Diary of a Band Member: Gigging

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Not all expenses encountered by musicians are incurred from purchasing equipment and other essential items. Gigging is a big part of being in a band and can be one of the most expensive aspects. For a start, small, local bands are unlikely to get paid for their performance — unless you count a free drink as payment (which most people will). Bands will therefore be required to utilise their own methods of transport to get to relevant venues and, in some cases, may be required to provide their own equipment. Lugging all of this around can be both strenuous and expensive, making the life of a band member not always as glamorous as it’s made out to be.

Here are some of the most common costs associated with gigging and some tips on how you can reduce them:

Transport

Perhaps the main expense incurred during a gig, travel can be an expensive thing at the best of times. Bands will often travel fairly large distances for their chance to be in the spotlight and finding the best way to do this is often difficult.

A band van is a traditional concept but one that is not always viable for those just starting out on the musical road. Instead, utilising personal cars and public transport can often be a great option, providing all of the band members and their equipment can fit in, of course. Travelling at off-peak times and using railcards and other discounts is a good way to save money here.

Equipment

As I have already stated, sometimes bands will need to provide their own equipment at a gig. Most venues will provide their own PA system and there will usually be a “kit share” procedure in place. This means the headline act will provide their amps and drum kit, with other bands simply bringing their own guitars, effects pedals, cymbals and bass drum pedals. Most drummers will often bring their own snare drum as well, as these can differ greatly in sound.

If you need to buy any musical equipment in preparation for a gig then it is worthwhile looking at your local pawnbrokers for any great deals. Larger instrument shops will also offer sales and discounts throughout the year and so it is vital the musicians keep an eye out for these too.

Food and Beverages

The food and drink inside venues can sometimes be expensive and few places will offer bands a limitless supply. It is, therefore, worthwhile packing your own bottles of water from home along with a few snacks, such as crisps. Many bands will also take a towel with them to help them cool down after an energetic performance.

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