effect of economy on harp business

  • Participant
    Jessica A on #147571

    Anyone noticed any effect?

    Sylvia Clark on #147572

    I’ve noticed the last two years.

    onita-sanders on #147573

    I am so glad you asked.

    barbara-kraichy–2 on #147574

    I have noticed a drop the last couple of years and people are expecting harpists to play for very little. (Like one woman wanted two hours of harp music for $75.00!) It’s unbelievable. Unfortunately we have competition from D.J’s , students, and other instruments that don’t have the schlepping we harpists have. If you want to have alot of work, it seems you have to drop your prices, or hold out for high end clients. They are out there, but even the wealthiest are seeking a bargain and “Joe Public” doesn’t seem to care about quality. It’s the all mighty dollar that counts.

    kreig-kitts on #147575

    For that price, you should drop a harp CD in a stereo and say “I’ll be back in two hours.”

    stephen-vardy on #147576

    I have lots of thoughts, not much proof…..

    We are in a Lake Tahoe like area in Western Canada in a tourist and conference town.
    Our gigging is off 40% over 4 years ago.

    **Canada has had a fairly shallow recession compared to the USA.

    **The first dent was USA Homeland Security requiring USA travellers to Canada to have passports – far fewer USA corporate clients as a result.

    **USA client destination weddings dropped

    **Canadian brides became more $ conscious

    **DJs are dying like flies up here.

    **Smaller weddings away from larger urban centers are definitely rising.

    **The backyard wedding is coming back. We offer several options to make the harp attractive in this situ.

    ** We have had a recent 7% sales tax increase on live music

    BUT I think something else is afoot – The digital generation is starting to marry in larger numbers – they grew up with electronic hardware and very little acoustic music due to school cutbacks. Live music does not register for this generation unless it can be referenced back to a digital format.

    We have adjusted by offering the option of having iPod/laptop music after the harp play for dancing. There is a bonafide customer for this combo offering.

    I wonder about the future but somehow every year we get by. This year 60 year old birthday parties are on the rise. The boomers are celebrating. There is money in the boomers somehow – even if it is their funerals.

    Sigh – I am a boomer….

    Stephen Vardy
    West Coast Harps

    Jerusha Amado on #147577



    This is exactly what I was thinking.

    Sylvia Clark on #147578
    I hadn’t thought about that, Stephen.
    barbara-brundage on #147579

    Hi, Jerusha.

    don’t DJ’s have to move a lot of equipment– big amplifiers, mixers, and the like-

    Nope, they use an ipad like everyone else. They need speakers and a mic but the days of a truckload of equipment and milk crates full of CDs are done. Actually I would say that in my area most guitarists (who are more likely to use old-fashioned mixing boards) carry more junk around that the DJs do.

    Jerusha Amado on #147580


    Thanks for responding!

    barbara-brundage on #147581

    Yeah, I was really noticing it at a recent wedding. The DJ was a very popular one who always used to pull up with his fancy trailer covered with ads. Now he just pops open the trunk of his Toyota to get his gear out instead. 🙂

    stephen-vardy on #147582

    We offer iPod and laptop DJ to the wedding couple. They bring their music files in some form of portable electronics and plug into our system which is a higher end system created especially for the harp. The MP3s sound better through a quality system. We provide a 4-way DJ mixer,a USB sound card, an iPod dock and an audiophile CD player. (A wired mic with stand/podium is necessary too for speeches) Move the speakers to the dance floor and hey presto!

    The music they bring ranges from excruciating to quite good. The couple likes to feel in control and I usually start off the evening with their special tunes plus their dance playlist. As the evening progresses requests start to happen and I ask if the requester has it on iPod and use the dock for individual songs if they do. Often I pass control over to a really switched on dancer and they start to micromanage everything.

    Works really well and we net $1200 for about 14×2 hours work for the two of us and also have a nice dinner. Alison usually plays harp for the ceremony and 2-3 hours amplified background at the reception. The rest is recorded music, speeches etc.

    In an emergency I have a stash of about 70 CDs which are legal to play at dances in Canada without a license. MP3s are not legal to play without having a DJ licence on the digital hardware. The couple can get a $50 license for the dance to cover all music use.

    carl-swanson on #147583

    I am soooooo glad I make my living repairing harps! I can’t imagine what it’s like making a living as a freelance musician in this economy and also in this changing environment.

    A thought did occur to me. When you wedding harpists advertise(on your web site, print ads, wedding industry shows and catalogues, etc.) do you play up the visuals of the harp? Do you have pictures for example of a bride and groom standing next to the harp? I would think that the visual aspect of the instrument might attract a bride or bride’s mother to hiring a harpist.

    Sarah Mullen on #147584

    The majority of my income is from cd sales, and I’ve noticed a decline over the last two years.

    Sylvia Clark on #147585

    Not everyone makes a living from the harp.

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