I’ve been in the game for over 13 years now, and during my tenure I’ve come across several artists that aren’t making money that they more than deserve, or artists that are charging ridiculous prices when they’re no where near worthy of doing so. So lemme break down the actualities of when its appropriate to start charging for features and shows, or anything that involves your time.
First of all, please know that you’re absolutely not worthy of charging for anything if there’s not a demand for you. As an artist trying to build a name and a fan base, there’s lots of work to do. You have to establish relationships with a lot of people. You have to do a lot of research on your market, your competition, how to target your audience, etc, and you ABSOLUTELY have to be humble. The amount of rappers who see some sort of success in music is extremely slim, so you have to be willing to work hard. Not just regular hard, but sleepless nights, countless investing, and pissed off family members type of hard.
OK, so how do you know when it’s time to start charging for shows and features? Again, there has to be a demand for you. How do you know when there’s enough of a demand? The requests for your presence starts growing, your social media followers increase at a steady rate, people start requesting your music more, your streams are going up, and outlets want to interview you or feature you. Your notoriety has begun spreading outside of your city/state. The general interest in you becomes more apparent. Most of all, you’re requested for shows, features and appearances more than ever.
Now what price should you start at? That’s up to you, but be realistic. If you’re still on the come up, you shouldn’t be charging $7000 for a show, and definitely if you’re still only known in your city. Remember also that the goal is to continue to spread your name around, so charge what you believe will be affordable. The more the features and shows, the more you succeed. At the same time, don’t undercut yourself. Know your worth.
Be smart; you have to know when to start charging. If there’s no demand, there’s no reason to pay you. Why? Why should someone pay you for a show when people don’t really listen to your music? Why should an artist pay you for a feature if you’re not going to help him get more plays off of your name? People pay for things that are a service to them, if you’re not helping, you’re not getting paid. Music is not a hustle, it’s an art. Don’t take advantage.