Short answer: $50,000 per show!
Okay, that’s not really true and in fact, there is no simple answer for this question. It will vary based on your market (city/region), the amount of competition, the quality of your show and your genre of music.
However, I can give you a simple formula to get pretty close to knowing what you need to charge. It’s called a “break-even analysis”.
The break-even analysis is a simple formula for figuring out at which point you will be making as much as you spend. This can vary by gig so you can figure it out per gig, but I like to try to do it for each year and then refine it as the months go by just to be sure we’re on target for making our music career profitable.
A few definitions
COGS – Cost of goods sold. Your live show is a good/service to be sold. Everything has a cost. It’s easy to know because if you never played another show, you wouldn’t have to pay for these things (gas to get to the show, food and hotel while out of town, paying musicians and anything else specific to that show)
Fixed Costs – This would be any cost that you would still have to pay even if you never played another show. Insurance for your van, rehearsal space, etc. Hopefully these costs are really low or non-existent for your band.
Now that you have some numbers, we can do some math. For the show itself, you should have at least a 25% profit margin. Which means if it costs you $200 to make a show happen, you should be charging at least $250. This we will call our base amount. We should not charge less than this for a show. If you charge less than your COGS, ever, then you’re losing money on that deal and you need to have enough profit built up to cover that loss or change the amount you charge.
Now this is just for figuring out your break-even and it’s very limited to 1 product/service. However, you can do the same thing across multiple shows and even multiple products by trying to figure out your costs on everything, add it up, and divide by the number of shows for that period and you will see how much you should charge for each show.
So every show is different and every band/musician/genre is different. However, the formula is the same and if you do a little research, you can get pretty good at estimating your costs and start making some profit with your music.