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How to triple or quadruple your income as a live musician

December 18, 2013

It’s been said that income for the average live music performer hasn’t increased in decades. Some have even suggested that pay has dropped over the years with the increased competition, venues worn out by a listless economy and other devaluation of music. So what can you do to increase your own personal income? Like it or not, the answer is pretty simple…

Go It Alone
Yes, increasing income can be as simple as decreasing band personnel. It’s not for everyone, but being able to perform solo gives you all of the take, less logistical headaches, and more opportunities. You’ve got to have nerve, and sad to say it wouldn’t hurt to knock out some covers while you are at it.

Wendy Woo can do it - how about you?

Wendy Woo can do it – how about you?

Local artist Wendy Woo learned this long ago. She could bring a full band but she could also cover a lot more ground on her own, and she learned how to turn her acoustic guitar into a rhythm section along the way. Of course, it helps if you are a singer/instrumentalist, and have some decent talent.

A Business Lesson: contract and expand based upon demand
In business, this concept is known as scalability. Bring the optimal amount of performers (and/or gear) to fill the exact needs of the client (venue owner). When the budget is available, bring the whole group; when it’s not, pare down in personnel.

A less ethical tack: pretend like you’re bringing the entire circus act but then show up with only one or two of the clowns. A couple girls are featured in the band? Whoops! They couldn’t make the show – a la Marcia Brady: “Something suddenly came up.” But let’s hope you are pretty honest. 🙂

A Broader Marketplace
Consider too that individual and small groups can play smaller rooms. This can multiply your performance opportunities by tenfold or more. Suddenly, coffee houses, restaurants, hotel lobbies, break rooms, house parties, and corners of obscure shops open up to you.

Your sound needs will scale down as well, probably giving you that much less in operating expenses. You might not even need to amplify the vocals. It’s the corporate game – lower costs equal higher profits. Unless you do it wrong…

You may be tempted to offer less for your services if you are playing solo instead of with a group. Don’t do it. Value your time and your abilities. It takes just as much time to book yourself or the full band, so you might as well get paid for your efforts. Are you ready for a pay raise?

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