Tom Beck, 28, is BIMM’s Commercial Performance Manager. He’s lots of other things as well, including a multi-instrumentalist who has had hit singles across Europe and played with Calvin Harris, Example and Feeder, headlined venues including the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, performed at festivals including Isle of Wight & V Festival, and appeared on shows such as X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Hollyoaks and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. But, mainly, he’s BIMM’s Commercial Performance Manager, and what you want to know is…
What does that mean exactly?
My job mainly involves helping students to get paid performance work with our network of private entertainment agencies and session fixers. BIMM has established partnerships with leading agencies who specialise in private entertainment, from weddings and corporate events through to cruises and overseas hotel residencies, as well as a long-standing network of session fixers, all of whom pay our students competitive performance fees.
Wait. What?! I can earn money whilst I’m studying at BIMM?
Absolutely! One of our main industry partners is Alive Network, who are the UK’s largest private entertainment agency and have many BIMM student acts on their roster. Students represented by Alive Network generally have at least one gig a week and often two or more, with many averaging 60-80 gigs per year. It’s the best paid weekend job on offer!
How much money are we talking about here?
BIMM only works with agencies and fixers who pay at Musician’s Union rates and above. This means gig fees are generally £200+ per musician per gig but they do vary. Obviously, all fees are passed directly to students by our partner agencies, and BIMM does not take any form of cut or commission. To date, BIMM students have earnt over £1,000,000 in gig fees from Alive Network alone!
Would I need to have a full band already?
Who says you need to be in a band at all?! We have all formats of acts, from solo performers through to 7-piece plus bands. If you’re struggling to find musicians to work with we’re always here to help.
What kind of equipment would I need to provide?
It really depends on the gig! Many larger corporate, cruise ship or TV gigs don’t require students to supply anything but their own equipment, such as your guitar, amp and pedals. For smaller private bookings, clients often require the band supplies a PA as well as their own equipment. BIMM has negotiated discounted hire rates with various providers, and many acts eventually buy their own systems which they then own and can use whenever required.
Is it all the same kind of songs like ‘Play that Funky Music’?
Not at all! It’s really up to you to decide your repertoire. Acts who play in a pop/rock/indie style and feature a contemporary repertoire alongside classic tracks get the most bookings, certainly. However, if you’re a jazz-quartet for example, then have some fun and throw in your own interpretations of contemporary tracks alongside the standards. It’s all about identifying what the client would like to hear, and again this is what I’m here to help advise you on.
Would I have to pay for my own promotional photos and things like that?
Only if you wish to operate as an independently managed act, which we do advise against at the start of your career. Our main partner agency, Alive Network, fund professional promo including videos, showreels, photos, website and multi-tracked recordings for acts who successfully make their way through auditions. This is worth around £7k in total, and is an investment from them into our student acts to ensure they get regular and well paid gigs.
How do I know if I’m good enough?
Simple, we hold around one or two auditions per month with Alive Network. These are held offsite at easy to access rehearsal studios, and 96% of our student acts who showcase to Alive Network successfully make it onto their roster. For session work, I liaise with our instrumental and vocal Heads of Department who suggest students best suited to the gig on offer, so be sure to be in their good books! If you’re still unsure, just book a tutorial with me to discuss further.
I’m sure! How do I start?
Drop me an email and we’ll go from there! I’m on hand to help and advise on any aspects of the above and anything else you need to know, from applying for a session gig to finding other musicians to work with, just drop me a line on gap email@example.com.
‘IT’S A NO BRAINER!’
Marcello Costantinou, BA3 Songwriting, explains how the Commercial Performance Programme and Alive network have proved invaluable to his career - and bank balance.
“Working with Alive Network has been one of the highlights of my musical career so far. In the past, I was performing as a function musician as a form of earning money throughout my studies. “However, until getting involved with the Commercial Performance Programme I was not fully aware of the fees I should have been earning in this kind of work. Since joining Alive Network’s roster, I have been earning at least four to five times the amount that I was before.
“I would highly recommend students at BIMM make the most of this opportunity as it is a great way to make good money from doing something you love. It's a no brainer!
“Without BIMM, I may never have found Alive Network, and may still be doing the same kind of gigs for a fraction of the money I make now."