Ultimately, a working musician is a small businessman, and you have to take full responsibility for creating some kind of demand for your product. Small time bar and restaurant gigs pay so little, that it's hard to imagine anyone taking them serious as a source of any real money. It's really just an opportunity to perform in public. There's more good musicians looking to play, than there are people or places to play for. Supply and demand.
To look at it from a business point of view, there are only two kinds of $erious gigs. The first is private functions. The function has an overall budget, they're usually not a profit driven affair, and the music is just another item of overhead that is accepted. These can pay very well, but you really have to deliver a specific product, generally not a lot of freedom in playing anything too adventurous. Great working hours.
The second serious gig is when you play great music that enough people want to hear bad enough to pay for. It's about filling up seats. This is kind of a no brainer. What would you like to make? What is your goal? Could you take personal responsibility for actually putting 50 people in a seat regularly at $8 a head to make $400? That's good attendance, but still peanuts for money. Change the numbers around to meet your expectations. The economics of this type of gig are very difficult to sustain week after week, but this is where most people want to be. If you can put people in seats, what venue of the correct size wouldn't want you? At this level you could probably stage and promote your own performances. If you're not at this level, being able to play personal music and get paid is tough. It's a rat race out there.
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