More Transparency in the Music Industry!

The Music Industry is an opaque industry.
Many of us rely on it, make a living off of it.
Everyday we complain, in real life or/and on social medias. But no one really cares. People tend to see complaining musicians as annoying little babies, crying for vacuous rights and/or exposure. But those people who criticize don’t realize how privileged they are. They don’t value music enough as any other profession. They do have full time jobs, so for them their music endeavor is just a hobby. Musicians living off of music shouldn’t be blamed for choosing this ‘illusory’ yet ideal full time path. Some people need time to think about concepts and create their own body of work. And, they are willing to sacrifice their own comfort/income to make that path happen. Others are disillusioned. Ok we are all different.

Now, music is an industry. It always has been. It shifted with the creation of the MP3. Now, we are all immersed in a streaming culture. The music industry is still here but the ones making profits out of it are not musicians, exploiters.
They are mining the people who create the content.
No one can complain as money is the only variable that counts. Those people make so much money out of musicians. Musicians don’t have any saying. It’s a new form of slavery.

For a year i tried to live completely off of music and through this experiment, i realized that the only way to make change happen is thru awareness of the content generator; us.
We are the content, thus the power.

If we react locally, maybe the thought will propagate internationally. We just need more transparency in this industry and more credibility.

Let’s all share our story, and ask for more transparency.
In NYC how much do you make on a weeknight at “_____” (name of any venue)?
How much do you make when you tour?
How much do you get offered to play in festivals…?

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In NYC how much do you make on a weeknight at “_____” (name of any venue)?
For solo Live sets I have a fairly strict $700 minimum across the board, which I will very rarely lower depending on the situation. DJ sets take in anything from $150 for a small bar gig up to $500+ for a bigger club night.

How much do you make when you tour?
Minimum 1,000 euro per gig

How much do you get offered to play in festivals…?
I don’t do them

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I also just want to say that while I think it’s important to be transparent about pay, you need to be careful about what you’re asking. Going too high too early can cause you to lose gigs and cause people to not take you seriously. We have to be realistic about where we are in our journey and what we are truly bringing to the table. Fees are not just a flat thing. Your draw and visibility is just as important as your musical skills these days. If you aren’t providing more than the average performer in both departments you shouldn’t expect to be making high fees. Personality also comes into play, how easy are you to work with, are you asking for the venue to provide non standard equipment etc.

There are also personal decisions to be made here. How often do you want to be playing? Are you trying to make this your full time career or is it a passion project? How long have you been pursuing this?

The more money you try to charge the less you’ll be asked to play smaller gigs. If you have a solid job and just have a passion for playing music maybe it’s ok to take less money (don’t ever play for free unless it’s something like a benefit though!) so that you can play regularly. On the other hand if you’re trying to make a career you need to approach gigs with a business oriented mindset. As with any field the meteoric rise to the top is rare and we all have to put in the time cultivating a fan base and our skills, you should think of your rates in the same way as pay from a regular job. You start out with less skills and your pay is low, put in the time and build a resume of accomplishments to increase your pay. Additionally think about cost of living, you should be increasing slightly every year that you’ve continued to invest your time in growing your skills and audience. Big bumps come when you have a multitude of notable accomplishments or when multiple people start sending offers that are exceeding what you’ve been asking.

I’d also recommend investing some time into reading about the art of negotiation. We’re often put in a position where we negotiate against ourselves which is the worst thing you can do from a power play perspective.

Ultimately we’re talking about business here. Many artists put themselves in a bad position for success because they don’t invest in themselves as a business. The idea of “artistic purity” is admirable but also unrealistic when it comes to a career in the music industry. If your goal is pure and you don’t care about a career that’s great. If you’re trying to build a full time career from music you absolutely need to put some of your time aside on the regular to learn about business or hire people who will handle that business for you if you’re fortunate enough to have disposable income to allow it, which probably isn’t the case for any of us on this forum.

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Thanks so much Clay for replying! Makes sense —- I haven’t responded

In NYC how much do you make on a weeknight at “_____” (name of any venue)?
$400/500 live sets
$250-$400 dj sets

How much do you make when you tour?

500 euros live sets -

How much do you get offered to play in festivals…?

$400/ $500

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I’m currently considering and trying to figure out how to scale back my full time job to part-time or just go off the deep end into full-blown-hustler mode so as to free up any time I can to apply towards music. I think I thought it was a hobby/passion project that was sure “fun” and “nice” but the older I get and the deeper I get involved, the more it feels like it has always been an absolutely necessary part of my life that I owe it to myself to see how fully I can develop it. This thread is definitely helpful to me because these are the working class facts we often don’t discuss! I don’t have a ton to add but here it goes.

