The free concerts where musicians still get paid

The free concerts where musicians still get paid


norman lebrecht

February 22, 2016

One of the best-kept secrets in outer London is the concert series at St Mary’s Perivale, where outstanding international talent can be heard – for free.

And the players still get paid. How does that work? Find out here.

st mary perivale


  • Roger Goodacre says:

    The same idea has been very successfully used for city tours, under the Sandemans Free Tours banner (google for more info). Take a free guided tour, with a trained guide, and pay him/her whatever you wish at the end.
    I took a 3 hour walk around central Madrid last June with a group of about 25 others, and the excellent quality of the commentary meant that I was perfectly happy to contribute 10 euros, which I’d guess was about average – and would have generated 250 euros for the guide. Little wonder she’d given up a different career and was guiding twice a day three or four times a week!

    • WW says:

      Slightly off-topic, but those Sandeman Tours and others in Europe/US (Tom’s Tours spring to mind) have come under quite a lot of criticism for their approach in recent years. More info in various newspapers if you search for it, and also an interesting discussion here:

      • Roger Goodacre says:

        Thanks. As I said, I based my observations on my one experience, which was excellent. The accusations of ‘exploitation’ strike me as well over the top – any guide who’s unable to generate even 3 euros of tip per person must be truly in the wrong job. And if the guides feel exploited, no-one’s forcing them to choose to work with Sandeman’s: there are plenty of tour and coach operators who employ guides on a more conventional fee basis.

  • Jerron Jorgensen says:

    I started a concert series at my Connecticut church last year that runs off of the exact same model. Each musician or ensemble is paid a flat rate (commensurate to the fe St. Mary’s Perivale is paying their musicians) and the concert is free admission with a free-will offering accepted at the door. This provides an opportunity to see hear classical music for free for those who cannot afford it, and those who are able pay more. With 40-60 concert goers, the concert series is pretty self-sustaining. This is in a small church in a small town in rural New England, thirty minutes away from a big city (Hartford, CT). If it works here, it really ought to work everywhere.

  • DJ says:

    Really only a fee good enough for recent graduate student / or a young musician to try out programme for a proper gig.