Its a topic we return to time and time again on this blog. Payment. And by the way, we really loved hearing your comments in Do You Really Expect To Get Paid” a few months ago!

My approach to payment is continually changing on a case-by-case basis…depending on whether an event is a benefit concert, a friend is asking me to do the gig, or a number of other factors. As it relates to venues and their no-pay policy, I’ve found that most places that require negotiating are the non-traditional spaces that don’t generally charge cover or see themselves more of a food service than an entertainment service.  Here are a few tips. Your suggestions are also welcome.

1. ASK FOR A PERCENTAGE OF SALES
When a venue says they can not compensate you, consider asking them to contribute a percentage of sales to you. A coffee shop near Pittsburgh used to do this and it worked great. They did not want to charge a cover for shows but held events in their store every weekend and wanted to respect the artists who played. So instead of charging patrons, they gave a percentage of each sale (coffee/sweets/sandwiches/everything), to the night’s entertainment.  It encouraged musicians to promote the show knowing that the turnout would directly affect their income for the night

2. ASK THE VENUE HOW IMPORTANT LIVE ENTERTAINMENT IS
“Do you feel like the live entertainment adds value to what your establishment is doing?” It might be direct, but it will help a booker to take a second look at you the musician. If they feel live entertainment encourages an increase in patrons, or encourages patrons to stick around longer, then it is only fair that they pay artists who are contributing to their spaces success. If they don’t feel it adds value, then why book live music?

3. UNDERSTAND A VENUE’S GOALS
I’ve come across spaces that exist, not to make money, but to offer something of value to their community. I’ve often felt that community events give life to a community and make music more meaningful. And so gigs like these might be something to consider doing pro bono. Just a thought (an opinion).

4. HELP A VENUE UNDERSTAND YOUR GOALS
Be candid and straightforward. If making music supplements your income, tell them that. Explaining this changes how they view you and how they view what they are asking you to do.