As a bandleader has anyone ever asked you, “I want to hire you guys. How much do you charge?” Do you have a quick answer?
To set a competitive rate for your band here’s something to consider before you open your mouth. If you quote a rate that’s too high, you might turn off your potential client. If your price is too low, they might think your band is not good enough. The question is, how do you set a rate that compensates your band members fairly and yet attractive enough that potential talent buyers can’t ignore?
Determining a fair and profitable price for your band takes a little homework. Negotiating your best price takes practice and strategy.
As a side note: if you'd like to quickly calculate a minimum asking price for your cover band, try our event band rate calculator now.
It All Starts With Negotiations
Author Kenneth Eade said, “In any negotiation, the one who first gives a number is the loser.” That’s excellent advice. There are two principles in negotiating your band’s rates. 1) Don’t quote your price until you have all the information, and 2) don’t make demands until you know their position. To understand where the other party stands, ask these questions:
- Is it a private or a public gig?
- Will there be any repeat business?
- Which night of the week? Tuesdays are blank, Fridays are busy.
- Will they cover the band’s travel expenses?
- How much do they usually pay?
Then there are questions that you need to answer:
- How much do you need the work?
- Will you gain extra publicity from the gig?
- Is there possibly a better gig on that date?
- Is it an exotic location or a large event?
- How many band members can you add?
Read a book on how to negotiate or take a short course. Whatever it takes, always be ready to negotiate because the other side will.
Pricing Your Service
Your band performs a valuable service, musical entertainment. Putting a price on the band’s musical talent starts by determining the base costs.
Think about what goes into pricing a jar of peanut butter. You have the peanuts and other ingredients that make up the peanut butter. Next, you have the jar, lid, label, and shipping container. Those items are your base cost. Then you add in the additional and variable costs like labor, rent, utilities, shipping, and grocery store slotting fees. If you don’t add those expenses, you’ll lose money and go out of business.
It’s the same with your band and setting your music artist booking prices. You have fixed and variable costs. The first step is to determine an hourly base rate for your group. Once you have that rate, you can add in the other expenses such as:
- Contracted time from start to the end, including performance sets and breaks.
- All instruments and sound/lighting equipment.
- Set-up and breakdown of equipment.
- Travel and accommodation expenses.
Pro Tip: Remember to ask potential clients if they have a budget in mind. This way, you know if it’s worth your time.
How to Determine Your Hourly Base Rate
Whether your band has the same musicians for each gig, or it fluctuates depending on the venue, set up a table to help you determine your band’s hourly rate. The musicians in your group are worth the same as any skilled tradesperson in North America. The range begins at the low end at $25 per hour and runs up to $75 for highly trained and experienced musicians.
If all nine members of the band earn $50 per hour, the hourly base rate is $450 per hour. However, if you only charge the base rate, you’ll be out of business fast.
Check out this chart to see other costs you need to add to your price. The table is courtesy of the Phonix Band, a 9-piece Canadian Funk band.
You can adjust the costs by adjusting the BOLDED items that are specific to your band.
Make sure to add expense items that aren’t on this list, such as producing a promo video, licenses, and other promotional costs. You’re going to have to pay them one way or another.
Factors Influencing the Artist Booking Prices
Here are some charges you should add to your price. You can use these items as bargaining chips, but you should try and charge for everything you can.
Factoring in Travel Fees
Make sure to add travel expenses to your fee if you are traveling more than 15 to 20 miles from your base camp. You can charge a mileage rate for a day trip and add food and lodging if you plan to stay overnight.
You’ll need to set fees appropriate to your area and band, but here is a rough guide.
- Gas, Wear and Tear on the car - $0.45 to $0.575 per mile. In the U.S., the IRS standard mileage rates for the use of a car, vans, pickups, or panel trucks is 57.5 cents per mile.
- Food - Breakfast $18, lunch $19, and dinner $34
- Hotel room - $60 x number of band members x number of nights. This figure uses an average room cost of $120 with two people per room.
For a look at how the U.S. calculates per diems for their federal employees in every state, go to U.S. General Services Administration – Per Diem Rates. It can help you calculate local per diem fees for your band.
The Band’s Size and Popularity
The bigger the crowds you can draw, the more you can negotiate.
The Date or Season
Is the gig in the middle of the week or on a Saturday night? Are you playing during spring break or the dead of winter? Just like the airlines, you want to price accordingly for peak and off-peak times.
Extra Logistics or Special Equipment Required
Do your fans expect to see explosions, fire, fog, and laser lights? You’ll need to include the rental and techs required to operate them during your show.
How to Handle Contracts and Payments
So, you’ve come up with a price for the gig, and the venue owner or client has agreed. Now what? How do you make a contract? If you’ve never made a contract before, your band needs this music performance contract template!
Pro Tip: Never make your first offer the best offer. Add at least 10%, so you have wiggle room for negotiations.
When negotiating, don’t forget to include a deposit. Typically, you should ask for and receive a 50% advance deposit. However, the deposit varies depending on the type of event and the advanced booking. Once both parties agree, sign the deal, and you receive a deposit, congratulations, you’ve officially booked your band!
Keep Everything Organized
As a bandleader, you have a lot on your plate. Keep your sanity by keeping things in order. The automation features in the Back On Stage app will save you time and keep you on top of your game.
This unique web app will take care of your booking list, leads or contact information, communications, event dates, band members details, payments, and finances, to name a few.
Back On Stage provides a specific structure to generate contracts at your pay scale, no matter what you charge or where you play. It’s never been easier to submit proposals, make contracts, or get paid.