In this guide, we’ve compiled some of the places you can perform, with links to a wide range of opportunities. Many of the opportunities for singers and musicians to perform live can result in creating paid gigs.
All musicians and singers want to play great live shows. Performing live is essential for a singer as it helps them to gain real industry experience and learn their stagecraft. However, where can singers and musicians perform for money?
If you’re looking for performance opportunities near you and to share your music with an audience, here are the places and events where singers can perform live for money.
Performance opportunities for singers
If you’ve spent time working on your act and feel you’re ready to break into paid singing work, then it can be hard to know where to begin. Perhaps you know a local love music spot but are unsure who to speak to or how to get a foot in the door. Or all your performance opportunities are currently unpaid.
If you need to move up to a professional level but don’t have the contacts yet, then you need to read this article.
Music performance opportunities
Places to perform music near me
A good place to seek out paid gigs near you is on Gumtree. This applies to London and other towns and cities (although there are more opportunities listed on Gumtree for London). Check the ‘singers wanted’ pages regularly for ads, or you can post your own ad, offering your services.
Be sure to include your genre, style and what sort of events you cater for. If you want to add a link to a website, you’ll have to pay a little for the ad.
Placing ads in local papers and other publications is an option too.
Where can singers perform live?
Live music – where can singers perform live? By performing to a crowd live, a singer can get a sense of which songs work for them and which songs don’t.
Also, and equally as important, it’s an opportunity to network, build fans and create further performance opportunities. Many will pay you. Some will offer freebies in lieu of payment, like meals and tickets to events.
Play live music at the following places
#1 Pubs and clubs – singer job openings
Most local pubs and bars will open their venue to singers on a regular basis as a way of making money.
This is a good opportunity for singers to get experience as they are often run on a regular basis and the crowd will never be the same. This way you’re constantly playing for people who haven’t seen you perform before. The pay is usually decent too.
Make contact with all your locals via email, phone or in person and simply ask for a gig. Have a demo and some YouTube clips ready to send and make sure you approach venues that suit your genre. You may also hear about singer job openings by word of mouth and on websites advertising singing jobs, like StarNow.
#2 Restaurants – a singer job vacancy
Don’t just try to play at the same venues and places other singers and bands frequently perform at. Seek out your own new opportunities by approaching different venues and people for work. Maybe they just hadn’t previously thought of hiring a singer. It’s your job to convince them it’s a good idea.
If you’re not good at selling yourself, find someone who will do it for you. It can also be easier to do electronically. Write yourself a killer bio and big up your act over email.
Restaurants are a great place to cut your teeth as a live singer, and proprietors will often be looking for new acts to entertain their customers. The route to getting booked for these is the same as for pubs and clubs. Look out for adverts and spread the word with friends and family so they can also keep an eye out for vacancies. But the best way is a direct approach. Get a decent website, put together a show-reel and work on your social media.
This will then further increase the likelihood of you getting booked to play larger venues. The kind that will act as a springboard for your career and will bring lots of artistic satisfaction.
You can read our tips on how to get more gigs as a singer, including advice on how to contact venues for opportunities.
#3 Open mic nights
How do you earn money at open mic nights and how do they work?
Technically, you don’t get paid. However, many nights will have a hat or jar that attendees can put money into at the end. If this is shared among the acts and the night is packed out, then you can earn some cash.
You also have the opportunity to showcase new material and see how it is received. This way after your performance you could ask for any feedback and make any additional changes to the song to give it more appeal.
You could use it as a chance to write a proper set-list so you keep the best–received songs in and remove any that didn’t get much of a reaction.
The most important thing is to network. Try different open mic nights all over your area don’t just stick to the same ones. Speaking to other singers and acts will hopefully open up more performance opportunities, shared gigs, promoter details and other gig opportunities. This will then lead directly to paid work if you network well and follow up on leads.
Open mic nights around the UK
We’ve also compiled some of the best open mic nights in and around the UK. You can select from the list below to check what places to perform live music you can find near to you.
How to become a singer
#4 UK national singing competitions
Open Mic UK is the exciting national singing competition for singers and solo artists in the UK. How do you earn money from it? By winning!
