In every “Behind the Music” the guy who got the lead singer gig always had one thing the rest of those rockstars in training needed: he had his own PA.
Today that marker still holds true. If you want to play shows, you have to have a PA. For most bands you have to go where the PA’s are. Ergo, you are forced to play in clubs and venues who have their own. Sometimes it’s amazing. Other times you are subjected to sound quality no one should have to endure.
My cover band was in that exact predicament a few years ago. We were gaining traction but losing gigs. Week after week we were turning down gigs with serious money because we either couldn’t get a hodge-podge of gear together to make it work or the cost of renting a PA was more than the gig could pay. We were trapped in gig limbo.
So, I did something ridiculously ill advised: I got a Sweetwater card and I bought a PA.
Now, before I go any further I’m not telling you to do what I did. I can only tell the story from my perspective so if this doesn’t make sense please don’t go into massive amounts of debt.
At the time Sweetwater was doing 48 months interest-free financing on what we needed. Doing the math our payment was going to be less than $300 a month. For our price point as a band I knew if we played 1 gig a month I could cover that payment.
Once we got the PA though we were able to accept the dates we were forced to turn down previously. It got to the point where we weren’t just covering the cost of the PA with our gigs, we were making serious money. We were able to make multiple payments a month towards that purchase and it became a non-issue.
Now, we would rather play our show on our dialed in system than play through a house system. I also rent it out to other bands on weekends we’re not playing and makie money off of it when I’m not using it. It has turned out to be a very wise investment for us.
If going that route isn’t an option, I’d suggest a few things. First, try making friends with local sound engineers who have their own rigs. We were able to get help along the way from guys we were friends with who would do us a solid and run their rig for us for an equal split of the gig. Also they may have some equipment they don’t use any more that they could cut you a deal on.
Another options is to roll the cost of rental on to the client by adding the rental cost to your fee. You’ll quickly realize though that it can be more cost effective to own your own gear.
In another post, I’ll show you our rig and how it meets the need for most cover bands out there.