In NYC how much do you make on a weeknight at “_____” (name of any venue)?
$200-600 dj sets
$150 lights (tangential I know but, still a fee a club pays so maybe helpful for broader understanding?)
I agree with Clay about never playing for free except for a cause/fundraiser. Not because I simply wouldn’t personally, but it undercuts those who don’t or can’t afford to, and takes work away from people. I usually assume that if a promoter can not afford to pay you they may not be running their event right.

How much do you make when you tour?
$400-600 dj sets (but i don’t really “tour” yet, but this is what I’ve received for gigs outside NYC so far)

How much do you get offered to play in festivals…?
Let’s just say I’m available and looking to learn what I get offered whenever a fest wants to book me.

I’d also add a question that might apply to some people. It’s something I am often curious about. Something about how much of your monthyl or even annual income comes from music? Some people I know it seems like all they do are gigs and music related work, but then I speak to them and sometimes realize there is so much more, which helps fill in the picture of just “what does it take?”
I’d say for me, at this point, maybe 17% of how I support myself is derived from music-related work.

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This is great! Thank you so much for starting this Selwa. I also wonder how promoters are fairing in terms of take at different venues. Could be useful to understand what venues you

I ran a school night party for 2 years at Bossa and took home between $100 - $300, though I basically always took a loss of at least $100, in order to pay artists fair rates. From what I’ve heard, this is fairly standard at Bossa.

I definitely fall into the group of “have a solid job and just have a passion for playing music”, though would always love to play (and get paid!) more. I usually make between $50-$100 per gig. The most I ever made was $300 for opening Elsewhere.

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This is so, so important yet not a popular topic.

I understand the reluctancy to share, but I also agree strongly with claywilson on knowing where you are on your journey–are you starting out as a local DJ? have you been playing for x number of years or have a certain level of skill/experience? Do you also produce? Let’s not even start with bands outside the electronic music scene. That’s a whole another story.

Negotiating is a skill and one that’s important to learn.

In NYC how much do you make on a weeknight at “_____” (name of any venue)?
$250-$500 DJ

How much do you make when you tour?
Only recently started ‘touring’ but starting at $300/night for DJ

How much do you get offered to play in festivals…?
Don’t do much of them but I’d say $500+

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at Bossa (mondays) I usually bring in enough to pay the guest DJ’s $40-80, and keep some extra wine for myself. The fun game at Bossa is trying to break $2K in sales, because your take suddenly jumps to 15% (i.e. $300+) which means we all get $100+ (I generally just have 2 guest DJ’s + myself)

No one ever asks me to play other gigs (lol) but if they did I’d ask $300 for 3 hours.

Also never toured, but I really want to learn how to get booked internationally & coordinate small trips for myself…

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howdy–

new to PUTF but i know most of you so :slight_smile:

its definitely a sensitive subject, talking about money always is. sometimes it seems like people either make less than they want to admit or more haha. 100% agree with the things that Clay said about the work you need to put in to the business side. I have been playing and throwing parties in NYC for 10 years and touring internationally since about 2011. Its taken constant effort beyond the music side of things to slowly build my fees up.

In NYC how much do you make on a weeknight at “_____” (name of any venue)?

$50-500

it really depends, if its a friends party and they are splitting the bar take then, it is what it is. I dont do too many of these anymore but wouldnt ask for a guarantee in that situation. if it was at a large venue on say a thursday I would try to ask for a guarantee in the $500 range. I mean tbh sometimes as a full time musician making anything on a weekday can be a blessing.

How much do you make when you tour?

$300-1500 (often plus flight & accommodations)

I try to be open minded when talking about fees with a promoter or venue. If its a small party and they will only make (or lose) enough to pay $300, I would just decide whether I wanted to play or not. I’ve played many DIY parties (especially in the US) where it was just cool people literally pooling together their own money to put on parties. If I’m free, I will almost always do those (as long as I wont actually lose money.)

When talking with a larger european promoter or club its a different story. I know I’m not the type of artist who will sell out a venue, but I have been touring long enough to know how much clubs can make on a night based on their size and door prices. Also much of the industry is subsidized to some degree by government funding. One of the most important things I have found is always let the venue/promoter make an offer first. This will give you a sense of what the general range is you should be negotiating at.

