Don’t ever shy away from asking for an advanced payment for a gig opportunity. Once you know they are going to pay, send in your invoice. At the bottom state the total amount agreed as well as a sentence saying ‘A deposit of X% is to be made on <Date> upon receipt of this email’. It’s up to you to decide whether this deposit is refundable or not. I suggest you decide on a case-by-case basis. Here are a few things that a deposit it useful for.
1). It Shows Professionalism
Firstly, having an invoice makes you look professional and helps with keeping your books in order even when you don’t have an accountant. Requesting a deposit sets you apart from other artists because not only does it show that you know your value, but it proves that you’re not playing around with your talent. It shows that you are committed to your craft and there’s something attractive about that to people who are hiring you for their even.
2). It Shows Their Commitment Level
When you get asked to perform, it can be hard to know whether the organizers are fully committed to having you at the event until much later when tickets/programs are printed or social media/TV/radio announcements are made. If they are parting with money… they are usually serious.
3). It Secures The Date
As long as a payment has been promised, I see a deposit as a signal for me to make myself available for that date. Imagine if you’ve cancelled several shows for a particular one and then you’re told at the last minute you’re no longer needed?! At the very least, a non-refundable deposit will offset the cost to your brand of forfeiting a different performance opportunity but it’s still pretty frustrating if you’ve started rehearsals and spent money.
The loss of a gig opportunity isn’t just a loss of money. It’s a loss of potential merch/album sales, potential customers added to your mailing list, a chance to be exposed to a new audience, a chance to spread my message etc. Once I started to see things this way, I vowed I would always have the ‘money conversation’ first no matter how awkward it made me feel.
4). It Pays For Advance costs
A deposit can pay for costs in advance such as airline tickets (if you have to travel for the gig), or accommodation (if you need to travel/prefer to be closer to the venue for convenience). As we know, hotels and air tickets are much cheaper when booked in advance. Other advance costs could include transportation for your equipment/instruments or money to buy food for the band on gig day/even during rehearsals.
So there you have it. Don’t feel that asking for a deposit is lame or too much! These reasons are valid and can either save you money or save you from missing out on other opportunities to perform your work.
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