How much do bands get paid? Covers vs original material.

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Rowby1Rowby1 Frets: 336
This has probably been discussed a few times before but I had two gigs with two bands over the weekend and it got me thinking, is this the norm?

Gig 1. Saturday night, pub with a beer festival. My covers band. We’re not an amazing band by any means, just a bunch of mates playing songs we love for a bit of fun and getting paid for it from time to time. We had agreed a price of £350 but actually got paid £450. The night had gone well, we played longer than we expected and the place was full and jumping right to the end. I didn’t think we played particularly well to be honest, but it didn’t seem to matter. 

Gig 2. Sunday late afternoon. A pub that does live music several times a week and Sunday afternoon gigs regularly. Original material band with a few covers (less than 30% of the set). Probably 15 or 20 of the bands friends and family, another 30 or 40 unknown (possibly local regulars) punters. Musically and creatively another league up from the previous nights band. Played really well, loads of good feedback from the none entourage audience members. 7 piece band, £220.

So, is that fairly typical? Can bands that play just original material actually make any money until they’ve built a large following?


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  • exocetexocet Frets: 500
    Rowby1 said:
    This has probably been discussed a few times before but I had two gigs with two bands over the weekend and it got me thinking, is this the norm?

    Gig 1. Saturday night, pub with a beer festival. My covers band. We’re not an amazing band by any means, just a bunch of mates playing songs we love for a bit of fun and getting paid for it from time to time. We had agreed a price of £350 but actually got paid £450. The night had gone well, we played longer than we expected and the place was full and jumping right to the end. I didn’t think we played particularly well to be honest, but it didn’t seem to matter. 

    Gig 2. Sunday late afternoon. A pub that does live music several times a week and Sunday afternoon gigs regularly. Original material band with a few covers (less than 30% of the set). Probably 15 or 20 of the bands friends and family, another 30 or 40 unknown (possibly local regulars) punters. Musically and creatively another league up from the previous nights band. Played really well, loads of good feedback from the none entourage audience members. 7 piece band, £220.

    So, is that fairly typical? Can bands that play just original material actually make any money until they’ve built a large following?


    How much did the pub take on the respective days...simple as that. Full pub + Beer flying through the pipes = More pay. 
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  • mr-macmr-mac Frets: 149
    Rowby1 said:
    This has probably been discussed a few times before but I had two gigs with two bands over the weekend and it got me thinking, is this the norm?

    Gig 1. Saturday night, pub with a beer festival. My covers band. We’re not an amazing band by any means, just a bunch of mates playing songs we love for a bit of fun and getting paid for it from time to time. We had agreed a price of £350 but actually got paid £450. The night had gone well, we played longer than we expected and the place was full and jumping right to the end. I didn’t think we played particularly well to be honest, but it didn’t seem to matter. 

    Gig 2. Sunday late afternoon. A pub that does live music several times a week and Sunday afternoon gigs regularly. Original material band with a few covers (less than 30% of the set). Probably 15 or 20 of the bands friends and family, another 30 or 40 unknown (possibly local regulars) punters. Musically and creatively another league up from the previous nights band. Played really well, loads of good feedback from the none entourage audience members. 7 piece band, £220.

    So, is that fairly typical? Can bands that play just original material actually make any money until they’ve built a large following?


    I'd say at £220 you actually did very well as an originals band.  
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  • NunogilbertoNunogilberto Frets: 1255
    Sounds about right to me, though you’d have to be a seriously good covers band to get that kind of cash where I live... Going rate for a covers band is somewhere between £200 and £300 here (South Wales/Valleys, originals less so.
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  • Rowby1Rowby1 Frets: 336
    exocet said:
    Rowby1 said:
    This has probably been discussed a few times before but I had two gigs with two bands over the weekend and it got me thinking, is this the norm?

    Gig 1. Saturday night, pub with a beer festival. My covers band. We’re not an amazing band by any means, just a bunch of mates playing songs we love for a bit of fun and getting paid for it from time to time. We had agreed a price of £350 but actually got paid £450. The night had gone well, we played longer than we expected and the place was full and jumping right to the end. I didn’t think we played particularly well to be honest, but it didn’t seem to matter. 

    Gig 2. Sunday late afternoon. A pub that does live music several times a week and Sunday afternoon gigs regularly. Original material band with a few covers (less than 30% of the set). Probably 15 or 20 of the bands friends and family, another 30 or 40 unknown (possibly local regulars) punters. Musically and creatively another league up from the previous nights band. Played really well, loads of good feedback from the none entourage audience members. 7 piece band, £220.

