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How Much Should You Get Paid To Play Guitar

by vaughn skow December 31, 2019 2 min read

Howdy Guitar Gang!  It's New Years Eve as I pen this blog.  I still feel weird NOT having a gig on a New Years Eve, when I was a hard gigging guitar player New Years Eve was always one of the best paying nights of the year.  That got me to thinking.  Let's talk about getting PAID to play guitar, let's examine how the Nashville pros look at getting paid.  This is something every guitar player needs to put some thought into.  Let's chat!

Road gigs: 

let's face it, the road is hard for ANYONE above about 25, especially if you have ANY type of a life you will be leaving behind.  For me, when I got married and began a family I determined that almost ANY amount of money wasn't enough to take me away from my family.  Your mileage will vary based on exactly what you ARE leaving behind, but if you're a full blown adult with a life, I'd say don't get on a bus or airplane for less than $400 per day, and even then seriously consider how being gone a lot may derail your life!  If you're young, single, and otherwise unattached to much of anything, shoot, go out for free if you want to, you're at the stage in life called paying dues, so pay up now, while you still can!

Club Gigs:

Same theme here, if ya got a family at home you care about, don't even consider a 4-hr bar gig unless you are making some serious money,  I'm talking pay-the-mortage money here, no less than $300/night!  Again, if your starting out and really ain't got much of a life, get out there and pay some dues, don't worry about the money, worry instead about choosing gigs that will boost your career!

Studio Sessions:

Here is the holy-grail for guitar players, shoot, ALL musicians for that matter.  So here I would say if you don't have a lot of studio experience, get in there no matter what the pay, even if you've already paid some big-time dues on the road or in clubs, studio gigs are a whole 'nother world!  Now, here's where it gets a little complicated.  If you are a legitimately top-notch player, and a GREAT hang (see this blog) ... you can make a great living as a session player, and you don't even have to be young or good looking!  How cool is that?  But there is a HUGE catch:  you'll eventually need to relocate to a city with an active studio scene. So, that just might be a deal-breaker.

Now the Disclaimer:

Everything above assumes you actually have a goal of making a living playing guitar.  If you just knock around a little to have some fun, then by all means, pay no attention to the pay, just get out and have some fun; but ... don't quit your day-gig :-)

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