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Post-Covid: How Much Should You Get Paid To Play Guitar?

by vaughn skow August 03, 2021 3 min read

Howdy Guitar Gang!  It's summer of 2021 as I pen this blog.  Like all of you, I have spent nearly TWO FREAKING YEARS without playing gigs.  That's like living without oxygen ... or food ... or water ... combined!  But yet, here we are, still somehow alive and the world is trying REALLY hard to get back to some sense of normalcy after Covid sent us all burrowing into our caves wearing face-masks, gloves, and being afraid of our friends, neighbors, family members, and maybe even the family pet.  It's been hard for everybody, but especially hard for those of us who make our living and/or get validation via getting out and playing shows.

So, this is mostly a re-visiting of a blog I did many years ago, but Covid has changed the rules somewhat.  Now, more than ever, it's VITALLY important that we all take every oportunity we can to gig, record, rehearse, Jam ... and whatever else we can do to stay active as a player!!!.  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!

how much should you get paid to play guitar

Road gigs: 

let's face it, the road has always been hard for ANYONE above about 25 and post-covid, it's worse than EVER, 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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