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6 Top Tips on Negotiating Your Gig Fee

Negotiating the right fee for your next gig can be a tricky business, but can also be an essential part of your career as a musician.

Published: 12 September 2019 | 12:00 AM Updated: 17 December 2021 | 5:10 PM
Photo of musicians playing in a gig setting
Negotiating your gig rate can seem like an intimidating process. Photo credit: Shutterstock

MU members have access to a number of resources both online and offline to help make the negotiation process as straight-forward as possible, and remember the MU are always there to offer advice and support.

Here are six top tips to consider when securing a paid gig:

1 . Check the recommended minimum rates

Although gig fees will always vary, and most should be negotiated on a case-by-case basis – the MU does have recommended minimum rates that could serve as a helpful guideline. There is both a Casual Stage rate and a National Gig rate.

2 . Get your agreement in writing

Having written confirmation of the terms of the gig ensures both sides know what is expected e.g., what time to arrive and how much you’re going to get paid etc.

Without written evidence of the contracted terms, if a problem arises, recovering your fee is made far more difficult.

If you are having trouble with not getting paid, the MU offers assistance in fee recovery for its members.

3. Use an MU standard contract

We advise you to use our standard contracts, which you can download in both printable and emailable versions. Make it clear to the venue or booker that there is no agreed booking until the contract is signed by both parties.

We also recommend reading our guidance on completing the contracts before filling them out.

4. Get your booking details confirmed in advance

If you can’t get the booker to sign an MU contract, we recommend you get a letter or e-mail from them confirming the booking and including details of the date, time and place.

Using our Specimen Letter is a simple way of getting the important details of a booking confirmed in writing.

5. Choose a good time to negotiate

If a gig goes well, speak to the promoter straight after your set, with regards to another booking – it’s a good time to negotiate a higher fee or better deal.

6. Remember you have the power to say “no”

It’s always worth trying to negotiate, but if there’s no flexibility on the promoter’s behalf, and the deal isn’t right for you, don’t do it. You’re not losing anything, but you are applying quality control.

The Fair Play Guide

For more detailed guidance on negotiation, see the MU’s Fair Play Guide. The Fair Play Guide explains how musicians can recognise and negotiate fair deals and subsequently work with promoters to ensure that shows are successful and that they are appropriately remunerated for their efforts and performance.

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