Mastering Weddings, Part 2: A Guide to Pricing Your Live Music Business

Mastering Weddings, Part 2: A Guide to Pricing Your Live Music Business



In today's blog, we're tackling a common challenge in the live music industry: pricing. Whether you're a seasoned band leader or just starting out, establishing the right price point can be daunting. We've gathered feedback highlighting pricing as one of the top struggles for fellow musicians. To address this, we'll explore two approaches: bottom-up and top-down strategies. The bottom-up method involves meticulously assessing all business expenses to determine fair and profitable pricing.

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Calculating Band Rates from Expenses

To help with figuring out how much to charge for your band's services, we've created a Band Rate Calculator tool on our blog. It asks you a few questions and then gives you a price based on your answers, covering all the important factors you need to think about.

I've used the calculator to crunch some numbers for bands of different sizes and how often they play gigs. For example, let's take a closer look at a 10-piece band. The calculator asks you to estimate how many high-ticket gigs you'll play each month. These are the gigs where you can charge your full rate, like weddings or special events. Let's say you aim for eight of these gigs per month, each lasting around three hours.

For a 10-piece band, you'll need to pay each band member for their time. Let's budget $400 per band member for each gig, which covers everything from setup and soundcheck to the actual performance time. So for a typical gig with 10 band members, that's $4,000 in musician fees.

You'll also need to consider production costs, including sound, lights, and technician services. Let's allocate $1,500 for these expenses per gig.

In addition to gig-related expenses, there are monthly operating costs to consider. These include things like website hosting fees, subscription costs for accounting software, and insurance premiums. These costs don't directly relate to each gig but are essential for your group's ongoing operations.

A profit margin of 5% to 10% is a good rule of thumb to ensure financial stability and growth. Once you input all these figures into the calculator, it provides a summary, including the minimum asking price for your services. For our 10-piece band example, with bi-monthly rehearsals and numerous gigs, the calculated price was $7,800 per gig.

One more thing to consider is how tipping can impact your bottom line. By offering clients the option to tip when using invoicing software like Back On Stage, you can offset credit card processing fees and even generate additional income. In our experience, clients often tip enough to cover these fees and provide extra income by year's end.

Bottom-Up vs Top-Down Pricing Approaches

Now, let's discuss two approaches to calculating your band's rate: the bottom-up and top-down methods. The bottom-up approach involves identifying all your expenses and adding them up to determine your price. It's the safest method and ensures you cover your costs effectively.

The top-down approach, on the other hand, involves analyzing the competition and market rates to gauge what the market can bear. While riskier, it can lead to pricing adjustments based on what competitors are charging. I always recommend starting with the bottom-up model to understand your expenses before considering market rates.

One way to assess market rates is by "secret shopping" other bands—setting up a fake inquiry to see their pricing and sales approach. This can provide insights into how to position your own band and avoid potential pitfalls. Additionally, reaching out to agencies can help identify gaps in the market and understand client preferences.

Perhaps there's a demand for Bob Marley tributes in your area, yet no bands offer such a service. If you're passionate about Bob Marley's music, you could fill that gap in the market. Consulting with agencies can provide insights into prevailing price ranges and identify niche opportunities. There's a saying that resonates with me: "Your competitor's margin is your opportunity." It underscores the idea that where competitors overprice, you can position yourself competitively.

Ultimately, pricing is a balancing act between covering expenses and remaining competitive in the market. By understanding both your costs and market dynamics, you can determine a pricing strategy that works best for your band.

Craft Service Packages with Transparent Pricing to Boost Sales

Crafting service packages with transparent pricing can significantly boost your band's sales and overall appeal. Let’s explore how to effectively communicate your value through price ranges rather than fixed prices alone, offering flexibility and managing client expectations from the get-go. It's a strategy that not only fosters transparency but also streamlines the decision-making process for potential clients. 

In our experience, we've found that providing a comprehensive service catalog on our website is key to engaging potential clients. On Back On Stage, our lead form builder allows us to embed a contact form, initiating automated emails once submitted. This immediate response sets the stage for further conversation, leveraging the expertise of our sales team. Many clients prefer understanding our offerings before engaging in dialogue, so we direct them to our service catalog. This catalog showcases our diverse services, starting with a brief introduction highlighting accolades such as being voted the best party band by a prominent local newspaper. As visitors peruse the catalog, they encounter detailed descriptions of each service, along with links to videos and photos for further exploration. We prioritize high-quality videos as they serve as powerful selling tools. From band performances to auxiliary services like strings and photo booths, we ensure every aspect of our offerings is meticulously presented. Notably, we refrain from disclosing specific prices at this stage, focusing instead on elucidating the value and versatility of our services. This approach not only informs potential clients but also invites them to envision the comprehensive experience we offer.

Now, let's consider how we craft our service packages with transparent pricing. While we offer a range of options to our clients, navigating through these options can be overwhelming for consumers. They may wonder about the distinctions between a nine-piece band and a six-piece band or the specific sound system required for different parts of an event, such as the ceremony versus speeches.

While we initially present these packages and price points, our approach then shifts to customizing a package tailored to each client's needs. For instance, we often find that most clients prefer a package that includes a band and a sound system for the ceremony, along with microphones for speeches. As they become more comfortable with this idea, we can offer additional services, such as a photo booth, at a discounted rate. By bundling services together, we aim to make it easy and straightforward for clients to choose us for multiple aspects of their event, rather than engaging multiple vendors for different services. This not only maximizes convenience for clients but also presents a larger opportunity for our business and minimizes stress for the client.

Ultimately, this approach leads to happier clients, better reviews, and increased revenue for our business. It's all about prioritizing the client's needs and streamlining the process for them, while also ensuring profitability and efficiency on our end.

Action Steps:

  • Consider all business expenses when setting rates
  • Research competitors' pricing approaches 
  • Emphasize results over prices through quality content
  • Craft Service Packages with Transparent Pricing to Boost Sales

About The Author

reuben avery bandleader and musician

Reuben Avery

Reuben is one of the co-founders at Back On Stage and is also a bandleader and musician. When he's not busy dreaming up ways to streamline the live music industry's inner workings, he enjoys performing with his 9-piece event band, practicing his trumpet and spending quality time with his wife and cat.


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