Here’s the video transcript:
One of the most common questions Christian bands ask is, “How much should my band charge to play a show?”
No one ever likes the answer: “new bands do not get to charge, they are blessed if they get paid at all.”
In fact, the band is blessed if anyone asks them to play anywhere. The truth hurts. Initially, the band will have to work hard at booking to get any gigs, and being paid to play will not happen in any significant amount until the band is very well-known. So, it is critical that the new band remains out of debt and has merchandise to sell. Any money received for playing will be used to help cover the expenses of playing out—gas, tolls, etc.
As a new band, it is best to state in the cover letter of the press kit that the band does not have a formal charging policy and is willing to play for whatever the promoter can afford. If a promoter asks the band to travel long distances to play, it is acceptable to say the band cannot afford to do so at this time. Call the promoter later if the band travels close to their area; it is possible the band may be able to add their show with minimal band expense.
The bottom line is that your band is only worth as much to promoters as you deliver what they want. Unfortunately, most promoters don’t place the quality of your band’s music very high on the list of their wants or needs. It is sad that you spend so much time crafting the best, most creative music you can, only to discover that it’s not enough. I wish it was—in a perfect world it would be. But that is not how this fallen world works.
Promoters pay you to do a job. They expect your band to fulfill their needs.
Top 5 Things Christian Promoters Want:
● Lots of your fans to show up at their shows
● A very entertaining stage show
● Ministry on and off stage
● Publicity for their venue in local and social media
● Your fans to spend money at their shows on tickets or admission fees, food/beverages, and offerings
These five things are not listed in order of importance because each promoter will rank them differently. But, experience has shown that promoters want almost every one of these things at almost every show. Christian promoters are not the exception to this rule; they actually expect you to do more than secular promoters for less money because your band is a ministry.
So if we were to set aside your band’s music just for a moment, how would your band do at meeting the promoter’s needs?
Ask yourself these questions:
● On average, how many of your fans show up at most of your shows? 10? 30? 100? 500?
● Does your fans’ attendance decrease when ticket prices or door charges are above $10?
● You generally cannot ask promoters if your fans spent money on the stuff they sell. But you can gauge how much merchandise your band sells per person at each show. Is that number going up or down?
● On a scale of 1 to 10, how entertaining is your band’s show? Guess a number, and then video the audience at your next performance and see if that is really accurate.
● How much ministry does your band do at each show? Can you quantify it with numbers? For example, how many people were saved at your concerts this year, or how many messages you have received from fans thanking your band for their encouragement? How many people has your band prayed with at shows?
● How much publicity does your band generate for the venue at each show? Does your band regularly get mentioned in the venue’s local media—Radio? Newspapers? TV stations? Does your band have social media friends and followers in the venue’s location? How many friends and followers do you have overall? What is your band standing on venues local charts like ReVerbNation?
These are all questions promoters ask when booking bands. Remember, most promoters either are business minded or have to answer to someone who is business minded. Numbers are important to them. Turn these questions into possible selling points by saying that your band does each specific thing well before the promoter asks. This is great information to include in your band’s press kit and on the website. Make sure the promoter knows how well your band is doing, and then enter into payment negotiations.
The more you meet the promoter’s needs,
the more they will be willing to pay your band.
An old school rule of thumb that promoters used to use when figuring band performance fees is: The total budget for putting on a concert is based on how many people are expected to attend multiplied by the ticket cost. The band should be paid approximately one half of the concert budget. You can use this to get a general idea of the price range your band would be in.
For example, if your band usually has about 30 of your fans (not the venue’s regulars) show up at your shows and average ticket or door prices are $5, the promoter takes in $150. So it would have been considered to be fair to pay your band $75.
Let’s face it, using that model of payment, most of us would not be getting paid enough to cover our expenses. We need to do a better job of meeting the promoter’s needs. In all fairness, it would be nice if promoters would do a better job at raising money to pay musicians and meeting musicians’ needs too. But we do not have control over that right now. We are responsible to do our jobs well and trust God to make up the difference.
Question: “How much should your Christian band charge to play a show?”
Answer: “How well are you doing your job?”
This video is an excerpt from The Christian Band Handbook.
One of the best tools we have developed for you at Christian Band Help is The Christian Band Handbook. This resource book covers topics such as defining your ministry’s mission, how to find the right band members, choosing and protecting your band’s name, copyrights, press kits and booking, music marketing, how to make the most of your ministry dollars, and a whole lot more.
We know what it’s like to be a Christian musician. Between us my husband Mark and I have over 60 years of experience in almost every aspect of music ministry. I wrote this book so you can learn from our experience. We want to help you launch your band on the journey to impact the world around you while avoiding the pitfalls along the way.
The Christian Band Handbook is available as a paperback or e-book on Amazon and most e-book retailers.
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