How To Charge More For Your Gigs With Confidence 2

Plus, 5 Questions you should ask before giving a price quote for your band. 

It’s true that you have to prove yourself at times, but the principal remains the same – as musicians, we are providing a value and a service. We should be compensated fairly for that service.

It’s up to us to build value in the minds of those who wish to hire us. Explaining to the venue what that value looks like and how it relates to their needs as a business is how we need to approach pricing.

Pay Day

Recently, I received an email about hiring my band, Rip & the Taylors, for a corporate event in May. The client saw us perform at our weekly spot at Henry’s Majestic, and thought we’d make a great fit.

This was the first time I’ve been contacted as a bandleader and not just a sideman. The challenge for me is knowing what to charge the client.

In the past, I’ve quoted a price as a sideman based on what other people have made. I also would quote a price based on a “good” dollar per hour rate.

At the time, I thought these approaches fit my experience. Over the years that strategy started to lose its effectiveness. I’m older now and I don’t want to trade my time for money. Instead, I want to be paid for the value I can bring to any situation.

How much should you charge?

In theory, you will only get paid what you think you are worth.

So, if you think you should get paid $50 a gig that’s what you’ll get. However, if you stand firm and believe that you should make more, you’ll most likely get paid more.

It’s not enough to just believe you are worth more. You must demonstrate the value of your services to those who wish to hire you.

And, to do that, you need to have a conversation with the event planner or club venue that’s much more inquisitive than ones you’ve had before.

I’m still learning how to do this better myself.

Here are some questions I asked the event planner for my upcoming corporate gig:

  1. What is the purpose of your event? 
  2. What experience do you want the attendees to take away?
  3. Do you want an engaged audience? Or, a passive listening experience?
  4. Do you wish to receive any increased business as a result of this event? Can you put that in a dollar amount or other metric? 
  5. As a result of this event, do you wish to receive repeat business or attendance for other upcoming events?

I’ll ask these questions in a more conversational way. But, what I’m listening for is how I can add value to their needs.

By having a musical group perform at their event, what impact will they receive in these areas?

  • increase in sales 
  • brand visibility 
  • public perception, 
  • what other metrics could be measured?

If my band wants to make $500 at a bar, we need to show at least that much increase in the venue’s sales as a result in us being there.

If the expectation is to generate $10,000 in sales as a result of a special event, I could charge up to $2,000 for my band to play there.

That’s a 20% investment or 500% Return on Investment! 

Putting your price in terms of investment and profitability is something most businesses will rally behind.

Of course, there are non-monetary values that come with providing music for any event. But, the easiest way to overcome a price objection is the return on investment. Then, back that up with customer experience and other value.

I’ll also ask about technical things like sound and lighting, styles of music, time, and other details. All of which will enter into my pricing options.

After my conversation with the client, I leave to work up some options and pricing. They can then decide on which package to choose when hiring my band based on budget and perceived value.

It’s our jobs as the service provider to learn how to build the value of our art in the minds of the our clients.

It’s a very short book that does a great job teaching us how to re-think our pricing and positioning in any industry.

  • Here’s a good article from the DIY Musician blog about this topic as it pertains to musicians specifically.

How do you build value for your band? Are you charging enough for your art? Share your answers on FaceBook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.



  1. […] A few days later I’m getting a call to perform at a cocktail hour for a corporate conference.  (To read more about that experience and my approach to pricing click here.) […]