Why are you not making more money as a musician? There are lots of fundamental reasons why this is, but I guarantee you I can ask one simple question and depending on your answer, I can tell you weather you are making as much money as you should be or not.
Do you have a website with music people can hear, photos people can see and video people can watch? If you answer yes, then you are probably making a good amount of money as a musician. If you answer no, chances are you are missing a big piece of money and earning potential.
About a year ago I had a drummer on a gig that asked me about playing at the venue and said he plays there all the time with other bands. He then went on to ask/say when was it his turn to get booked. The thing is, this was the first time I had seen him play at my venue and since I have worked with this client since 2009, he already got off on the wrong foot. I said send me all your things and I will take a look: website, music to listen too and social media links to assess his fan base. He says "Is all that really relevant anymore, I play here all the time with other bands and just want to book my own band." I was taken back by his arrogance in his response, but I simply said "Yes it is still very relevant because how do I know what your band sounds like and will be a good fit for the venue and how do I know how many people will be reached in promotions and show up if I book you?" He says "Why does it matter, you've heard me and know me." I said "I have only seen you one other time here maybe, and since we have never booked you before I have no idea what you sound like, what your band instrumentation is or what your potential draw is." He still didn't get it and so I had to explain to him that for one I have had this client (the venue) since 2009 and I have never seen him before and two I don't just book people without assessing them first and hearing their style and what they sound like and that three I need to know what your draw is... I need all this stuff to make an informed decision. So he starts to argue with me that he never has to send this stuff or have this stuff and that other places book him. I tell him that I am not other venues and I am not going to book someone based on "other venues book me" without hearing what it is I am booking.
Like this drummer, beyond is arrogance, how do you expect somebody to make a booking decision based on "other venues book me" and lying about playing at this venue all the time? Are you like this drummer? Do you think that telling a booking agent that you should be booked because other venues book you makes good business sense from the venues perspective?
I personally work with lots of different places, companies and clients. Sure I run a music venue, but I also produce, engineer, do events, marketing and branding. I also have a long credit list of working with celebrities and non-celebrities and have helped many artists achieve their goals. I bring all this up because if you are telling me you can't bring a crowd or can't provide me with the things I need to make a decision you are loosing a battle you can't win with me and all the other venues and private event clients, because I know you can have these things and anyone I work with has these things. I know the struggle and the musician life, I didn't just start out and right away was earning a living through music, it took time to build up into this. I know it is tuff trying to make a living with music and that you would rather be playing than dealing with updating a website. But you have friends who love what you do right? Why not give them tickets to all of your shows and buy them a drink in return for helping you update your website regularly?
The first thing I look for when deciding on hiring a new band is if they have a website with music I can hear and photos I can see of them, and if they have videos that is even better. If a band does not have this, I don't even give them a second thought. Sound mean or ruff? What is mean and ruff is a band who wants to get paid but cannot show me what they look like and sound like and expect me to give them money for a performance I have no idea what it will be or sound like.
A big thing I hear is "we are professionals and have been playing for over 10+ years." Great! Do you have a website and music I can hear? No? Well how can you call yourself a professional? I would argue you can't. A professional has a website with photos, music and videos. It is just a fact. If you don't have these things and you claim to be a professional then answer me this: Are you making a living with music? If you don't have these things and are making a living as a musician, answer me this: How many private events and corporate gigs are you getting every year? Chances are the answer is none, or close to none... there are exceptions of course, but most likely you are not the exception.
If we can't assess your style and music why would I book you when there are plenty of other groups that I can assess properly? Would you pay me $1,000 to produce a song if I have no way for you to assess me? Probably not right?
Look, it is so cheap to have a website now-a-days there is no excuse not to have one. If you can't afford $100 a year to have a website you are in full control of then you can't call yourself a professional.
But its so expensive to record music, take photos and videos, I can't afford to do all that. Really? Sounds like an excuse to me. Honestly, you are hurting yourself more than you think. It is so cheap to record a decent song or two with minimal equipment that there is no excuse for not doing it. When you can purchase a sound card (AD/DA converter) for $200 and record your live show and use this to put on your website I really can't believe that you are un-able to afford this. Stop making excuses. But I want a professional recording from a real studio. Great, save up and do that. But we Music Directors are not to concerned with professional recordings when it comes to booking you, and Private Event clients and Corporate clients are not that concerned about it either. It is a thing you have determined for yourself that you need, not us.
