Biggest Pay Cheque You Had As A Musician

In a previous band I was in, at one point, we received an email request for one of our songs to be used for an upcoming film. At first I assumed it was spam, but replied anyway as even if it was, I thought it’d be a bit of fun to see what angle they’d take to fleece me.

They said they had a film that was in early stages of production and that they wanted to pay $1000 USD to license one of our songs for use on the trailer of the film. Naturally I thought this was complete bullshit, but wanted to play along JUST IN CASE. There were a few specific details in the email which made it clear they did actually know something about the band and it wasn’t a generic mailer so a part of me did wonder.

They sent through a contract, but nothing like an NDA or anything like that. For a change, I read the entire contract, wanting to see if it gave them exclusivity over the track and things like that, but I couldn’t see anything like that in there. It just basically gave them a right to use it in the film over the course of one calendar year. The contract even had a working title for the film, “Maya’s Voice”. All I could think is that at that point, I’d have probably said yes to them using it for free, but if they wanted to pay $1000 per year then I wouldn’t stop them. I got the rest of the band to sign the contract, assuring them I’d read it through (very trusting) and sent it back.

I was still thinking that this was some big wind up, and pretty much forgot about the thing after they sent through the countersigned version of the contract. Then, a couple of weeks later, as agreed, a physical cheque for $1000 arrived at my house in the post. I was still convinced this was bollocks, but thought I’d try and cash it anyway. I got the the counter at my local bank and was ready for the teller to start laughing at this joke cheque and to counter-explain that I was in on the joke anyway, but they didn’t say anything and they processed the cheque as normal. Then I figured that they were new or taht members of staff aren’t taught to recognise every type of cheque. I thought maybe it wouldn’t be until the professional cheque checking jobbies saw it that they’d realise it was fake and accuse me of fraud and I’d go to prison. I would just tell the truth and hope they believed I was just naiive. I asked the teller how long the cheque would take to process, and took a note at the last possible day it could cleart to check it JUST IN CASE it was real.

Days passed, I checked, and the amount had cleared in my account. $1000 USD converted to GBP. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed crazy, and to this day seems crazy. Then my disbelief turned to excitement to see how it’d be used in what clearly was a big budget film.

Months went by and we heard nothing. As it rolled to near a year, I got excited thinking that maybe they’d send a renewal request for another $1000. Films run overtime and budget, right? This would be a nice little earner. 12 months rolled around, with me having set up Google alerts for the working title, and sometimes Googling manually but never finding a single hit. I couldn’t find anything Googlable about the person who’d emailed either, it was as though they didn’t exist.

We never heard from them again, and this was about 5 years ago now. I always wanted to know more behind it and wanted to contact them, but was worried they’d claim it was a mistake and try to sue us for the money back or something. Everything else music-related has just been a massive loss-making exercise, but it was nice that for that brief moment, we got paid.


Got €400 split between four people after a gig one night. Spent it all at the bar in the venue within an hour of the gig finishing. I ended up throwing a bass amp in a river.


Sounds like you got Mulhacied


Not sure how this relates to cherries

thought it was a generic term for when everyone in the world is part of a mad conspiracy to prank you.

The bank people were probably in on it too!


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One time my shit band got paid £80 for playing a gig instead of the usual nothing/some beers, that was quite nice. That pub has since shut down, I believe it ran out of money.


Anyone noticed an increase in getting paid, particularly this year? Last five or six gigs my band have done have all been £30 - £200 (mainly at the bottom end of that) and nothing else has really changed; same venues, standard, crowd sizes etc. Feels a bit like there has been a tidy up, but maybe we have just been lucky.

What seems odd is that in the 18 years I’ve worked in music, the small fees for support slots and small gigs have never gotten any bigger, despite inflation and everything else changing. Given headlines about the live industry booming and how much money festivals make, surely this money should be feeding back into the “ecosystem”? Seems like the only trickle down, is champagne being swigged by the top 1% of the top 1%.

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Fantastic post. This is the opening of your first investigative podcast. How’s your vocal fry?


True that, and doubt it will ever change. Venues are under pressure too of course.

Personally, we don’t have an audience, so getting anything, to play in our home town, whilst bringing no one, but having a great time always seems like a good deal to me.

True, and if anything, the amount for supports etc has gone down (even aside from inflation) - more of an expectation that you’re lucky to be on the bill, or that we need to cover the costs of the main band but we’ll try and give you some petrol costs. The worst being when a promoter just pockets it. Its fucking bullshit - i’ve really noticed it over the past few years. Of course there are still good diy promoters doing it right, but many many who aren’t.

Seems to be a lot of promoters who think DIY gigs are a way fo making money.

A friend of a friend told me about a reputable promoter who was putting on a very reputable performer in a venue with a capacity of about 1,700. It sold out well ahead of time with the cheapest tickets selling at £35. They put on a local support act who were paid £10.

A tenner. I mean, that just seems insulting.

Was in a band that did weddings every now and then. One really posh one where we got £500 each plus as much as we could eat and drink and a hotel room for the night. Plus loads of posh boys and girls throwing themselves at us all day/night. Was a lot of work - played background jazz for 2 hours during canapes and then 2x 1.5hr sets in the evening, but was v cool.


I’d like to do this if there was a way for it to happen without posh people being there

Any money we ever make from either gigs, album sales or syncs etc either covers costs or goes straight back into the band so it can self sustain itself. We’ve never once used any of this to take home for ourselves which is what I assume the majority of bands at our level do. It will either fund our next record or our next tour so it all goes straight back into the industry, it makes sense for smaller bands to be paid more than they currently do.

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they were alright as far as poshos go. don’t think you end up booking a band like ours if you want a standard posho wedding. Some things were pretty cringeworthy tho - eg each of the tables at dinner was named after a stage at Glastonbury




even more cringeworthy was the fact that the head table was the Other Stage instead of the Pyramid Stage.



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