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The Secret To Making Money Playing Live Music


The simple secret to making money playing live music is:

1. Create exciting market worthy music products, both recorded and live
2. Expose your music through every possible avenue at your disposal, both terrestrial and digital
3. Focus more of your time on selling live music interactions to your fans than to night clubs.

Unfortunately, most artists think that making it onto the club circuit will pave the way to financial security and, eventually, that almighty record deal. This is not true. However, until artists truly understand their position in today’s music marketplace, clubs will still be able make them think they have all of the leverage and thereby the upper hand in booking matters. By working smarter not harder, artists can change this perception and build a large moneymaking base of people and eventually of clubs who will pay them for live music interactions. Here’s how.

Fans are desperate for more personal interaction with the artists they love. Because booking has been an intimidating task for most fans and something they have never really known how to do, the average person has never booked an artist. On the other hand, most artists fail to realize that the best source of live music interactions for them is their own fan base.

When a fan wants to book an artist for a house party, private concert or other type of special event which most booking agents generally don’t want to deal with, they rarely know how to go about doing it. More than likely, cost is not the same determining factor for them that it is for clubs. When a fan is booking an artist they love, their priority factor is that they are looking to make a personal connection with an artist and they are willing to pay well for that connection. They get to deal with the artist directly, an exciting factor in and of itself and they control their own event. The price point will usually be much higher for a fan than a club because a fan is buying from emotion whereas a club wants to fills its calendar with the best talent it can find for the cheapest price.

Sometimes playing for free makes a lot of sense. Find artists with large followings and sell yourself to them as a free opening act. Go to restaurants and bars with moderate to large client bases that don’t have live music and offer to play for free as long as you can sell some merchandise. Remember, the more you play out live, the tighter your live music product becomes. If friends are have parties, offer to play for free. A party is always better with live music and it makes you seem cool and provides great exposure. Slowly you will lock in a base of “True Fans.” These are the people most likely to pay you money for a music product. Go to malls and offer to play for free. Pass out flyers for future paid gigs and sell merchandise. Talk to high schools and offer to play for free but make sure that you will help the school with something that’s important to them, like raising money for band instruments or team sports.

It is extremely important that you put your music everywhere you can for free. Give free downloads of your music away on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and on any other website that people into music are exposed to. Give away a new download away every week. Figure out which music blogs talk about your kind of music (use’s Promobot to find the right blogs) , email them, but even better, talk to them and tell them they can give your music away for free. If you are an emerging artist with no real base, the more you give away your music for free, the better of a chance you have of converting people into true believers. Also, you will have a greater opportunity to be booked and to sell a CD’s, a download’s, ringtones, or other digital products like a mini EP with photos, artwork and lyric sheets. Look at giving away music for free as extremely cost effective to advertise for an artist.

Most bands are not organized enough to get booked through their MySpace page or from anywhere else on the Internet. Most of the time your page is so cluttered that people wouldn’t know who or how to contact you so they can book you. When they play live, a truly great band will work whatever room they are in to connect with as many of their fans as possible. Your fans may ask you for a card so they can book you. Chances are even if you give them one or you exchange numbers, they won’t ever call you because they probably lost your card or your piece of paper and you will almost never return their email on MySpace anyway.

So here you are, you have a good music product, you are continuously exposing it to as many people as you can and you still aren’t reaping the benefits of more bookings. What can you do to increase the possibility of your being booked more often from this group of people who really would like to book you? Well you should sign up for MPTrax.Com, the first booking tool on the Internet that, if used properly, can definitely increase your opportunity to get booked.

Promotion! Promotion! Promotion! Wherever you put your band info, including CD’s, flyers, promo materials, ads, signage on stage, YouTube videos and your various profile pages, you should always promote your band website and, along side of it, the fact that your fans can book you directly from MPTrax. The better you promote yourself, the more exposure you will gain and the more likely your fans will buy your music and you merchandise and book you for gigs like house parties or private concerts. It’s only a matter of time before a fan reaches out and submits an offer to book you and, more than likely, for more money than you will get from a club. Besides, your future as an artist ultimately lies in the hands and hearts of your fans. If you can emotionally bond with them as an artist, you can pretty much sell your “true fans” almost anything.



MusicBizGuy Has over 35 years of experince in the music business managing, booking, getting deals for and putting out CD's on mostly rock, hip-hop and R&B artists.  His core business is in the independent record promotion business where his company has broken over 100 No. 1 records nationally over the past 15 years.  In last 3 years, MusicBizGuy has immersed himself in the music space on the Internet and has developed expertise in all of its facts.  To learn more about MusicBizGuy go to the About page on his personal blog, or follow him on Twitter at MusicBizGuy.  If you would like to contact him for any reason reach out to him at




Reader Comments (1)

Back in the good old days of great music from the 60s through the 80s it used to be that you had to actually have a hit songbook to go out on the road. The reason why new bands are now expected to give stuff away for free is because millennials don't know how to write melodic catchy songs, the quality of new age music sucks and no one wants pay for the new crap anyway.

August 13 | Unregistered CommenterJo

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