I need to hear you, I don't need a studio quality album to assess to make my decision. I do need, however, to hear something, anything, that shows me what you sound like. I am not going to take your word for it that you sound good and are upbeat. I need to hear you. Can't you just come to my show and hear me? No, I can't. I am busy with lots of things and I am not going to take time out of my schedule to come to your show. If you can't send me a song or 4 I can hear I can't book you, period. But we are professionals! Are you, are you really? Because if you are you would be able to spend $100 on a website and either buy a sound card for $200 and record some of your live shows or pay someone to come record your live shows so I can have something to listen to, on my own time when is convenient for me, to help me make a decision.
I get about 20 requests a year from private events looking for bands. Guess what? All these people ask me if the band I am recommending has any music that they (the client) can hear. What does that mean? It means that if you do not have a website and music and photos that I can send to the client you never get recommended for these gigs, ever. These are well paying gigs mind you, that you are not even being recommended for, let alone booking. To top it off, I am just one person, think of all the other people out there getting the same requests for bands and how many of these gigs you are missing out on because you don't have what we need to help us make a decision.
I don't care about those private events. Great! $1,000+ probably isn't too much to you anyways, and it probably doesn't matter that you missed out on 20 of these gigs last year... who needs an extra $20,000+ a year...
The truth is, there are lots of choices for me to choose from when looking for new bands... there is no shortage. The easiest thing to weed people out? The ones who don't have a website, music I can hear, photos I can see and videos I can watch all get thrown into the trash automatically. The ones who have this stuff get assessed and checked out. This simple thing saves me a lot of time because I don't even respond, just straight to the trash. I will spend my time with the ones who have these things and allow myself more time with them by not wasting it on those who don't.
So here is the reality. Even if you are making a decent amount of money without this stuff, you could easily double your income by having these things, yes double. Don't believe me? I don't need you to because if you don't have them you just saved me time for the ones who do.
Website, music we can hear, photos and videos we can see is a fundamental, thee #1 fundamental. It can and will double your income with a proper strategy in place.
You can argue with me all you want about this, but the reality is we are not looking at you if you don't have them and because you don't even know what you are missing you can't really tell me it doesn't matter. It is like trying to charge a premium and not being able to guarantee any fans at your show.
If you tell us you are worth X amount and it is a higher than normal price for me, or the top of the spectrum of what I pay out, and you can't guarantee me a good crowd, why would I pay that and book you? Because we are professionals! Great! How many people can you guarantee me at my venue if I book you? Well we could only really guarantee about 2-10... Sorry not enough people. I book bands based on the amount of revenue it will create, how busy the place will be and the exposure we will get as a venue by booking you. If you cannot provide these things, but want the top payout, I will find a band that can provide these things and pay them instead. Simple as that.
You don't even need your own website if you can't afford the $100 a year. There is Reverbnation, SoundCloud, Facebook, YouTube, and so many more free resources to host music, photos and videos. If you can't afford free, I don't know what to tell you. If you can't offer a full house when you are booked, don't be surprised when you don't get offered a higher payout.
There are plenty of people out there who will help you with music recording, photos and videos for very reasonable prices that are affordable and will not cost you an arm and a leg. I offer packages at prices musicians can afford with great end results. And if a little bit of investment isn't worth it to you, just remember how many gigs you don't even know you are missing out on because you don't have these things.
The first thing I do when I get a band request for: producer, engineer, live show, event, bookings at my venue, is look for their website, music, photos and videos... if they don't have them it goes straight to the trash. Any of my top tier clients have all these things, and even if the really top tier ones don't for some strange reason, they are famous and you can google them and find a slew of stuff already online about them anyways -which solves the issue at hand-.
I use SquareSpace for my website and it only costs $100 a year and let's me do everything... but the brilliant thing about it is that the templates they have are super simple to use to create your own unique website. Wix is another one, but I have a client who used it instead of my recommendation to use SquareSpace and there is a learning curve with it that is a little more complicated, meaning she gets frustrated by it and how you do things which translates to her not updating it as frequently as she wants to. If you don't want to pay money, go sign up for ReverbNation because it is free and allows you to post photos, music, bio, contact info and social media links (you do not have your own unique website address with it however).
Bottom line, if I can't hear you (music), see you (photos) and vibe you out (videos), I don't have the time for you. Would you pay $1,000 for the new iPhone without seeing it, being able to research it, play with it, touch it, and only being told about it? Or would you buy a car without seeing it, driving it, researching it? Be honest.