    So, is that fairly typical? Can bands that play just original material actually make any money until they’ve built a large following?


    How much did the pub take on the respective days...simple as that. Full pub + Beer flying through the pipes = More pay. 
    Yup, get that completely.
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  • Rowby1Rowby1 Frets: 336
    mr-mac said:
    Rowby1 said:
    This has probably been discussed a few times before but I had two gigs with two bands over the weekend and it got me thinking, is this the norm?

    Gig 1. Saturday night, pub with a beer festival. My covers band. We’re not an amazing band by any means, just a bunch of mates playing songs we love for a bit of fun and getting paid for it from time to time. We had agreed a price of £350 but actually got paid £450. The night had gone well, we played longer than we expected and the place was full and jumping right to the end. I didn’t think we played particularly well to be honest, but it didn’t seem to matter. 

    Gig 2. Sunday late afternoon. A pub that does live music several times a week and Sunday afternoon gigs regularly. Original material band with a few covers (less than 30% of the set). Probably 15 or 20 of the bands friends and family, another 30 or 40 unknown (possibly local regulars) punters. Musically and creatively another league up from the previous nights band. Played really well, loads of good feedback from the none entourage audience members. 7 piece band, £220.

    So, is that fairly typical? Can bands that play just original material actually make any money until they’ve built a large following?


    I'd say at £220 you actually did very well as an originals band.  
    Also, yes, I think we probably did.
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  • mr-macmr-mac Frets: 149
    In my area i am with prev poster 2-300 for covers at pub and well only a few originals manage to get gigs with a fee at all but there are opportunities to put together ticket events etc.
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3535
    I play in 3 covers bands and generally we get between £400 and £650 a gig for pubs. Weddings are around the £1.2K upwards and corporate stuff can be 2K or more. 
    The last 3 originals gigs I did though were all for free beer and expenses. It is a hard slog for pure originals so sometimes it;s better to play a mix of originals and covers. When I started out 30 years ago that's what we all did anyway and that's what The Beatles, Van Halen and just about every other band did back in the day. 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 314
    The band I'm playing with at the moment (mostly guitar tech though) demand £100 for shows now as a guarantee with a view of hiking it to £150. We get our fuel covered and usually some beers/rider is thrown in. Not quite rock n roll yet but at least travel is covered eh. Not played in a covers band before but can imagine they fetch more.
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  • Rowby1Rowby1 Frets: 336
    edited May 22
    I suspect this stuff varries quite a bit regionally (previous posters have alluded to this) so it’d be interesting to know where we are. I’m East Midlands based and the two gigs I mentioned were relatively local to me. @mr-mac @Danny1969 @Lestratcaster
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1675
    Urban Legends play covers in pubs around the East Midlands. For pub gigs we get £250 to £300. We won’t play for less because the cheaper venues generally don’t want or can’t handle a five piece band.

    We could do weddings, and I’ve done them before, but we don’t need the money, and prefer to be the main attraction rather than the wallpaper.
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3535
    Rowby1 said:
    I suspect this stuff varries quite a bit regionally (previous posters have alluded to this) so it’d be interesting to know where we are. I’m East Midlands based and the two gigs I mentioned were relatively local to me. @mr-mac @Danny1969 @Lestratcaster
    I'm just outside of Portsmouth in Waterlooville and there's a huge amount of pubs here that pay covers bands well ... on the stretch of A3 where I live there are 7 pubs that pay well within 3 miles of my house. 
    I generally do around 3 gigs a week so 80 % of my income comes from playing covers 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • vasselmeyervasselmeyer Frets: 2194
    I'm in a 4-piece covers band (bass, drums, guitar, vox) playing in NW England around the Manchester area. Beer festivals are usually very well attended and we generally get £400+ for those. Beer festivals are a big earner for the venue anyway as they make a mint anyway from pissed punters. Standard gigs on a Saturday night down at the Dog & Duck is generally £200, possibly £225 if we are booked through an agent or the landlord likes us.

    It makes no difference whatsoever if you're a three piece or a seven-piece; the pubs don't pay you any more just because there are more people in the band. As far as the venues are concerned it's a flat rate.

