Archive 1: Questions and Answers

Archive: 20th June 2008

From GF who’s been on my agency website at

Hi Jacey
Hope you don’t mind me emailing you, really helpfull site you have, learnt a few tips re gigs, promoters. Just wondered if I could ask you a couple of questions. I have done a few gigs and have two issues only a promoter could answer.

1: Should I sell CD’s that cost £1:25 to make for £5 or £10, I know I would sell a lot more if I dropped the price from £10?

I’m deeply worried by the thought of anyone selling CDs for £5.00. Why is it only worth a fiver? What’s wrong with it? If it’s not good, don’t sell it at all. Consider: if it’s only a CD-rom with a tatty photocopied cover do you really want to package your music like that? If it’s not a professionally recorded and produced package why are you even considering selling it in the first place?

Ask yourself: would you sell a lot more CDs at the cheaper price? If someone wants your music and – presuming it’s a professionally recorded and produced package and a CD of 40 minutes + in length – they’ll pay the going rate for it.

CDs generally sell for £12 at gigs. They might be more in the shops – that’s up to the shop. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the retail value of the CD has anything to do with the cost of the plastic it’s made from. Selling a properly factory pressed CD for a fiver if it’s a full length new-issue is an insult to your music and it way undercuts everyone else’s pricing structure. For a start how can you put a value on music. The plasic is the medium, the music is what’s for sale. Now let’s talk about that medium. There’s a big myth about CDs being cheap to produce. Yes, the actual pressing plant price is low per disk, (pence if it’s a major label pressing a large run or a pound or so for short runs) but the peripheral costs all add up: the MCPS royalties for the songwriters; the recording studio time (which can run to thousands if you let it); maybe even the cost of paying guest musicians session rates; the cost of a graphic designer; the cost of promoting your CD – i.e. sending out all the freebies to reviewers and the airplay copies to magazines; the adverising in magazines; the cost of a publicist if you opt for one and all the associated admin costs and your time for dealing with it.

If you’re dealing with the youth market, for which price might be an issue, consider putting out a very simply packaged EP for a fiver with say six great tracks that will whet their appetite for more of your music.

2: Do you think as an unknown I should do gigs for free if I know I can sell CD’s at the gigs or should I get them to cover at least the fuel.

Doing gigs for free? Sure – with reservations.

If it’s close to home and costing you nothing and you’re not turning down paid work and if you (or a charity you support) are getting something out of it. You can always do a limited number of appearances for free to get your name known, but… Don’t go giving yourself away all over the place and then expect to get paid gigs in the same area within the same timeframe. It’s a commonsense thing. Play for free when it’s to your advantage to do so but don’t be bullied into taking a free gig by a promoter who will make money off it. (You can always ask for a percentage of the door if he won’t guarantee a minimum fee, but if you do that make sure you know he’s charging a sensible ticket price.)

Doing a support for free or a feature spot to get a paid gig at a venue is good business sense if it’s not costing you a packet to do it. Make sure the organiser knows you’re in the market for doing a paid gig if he likes what you do and if you impress his audience.

Charity gigs? Yes, fine within reason. If it’s a charity you support and it’s a well run gig and they’re going to raise at least what they should have paid you in gig fee, then give your sevices with pleasure. But be careful, some charity gigs aren’t ewhat they seem to be. Many years ago we got asked to play a charity gig for which the organiser proposed to charge 50p a ticket and could seat 70 people (i.e. he could raise a maximum of £35). Our flat rate fee at the time was £150. We told him we’d do the gig for free if he charged a fiver a ticket so he could raise a decent amount – at least equivalent to the amount he should have paid us. He refused. We pulled out of the gig.

Exposure is good, but remember that  you can die of exposure.

About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (, the secretary of Milford SF Writers (, a singer ( and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers (
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