The answer to the question “is it attractive to employers to be willing to work for low/no pay?”… is NO. But before I start explaining why, and how to negotiate in the music business, let me first explain why you can trust me. I have been working in the music industry since 1988. I have toured with many top name artists such as Toby Keith, Sammy Hagar, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Taylor Swift, and more. I am currently working on tour with award winning artist Miranda Lambert. I also have an endorsement with Planet Waves and they just don’t hand out endorsements to anyone so have confidence in what I am saying. If you need to see my whole resume, you can find more at http://www.sammybones.com.
The answer to the question “is it attractive to employers to be willing to work for low/no pay?”… is NO. Several reasons, employers still have an expense to have you work for them even beyond your salary. If they can’t afford to pay you, then they can’t afford you for free either. Employers need to pay workers comp, and have insurance to cover you being there. Not just medical. for everything. On the road, you will eat, you will take up space on a bus, you will need flights and hotel space, so if they can afford all that, then they can afford to give you a little.
Also, working is positions for free drives the pay rate down for everyone else as well as for your future career. If you drive the price down, by the time you need a career salary, nobody will pay it because they can just get people for cheap to come in. This is exactly why unions start. This is also why companies outsource labor and refuse to give out health benefits, retirement, and even a decent salary.
If you want experience, work for free at your local church, in Nashville check out onestonenashville. They welcome production help, they don’t care about your experience, and if you go to several churches that have a decent size music team, then you can learn a lot and people there will help and support you in your quest for a better gig(not that working for God isn’t a good gig)
If you don’t know what a position should pay in the music business, then try going to http://www.belleskypublishing.com and search for “average salary for a BLANK” fill in your job title.You can get some good insite on a starting point of what to ask and what to expect when talking monetary compensation with a potential employer.
If a company wants to higher you, they have a budget in mind… so ask them what their budget is and then you can negotiate from their based on experience. Keep in mind that once you set your price, it is VERY difficult to every get a raise or even to increase your salary on the next gig. Once people know what you will work for, they will expect that low rate on the next gig. Also, don’t be afraid to walk away from negotiation. There is always another gig. I know it doesn’t seem like that when you are unemployed, but if you are unemployed, make sure that your salary is more than your unemployment check and government benefits. Not that you are on government benefits, but government benefits are design to help the gap between GOOD jobs… and if you just go to another low/ no paying gig, then you are also hurting the governments plan for helping out which leads to people abusing the government benefits system.
I hope I already answered this… but YES… NEGOTIATE. You can always agree to their first offer, but at very least ask for just a bit more. and BEFORE your offer, If an employer says $300 a day? ask a few questions before you answer… 1. ask “is that for only show days? or does it include travel days and rehearsal days?” 2. ask about perdiem for travel gigs. 3. ask how long term the gig is. then after they answer those questions, then add a small bit their offer. If the offer is $300 a day, say “if you make it $325 we have a deal”. $25 usually is not a deal breaker on day rate. If it is a weekly rate, ask 1. “is the weekly rate pro-rated? 2. how many week work are there? 3. always ask about perdiem for travel gigs. So, if they say that salary is $1,000 a week… say “If you make it $1,100 we have a deal.” usually $100 a week is not a deal breaker on weekly salaries.
So you want a gig? …work for free ONLY at a church. …study all you can about your field of interest, especially on sites like http://www.roadiejobs.com and youtube …lastly… network, network, network. For more tips and to help out, I post a ton of guitar and music related tutorial videos on http://www.youtube.com/user/MrSammyBones/videos
I hope this helps.