This singing competition attracts over 10,000 acts every year as it travels across the country in search for the UK’s best singers, singer/songwriters, rappers and vocalists. Acts can perform either covers or original material and it’s open to all genres, so whether you’re into pop, RnB, acoustic or classical, Open Mic UK has it all.
To find out more, including when the nearest auditions are taking place to you, explore our singing competition page.
#5 Festivals – get paid to sing
The UK hosts the world’s largest music festival Glastonbury. Getting on that bill may seem out of reach, but there are very many smaller festivals. Some won’t offer any pay, however many will do. So this is a fabulous way to showcase your work and make some money in the process.
If you have an agent, apply to sing via them. If no, you can usually apply directly to the festival itself. Each has details of how to do this on their individual websites.
#6 Music jam performance opportunities
This is especially good for session singers and musicians. Find a jam happening near you, or start one.
How do you earn money for performing in a jam?
Well, they’re usually free to attend, so like open mic nights, it’s a case of having a hat or bucket for people to pop money into at the end. Make a joke of it by saying “ If you have any loose change you’d like to fold up and put in the bucket, that would be great”.
#7 Busking for money
This may be the simplest of all the options. Get your amp and microphone, grab some backing tracks or your instrument – and busk. You may need a licence (check with your local authority), but otherwise, it’s something you can do anytime, anywhere.
You can earn a lot of money from this, so if you’ve got the nerve to sing on street corners, then it’s a no brainer.
Places to sing for money near me
#8 Community events and weddings
Being well known in the community as a singer can open many doors for a singer. So why not take some time to market your talent to community events such as church fetes and open days . Some churches pay professional singers to be part of their choir. And they often keep lists of singers to recommend to members of the public at weddings and funerals.
Plus, you never know who’s going to turn up to one of those events.
Look out for wedding fairs near you too. Pay for a stand and sell your wares to attendees seeking music for their big day. Again, it’s all about your marketing. Make sure you look the part, decorate your stand and have demos/business cards and website links. It’s worth the investment as a wedding singing job – whether during the ceremony or as reception entertainment, is very well paid.
#9 BandWagon singing gigs near me
BangWagon is a website where you can search for live performance opportunities in your area and see whether or not they’re paid. You create a profile on the website and then apply for gigs, whether as a solo artist, band or even a DJ. The opportunities are thin on the group here, but it’s still worth signing up, even if it just gets you one good gig.
The idea of this website is for venues to fill their slots for the night and for singers to be given a chance to build their experience up.
Cool things to do on stage while performing
Once you land that gig, think of ways you can stand out and ensure you’re booked again at the venue or event. You could incorporate a dance routine if appropriate, dedicate a song to someone in the audience and chat with the crowd. Take advantage of any stage time to show yourself in the best possible light.
Performance opportunities near me
#10 Alive Network
Alive Network isn’t necessarily a place where you can find places to perform, but it is a place where people can come to find you to perform for them.
People who are looking for a singer for a certain event can browse the site and find singers in specific areas and see how much they’ll cost. As a singer putting yourself on this website gives you the opportunity to be booked by people who may have never heard of you, and they’re paying. As such, Alive Network acts as a kind of agency – and there are no fees to join, so you’ve got nothing to lose. The network simply adds commission to the fees you set.
It’s potentially a new audience and an income stream.
How to perform on stage: Singing tips for performing on stage for the first time
If you’re looking for your first ever gig, you definitely shouldn’t start with a job that’s paid. Get some experience and build up to professional work. We have a lot of tips for starting out as a newbie…
#11 Holiday camps and cruise ship singer vacancies
The disadvantage of these employers is that they won’t be physically near you – unless you live in a holiday resort. However, the pay is excellent and consistent and in the case of cruise ships, you can travel the world for free too. You’ll have to commit to a contract, so you won’t be able to do anything else for a long while. And of course, the competition is fierce. As these industries grow, so do the opportunities.
Roles you can apply for include: professional karaoke singer, cabaret singer, part of a theatre show ensemble, rock cover act, big band singer, tribute act and more. If you play an instrument all the better. Matthew Floyd Jones – better known as Mannish from Frisky and Mannish, has a job singing and playing a motorised piano he drives around a cruise liner while drinking cocktails from coconuts. Sounds good, right?!