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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 314
    Rowby1 said:
    I suspect this stuff varries quite a bit regionally (previous posters have alluded to this) so it’d be interesting to know where we are. I’m East Midlands based and the two gigs I mentioned were relatively local to me. @mr-mac @Danny1969 @Lestratcaster
    We're London based but play all over the UK.
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 6811
    Danny1969 said:
    I play in 3 covers bands and generally we get between £400 and £650 a gig for pubs. Weddings are around the £1.2K upwards and corporate stuff can be 2K or more. 
    The last 3 originals gigs I did though were all for free beer and expenses. It is a hard slog for pure originals so sometimes it;s better to play a mix of originals and covers. When I started out 30 years ago that's what we all did anyway and that's what The Beatles, Van Halen and just about every other band did back in the day. 
    My first band was mid 90s ( big gaps since without picking up a guitar let alone gigging) and we mixed covers and originals. I used to go see other local bands and that’s what everyone did. Everyone got paid as well. To some extent it was the idea of thanking your audience for paying attention to your original stuff by giving them something familiar. I’m not saying it was an artistically better thing but there wasn’t the split between covers and originals bands for the most part. I think now a covers band is a hard sell, has to be a tribute to something. 

    Anyway, pub gigs between about £200 and £350; my previous band did a couple of shared gigs with original bands and we got paid in out of date beer bottles. 

    Roland said:
    Urban Legends play covers in pubs around the East Midlands. For pub gigs we get £250 to £300. We won’t play for less because the cheaper venues generally don’t want or can’t handle a five piece band.

    We could do weddings, and I’ve done them before, but we don’t need the money, and prefer to be the main attraction rather than the wallpaper.
    I quite dislike playing weddings; as a way to make a living it wouldn’t be terrible but as a hobby hanging around for hours to be treated like the hired help isn’t my idea of fun (although why anyone would hire us to play a wedding - and they have - God knows). I think we got about £600. 
    I feel the warm, healing, liquid presence of God’s genuine cold-filtered grace. 
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  • Rowby1Rowby1 Frets: 336
    edited May 22
    I’ve done the wedding and function/corporate gig thing years ago and yes, it’s a pain. If I was desperate to make money from it then I’d do it again but it’s too much hanging around and you can never please everybody at those gigs. 

    Just interested in playing stuff I enjoy (covers or original material) and if I can get paid as well then that’s a bonus. Sounds like we did okay pay wise on both gigs at the weekend then! 
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  • fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 148
    I used to get £150 to £200 for an all original funk back in pubs.   My rock cover band was more like £200 to £300 For pub gigs.  My current band is yet to gig but hoping for larger functions with a higher fee.  S. West. 
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  • mudslide73mudslide73 Frets: 1601
    250-350 for pub covers. There's loads of work at that level. We don't tend to take many punters either. We've done a few big payers over the years but I don't tend to enjoy them so much. 
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  • Hick81Hick81 Frets: 57
    I once played The Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester doing originals, got paid in Nachos. 
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  • munckeemunckee Frets: 967
    edited May 23
    Danny1969 said:
    Rowby1 said:
    I suspect this stuff varries quite a bit regionally (previous posters have alluded to this) so it’d be interesting to know where we are. I’m East Midlands based and the two gigs I mentioned were relatively local to me. @mr-mac @Danny1969 @Lestratcaster
    I'm just outside of Portsmouth in Waterlooville and there's a huge amount of pubs here that pay covers bands well ... on the stretch of A3 where I live there are 7 pubs that pay well within 3 miles of my house. 
    I generally do around 3 gigs a week so 80 % of my income comes from playing covers 
    Don't want to give Danny ego problems so he changes his name to a symbol or anything but to provide some context the band of his I have seen are not representative of the quality of pub bands I have seen in many years of watching pub bands!!
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  • Moe_ZambeekMoe_Zambeek Frets: 2192
    edited May 23
    Here in Edinburgh we would get about 200 quid for pub gigs, maybe a bit more, doing covers. We had a regular slot doing originals in Edinburgh that paid around 150, regular originals gigs in Dundee @300, very occasional big originals gigs that paid 7-1200 across the uk, usually mixed with some paying £75!

    My most recent short-lived experience in another (not very good) originals band was being paid 35-50 quid - but that’s what you get when your singer is shit but thinks he’s a musical genius

    There are considerably fewer venues here now though. Many of the places we played are closed or not doing live music anymore.
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  • lefunklefunk Frets: 2
    We play in the Manchester area. Pubs around here generally pay covers bands between £200 and £300 a gig. Number of musicians is irrelevant.
    Weddings generally pay between £150 and £250 per musician in the band. Some wedding bands charge a lot more than this though.