How much do you actually make from a tour is a different question. This depends on how many shows are on the tour, how the routing is, if you have to pay for a place to stay during the off days and how well you budget on your day to day expenses.

How much do you get offered to play in festivals…?
I dont hahah ¯_(ツ)_/¯

if anyone has any other question im happy to answer !

X
PT

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In NYC how much do you make on a weeknight at “_____” (name of any venue)?
Never as much as others who have been producing since 1988 and releasing records since 1992.
Last time was supposed to be $300 at Bossa, I only saw $150. I will keep Certain nameS out of this disCuSsion.

How much do you make when you tour?
It is a balancing act / trifecta of venue, location, and fees. Am I staying there for a few days before or after the gig? Do I want to have a quasi-posh experience and go home penniless?
Fabric paid me $1500 in 2008. Since 1997, Tresor has routinely paid me $1000 to DJ + flightshare and hotel. For a 90 min live set, 1500€ all in, with 50% deposit in advance, artist dinner, pickup to/from airport and hotel, and most generally will supply any equipment I require. But I played Cruiquisgilde [Amsterdam] for an 7 hour DJ set and 60 min live set, for $1000 + hotel, flightshare, local transport + meals.
Weekday gigs are certainly less, and more like icing on the cake. Unlike NYC, there are few parties that go OFF on a Tuesday or Thursday in the EU to my knowledge and if you know about them, tell us! Fridays will pay less than Saturdays, and Sundays are kind of a wash unless it’s a laaaaate night.

How much do you get offered to play in festivals…?
We did a 90 min HELIC.AL showcase in 2017 in Moscow for 4 artists, 4 nights hotel, 2 rooms, 4 flights and didn’t see much… maybe $1000? Did an off-Sonar gig for $1000 as well in 2015. I imagine these prices have changed. Perhaps the bookings will happen once I say I’m doing another acid house record. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Thanks everyone who has shared so far, it’s so rare to see transparent conversations about the economics of these things and really helpful to have insight into what’s considered reasonable. I’d be super curious to hear more from people with insight into the backend finances of clubs because it always feels like such a black box (not in the sense that I expect them to have more $, but that I’m sure they have a lot of expenses I’m not even thinking of and am curious what the constraints are from that angle).

In NYC how much do you make on a weeknight at “_____” (name of any venue)?
$200-300 for bigger venues (weekend), $150-200 for smaller venues (weekend), $75-150 for smaller venues (weekdays).

For co-running a Bossa Wed night residency - usually see a total of average $150 at the bar and split between the non-resident DJs.

I played a b2b in NYC once with a man who asked for $300 for the set when I had asked $150 and the promoter quietly paid me the same as the other DJ, I will never forget that and wish it were more common for promoters to be aware of and proactively address the gender gap.

How much do you make when you tour?
Haven’t toured much but between $150-500. Trying to keep to $300 as a minimum for out of town but have made exceptions on the lower end of that for DIY spaces who are transparent about their budget.

How much do you get offered to play in festivals…?
Haven’t really had festival offers.

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I mostly just DJ at Bossa Nova at the moment for my monthly Tuesday night party SMALL RAVE, splitting the 10-15% of the bar earnings between myself and (usually) 2 guests. We can make as little as $5 or as much as $160. I rarely DJ on weekends, but from reading this thread, now I have a better idea of what to ask for when I do.

I also operate the lights at Nowadays and Public Records a few times per month, I make $20/hour for that, so $120-$200 per night, depending on the length of the party. It’s not a huge amount, but nice to keep cash flowing and I really enjoy jamming on the lights with great DJ’s and soundsystems.

I’m still very much at a hobbyist phase in my music career and I make most of my income through freelance video work, usually Editing and video production, where I can charge $350-$400 a day on the low end, up to $800 a day on the high end. This freelance income can be tough during a quiet season, especially when clients take their time to pay. I’m very thankful that my wife has a full-time job with health insurance, so we can both live comfortably even with my unpredictable income.

As Clay Wilson was saying above, we have to be realistic about what we are bringing to the table, I want to get to a point where I can play more often at bigger venues and be paid well for it, but I’m just not at the stage in my musical career as I am in my Freelance video career (about 10 years experience).

For those of us who make all or most of their income through music, how many gigs you aim to take per month to be able to sustain yourselves? Do you make musical income through other sources too?

(P.S. I came here through Bergsonist’s IG post. Big respect to everyone here talking about this, it’s a very important topic to discuss openly.)

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