As much money as you can make right? If you are reading this article most likely you are not a superstar yet who getting millions per show performing at stadiums. You have some fans and you want them to see you live. To continue your art you need to make money-doing shows. As a booking agent, it is my job everyday to negotiate the best fee for my artists. I hope this article can enlighten you on that process.
There is a balance where you need your fee to cover all your costs such as paying musicians, crew, travel, etc. plus putting some green in your pocket. At the same time, you need to consider that the promoter or venue need to make money. If they do well with you, they will want to do more shows with you in the future.
There are three standard ways to negotiate your artist fee: fix guarantees, guarantees with a backend or door deals.
Guarantees are done either with a promoter or the venue. Most artists with a performance history will do the deal with a guaranteed fee. Usually, a venue/promoter will give a guarantee to an artist that has a solid tour history and a firm number in ticket sales. However, it is possible to negotiate a reasonable artist fee dependent on fan base, market and the type of venue. Ideally, the promoter or venue is looking to make between 20% to 40% profit on your show. Remember they are the one taking the risk on your act so they need a good return at sell out and there is a possibility that your show will not sell out as anything could happen such as bad weather, a competing event on the same night or any other tragedy. From the artist point, there is no risk you will be paid no matter what.
So let’s do the math:
Let’s say your band can sell approximately 500 tickets in a certain market and tickets can go for approximately $20. That is a gross potential of $10,000 at sell out.
Let’s say your venue/promoter has fixed costs of $2,000 for venue rental, marketing/advertisement, production, etc. That leaves potentially $8,000 left, so factor in for the promoter to make 40%. This would mean your band should make around $4,000 as your guarantee. It’s a good practice to ask the venue/promoter to send you a cost sheet prior to agreeing on a fee.
Guarantees with a backend
In this scenario you would have a guarantee fee plus a percentage of the net profit. Sometime the guarantee will be smaller than if you just made a deal without backend, but if you do well or sell out you will make more money. To negotiate this you will have to see a complete costs sheet plus a potential ticket sells breakdown. The breakdown should include the backend for the artist, which usually would be 70% to 80% of the net profit.
Negotiating a door deal puts you, the artist, in the promoter position. In order to make money at your show, your fans have to show up. The promoter, in some cases will cover some expenses, provide a production team and provide light marketing. This is the least risk for the venue/promoter. You would either negotiate to get 100% of the door less any expenses or just 50% of the door.
Keeping diligent track of your tour history is important for your future as an artist. When you keep track of ticket sales in every market it allows you to gauge your price for future shows. Your tour history should include the ticket price point (free tickets and giveaways do not get factored), market information (demographics, market information: primary or secondary) and the number of hard ticket sales. Taking these steps will assist you in negotiating with other venues, promoters and your agent for future shows. So get out there, perform and earn some bread.