Money: Ask and You Shall Recieve…Sometimes

the theoretical bags of money available to artists :)

the theoretical bags of money available to artists 🙂

Money-related issues are undoubtedly the most-shared frustration among all independent artists.  Its hard to fund your art while also trying to fund yourself through your art.  This post offers suggestions on how and when to ask for money

Asking for Compensation
Don’t be afraid to ask for money!  If you’re providing a service to people, you shouldn’t be ashamed or feel awkward about asking to be payed for your service.  I also don’t think you should be stingy and refuse to perform just becuase you’re not getting paid.  Its really a case by case thing.

When asking for money, be tactful.  The way you ask will sometimes make all the difference in if you get paid and how much you get paid (believe me).  Here are a few examples.

  • Bad example:
    Hi Jamie,
    Thanks for asking me to do this gig. I’d love to.  How much will I get paid?
  • Good example #1:
    Hi Jamie,
    Thanks for asking me to do this gig.  Can you let me know if there is any payment for the artists involved?  Since I am persuing music full-time, this is always necessary for me to ask
  • Good example #2:
    Hi Jamie,
    Thanks for asking us to be a part of this event. We’d love to play!  Please let me know if there is compensation for participating bands.  We would truly appreciate this.

You may receive a response from the booker 1.) telling you that its not paid, 2.) asking how much you normally charge, or 3.) offering you a specific amount.


When to Ask…When not to
I don’t know that there’s a general rule of thumb for this.  Again, I think it is a case by case thing.  If the organization asking you to perform is not making any money off of a specific event, then maybe you can forego making money as well.  For example, if all the money is being raised for a charity, this might be a good time to pass on asking for money.  But still ask if you can put out CDs. 

If the venue you’re playing at is charging a cover, making money at the bar and not giving you a thing, then you should certainly address this.  It’s just not fair.


If you have any good tips on asking for money, or disagreements to the above post, feel free to add your comments.

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7 Comments on “Money: Ask and You Shall Recieve…Sometimes”

  1. chantilly Says:

    hi joy! just wanted to tell you i’ve been a reader for awhile. i really appreciate the things you write about, and am totally inspired by it/ you 🙂

    i feel like most of the music business blogs i read are just theory, and don’t give concrete examples of things you can do to help yourself. they must think things like this post are really obvious, because i never see anyone else writing about it. well, it’s not obvious to me, so thanks for sharing!

    question: i’ve got myself some gigs lined that i booked awhile ago. i didn’t even think to ask about compensation. do you think it’s tacky for for me to email them back after not communicating for awhile and say “by the way… any compensation.”



  2. sean Says:

    big fan of this post and any artist who knows that their music is worth something. nobody should play without compensation, unless for charity.

  3. Jack Says:

    @ chantilly: I would approach the venue by saying that you want to firm up details as the gig approaches. You can ask about: load-in time, contact names/numbers, equipment share, backstage amenities, and pay structure.

    Not only are those important things to know, it also shows the club you’re interested in preparing to have an awesome show and don’t just care about getting 75% of the door cover.


  4. grassrootsy Says:

    Hey Chantilly,
    About asking for money…I think it might be worth going back and asking, but not making it awkward. I think its only awkward when you feel awkward. I’ve had people write and simply tell me “No, sorry its not a paid gig” and it doesn’t change anything b/c (in most cases) I still plan to play even though its not paid.

    I never actively asked for money until I started doing music full time. If I didn’t ask I know I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. So now its just a habit for me. And I’ve realized how much money I would have made years ago if I would have just asked.

    I totally agree with what Sean and Jack said above. I’d take their advice as well.
    Thanks for reading!


  5. Kinka Says:

    A person provided me with an opportunity to perform a show for a non-profit organization. The affiliate offered to pay us (my band) as a good gesture. He didn’t say how much, and I need to know. How do I ask how much he is going to pay us?

  6. grassrootsy Says:

    Hi Kinka,

    This sounds kinda tricky but it might be worth telling the non-profit to send you a contract for the event. Any official organization utilizing music for an event should send you a contract with specs on your performance and payment info.

    If they don’t send you a contract, you should put together an invoice. Basically its always good to have something in writing. If they don’t plan to send you a contract, email and ask them for all details so you can put together an invoice.

    Hope this helped.


  7. […] BE DIRECT Here’s one of those less creative options.  Sometimes we get not because we ask not. I’ve found that when I’m asked to do a pro-bono weekend gig, it’s not always possible. Just like for a waiter or waitress, Fridays and Saturdays are the best gig times – more customers (audience), more tips (sales).  This post was pretty popular when we put it up over a year ago. Check it out:  Money: Ask and You Shall Recieve…Sometimes. […]

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