When your band starts playing shows, you’ll need to quickly decide how the pay should get split up at the end of every night. Otherwise, your band will start to fight, and that’s no good for anyone.
In general, all money should be split equally between the members of a band, with a few notable exceptions.
1. Songwriters. Songwriters should get a bigger cut of publishing costs and royalties, because, well, they wrote the songs. However, they shouldn’t get all of these fees, and they shouldn’t take an extra part of performance payments.
My band never thought about giving more money to the songwriter (me), because we worked together at all of the shows, so it made sense that we all got paid equally. I received slightly more from CD sales, but not all of it. We talked to one another and worked it out. Be sure to do this before it becomes an issue.
2. Sound guys. Some bands hire sound guys, and it’s of course important to pay them, but how much should they get paid?
We’d always pay the sound guy first, anywhere from $50-100 depending on the size of the room, the length of the show, and whether he was actively monitoring the sound or messing around on his cell phone the whole time. If we did really well on merch sales, we’d give him some of that, too. If you have a sound guy, talk to him and agree on a rate before the show, then give him a little more if he does a good job. It’ll be worth it in the long run, as he’ll continue to give you high-quality sound at every show.
3. Whoever booked the show. Our band really started booking gigs when we decided on a simple rule: whoever booked the show would receive 10% of the money from the gig, then the remaining 90% would be split up equally. This made sense, because it’s a lot of work to book a show. Plus, it added a huge incentive for every band member to pull their own weight.
Consider setting up a rule like this in your band. It can be a very quick and effective way to book more gigs while paying the guys in the band who do more work.
4. Whoever drove. Never forget about gas money at the end of the night. Every band member who drove should get an extra cut to cover his or her gas costs, unless the band member drove an abnormally far distance for no apparent reason.
I had a bassist who insisted on driving so that he could get out of every gig as early as possible, even when he had to drive three hours alone to do so. He didn’t get an extra cut, because he could have just rode with us. However, if another band member rode with him, he’d get extra for his gas costs. Come up with a system in your band and stick to it.
How does your band split up its pay? Post in our comments section below.