This is a topic that has been debated time and time again throughout the various music groups I am a part of on social media and to be completely honest, I know that there will never be a completely solid answer to this question.
I need to make something abundantly clear, I have NOTHING against doing charity gigs whatsoever. In fact, one of the greatest opportunities of my career came to light because of my performance at a charity gig, so I’d be a fool to sit here and knock them completely.
However, I can see why some musicians get annoyed at the fact that they are working for free when everyone else that is part of the organisation of the gig, the bar staff, the management and what have you, get paid! The musicians that perform at these events are working just like the bar staff, they are giving up their time, so why shouldn’t they get paid to do so? Admittedly, this does sound like a really unjust thing to say, but the musicians that do say this, do have somewhat of a valid point and I can relate to their upset to a certain extent.
On the other hand, these musicians have willingly decided to do this gig, knowing that they wouldn’t be getting paid as it is for charity, so really, they have no right to cause an uproar about the situation, they could’ve chosen to take a paid gig but they chose the unpaid charity one, in that instance they should just keep quiet and perform for the audience!
Staying on the topic of audiences, you NEVER know WHO will be in that audience watching you! There could be management companies, label A&R representatives, producers, all sorts! Let me give you a prime example:
Remember I mentioned a few posts back that I’d performed with Charley Monroe at a prestigious music industry event? I got that opportunity because she had seen me perform at a charity event a few weeks before and was impressed with my musicianship. If I hadn’t’ve gone to that charity event purely because I wasn’t getting paid, I wouldn’t be in Music Week Magazine, I wouldn’t now be the Keys player for Kerrie Masters and I wouldn’t’ve have the contact details of some of the most influential people in the UK Music Industry. I may not have been paid a penny for any of those performances, but it has given me something a lot more valuable than money, it’s helped me progress within my music career!
It is to that extent that I draw the following conclusion. although it would be nice for musicians to get paid for their performances, money doesn’t always matter, anyone could be watching at these events, anything could happen after these events, so if I were you, regardless of pay or not, I’d go to these events and give the performance of your life.