Is Playing For Benefits And Fundraisers, For Free, Worth It?

By: Jerry A. Greene

Question: I was just asked about playing a benefit for a non-profit fundraiser. Is it really worth it to play these kind of events?

Answer: Never under-estimate playing a fundraising event for free. The goodwill that you will be expressing through your music will pay dividends down the road.

When To Play For Free

If there is a fundraiser, or benefit, in which you have been asked to perform, you may want to seriously consider doing so. The types of people that attend such events are usually upper, or upper-middle class, and often have the money to purchase your CD. In most cases, you will be allowed to promote it at a merchandise table.

Splitting The Profits

Just because you aren't being paid for the performance, doesn't mean that you can't profit in some way. You may even want to suggest splitting the profits, or donating a percentage of the sales to the organization. This makes it even more likely that people will buy a CD from you.

Great Promotional Opportunities

The organization for which the fundraiser is, will almost likely go way out-of-their-way to promote your band and your music in every way possible. There is a good chance that you'll end up getting promoted in their newsletters and event the local news. There is definitely more than one way you can really benefit from benefits!

Building Your Mailing List

Fundraising events are also a great place to grow your mailing list (both physical snail-mail and email). You will want to make sure that you take advantage of this opportunity to build your list with fresh names and faces. If you generally play in clubs, or bars most of the time, you will find that you are being given a chance to play for a completely different crowd. These are people that would, otherwise, probably never even hear about you.

Don't Go Overboard On Your Promotion

Remember why the people are attending the fundraiser. Unless it's a "benefit concert" they're generally not their because you are. You don't want to go overboard on your promotion. Low-key is definitely better in this case. Make sure that the people that hired you to play are the ones promoting you. You may want to inform the people that hire you that you will be relying on them to help promote them, since you don't want to come across as being too "commercial" during such an event. If they forget to talk about you during the benefit, then it will be completely up to you to remind them that you would appreciate any promotion that they could do for you.

Put Up Your Banner

If you don't have a banner, or sign, get one made. The people running the fundraiser may even get one printed out for you. (This would be a great exchange for doing the gig, since you can take it with you once you play and use it at all of your other gigs). The one thing you don't want to do is play for an event and not get any kind of recognition. If all else fails, your sign can help promote you. Just make sure that your band's name is easily readable and your web address is clearly displayed.

Playing For A Benefit Equals Good Karma

Playing for a fundraiser is definitely different from playing a club date. You are being perceived in quite a different light.

The fact that you performing for the fundraiser will often make people think very highly of you. This good karma can, in turn, cause quite a buzz for you. You may even find that playing fundraisers are more enjoyable, and fulfilling, than playing the club scene!