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Alternative Ways to Make Money as a Band

(By Richard Morales)
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So the gig scene is not all that cracked up as it was made out to be. You and your band have played numerous gigs, but the big paycheck is just not rolling in. You have put your blood, sweat, and tears into making your band a success, and now you feel all of your hard work has been overlooked thanks to sagging ticket sales and disinterested venue owners. Don’t give up. There are many alternative methods in which your band can still earn money while you are reorganizing behind the scenes to make your second move into stardom.

 ·         Play as a cover band-Playing as a cover band is a smart idea, and it is a great way to get more exposure. Different clubs and venues pay different amounts, but the pay is usually not that bad per player. Some venues may be willing to pay up to $150 per member at a local cover band gig. All you have to do is learn a variety of songs from well-established artists and play these songs at your gig. These songs will range in style and tone, but you will find the experience quite rewarding. If you can, try to hook up with a band that has already made it in the music business so you get more public exposure. This will save you the hassle of having to put the money into becoming a cover band.
 ·         Make lots of CD’s-O.K. this one may not generate immediate revenue, but the effort outweighs the financial rewards. As soon as your band has a CD available, hand it out. Do this anywhere you go (bars, clubs, restaurants, dates, and even street corners). Some may end up in the garbage can, but that’s alright. If you handed out 50 CDs and only had 15 people hold onto them, then those 15 are your prized fans that may relate your band’s musical talents onto others. This is one good thing to do on the side when things are slow in the gig business. You never know, your next gig may draw many new faces and more people because of your hard fought efforts here

 ·         Do Studio Work-This is a great way to supplement income. You can do television and radio jingles as well as demo tapes. Getting a job at the studio can be a little tough. Many times bands will have to get to know other musicians or people who work at the studio in order to squeeze their way into this picture, but at least try to go up there on your own in the beginning. If you really make the effort here, you will find your way into the studio.

 ·         Sell Memorabilia-Any band should have some type of memorabilia to showcase for fans. Someone will more than likely come to like your band if they are able to take something home with them that reminds them of your band. T-shirts, CDs, and other small collectibles are a great way to earn some extra money and get more public exposure at the same time. Sell over the Internet (it is always a great idea for your band to have their own web page!) or at a local gig you just performed at, or even for charity purposes. Tell people you will be donating half of the money to your favorite charity foundation. This way you are not only helping out for a good cause, but you are still able to keep the other half of the money to put into your band’s expenses.

 ·         Indie Labels or Self-Owned Labels-This is another area where you may not see immediate financial rewards. Dealing with big record labels can be a real hassle. Your band will often be overlooked by these big name dealers who have taken an interest in someone else. As a result you get bumped further and further back, just waiting for your turn in a line that has no concept of order or fairness. There is a good chance you will never get the contract you are seeking, and even if you do, the contract may be null and void if it is written wrong. Instead of playing the waiting game to land a big record contract try getting a smaller label (called an indie label), which will usually give your band more exposure. None of these labels are owned by major record companies, but smaller, less well-known companies that still have some push in the music business. You can also promote your own record label without having to deal with any of the major record labelers. The only problem with this is that you will have to pay for the expenses associated with doing this upfront. You may want to make sure you are selling those t-shirts or performing studio work on the side so you can finance this expense. Remember again, the long-term financial rewards here outweigh the short-term expenses!      

Updated: February 18, 2008

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