3 Simple Pricing Strategies for Performing Artists

When it comes to pricing your talent it can be a case of ‘test and see’ – however, having a clear strategy for generating your income is crucial to (financial) success as a performing artist.

Before exploring actual strategies about pricing it may be helpful for you to check in with how you experience your relationship with money, and to inquire whether you hold any limiting beliefs about money.


Beliefs About Money

What are your general views about money?

Is money an uncomfortable topic for you?

Do you believe in your worth and the value of your art and creativity?

If you feel uneasy or anxious when contemplating any of these questions I encourage you to set a new, resourceful mental framework that will help you decide what is fair and just in setting your pricing structures.

When I speak about money in the context of the creative arts I try to avoid comments such as ‘what you need to survive’ or ‘making ends meet’. Many of my creative clients used to use these terms on a regular basis because they held limiting beliefs about money. They believed that if they chose to follow their dream of being a full-time performing artist they would have to do it tough… they would never be financially secure or they would always have to take a second (or third) job if they ever want to enjoy a successful life that included extras such as owning their own home, holidays, dinners at a swank restaurant or personal pampering or gym membership. This thinking is sure to manifest scarcity and struggle.

“If you want to develop a successful and financially rewarding career as a creative artist you must develop a healthy relationship with money and a mindset that manifests abundance.”

What you charge for a gig depends on a number of factors including your own personal and financial goals, and the market(s) in which you work. These form the foundation for arriving at your fee structure.


Three Strategies

This post will explore 3 strategies for setting your prices for your performances.

Let’s begin…


1. Accept What Is Offered Per Gig

Most creative people usually start at this point. They are unsure of how much to charge and they are usually keen (or desperate) to perform as many gigs as they can. This is a great strategy if your livelihood does not depend on income from performance and you are happy and content with the thrill and enjoyment of gigging no matter what the financial return. However, this strategy is not sustainable in the long term, especially if you want to make a career of your art and be financially secure in the longer term.

If you adopt this approach you usually ask the organiser what they are offering or they tell you their budget and you decide to accept the deal or not.

With this strategy, you are not in control of the financial outcome but at the mercy of the organiser.


2. Charge Fees Based On What You Need To ‘Survive’

Some performers work out what they need to survive on a weekly or monthly basis and calculate their fees based on how many gigs they are likely to do in a given period. Knowing what your expenses are can be a positive motivator and helps you discern where you need to be putting your energies to ensure you bring in sufficient funds to meet your immediate commitments. This approach can also help you expand your thinking and may lead you to expand or reduce what you offer and where you offer it.

This is a helpful strategy, but it can also fall short if you have goals for long-term financial success beyond the ‘survival’ mindset.


3. Plan To Succeed

I wish to debunk the myth that performers cannot succeed financially. I know many creative artists who have worked full-time using their talents and made a comfortable living in the process, including buying their own home, going on holidays, going out to dinner, pampering themselves and having a gym membership! BUT, they have focused on their art and they have developed products and services that support their performances and tie in together to form a strong personal brand. (Developing your strong personal brand is another conversation!)


Planning is the foundation to financial success.


Unfortunately, talent is not enough if you wish to earn a comfortable living. If planning is not a strong point of yours there are people who can help you. Seek them out, it will be well worth the investment.

As a starting point, and specifically for those people who are starting out, I offer you the following ‘quick budget’ outline to consider when devising your performance fee structure. I have based the following outline on an annual income of $60,000 gross.


Income $60,000

Less Living Expenses            $40,000

Less Business Expenses       $12,000

Less Taxes                               $ 5,000

Allow for Saving                     $ 3,000


In order to arrive at the figure that you have to earn per week, you need to divide your desired income by the number of days you are expected to do paid work. For example, if you work 40 weeks in the year (allowing for down times, admin days, sick days and holidays), this means that you would divide $60,000 by 40 weeks. You would need to earn $1500 per week. Then you would estimate how many gigs you plan to do and at what rate. If you do 3 gigs per week you will need to charge $500 per gig and so on.

When calculating your expenses make a list of all outgoings and don’t underestimate. Be sure to allow for the unexpected.


Wrapping Up

Whatever or however you decide to charge for your performances, one thing is clear – this is a personal matter. What is fair and reasonable for one person may not be the case for another. External factors also play a role in determining the final rate.

I hope this post gives you some food for thought and some helpful information about how to set your fees for your performances.

I’d love to hear your ideas on how you set your pricing. Please leave a comment in the section below.

If you feel insecure about this subject I invite you to join me for a free Discovery Session to unpack those blocks and limiting beliefs so you establish strong and decisive pricing plans that will give you confidence and a reliable income flow moving forward.



Monica O’Brien is a professionally trained and accredited Coach and founder of Creative Edge Coaching www.creativeedgecoaching.com.au. She blogs on issues about creativity and small business development for conscious artists and business entrepreneurs. 


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