About Playing Live...

Local shows will likely be your first "major" source of income. Expenses involved in local/regional shows will be limited to gas and maybe per diems. To get booked at a local or regional club, you will not need the services of a booking agent, instead you will be able to do it yourselves. All you need is a complete and updated press kit, lots of persistence, and the ability and confidence to play a 45-60 minute set.

Once you've selected local and regional clubs you want to perform at, send the venue your complete press kit and follow up with a phone call within 5 to 7 working days. The club will then tell you whether they're interested in booking you for a show or not. If they are, it will be your turn to tell the venue how much money you want for your performance. Once you've negotiated a deal you will have to gather all the pertinent information and set up a contract. (Note that after you've played a club for a couple of times and established a working relationship, the venue might not insist on a written contract anymore.) Nevertheless, getting things is writing is a very good habit to get into.

Here's a list of issues you will have to address and specify in a contract:

"Purchaser" or "Buyer" (Name of the Club Promoter)


"Deal" - The deal you accepted and the amount of money you will get paid.

The four most common deals you will encounter:

1) Flat or Guarantee Ex.: $ 300

2) Versus Ex.: $ 300 versus 30% door, whatever's higher.

3) Plus Ex.: $ 300 plus 30% door

4) Points/Split Ex.: 50/30/20 of Net

You also need to address:

  • Date of Event
  • Set Length
  • Deposit (if any)
  • Who will pay to whom how much and when
  • Admission Fee (Ticket Price)
  • Capacity
  • Act of Nature (Force Majeure). The force majeure (literally "superior force") clause is applied when there is an unexpected event that causes performance of the contract to become impossible; it releases one or both parties from their rights and obligations.
  • Cancellation Fees
  • Recording by Permission Only
  • Promotional Commitment (This specifies the minimum amount of money you, the band, expect the club to invest in advertising the show.)
  • Merchandise: How much the club will take from the gross of merchandise sold (usually 10%)

For information about playing live and other music business topics, please visit FourFront Media & Music.

Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.

Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.

He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".

Christopher Knab

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