When do you get paid?

Have you been doing the same thing as me? Getting into gigs any way you can, lugging camera gear around the universe, becoming entranced by the music and the performance? I've been commissioned by MTV, Roland, Blues&Soul amongst others and have sold a few shots here and there, but I noted that some of the visits to my website came from people searching for "How much money does a music photographer make" so, I thought I'd cover off on how much I make doing what I love and how you can make just as much cash as me doing the same thing!... Metallica | Sonisphere UK 2009

Well, let me start by saying that it's a long hard road... You've read my ramblings before about how to finally get into venues with your camera, how to get "into the pit" etc.. And now you've done all that you want to know "how to get paid"  I'm going to touch on the four points below and give some examples.

1. Get noticed and signed by an agency. 2. Go on tour with a band that is looking to pay you. 3. Sell photos to fans for peanuts. 4. Submit your images to a stock library.

If nobody knows who you are, there is very little chance that you will get anywhere - The first thing you need to do is get yourself noticed. To get yourself noticed by an agency or a manager you really have to be doing something different to everyone else - for example, the image above taken by me is probably the same as many of the others that you will find of Metallica, from Sonisphere. He's looking at the camera, looking menacing and rocking out - but you see that all the time... You need to find a way to make your work stand out. When your work does stand out, you need to make yourself a tasty little portfolio - these days web portfolios are almost acceptable - and get it in front of as many people as you possibly can without getting yourself blacklisted.

Key things to note : DO be polite to everyone you meet. DO put up with a certain level of crap to start with. DON'T sleep with a band manager promising to "make you the next big thing" ...he's full of it!

Once you're out "on the circuit" and making that name for yourself, there's a good chance if you're a chatty wee thing that you will encounter bands personally, or managers face to face. This is a good thing, you build on it and work with the bands (usually for free for a little while) and, one day, after the magic fairy has sprinkled star dust on you - that band manager may just ask you to do a short tour with the band and offer you four boiled potatoes in return! I do love potatoes, but they don't pay for my manic drug habit... (It's only Rock 'n' Roll baby)

Key things to note : When working "on tour" expect to work like an animal and not make a lot of cash for the first few goes* Expect to get some amazing photos that you don't find, see or snap in the first three songs of your regular meat and three veg gigs.. Don't accept candy from strangers! (especially if they're dressed as circus clowns and are carrying a baby goat under one arm)

If you're at a gig and you're a nice person - you might be in the pit pre-gig and have the chance to chat with fans. Sometimes those fans will ask where you photos are going and if you're not an "exclusives" shooter, you might decide to caching on that... "My photos are going on your wall, it won't cost you much!" - I made a WHOLE £29.00 form a U2 picture just the other day. I went out and immediately purchased a super yacht!

Ket things to note : The word key is spelled incorrectly. Fans love photos from the gig they attended, make contacts and get them talking to thier friends "This guy took photos" even go searching and posting in fan forums for the band... Don't stare at the hottest woman behind the barrier until she notices you, take her photo and try sell it to the band - it doesn't work like that.

If you want to take photos for hours, edit for hours and submit your images to some bizarre online stock agency, just to have them sell "the best music photo you've ever taken" to someone in Bolivia for eight cents.. Go right ahead! :: I use www.musicpictures.com and www.redbubble.com -- Both of whom I've sold **LOADS through!

So - The bottom line "How much do I make from Music Photography" :: Let's just call it "nothing" and then you won't be dissapointed. Maybe that says something about me and my photographs?


*sonisphere was 7pm to 7am!

**none, actually.