2017 band fees survey

2017 band fees survey


Here are the results of the Hot Music Live musician fees survey for 2017. Massive thanks to the 37 acts who responded. That's around 8% of the 300 or so acts we know to be active and a decent enough sample to give us some confidence in the data.

Here are the headline numbers: the average fees per act for bars and pubs (figure 1) are similar at £227 and £234 while the fee for clubs is somewhat better at £263. Functions are typically much better paid (figure 2) with an average fee of £425. Average fees for individual musicians (figure 3) range from £57 for bar gigs to £101 for functions. People who play in larger acts tend to get paid less than those in more compact lineups.  

Covers gigs, especially functions, are somewhat better paid than acts who interpret older material such as jazz, blues and roots (figure 4). While this chart suggests that originals bands can earn good fees, the data is based on only 2 returns out of 4 originals acts and the comments below show that it can be a tough marketplace for songwriting bands.  Fully amplified bands (figure 5) typically earn more than acoustic acts and semi-acoustic acts, especially, again for functions.

Here's what people had to say about their expectations:

  • I feel I've been properly paid for a local bar or pub gig if I come away with £70-£80. As you can see that is the exception rather than the rule. Anything else - concerts, festivals etc. should be £100+ (Jazz, blues, rock act)
  • We will often play somewhere the first time for £250 but if they want us back it's at least £300 and we make this clear when talking money.  (Rock, pop act)
  • We get travel expenses. That's it. Smaller venues with DIY promoters generally, or support slots for comparatively minor bands, or charity fundraisers. The smaller DIY promoters are generally good about splitting any profit from the door between bands (it's rare they take anything for themselves) but that's only if they take any meaningful profits. (Originals act)
  • If debut gig at venue, we may lower the price on the promise of more gigs if the night is deemed to be a success. We sometimes suggest a slightly lower base price + a bonus (usually £100) linked to beer sales. (Popular pub rock act)
  • Usually minimum £50/Muso Local, More for festival, £100+ for private functions, and we're playing "non-function" Covers! (Classic rock, metal, blues and Americana act)
  • Averages based on experience Per head for duo work £ 150 average within 50 miles Per Head for trio work £ 100 average within 50 miles Per head full band (5-6 piece) £ 60 in bars / pubs/ social And £85-100 per head for weddings etc. (Pop and rock covers act)

... and about the scene in general:

  • Promoters are really reluctant to pay even expenses (Originals act)
  • We have been places where we have watched the manager pocket £50 from the envelope left for the band, and then tell us they can't pay anymore. (Rock, pop act)
  • Used to be much better fees 15 years ago, but the recession/austerity/Brexit situations seem to provide venues with the perfect excuse not to pay more, some which are justified, some not. (Classic rock act)
  • £750 for a local wedding, more for travel, even more if it's far enough away to warrant a hotel. £400-£500 for parties and functions. Pub gigs are for getting private gigs!  (Acoustic cover act)
  • Can vary from venue to venue, and lots of pubs expect to pay the same for a band as they would a solo artist (Rock covers act).

So, the best fees are associated with playing covers at weddings and functions in small amplified lineups. No staggering surprise of course but it's always interesting to see some data to support our instincts about the market place.  Let's do it again in 2018 and recruit some more acts to complete  the survey and get some more insight into our market.


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