    Dave C
     Acoustic/Electric Guitarist
     LeFunk! Wedding and Function Band
     www.lefunk.co.uk
     www.facebook.com/lefunkuk
     www.twitter.com/lefunk_band
     www.soundcloud.com/lefunk-3

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  • David5150David5150 Frets: 101

    Essex modern rock covers band - we get paid 200-250 per gig which is fine for us as we're never going to make our fortune rocking out the dog and duck.

    We do a few weddings - mainly for friends of friends - and charge £1000 - £1500 for band and DJ

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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11568
    We're an originals band, and generally-speaking we only ever cover petrol money from gigs; any profit comes from selling t-shirts and CDs. Even when we headline, it's likely we'll only get £50-£100 (if anything at all) for a 45-minute set.

    The exception is when we play a full two-hour gig, where we usually take £200-250.

    The biggest take was my last band's album launch. After we'd paid the other two bands and the sound guy, we ended up with about £200 from the door and about £300 from merch sales. We ran the whole night, though; I'm convinced that's the only way to make decent money from originals gigs until you get big enough to guarantee a good crowd.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • vasselmeyervasselmeyer Frets: 2194
    Another thing to mention is that when I got back into gigging in 2012 after a long time out of not playing in a band we were going out for £200. It's now 2018 with 6-7 years of inflation and we're playing for...£200. However, it seems there are fewer pubs and they're struggling even more than they used to be so it's not surprising that landlords are looking to reduce their costs wherever they can.
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11568
    Another thing to mention is that when I got back into gigging in 2012 after a long time out of not playing in a band we were going out for £200. It's now 2018 with 6-7 years of inflation and we're playing for...£200. However, it seems there are fewer pubs and they're struggling even more than they used to be so it's not surprising that landlords are looking to reduce their costs wherever they can.
    I had a covers band back when I was 18 (in 1995). The average gig paid...£200. The equivalent nowadays, looking at inflation calculators, would be £378.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • not_the_djnot_the_dj Frets: 5441
    Looking at my average for this year (23 gigs) it’s £271. We don’t go out for less than £200, but £250-£300 is the usual. 

    That’s a 4 piece rock covers band. 
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  • JetfireJetfire Frets: 550
    We are in Swansea area mainly so we have loads of gigs in the diary for this year which are mostly pub gigs but it ranges price wise from £250 up to £1000 for new years eve. We have a mental note of venues that only pay £200 and we are always busy when they ask. However, we are lucky in the respect of having an agent/booking bloke who does loads of bands locally and he has been really fair with us. We want to go out and only do big money shows (£400 etc) from now on but i cant see it happening just at the minute as there arent the venues and weddings are tricky beast to catch.
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 728
    edited May 25
    I've never seen a covers band play at Glastonbury, so I'm guessing it's down to the quality of the original material as to whether you get paid or not?
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  • ESBlondeESBlonde Frets: 2230
    Jetfire said:
    We are in Swansea area mainly so we have loads of gigs in the diary for this year which are mostly pub gigs but it ranges price wise from £250 up to £1000 for new years eve. We have a mental note of venues that only pay £200 and we are always busy when they ask. However, we are lucky in the respect of having an agent/booking bloke who does loads of bands locally and he has been really fair with us. We want to go out and only do big money shows (£400 etc) from now on but i cant see it happening just at the minute as there arent the venues and weddings are tricky beast to catch.
    If you want the weddings market, they tend to think pub bands are cheap. At our most successful we played just two pubs occasionally on a sunday night. That way we used them as a shop window and to test new material and people believe you when you tell them the price for a wedding, if they know you do pubs saturday night regularly you are going to be cheap. I know other bands that have a different name for the two markets (and sometimes add or change a musician too), this has the same effect.


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  • JD50JD50 Frets: 240

    I played in an originals band until a couple years ago. We were London based & would take around £500 on average.

    After doing shows with various so called promoters..... not getting paid/double booked venues/ un-safe non-working backline 'sorry the PA cuts out now and again, give it 5 mins'

    We put our own shows together ran the door sorted DJ's picked support band, chose venue, did a lot of promo etc

    We also use to try and put on shows in more interesting spaces  so for example we had the top floor of a cinema & other times we put on shows in art galleries.


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