contracting gigs

The Who, Why, and How of Contracting Gigs

Many people are unaware of what it means to contract a gig.  Playing gigs around town is one of the most important things for a freelance musician financially.  Generally, gigs pay better per hour than just about anything else, so it is worth your time to play as many gigs as you can.  One of the best ways to maximize your gigging business to either know or become a music contractor.


What is a contractor for a gig?

The contractor for a gig is the person that is “in charge” of all of the details.  They are the main contact point for both the musicians for the gig and the people that hire the group.  Ultimately, the contractor is responsible for the success or failure of a gig.

On the business side, the contractor is in charge of pulling together the necessary materials for the gig (music, set up stuff, etc).  If music needs to be arranged, then it’s the contractor’s job to figure out how to get it arranged.  Also, it is the job of the contractor to develop and maintain the relationships with their customers.


Why is there a contractor for a gig?

By having a contractor for a gig, it eliminates the confusion of who is leading the gig.  I’ve always been taught that “anything with two heads is a monster,” so you want to eliminate the “two headed” monster from the beginning.  Again, it gives the customer one person with whom to communicate rather than an entire music group.


What is the benefit of knowing contractors?

This question is an easy one to answer.  The benefit of knowing contractors is that they are a great source for getting called for gigs.  Because they go out and find the gigs, then that means that they are constantly hiring other musicians to play the gigs.  The other benefit of knowing contractors is the fact that they are generally very experienced in the freelancing field, and you can learn a TON from them.


What is the benefit of being a contractor?

By contracting gigs yourself, you will be constantly finding and hiring for gigs in the area.  Because of the fact that you are in control of finding working opportunities, it gives you more control over your finances.  This way, you are not waiting to be called for work…you are creating the work.

Another huge benefit to contracting gigs is the fact that you can be paid 20 to 25% off of the top of a gig.  This fee is standard in the market today, and when you break down the cost of hiring the musicians for your customer, include the contractor fee.

For example, if you are hiring a brass quintet at $150 per player, then the contractor fee would be $150 times 5 and then times 1.2 (for 20%).  That will be a total cost of $900 with $150 going to the contractor.  If you are playing the gig, then you would receive $150 for the contractor fee plus $150 for playing.  Pretty cool!


How can you become a contractor?

There are no specific requirements for contracting gigs, so you can become one instantly.  However, there are two things that you need:  a contact list of musicians and a list of customers both current and potential.  In order to meet musicians, check out “How to meet musicians” (  In order to find gigs, check out “Marketing methods for musicians” (  Remember…always work to expand your contacts!


Question:  What is keeping you from starting contracting gigs in your city?


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Photo by Tess Aquarium. Used under Creative Commons License.

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