Money, money, money: Struggles of a band starting up

By Owen Jameson

22 May 2024

Money – it won’t answer all of your problems but for new bands some more cash would definitely help.

I spoke to James Antonov, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Sheffield based band Shifting Rumours to talk about the struggles he and his band had faced in their fledgling musical career.

James Antonov with Shifting Rumours

Unfortunately, as with many of the world’s issues it all comes back to money.

Antonov said: “When we started, we were ’17ish’ and the small amount of money we had from part time jobs didn’t stretch too far.

“You’d be offered gigs at whatever venue, and be told you wont get paid. On the rare chance you do (get paid) it wouldn’t cover the expenses of the night anyway.

“Then if you want to record a song you need to go to a studio which costs money, and if you want to avoid that you’ll need to invest in equipment, which costs more money.”

It’s crazy to think that by going out and playing a gig there’s a strong possibility of losing money rather than making it. But, this is a commonly experienced issue for new bands and artists. As horrible as it is, the best way of getting through it is to just keep playing. Hopefully despite the financial loss, your passion and love for music motivates you to stick it out.

James spoke to me about the first time he got paid for a gig; he and his bandmates got twenty quid each for their time. Whilst that’s probably not enough to buy a Freddo at the moment – at least it’s something.

He said: “Like our first gig we were paid ‘sufficiently’, we got eighty pounds which was twenty quid each and it felt like a huge amount of money because we weren’t used to it. Looking back in retrospect, it was a fair amount of money for the work we did.”

“We deserve money for it, you know? We’ve done so many gigs and got like a fiver or nothing at all.”

Bands deserve at least a reasonable amount of pay, twenty quid for each band member doesn’t seem too extortionate an ask. But, that is unfortunately not the case for new bands.

James told me his top tips for up-and-coming artists despite issues with money, he stressed the importance of ‘enjoying the ride’ and ‘not being afraid to mess up’. Yes, your wallet or purse might be coughing up dust but if you can learn to enjoy the journey regardless of financial struggles, arriving at the ‘destination’ will be even sweeter.

As James said to me ‘the purest of art comes from struggle’, Feedback’s advice is ‘keep on keeping on’ and hopefully the rewards will come.

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