The Answer to Why You Keep Getting That $50 Gig.

The answer to why you keep getting that $50 gig.

Text Message

Rachel: “Hi, Roland my name is Rachel and I’m a pop singer and I’m looking for a bass player for an upcoming gig at the House of Blues in Hollywood. You were highly recommended by your friend Jeremy. Are you interested?

Roland: “Hi, nice to meet you Rachel. Sounds like fun, House of Blues is always a great place to perform. What are the details?

Rachel: “I’m sure you know where House of blues is. The date is September 19 2014 it lands on a Friday and the set starts at 9pm. We need at least a couple of rehearsals. There are 12 songs I can pay $50 and whatever tickets sales we get from the door.”

Rachel: “I’m sorry it’s not much I hope you can make it.

Roland: “Just checked out your site great music. My rate is usually $150 depending on the artist budget. But I can do $100, I hope that’s manageable.

Rachel: “I understand, all I can do is $50.

Roland: “I completely understand it’s tough. What I can do is recommend you some other players and see if they fit your budget.”

Rachel: “Ok thanks.”

Roland: “No problem, I’m sorry I couldn’t meet your needs but I hope we can work together in the future because I really dig your music. Here are the contacts…

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? You might be thinking, “You should’ve taken the gig, you don’t know, she could become the next Carrie Underwood.”

My answer to that would be, you’re correct. She could possibly be the next Carrie Underwood, but after 15 years and thousand gigs working the L.A. scene the chance of that happening would be .01%. However I do remember various artists getting record deals in the past that I have declined before they got signed. My bad, it happens.


When I began my so-called career as a musician, all I wanted to do was get as much experience as possible so I accepted as many gigs as possible and most for free. Building connections was crucial and I did pretty well creating relationships. The issue was that I created a great network of artists that didn’t have a budget, but that was my fault. I needed to create more relationships with more established acts that had budgets.

Slowly but surely I created better relationships with music directors and producers that could get me better paying gigs. But fair warning, if your intentions to network are purely for business purposes and not to create lasting relationships than you’re in the wrong racket.

99.99% of all my gigs were all word of mouth! I didn’t hand in a resume or filled out an application. The music industry is almost predominately a relationship driven business. If you have social anxiety you must take care of that issue if you wanna be in the music business. Your talents and skills alone won’t do much.

Michael Jackson off stage was known to be an introverted shy person but he loved people and kids. Be like Mike except for the kids part. Lol.

The answer to why you keep getting that $50 gig.

The ultimate reason why you keep getting that $50 gig and not that $5,000 gig is Value.

The more people value you as a person and your abilities the more opportunity comes your way. Relationship over ability is always top priority. The best musicians on the planet usually only work with their close relationships and that’s not my opinion that’s a fact.

Quincy Jones said it best, “If the musician can’t get the music right but he has a great attitude. Than I’m willing to work with him until he gets it. But if he’s an amazing musician but acts like a diva than that’ll be the last time time he gets a call from me.”

We’ll put Quincy.

The more people like you, the more you’re valued.

Time and Money

Let’s do a financial breakdown of how much time it would take to prepare for Rachel Singers gig.

The average prep time for a typical live gig from beginning to end would be about 6-8 hours. That would include:

  1. Practice Time: 2-4 hours depending on set list.
  2. Band Rehearsal: 2-3 hours per rehearsal.
  3. Gig: 30-60 minutes depending on set list.
  4. Travel to gig: 30-60 minutes depending on distance.
  5. Travel to rehearsal: 30-60 minutes depending on distance.
  6. Gas costs.
  7. Parking costs (If any.)

Of course it depends on the gig but this seems average at best with my experience. Rachel Singer asked for:

  1. Two band rehearsals: 4-6 hours
  2. Gig: 60 minute set.
  3. Plus practice time: 2-4 hours
  4. Travel to gig: 30-60 minutes depending on distance.
  5. Travel to rehearsal: 30-60 minutes depending on distance.
  6. Gas costs.
  7. Parking costs (If any.)
  8. Budget: $50

Let’s say I took the gig and it seems it would take about 10-12 hours to complete, but let’s say 10 hours and let’s do the math.

$50 budget / 10 hours = $5 per hour.

That’s less than minimum wage in 2015. I think my illegal mexican neighbors  get paid more than that. Musicians need to think about of this more often and understand that time is money. Your business is music and it needs to be treated like one. However I will do a free gig if I really like the artist, music or the gig will benefit my career. At the end of the day my number one priority for every musician should be yourself and for the well being of others.

The Lesson

  1. Increase your value by building better relationships with more connected artists.
  2. Count your costs before accepting a gig.
  3. Learn business.
  4. Sometimes you need to accept that unpaid gig to get ahead.
  5. Build a business mindset.

Feel free to leave any comments below and I hope I can learn from you as well.


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