Many artists look down on a free show because it means for them that their art isn't being rewarded. So why do a free show? In many cases there are benefits to doing free shows, for example, exposure to a wider audience. The huge halftime Superbowl performances are for free, so are award show performances like the MTV Music Awards and the Grammy's. the hopes though is that you have access to a bigger audience that will then convert into fans. But what many don't know also is that you can actually be paid even when the venue says it's a free gig. The word of the day is Performance Royalties.
Performance Royalties - are generated from any public performance like music playing in bars or restaurants, playing a live gig, or when your music is broadcasted on radio or tv. These royalties are collected and paid out by a writer’s PRO (performance rights organization). PROs license the songs in their catalog for use and use performance data to allocate the money to publishers and writers.
Who are the PRO's
The top PRO's are: PROs in the United States are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. For Canadian artists, there is SOCAN.