill level.

What is the best way to determine my hourly rate for administrative expenses?

To determine your hourly rate for administrative expenses, you can consider the time you spend coordinating gigs and choose a rate you are comfortable with. This could be $30 an hour or something that works for you.

How can I determine if a venue's offer is reasonable given my expenses?

To determine if a venue's offer is reasonable, given your expenses, you should add up all of your costs and compare that amount to the proposal from the venue. You can also use a Green Room's Gig Pricing Tool, to input key factors and do the math.

Sophie Randolph

As the founder of Green Room, Sophie Randolph is dedicated to providing innovative solutions that empower touring entertainers to take control of their careers. Before Green Room, Sophie worked in operations and customer success roles for startups, managed emerging artists, and completed her MBA at Rice University.

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