This is Lori Majewski, our Wednesday night radio show guest.  She wants to talk to you.  Please click and watch her ramble for 60 seconds.

How To Make Money From Local Shows – This Week’s Music Biz Recap

(Darryl “DMC” McDaniels stopped by a Sweet Dreams band practice on Friday in preparation for this Friday’s “I Want My ’80s: The Best of MTV’s Early Years” scholarship fundraising show.  Wanna go?  You do.  Click HERE for tiks.)


This is our 201st newsletter.  What does that mean?  We’re one better than last week.

Moving on…

Our next Music Biz 101 & More radio show
will be this Wednesday, April 4th.  Our 8pm show will feature special guest Lori Majewski, SiriusXM show host, author of Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined The ’80s, and co-host (with original MTV VJ Mark Goodman) of our “I Want My ’80s” fundraising concert Friday night.

Stream the show HERE!

Tweet us a question about the biz whenever: @MusicBiz101wp

In the meantime, absorb the beautiful voices and stimulating conversation from every podcast we’ve done HERE.

Now keep scrolling down.  Right under this ad for our MBA program (hey – it just got an official name change last week: MBA in Music & Entertainment Management), we’re going to feature one original article written just for this email all about earning money from live shows.  Go on now.  Scroll…

How To Make Money From Your Own Live Show

As you can probably tell, we’re spending the majority of this week’s newsletter promoting a concert.  It’s a big fundraiser to benefit music scholarships at William Paterson University.  How are we going to make money?

The first thing to understand is that you, whether “you” are a manager, artist, or student, can produce shows.  The show can be a basement show where you’re asking for $5 from everybody who attends.  It can be at a local church’s fellowship hall – or anywhere with a stage.  The stage isn’t really important, though.  I’ve put on shows at American Legion halls where the band is level with the audience.  If the audience gets what they want musically, they’ll put up with almost any kind of venue.

(In the pic above, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels auctions off an autographed copy of his comic book at the 2017 “I Want My ’80s: The Best of MTV’s Early Years” show.)

Do all venues cost money?  Nope.  The first show I produced was in the church where I grew up in Chatham, New Jersey (on a stage).  Because it was a fundraiser for a cause connected to the church, they were happy to lend us their hall, stage, kitchen, parking lot, and bathrooms.  (We raised $15,000 that night!)  The key is to talk anyone down. 

One show I produced got bumped from its original date due to a screwup on the venue side.  I successfully negotiated the place to cut our rate for that show AND for one other show.  That saved us about $600 over two years.  That’s important, because by being bumped, we lost some of our audience.  We couldn’t quantify exactly how much we lost, since so much of local shows today are based upon people deciding day of show.  But we definitely lost people, which meant we lost money.  Saving in one area helps when losing in another. 

Planning a live show is incredibly important.  Before you agree to put one on, it’s important to think about various revenue streams.  For this week’s “I Want My ’80s: The Best of MTV’s Ladies” show, we have six (6) (VI) revenue streams: 

1.  Ticket sales
2.  Sponsorships
3.  Merch
4.  Donations
5.  Auction
6.  Passing The Hat 

For your show, you can find even more ways to make money.  Most shows I do include dinner.  We find a local restaurant or catering facility, explain what the show is all about, and state that, in exchange for promotional value (social media posts, email blasts, on-stage shout outs, etc.), we’ll split the cost of a $15 dinner 50/50.  That way the sponsor doesn’t lose money, or “invests” very little into the sponsorship, and we still earn $7.50 per dinner.  The math is good.  100 dinners = $750.  In the local show world, that’s good revenue.   

(MTV used to feature a show called “120 Minutes.”  For our ’80s show this year, we’ll limit auctions to two minutes long to keep them moving.  We’ve named the auctions “120 Seconds.”  Last year’s auctions raised over $1,000 for scholarships.  We auctioned off the DMC comic, a guitar, courtesy of the local Shamrock School of Music, a book about MTV signed by emcee Mark Goodman, and more stuff I can’t remember at the moment.)

You can have fun by offering naming rights to the venue for one night (even if it’s a basement or a church).  Do a deal with a local Volkswagen dealership and, in your set, do a cover of a song by REO Volks – I mean, REO Speedwagen (see what I did there?).  Do a song on stage that relates to the sponsor.  This is perfect for cover bands.  Get a bank to sponsor your show and perform Pink Floyd’s “Money” or “For The Love Of Money” by The O’Jays.

Another idea with car dealerships – Let them park one of their vehicles near the entrance to the venue so that the people coming to your show see it.  Then remind them to look at the car on the way out and talk to the dealership’s representative at the show to arrange a test drive.

With sponsors, always remember this: They’re in business.  They need to stay in business.  How can sponsoring your event drive money back their way?

