Are you a local performer and have heard the line “If you want to play for free, come on out, we will let you perform for our audience, it will get you a lot of fans.”
The fact is, they are probably a club owner that is either in a failing business and can’t afford a band or they are just cheap.
Give this some thought, what if you asked a plumber, electrician, or maybe a contractor to come to do some work on your house for free with the promise you would invite some neighbors to come watch them work, do you think they would agree to it? No, probably not.
You put hours of work into rehearsing, you have a large investment in your tools (music equipment), why should you go work for nothing? I get doing fundraisers and I have done more than my share of them, but if it’s a business they are probably going to be trying to get business in because of what you do for a living, or at least what you hope to do for a living someday.
So, stop giving them something for nothing. Local musicians are a huge draw for most businesses, and to be asked to play for the “following you might get” is an insult. Charge them for your time or skip it and go to someone’s business that appreciates the time and investment you put into what you do.