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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All my posts are urgent - sorry :)
Sent a prospective demo "tape" to few contacts yesterday. Didn't have any high hopes but one has got back in touch almost straight away asking what we charge. That caught me off balance. We are a new young jazz combo, 1 sax, 1 bass, 1 drum 1 bass, based in England (north west). say we did 1 45 min set? 2 x 45 min set
Advice pls asap
 

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maybe you should take life with a (troy) grain of salt (a large grain thus), all this urgency won’t do you any good and only causes you to haste from one thing into another.

Much depends on your level of proficiency but, unless you are a well known band with an agent you won’t be able to call for any great fee. Playing for food and drinks is not unheard of even for good musicians (how professional are you?).

Depending on the size of the gig you can ask £500 or more (if you can get it and you MAY get it if you try) but I know for a fact that sometimes pro's in London get paid £50 per person at places like Pizza Express in Soho ( and all the pizza that you can eat) because the location is prestigious ( It’s a famous venue for Jazz if people are not familiar with London). 2 X 45’ with an intermission of 15’ sounds about right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks milandro - panic not intentional I assure you, and I am usually stoical about things. But for an teenager just starting out, it has all come on quick i.e the last 7 days from first mention by a bar, setting up a band, recording a demo, sending out demo hoping for some breathing space then
this morning the man is asking how much we charge. Mind you it's better than getting no response at all I know :)

In the NW of England where I am I heard £40 per man for the set - from what you say that sound a tad too much?
 

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I would give a 2X range, saying it depends on the event. For example, everything seems to cost more for weddings and corporate events.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
nigeld - I was thinking £30 per head. It was going to be a gig in a bar, and then a gig at a ticketed "all-dayer" event was mentioned. As i said it's all happened in 7 days and it's my first experience as I've been jamming for about 2 years and some guy just asked me last Wed.
 

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With my band we started very low (around what you are thinking) but we quickly realized that at these rates transportation costs ( we need a lorry for the P.A. and drums) , parking (in major Dutch cities even €5 or more per hour) will practically eat it all. Of course we are amateurs and not intend to get rich or even make this part of our income but also do not want to lose our own money to the advantage of others.

We still play for free or for little money though but try, for example , to get dates where the drums and P.A. and piano are on site. So that we only have to show up and play. We use mostly whatever money to pay for the rehearsal space ( €50 per 3 hours) and the occasional dinner.

WE keep the money in a “ band fund” and use it for band purposes.

My band is a “ cocktail band” and we play mostly for parties , your fee has to be proportionate to what the patrons spend for the location and the catering. Why should they think that one of the fundamental elements (together with location and food and drinks ) should be saved on? They don’t and they are generally prepared to spend a bit of money.

I don’t like weddings or bar or bat -mitzvahs because you get to play all sorts of things that you don’t want to.

That is another thing. Once we were asked if we play any boogie-woogie's and we said : “ No we don’t, we have our own program” (vocal standards and some Jazzed pop).

Ask and it will be given. If you don’t ask you will never get anything. That doesn’t mean that you may want to play somewhere for free. We do play for free at a home concert every year for 3 years now (before I played there with other people) but the many people whom come there at a friend’s place, in a fantastic place in Amsterdam on the Amstel river just across where the Carré theater is, are all potential customers and our exhibition there has always generated some paid gigs.

The same we will do soon at a Restaurant in Haarlem where we will play for food (they will give us a voucher to spend there at will) but is a place where we can arrange for a good recording and video to show (we rarely get a nice chance to get that decently).
 

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You could ask them what they normally pay.
My teacher gets between £0 and £180 for himself depending on the band and the gig. The top number is for pro big-band or dance band at a posh or corporate event.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
nigeld - thanks for that. I just spoke with my old sax tutor who said at this stage £30/man - professional £100-£150. I'll pitch £30 for now i think, see what the man says. of course it's my PA and equipment gratis :(
 

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well even if it is your PA you should charge them a fee for its use. We do, it costs €150.

If and when it breaks down (and carrying it around will expose to the real risk that it will, sooner or later), you will need to replace or repair it. Piano and drums are the same story.

Same for every other expenditure too. Parking fees, petrol, hiring a van, you name it. Even if the van is yours, what if it breaks down?

Who pays for it? You? The Band?

You are also providing a service and a lot of work like moving all the equipment mounting it, soundchecking driving to the location and back.

It is a very different predicament from showing up, pulling your instrument out, play and go away with money in the pocket.

At some events you have to be there before the social part of the event to mount everything, hang around a couple of hours for the function or speeches or even other musicians and then play, then wait again for the even to finish and then clear up everything.

You may spend a whole afternoon and part of the evening on a gig and NOT only the few minutes that you are playing.

Paying is best done upfront. Say, and it is true, that there are costs which need being covered before you even play.
 

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Whatever you do, charge something. Music should not be free, especially live music. Bands willing to play for fee are a disservice to all other musicians.
 

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You may also want to ask a little bit more than what you actually aim for.
That leaves you with some margin for going down if necessary, or gives you a small bonus (and confidence for the next time) if it works directly.
 

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I generally go by the venue size, night of the week it is, how their business appears its doing to me and and if I get to play what I want.
I also vary my price by the size of the group. I prefer my trio of sax, organ and drums so I try to charge them a little more than I charge for a duo just trying to get them to think it’s a deal and go for the trio.
 

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You may also want to ask a little bit more than what you actually aim for.
That leaves you with some margin for going down if necessary, or gives you a small bonus (and confidence for the next time) if it works directly.
+1. With the caveat that since this is your first gig for the band and you want to get it (and future gigs) in order to establish the band, a good technique is to ask a bit more than you want or expect to get and then allow the venue to bargain it down. They might or might not do that. But the first thing is to establish yourselves as a working band. To do that you'll have to make a good impression and play well enough to get called back (but that's another issue). So in your specific case, ask what you're pretty sure you can get and be prepared to do it for less, just to be sure and get the gig.

Once you have an established band, you can raise your price up. I generally quote a price, taking into account the factors Whaler mentioned, above the minimum I'm willing to accept. So say I want at least $100 per player for a 4 piece band, I'll say something like "we like to get $500 for the band, but if that's not in your budget we can work with you on it." That allows some wiggle room and if they come back and say they can only afford $400, then we accept it. Quite often they will immediately accept the $500 and everyone is happy. Then again, when they immediately accept, I might wish I'd asked for more!! Eventually you figure out what the market will bear for given venues in your area.
 
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