Here are some of the websites listing these jobs:
#12 Care home and day centre singing opportunities near me
Now here’s a job that won’t get you spotted, nor will it enable you to showcase your own writing. Day centres and care homes book singers to perform for residents – often elderly people with dementia. So you’ll ideally need a repertoire of older, recognisable singalong tunes. If you only sing metal, contemporary rock or you’re a rapper, this isn’t for you. Songs by artists like Judy Garland, Doris Day, Elvis Presley, Julie Andrews and Frank Sinatra are very popular.
Unlike some other options listed here though, this will pay the bills, is very flexible and almost all bookings will be during the day, leaving your nights free for career-enhancing gigs. You set your rate, but it’s usually between £40 and £80 depending on your location and the facility’s budget.
Be prepared to do some telesales, as most will deal with acts primarily by phone. Get a list of care homes and day centres, speak to the activities manager and ask for that gig. Sending out flyers with all your info is another good way to get booked. With an ageing population, this is a lucrative and plentiful source of paid singing work. You may also find you get regular repeat bookings from the same venues.
How to get gigs as a singer
Now you know how it all works, it’s time to start thinking about where you would like to sing for money. Which settings would you most enjoy playing at, and which will pay what you need to get by? Then, before you begin contacting anywhere, you’ll need to get all your promotional materials and online channels ready.
How you format these will depend on who you’re approaching – you may even want different flyers and business cards for different types of employers. And don’t forget you’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC for tax and national insurance purposes, even if your earnings are very small (keep all your receipts so you can claim expenses). Above all, have fun and enjoy your new life performing music live for money.
Places to perform near me
There’s probably a whole range of places you could be singing for money that you hadn’t thought of, or didn’t realise existed as a job opportunity. Some of them won’t be glamorous or provide artistic satisfaction and some won’t help you get spotted. So the key is to book a range of different type of gigs – each serving a different purpose. And there will be a few really jammy ones that will cover all your requirements.
Now let’s delve into possible places to perform near you and the pros and cons of each.
Performance opportunities in London – Singing in London
Much of the music industry centres around the UK’s capital city. And while it’s not the be-all and end-all, if you’re living in London it can be helpful to know the best venues to approach and which ones are open to unsigned artists. You’re also more likely to run into a talent scout in the city, as more music moguls are out and about there. So it’s worth booking London gigs, even if it means a late-night train journey home afterwards.
Places to perform in London
If we take London as an example, there is a huge variety of venues where you can perform. If you live in the capital city, here are some places offering performance opportunities for singers.
These venues offer opportunities to perform for indie bands, and singers wanting to test their skills at an open mic night.
- The Dublin Castle (Camden), 94 Parkway, London
- Brixton Jamm (Brixton), 261 Brixton Road, London
- Lock Tavern (Camden), 35 Chalk Farm Road, London
- The Hope & Anchor (Islington), 207 Upper Street, London
- The Windmill (Brixton), 22 Blenheim Gardens, London
- Blues Kitchen (Camden), 111 Camden High Street, London
- Anise Bar, Liverpool Street, London
- Bedroom Bar (Shoreditch), 68 Rivington Street, London
- The Dover Castle (City of London), 6A Great Dover Street, London
- The Nelsons (Hackney) 32 Horatio Street, London
- How do I start a singing career?
It’s a good idea to invest in professional training from a voice coach or enrol in a music college – especially if you want a career in opera or musical theatre. The next steps will depend on the genre of music you wish to sing. But do set up a YouTube channel and get as many gigs as possible.
- How much do singers earn per song?
This varies enormously, as singers many be paid by the hour, by the length of the set, or by appearance. And how well-known or high profile you already are will have a big impact on your earnings. It could be anything from pence to hundreds of thousands of pounds per song – if you hit the big time.
- How can I get paid to sing?
First, you need to be of a good enough standard to sing professionally. Then you can work to get your own gigs at the kind of venue we’ve mentioned or find an agent, manager or artist development package at a studio. Be prepared to put in a lot of hours unpaid before you start to make money at this.
What other places can you recommend our readers check out as places to sing and perform? Offer your own ideas in the comments below!