If you’re a singer or musician, you will inevitably be asked to perform somewhere for some audience for free. In other words, the event organizer will say, “Come do the show; it’ll be ‘great exposure.'”
Exposure for what, I ask?
I know friends who’ve played on stage with Stevie Wonder and opened for Sir Paul McCartney and they’re no more exposed now than they were before those ‘great exposure’ gigs. But lets consider a more realistic situation, okay?
You and your friends love music, and you rehearse and have a set list of songs you like to play. A local charity emails you (or calls) and tells you they’re having a benefit or whatever and think you’d be perfect for it. Then you find out they want you to do it for free. Do you say “yes” or “no?”
Well, think about it: the people who work for that charity get paid. The people who bring food, drinks, tables and other things to the party get paid. And the charity itself makes a lot of money during/after the event. So why is it that “they” expect “you” to play for “free?”
Say no to free gigs for exposure. Simple as that. If all you do are free gigs for exposure, you’ll never make a dime; in fact, being a singer/in a band will cost you a lot of money– a money-losing situation.
It costs $2-$4 a gallon to drive a car to/from shows (and rehearsals). It costs money to rent or own equipment such as PAs, speakers, microphones, sound boards, straps, carts, etc. And then there’s the issue of your time– you put a lot of time, effort and energy into performing. How is that not worth money?!
A plumber gets a lot of money just to show up at a house– and makes more when he/she fixes stuff. A doctor charges $100 an hour just to chat with you for a couple minutes. Heck, even bus drivers, janitors, and cashiers make some money when they’re providing society a service.
What the world be like if there were no musicians or entertainers? You know the answer to that one.
Do not get into the habit of playing free gigs. You deserve money for all you do. When it’s 90 degrees and you’re sweating on an outdoor stage with the sun in your eyes, having to go an extra 15 minutes, and then face the prospect of packing up your stuff and lugging it home, you’re worth a lot more than you think.
Too many singers and musicians take the wrong attitude that they should just be happy they’re able to perform in front of people/get ‘exposure.’ Yes, there is the idea of doing it for the love of it, but there’s also the issue of paying for gas, clothes, rent, electricity, your phone and more. –Mark Weber