I have to say that I have never encountered this type of behavior before. I have heard tales from others musicians, but never a harpist.
Although I do play all sorts of gigs, weddings are a major part of my playing.
Posted In: Professional Harpists
I think you should find out exactly what she is saying and offering. Have a friend call her, with you listening on an extension phone and taking notes or recording it. Coach the friend on what to say. See if this woman is slandering or bad mouthing you. That might give you ammunition to come up with a proposal to potential clients that will help you get the job. At the very least I would confront this woman directly and forcefully about what she is doing and how unethical it is.
Onita- To me there is a difference between competitive bidding and undercutting. In competitive bidding several contractors give you a bid on how much they can do the job for, without being aware of who else is bidding and how much the other bids are. In undercutting, a competitor is simply saying that he/she will do the job for less than another competitor. I believe that is also called predatory pricing and that’s illegal, because its sole purpose is to drive the competition out of business. As I understood the original post, that’s what the other harpist was doing. She doesn’t seem to be concerned with making a profit or covering her costs. She just wants the job at any cost. She sounds unethical and at the very least should be confronted. Maybe by talking directly with her, some agreement or understanding can be reached. By talking to her she will at least know that her competition is on to her.
Oh… but it is about a price, a very nasty price you are being forced to pay for being too good and too threatening to a “queen bee” or a “wanna-be”.
Some people are really good at pretending to be angels in public while they stab their competition in the back in private.
In fact , some harpists are so desperately insecure that they will stop at nothing to undermine and hurt other harpists who have fairly won their success. Some people have to feel that they are “top dog” all the time and cannot tolerate the talent of others who have paid their dues. I have not only lost work from other harpists who have undercut my rate, but I have also had them stalk me, slander me, disrupt my performances, and road rage me and try and cause a wreck on opening night.
Hmm, I thought this kind of harassment behavior was reserved for dirty corrupt politicians and crazy jealous high school ex’s.
It wasn’t long ago when the economy was so bad that annual freelance gigs disappeared and summer weddings were few and far between. Some harpists undercut and low-balled established rates and hurt everyone so they could have a few extra weddings. There will always be harpists who do this, especially those who are still on Daddy’s payroll and don’t have mouths to feed or mortgages to pay or who just do it for “bully sport”.
I had a woman call me not to long ago wanting to hire me and complained about the terrible harpist she had heard at a friends wedding. When she asked her friend how she found the harpist she mentioned that “she was so much cheaper than the other harpists, I thought I was getting a great deal.”
In the end it is a question of quality and if the “lowest price” is what the brides want then that is what they will get.
To have quality music for one of the most important days in your life is worth a few extra dollars.
There will always be the “budget brides” and there will always be the “budget harpists”, and harpists who play dirty to get ahead.
You can’t control the bad behavior of other harpists and their lack of professional ethics, but you can control how you play and do business.
Play beautifully and consistently and good work will find you!
But be aware that on their “special, special” day, the bride will be wanting to spend more on her dress and her cocktail weenies than on the quality of the music.
I find the lack of decorum, intelligence, and common sense in the average bride appalling. A high percentage of the brides I read about want present day popular music and cheap, in that order.
I don’t perform at weddings very often, but I have had a lot of social experience with brides and see this all the time.
A girl who will happily spend $5,000 on a dress because she deserves to look lovely on this one-and-only day will carp about paying $500 for a musician who has been in the business for twenty years, and take a cheaper one.
The important thing is to not allow your self respect and pride to take a nose dive because this happens. The pendulum will swing back, and today’s brides will look at their ultra expensive wedding movies in 20 years and think “Why did I choose that awful music for something so important?”.
Right on. Laura, Barbara and Sherry. I agree with you 100%. You can’t control what others do, but if you have confidence in yourself and play beautifully. you not only have respect for yourself,. others will know you will do a good job. Quality is much better than quantity.
Wow. in one respect, I am glad that I am not alone in this, but also very sadden that this occuring elsewhere with other harpist.
Laura, I guess I don't feel so bad after hearing your dealings with a demon harpist!! That is just awful.
Carl, I did do something to the effect of having a friend email this harpist. When my friend got an email back from her, it was almost, word for word, like my usual response expect there was an added note that she would beat any price. She even called my friend asking if she had questions, had she made a decision. My friend, knowing the situation, told her that she had hired me. Her response was, “well, if thats the way you want to go, I hope you will be happy” she did it in such a tone the come across as my friend would be very unhappy with me. So yes, I know that she is also trying to slander me.
She is very young and just out of college, I know she is trying to start a business for herself, but I don't know why she is trying to start it in this manner.
I talked to another harpist in town and she thinks that maybe I am the target because I get a majority of the weddings in this area.
The brides go for the lowest price because they don’t know any better. They’ve never hired a musician in their life and probably won’t again. So maybe the answer is to do a “dog and pony show” where you explain to the bride all of the things that you mention in your post, without making negative remarks about anyone else. Just say that these are the things that can make or break the ceremony and not all harpists can do this. It’s like making a musical soundtrack for a movie. It has to compliment the movie without taking over or messing it up. If you can establish a feeling of confidence then maybe the commitment rate will go up.
Oh I do that already. It is one of my selling points. When I get asked why the price is higher than others, I tell them, you are paying for experience. It’s your day! You don’t need the headache of wondering where your musician is, how they will sound, will they be able to adjust if things are not going right. I let them know I have been in just about every situation and I know what I am doing. I am their employee for their special day and there to add to it, not mess it up.
There was a harpist not long ago complained to me about a wedding that I could not do, but I recommended her (ugh, not again) she told me the wedding was late in starting, she was told to change some music when she got there. She had questions about the service and could not talk to the bride.