Money at Your Holiday Gig


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Good communication with your venue will help to ensure that your gig is “worth it” –says Jennifer Truesdale

Now that your promotional machine has kicked into gear there are some things you’ll want to do to ensure that you are making money from your gigs (or at least not losing money!).

Bundle your merchandise. People love gifts around the holidays, gifts for themselves and/or for others. To make more money at your club/pub gigs, try “bundling” your merchandise – such as T-shirts and CDs – into a gift pack. You can even put a ribbon around it for an extra touch. People are more likely to buy multiple items if they’re packaged this way.

(In general it may not be particularly tasteful to sell merchandise at a private event/party, however you can certainly discuss this with the client ahead of time.)

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Establish good communication with the venue or client. Whether a private gig or a club/pub gig, be sure to clearly establish, up-front, the time/length of your performance, what time you can load in, time of sound check, whether or not you can sell merchandise, how you will be paid, how much you will be paid, and anything else that may be expected of you.

Get a schedule.For private parties it can be a good idea to ask the client to give you a schedule/itinerary for the evening. For example: Will dinner be served? Will there be speeches, auctions and the like? It’s good to know about these things ahead of time so that you can plan your music accordingly. I know a singer who played a private holiday party a few years ago. She was asked to play quiet, background music during dinner and then she and her band would kick it up for dancing after dinner. Unfortunately, she never asked how long dinner would be. She prepared 30 minutes of dinner music, only to find that dinner actually took twice as long. She and her band were left scrambling to come up with songs to fill the additional 30 minutes. They pulled it off, but it was very stressful. While even the best plans can still go awry, had she been given an itinerary ahead of time, she would have been better prepared.

Establish good communication with your band-mates. Be sure to establish how your band-mates will be paid. Will it be an even split, a different percentage or a
flat-fee. Basically, good communication and clearly established agreements are the name of the game here.

Happy Holidays and Happy Gigs!

Tune in next week for my tips on maximizing your performance at your Holiday Gig.

See Jennifer’s article Promote Your Holiday Gig

Get Paid To Sing: The Singer’s Guide to Making a Living Making Music is available online and in stores. See www.getpaidtosing.com www.jennifertruesdalestudios.com

Jennifer Truesdale is a singer, songwriter, vocal coach, music career coach, published songwriter, former staff member at one of the largest independent record labels in the US, and is the Director of Chick Singer Night, Boston. She teaches and mentors a very active studio of aspiring musical artists.


  • patrice

    This is really valuable perspective on the bigger picture of being (and having) entertainment run smoothly for all concerned. The logistics are clearly just as important to the experience as the talent.

  • alypain

    Funny how these tips are applicable across many industries! Coaches need to bundle offerings more too, and organizations need better communication between band mates! Oh the harmony that is available if we just choose to listen more and adjust our tune slightly :) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • Jill Place

    I think the guiding light here is communication. And, as an ex-singer, advance person and speaker, these things are vital to consider if you don’t know the venue or the people you’re dealing with beforehand. We also live, learn, and add things to our list as the situation presents itself. Hence, the six foot stage my theatre troupe had to somersault off (we asked after that) and the hissy-fit the first speaker had in front of a 1000 people at a prestigious symposia that forced me to go first (I ended up stealing the show). Love the bundle idea.