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US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?

AllisonA(Animaterra) 22 Jan 13 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,999 22 Jan 13 - 04:36 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 22 Jan 13 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,Stim 22 Jan 13 - 06:38 PM
Mo the caller 23 Jan 13 - 04:26 AM
SteveMansfield 23 Jan 13 - 05:09 AM
Chris Partington 23 Jan 13 - 01:23 PM
SteveMansfield 23 Jan 13 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Don Meixner 23 Jan 13 - 03:37 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 23 Jan 13 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,Stim 24 Jan 13 - 12:37 AM
GUEST,Richie 24 Jan 13 - 01:22 AM
GUEST 24 Jan 13 - 09:45 AM
John P 24 Jan 13 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,999 24 Jan 13 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,Stim 24 Jan 13 - 01:27 PM
Howard Jones 24 Jan 13 - 02:37 PM
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Subject: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 22 Jan 13 - 04:31 PM

My dear husband and I have apparently been "discovered" by the local wedding circuit and we're getting queries to play for weddings- the ceremony and cocktail hour, not the reception. What is a reasonable fee to charge for approximately 90 minutes of music, no sound system, no dance calling, just fiddle and keyboard? We asked for $350 but settled for $300 last time, but don't want to undersell ourselves.


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 22 Jan 13 - 04:36 PM

http://www.twistduo.com/weddingfaq.html


That link will provide a place for you to begin determinations, imo.


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 22 Jan 13 - 05:32 PM

That's a good start, 999- thanks! It's also the highest quote I've seen- maybe something about NYC versus our more rural area, but it would be lovely to get $500 for a night's work!


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 22 Jan 13 - 06:38 PM

A lot of it depends on where you are and what the economy is like there right now, though after a while, it will depend on how "in demand" you are. You are right to be concerned about under-pricing, because weddings often book a long time ahead, and you could find that you have booked a full schedule that you can't afford to keep.

Remember that the work is seasonal, late spring and early summer being the favorite times, you should ask more then. Also, weekends are most popular, more for them, too.

Weddings can be Morning, Afternoon, or Evening--there may be different expectations for each--plan and bill accordingly. If you only play for the ceremony and not cocktails, You could play for a morning, afternoon, and evening wedding on the same Saturday in June. If you are asked to play for both the ceremony and cocktails for a 2pm Wedding, it is unlikely you'll be able to do anything else that day. (don't laugh--once people know you do this, you will be asked, or even begged to squeeze things in, often at the last minute)

Also, remember that you may be asked to prepare special material for the ceremony, and allow for that.

The thing to remember is that a wedding is all about committment--they want to know that you're going to be there and that you're going to play what they want. Make sure you're charging enough to guarantee that you'll be able to keep that committment. Also, make sure you've got the right material, and it's well rehearsed. They're playing for that, too.


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 23 Jan 13 - 04:26 AM

I do a lot of calling for dancing at wedding receptions. After the meal. By this stage the schedule that the bride planned has slipped so we usually find ourselves hanging around for ages, then scrambling to set up while the hotel clears and moves tables, then the dancing is squeezed into whatever tome is left, and we rush our equipment out again to leave room for the disco.
At least if you are playing for the ceremony things should happen on time.


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 23 Jan 13 - 05:09 AM

I do a lot of calling for dancing at wedding receptions. After the meal. By this stage the schedule that the bride planned has slipped so we usually find ourselves hanging around for ages, then scrambling to set up while the hotel clears and moves tables, then the dancing is squeezed into whatever time is left, and we rush our equipment out again to leave room for the disco.

And there, very nicely in a nutshell, is why we don't do wedding gigs!


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: Chris Partington
Date: 23 Jan 13 - 01:23 PM

It's their party and we're privileged to be there. I love playing for weddings. What could be more appropriate? And what other way can you think of for developing an audience than to get a room full of families who are only coming to a ceilidh by accident, give them some champagne and a happy event, and then see them enjoying the dance? Bring it on, I say.


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 23 Jan 13 - 02:09 PM

Fair enough, we'll send any enquiries your way Chris!


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: GUEST,Don Meixner
Date: 23 Jan 13 - 03:37 PM

Hi Allison,

First of all it is a job. Any job you take on the first of May means you can't take any others for that same time. Don't be disappointed because you took a job and better one came along. So pick a price and charge that price whether it is 90 minutes or four hours.

If $ 350.00 is your price ( a fair price ) for local round town gigs, what is your price for an hour out of town. Remember an hour out is an hour back and there is gas. Maybe another $100.00.

My band is a trio with PA and amplification. We need an hour to set up and an hour to tear down. If we play three hours that is a five hour job. Then add travel and you have six to eight hours for one job. Since most receptions are afternoon jobs this knocks us out of an evening gig in some saloon.

We charge $500.00 for a wedding with in an hour of Syracuse. Any thing over that is an additional $125.00. $50.00 for a tank of gas and $25.00 a man for the additional work.

Weddings are hard work. Learning new songs you'd never consider because the bride likes "Color My World." Arriving two hours early to set up because the caterer has the only key and they won't be there after 2:00. And can you move off the band stand during dinner so the head table can use it for speeches.

You guys are worth what you charge so charge it. And don't forget business cards and CDs.

