As a former gigging musician for most of my 20’s and early 30’s, gigs could earn me anywhere from $200-$400 per event. In Australia, the tribute and covers scene is higher than most other countries and because of this, most musicians I’ve worked with take advantage of filling their gigging schedule by performing with a variety of acts, bands and shows as a session musician. Pub gigs can vary from $150-$200 where as private functions and corporate shows can range between $350 – $700 per musician or band member. Developing a good relationship with a range of bookers, agencies and venues can be your best investment and can influence the number of bookings, with your established musician typically performing 2-4 nights per week most weeks of the year.
Building a national and international fan base is the best way to ensure longevity in your career. With many income streams of the music industry are in a state of change and decline, touring is the one consistent that professional musicians use to drive their reputation and income stream. Touring artists are likely to receive reviews, comments, likes and score gigs. Venue bookers, festivals bookers and team members are more likely to notice you, especially when you play in their town.
Things to consider before Touring
Before you consider touring, musicians need to have a fairly large amount of work completed before taking your entourage to the road. Here are some assets and items to consider developing before touring:
- 3 sets x 45mins of material plus an encore
- Know your equipment really, really well
- Have an EPK (Electronic Press Kit/Website) and promotional and publicity materials readily available
- Most importantly, have a budget and use a budget spreadsheet to track all earnings and expenses!
Important information about this earning option
Live gigs and touring can work extremely well together if managed and executed well. In a report from the 2017 Melbourne Live Music Census, Melbourne has more live music venues per capita than any other city in the world with over 73,000 gigs annually, 553 live music venues and $1.42 billion spent in small venues, concerts and festivals.
For a number that large, it’s surprising to find that as part of the census, a survey of 495 musicians & DJ’s revealed that the typical musician earns 35% of their income from music, and 70% of that from an average of 4-5 live performances per month.