gig on a budget

Throwing a Gig on a Budget 

Gabby Zgrajewski
Gabby Zgrajewski

Following the pandemic, live music performances across the UK were down by 16.7% in 2022 whilst audience attendance has also decreased by 11% with the rising cost of living. As a grassroots live music venue, the current live music landscape can seem daunting and putting on a gig can feel like a big task.

Crunching numbers and working with the community is the best way to set your venue up for success. Read below on how to throw a gig on a budget.  

The Artists

Live Performance Payment  

When putting a gig together, the show’s main star is the artists, particularly the headlining act. Take a dive into the local music scene in person and online to find grassroots artists that are taking the scene by storm.  

Supporting local live music not only benefits the artists themselves but the venue as well. This is due to the lesser cost than larger scale performers. Nourishing local talent can turn your venue into a stomping ground for the locals. They trust that your live music venue will have the tunes.  

When organising a show, discuss the best form of payment for the artists and the venue. Typically, payment is broken up into three categories:

  1.     A Guarantee – the venue agrees to pay a flat fee to the artists for their performance.
  1.     A Door Deal – the venue pays the artists a percentage of the door sales.
  1.     A Versus Deal – the venue pays a flat fee to the artists, plus a percentage of the ticket sales once a certain amount has been reached. 

Decide what is best for the venue depending on the budget; this can be the first offer for payment. A guarantee deal is the most commonly used type of payment across the live music industry. 


If your venue is new to hosting live music, you may not have all the equipment needed for artists. Covered in our Essential Equipment Guide, the cost of securing everything you need for live music can add up. If the budget is tight, work with what you have and discuss with your artists what they may need to bring to the show. 

If you have a couple of PAs and microphones, this will be all you need to get started. When booking shows, discuss the equipment that your artist or band requires and what you can offer. Many musicians will bring their own guitar amps, but if a house drum kit isn’t on the cards for your venue currently, ask the headlining act to bring their kit along. Working together as a community, live music will continue if you are able to organise it in advance. 

The Staff 

Bar Staff  

Within your bar staff, there are worlds of opportunity. Coming from all backgrounds, you may find graphic designers, photographers, promoters, musicians, lighting, or audio techs, and booking agents. 

If your staff have interests in different areas, this can help to organise a show a whole lot easier. Using your own staff can shortcut having to outsource that comes with bigger budgets. If anyone is interested in using their skills, give them the opportunity to exercise them (with the correct payment of course). 


If you don’t have anyone behind the bar that dabbles in the above, reach out to the local music scene to find some talent behind the artists. Supporting local talent can come with great benefits of cheaper rates. Creating a consistent crew makes booking shows easier and can be easy on the budget. 


When booking shows, always determine whether you will need extra security. This can add up to the budget. For weeknight shows, no more than 2 security guards may be needed depending on the location of your venue and the scale of your show. Whereas during the weekend, more security may be needed. 

Depending on the type of gig you are throwing can also determine the level of security needed. An all-ages show, 18+ rock shows and an acoustic set will have different types of crowds, and the risks vary.  

The Show

Booking a show on a budget really falls onto your resources and taking the time to source what you have and working with your local music industry to pull it together. Advertising your show on social media and offering incentives for your customers like drink packages can ensure customers walk through your doors to come for the tunes and stay for the atmosphere your venue has. 

Securing sponsorships from larger scale businesses can also help with the funding of shows in trade for promotion of their business with their logo on the event posters to selling merchandise at the shows. 

Rock On

With audience attendance falling, it can be hard to find the drive to continue to book shows in your venue. Although, in a forever-changing industry, it is always great to check in with what your grassroots music industry is lacking and use that to your advantage. 

Working with local creatives within your business and its surroundings can make a world of change rather than doing it alone. It takes a village to make a great show. 

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