They are people too and want to have fun, but most get hit up all the time by other people looking for them to donate or sponsor their thing.  Your pitch to the sponsor needs to include something of value for them.

(Co-emcee of this year’s ’80s fundraiser, Lori Majewski, will auction off an autographed copy of her book [above] plus an opportunity for the winner to sit in on one of her radio shows at SiriusXM called “Lust For Lists.”)

What got me into producing shows from the start (almost all have been built around cover songs with themes, like Classic Rock Night or Motown Night) was the concept of the audience choosing the songs they want to hear, based upon the theme.  That very first show was an ’80s Night.  We charged $20 for song requests and sold around 35 songs.

At first, we let people pay extra to sing/play with the band.  The reasoning behind that was the thinking that people would spread the word about their appearance with a live band.  “Come see me sing!!”  The weird thing was most people ended up coming alone and singing with the band.  And, you could guess this, most weren’t really that good at singing.  We found that audiences would put up with the karaoke idea for only so long before tuning out, so we stopped letting them become the featured performer.

(DMC, Mark Goodman, and Rob Fusari all signed posters for last year’s show, which we offered as a merch item for $15 each.)

There’s also the tricky tray idea.  Do this with somebody who’s put them on before.  While the band plays on stage, the audience buys their tricky tray ticket and tries to win whatever stuff you (or the person/people helping you) were able to come up with from local retailers.

Let’s just do a quick recap of all the potential revenue streams you can include in your independent show planning (we came up with three more):

1.  Ticket sales
2.  Sponsorships
3.  Merch
4.  Donations
5.  Auction
6.  Passing The Hat
7.  Venue Naming Rights
8.  Dinners
9.  Song Requests 

The more creative you are, the more time you give yourself, the more you cultivate relationships with family/friends who know the manager of a local store or insurance agent, the better your chances of producing a profitable show.

Our ’80s show is already in the black (it’s already turned a profit) before we even look at ticket sales.  A great travel agent, RubysTravel, arranged Taylor Dayne’s flight from LA and back.  The agent also was able to convince a hotel to put up Dayne and Chris Butler for a couple of nights AT NO CHARGE!!

Sprint has a regional office that agreed to sponsor our show, which covered much of the expenses the show incurred. 

The local branch of Columbia Bank came in with a 4-figure sponsorship, which goes straight to our purpose of the show, music scholarships. 

Did you notice how we were able to give the sponsors some love (promised to them so they receive value in return for their sponsorship)?  We built their logos and promotion into a post about how to make money from a show.  Yes.  Brilliant. 

We are also making money for our show by offering a local School of Rock 15 minutes to provide the opening act for our ’80s show.  We earned sponsorship revenue (which paid for Facebook ads to promote our show) and will sell incrementally more tickets by parents, family, and friends who want to see these kids play on a really big stage in a venue that seats over 900 people.  (Look at the pic below to see where else these kids have played.)

You too can produce a show and make money.  Think hard.  Plan well.  Get help.  Don’t be afraid to try.  You can do it.  You can.

Now, in exchange for these great music biz tips, click on the button below and get yourself some tickets to “I Want My ’80s: The Best of MTV’s Ladies.”  Even if you don’t go to the show, you’ll help college students who love music come to school or stay in school.  It’s a great cause.  Thank you.

Keep scrolling down.  There’s more great stuff below.

Your Professor David Kirk Philp


Managing Your Band – 6th Edition is out!  Did you buy it?!?

40% discount.  Hurry! 


 Podcast of the Week: Darryl “DMC” McDaniels

DMC called into Music Biz 101 & More last year and talked all about his career, the murder of Jam Master J, how “Walk This Way” came about with Aerosmith, and more.  You gotta listen!  And come see him live Friday night at “I Want My ’80s: The Best of MTV’s Ladies.”  Buy your tickets HERE.

Music Biz 101 & More Radio Show: Here’s Who’s Coming Up Soon! 

Great guests are coming over the next few months to your Music Biz 101 & More radio show.

  • April 4 – Lori Majewski, SiriusXM

  • April 11 – Brian Sella, The Front Bottoms

  • April 18 – Liz Lewis, Warner Music Group VP, Creative Synch for Advertising & Gaming

  • April 25 – Antony Bruno, Royalty Exchange Director of Communications

  • May 2 – Jonathan Cain, Journey Keyboardist/Songwriter

Tune in at 8 PM each Wednesday for some great, FREE music biz talk.


For full details about the Music & Entertainment Industries Program, including courses, the minor, and our MBA, click HERE.

For full details about the WPU Pop Music Studies Program, including courses and audition requirements, click HERE.


Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music Management & Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too).  Your favorite professor is also co-author (with Dr. Steve Marcone) of Managing Your Band: 6th Edition. Reach him at or find him on LinkedIn HERE.

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