Setting a Fee for Musical Services is Tricky Business!

Everyone wants to get a good deal and musicians are almost always asked to reduce their fee. Because we love the music we play, it seems like we’re getting paid for having fun. That’s true in a way, but it also belies everything that’s involved in putting together and delivering the right music for the event.

A number of years ago we fell for the line that doing benefits gives us exposure and helps to raise our profile. What we discovered was that we only got “exposed” to groups who also asked us to provide free or cheap entertainment.

We realized and began to feel that playing for free or for a deep discount is disrespectful both to the music we represent and to us as musicians. Therefore we are quite reluctant to donate our talent or to significantly reduce our fee.

While the fee may seem high on first blush, when all the factors are taken into account. There are a number of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ considerations which go into each performance which include:

  • It takes a minimum of 40 hours of preparation. This includes
    Correspondence with the client
    Selecting the songs for the program, possibly learning new pieces
    More hours if a site visit is required
    Our own publicity for the event (if it’s a public event)
  • Cost of instruments, gear, wardrobe, sound equipment etc.
  • Wear and tear on instruments and other equipment
  • Monetary cost of instruction and dedication in time for practicing and honing skills

Experience and knowledge:

  • Gary is acknowledged by his peers for his expertise in the music we play.
  • Gary has been playing music for over 30 years. Both he and Amber have lots of experience providing music in festivals, weddings, retirement parties, birthday and other special occasions, coffee houses and concerts.
  • Time dedicated on the day of the performance. In addition to the performance itself, there’s getting ready, travel time, setting up for the performance and taking down afterwards. Locally this could be as little as 4 hours and as much as 6.

There’s a lot of behind the scene and time required and the fee represents but a small fraction of the work, and energy required in bringing a quality musical program to any event.