Don


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 23 Jan 13 - 05:37 PM

This is all great advice! Don, your point about travel is a good one. We're thinking of asking for $450 and settling for $400, but in the several email between the bride and me, no one has mentioned price yet- Hunt worked for years selling his artwork, and says, "Whoever mentions money first, loses." So I'm holding out for as long as I can, until and unless it looks as though the bride assumes we're doing it for free!

Be assured there will be a contract and a "payment in full one month before the event" or some such. As we have learned to our sorrow.


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 24 Jan 13 - 12:37 AM

I am not sure that "Whoever mentions money first, loses" applies to weddings, because they tend to be "I'll pay what I have to to get what I want, because it is one of the most important events in my life" deals.

It also regarded, in many circles, to be very bad form not to be generous when providing for a wedding. People will often talk loudly about how expensive a Wedding was, but they will only whisper about how cheap it was. You should expect to be generously compensated.

If I were you, I wouldn't do that "Ask for $450 but settle for $400" because it makes you look either a bit desperate, or like you're trying to get more than you're entitled to. If you want $450, ask for it. I doubt anyone will refuse to book you over $50.


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 24 Jan 13 - 01:22 AM

The first thing I do after getting the basic information is find out what their budget is, and what they can afford to pay.

They may have a $1,000 or a $100 one.

If they don't know or have no idea then I try to get them to come up with a figure and if it's too low, I let them know why it should be higher- so I will be able to do the gig.

If you, at first, tell them you charge $400 you may miss out on $300 gigs and you may get paid $400 instead of $1,000.

Richie


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jan 13 - 09:45 AM

I used to play a lot of weddings. We came up with a set rate and stuck to it. We made it be something that we felt good about and that was affordable to "normal" people (poor folks are usually more fun to play for than rich folks).

Since so many weddings only have you playing part of the event, we based our rates on number of hours we were there, not the number of hours we were playing. Since booking any gig means you don't get to book any other gig on that date, we had a 2 hour minimum. We sometimes had to explain to people why they still had to pay the 2 hour minimum even if they only wanted us to play for 20 minutes during the ceremony.

Other things got priced separately: travel time, bringing a P.A., learning specific music. We wanted something that was clear and easy to remember. Here's what we came up with:

0 - 2 hours: $400
Each additional hour: $100
P.A. system: $100
Travel beyond 1 hour: usually $100, more if the travel time is more extreme.
Learning specific songs we don't already know: $100

This seems like a lot to learn a song or two, but any new song needed to be arranged for our instruments and style, memorized, and practiced extensively, since we were perfectionists who couldn't stand playing a poorly done song next to well-done material.

We were always ready to meet with the bride and groom during the planning stages, but only once. We always refused to go to wedding rehearsals. If, as often happened, things ran late and we were asked during the event to stay longer than our contract, we quoted them an extra fee for the extra time. We liked to warn them about that possibility in advance.

There was, for a long time, an urge to try to figure out what they could afford and charge them accordingly. We would think, "why should we take $400 if they would pay $1000 without batting an eye?" We eventually got tired of trying to navigate that in an ethical way, and of being a type of salesperson we didn't really like to deal with when we were buying goods or services for ourselves. The set rate made negotiations easy, in that they weren't really negotiations at all. We were asked to provide a service and we named the price. They took it or not.


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: John P
Date: 24 Jan 13 - 09:47 AM

Sorry, that last was me with cookie unset for some reason.

John


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 24 Jan 13 - 10:06 AM

I think it's a mistake to dicker over price. As many have said, state your expectations and stick with them. People wouldn't go to a restaurant and barter over the prices on the menu. They are what they are. Ya take it or leave it. What's to talk?


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 24 Jan 13 - 01:27 PM

Our wedding bookings were often referrals from people who had heard us at other weddings, so they knew what they were getting and what we'd charged, anyway.

We were generally the dance band (for people who wanted folk and ethnic dancing)and I generally charged by the musician, because often I'd have to add say, a clarinet for Klezmer, or a caller, or a drummer or an Irish fiddler. Also, as a safety measure, I made sure that I always had someone who was a good sight reader(I kept a stack of fakebooks in the car), because there were always last minute requests. I tried to pay the other musicians more than they usually got anywhere else, so they were always glad to play with me, a strategy I highly recommend...


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Subject: RE: US Musicians: How much $/wedding gig?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 24 Jan 13 - 02:37 PM

Whilst it's true that weddings will usually pay more than most other gigs, their willingness to pay whatever it takes seems to stop at the band. They will cheerfully pay crazy figures for the flowers, the balloons, the ladies's nails, the chocolate fountain and whatever else the bride sets her mind on, but they seem to expect musicians to do it for next to nothing. However much you charge, you can bet you'll be the cheapest element of the entire shindig.

How long you're expected to play for shouldn't be a factor. Whether you'll be playing for an hour or all evening, the real work is loading the car, driving there, setting up, hanging around, packing it all away again driving home and unloading. Playing music is the easy part and the fun part. I'd rather play for four hours than go to all that effort and then only play a few tunes.

Be sure you have a formal contract which sets out the times you're expected to play, and allows time for setting up and pulling down. They won't stick to those times, but it puts you in control when after being told you'd be playing from 8 to midnight, you can't start until 11 pm and they still expect you to play for 4 hours.


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