Playing for Free or Getting Paid – 1

money gospel ministry music

money_poundsI guess the first thing most people want to know is how do I get paid and should I work for free? Well let’s start by seeing where you are.   Do you see yourself in any of these situations?

Scenario 1

You agree to perform at an event for free.  You perform and leave feeling ‘…this is ok…This is ministry’.

Scenario 2

You agree to perform at an event for free.  You perform and leave feeling ‘…this is ok…This is ministry’ but there are times you think ‘…I should have at least received something for my travel expenses…’ 

Scenario 3

Having travelled 95 miles to perform at an event where you were told you would be ‘looked after’ all you receive at the end of the night is a cup of tea and a curry pattie for your services and you leave thinking ‘I thought I would have been paid?’

Scenario 4

You agree a fee for your services beforehand.  You arrive, do your thing and at the end of the event when you speak to the organiser you are told your cheque is not available as they have not managed to make the necessary arrangements.  They are unable to pay you cash but promise to post it to you.  You leave thinking ‘This happens too often to me… and I was really banking on that money to pay a bill during the week’.

Scenario 5

You have been invited to an event.  You were told that it will be good for your ppurse_wallet_moneyrofile and that it could lead to other work. You are also told that when people hear you they will want to book you. They add (words to the effect of) ‘…so could you reduce your fee or preferably play for free as the budget is tight?’  After the conversation you are left thinking ‘I receive too many of these enquiries.  May be I’ll get new work but what if it is the same as before – no enquiries from previous audience members?’

Scenario 6

You have received an enquiry.  Your fee is agreed.  At the end of the event you are paid on the night and you leave thinking ‘It worked!’ You feel your esteem growing and you also feel valued.

Scenario 7

You receive a booking.  Your fee is agreed and they are happy to pay a booking fee in advance with the balance at a later stage.  Both payments take place as well as your performance.  You leave feeling…EPIC – lol! Not really, you leave feeling… a professional!

Well I guess I could go on with other scenarios in ‘Playing for Free or Getting Paid – 1’  but hopefully you get the picture.  Perhaps one of the scenarios is where you are now?  May be where you would like to get to or where you have been?

Incidentally I have experienced each of the above scenarios.  Nowadays, as a professional musician, I am paid for the work I do.  It covers my gigging expenses and contributes to my cost of living. There is still a small proportion of my work that I chose to do voluntary.  Notwithstanding there are the occasional challenges in this area but that’s business.

The next article will be about reasons why you might chose to play for free followed by an article about being paid.  I will see you then, oh by the way if you have any questions about the article please send them in.  If you have experiences you would like to share, related to the articles then please send those in too. Email:


Millicent Stephenson

Executive Board Member – Artistes in Business and Enterprise


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