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Industry standard: minutes in an hour

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  • #62483
    Angela Biggs
    Member

    Hi,

    I’ve been asked to play an event for free, and I’m going to refuse, but I will offer my rate in case they would like to *hire* me. I am the only harper here, so I’m not stealing business from anyone and can charge as little as I want, but: it is a long-term goal of mine to build a harp community here and eventually attract some formally trained harpists and teachers. For this reason, I want to establish the industry standard for payment and performing minutes per paid hour as the norm here.

    This gig would either be a one-hour or a two-hour affair. If it’s one hour, do I play for 60 minutes? That seems reasonable to me. At two hours, should I be taking a break of some sort in the middle, and is the second hour the full 60 minutes?

    Thank you for your help!
    Angela

    #62484
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    For a one hour gig you would play for 60 minutes nonstop. For two hours there needs to be a 20 minute break someplace. Your fee should be higher for the first hour. There is a minimum fee for just being there, transporting the harp, setting up and breaking down afterwards, and that needs to all be taken into account in the first hour fee. The second hour or any number of hours after that should be charged at a much lower rate. Just to give you an example, I’d suggest you charge $150 to $200 for the first hour, and $75 for each hour after that. You can adjust these numbers as you see fit. But the difference between the first hour charge and any other hours after should be about the same as above.

    #62485
    Angela Biggs
    Member

    Thanks, Carl! That structure looks very much like I expected it to. I told the woman $125 for the first hour — but I’ve only been playing (a lever harp) for two years and that will be very easy to increase into the range you mentioned over the next couple of years. Long before anyone else would dream of joining me here. 🙂

    #62486
    barbara-brundage
    Participant

    It’s actually a lot harder than you think to increase your price, Angela. Word gets around and Ms. X expects to pay what Ms. Y said she paid you.

    In my area we mostly distinguish between weddings and other gigs, because weddings are a lot more work. So we charge one price for a two-hour minimum for most gigs, and that two hour price is the price for one hour of wedding, because they’re going to take out of you in many additional calls, special requests, etc. in ways that a party or a memorial service usually doesn’t.

    #62487
    B Y
    Participant

    In what area are you located? You said you’re the only one, and you’re playing a pedal or small lever harp?

    #62488
    B Y
    Participant

    Oh I just read! 🙂 I totally agree with Carl’s structure: $150-$200. It’s difficult to increase price but if you do it in small increments, it’s not so bad.

    #62489

    Carls break down is just right. My fees are set up the same way. FYI if your playing at an event that requires you to pay for parking , know before you go. my contract may be more extensive then you need but I woud be happy to send email you a copy to look over for some additional info.

    #62490
    Angela Biggs
    Member

    Re: increasing prices: In many places, in most places where musicians congregate, it would be difficult to increase fees — I agree. However, I am in an extraordinarily unusual situation. Of the 13,000 people in this city, there are exactly **two** trained musicians, and the other one is a flautist. I have already increased my prices for the vocal end of my business without any trouble, simply explaining that it was due to an increase in demand (which was true). I was the market-maker here, the first trained singer this city has seen in many, many years, so nobody batted an eye at the increase. At this point there’s essentially no call for harp music, so I’m not dealing with word-of-mouth; and as I build the harp market, prices will rise naturally.

    Barbara, it’s interesting that you mentioned a two-hour minimum price as the price you quote for a wedding. I had a $200 fee in mind in case the event organizer came back and asked for my rate to play two hours, and I happened to quote that same two-hour price for a wedding just last week. Knowing how much trouble weddings are as a vocalist (and the one wedding I’ve played on harp — an absolute *nightmare*) that was the lowest point at which I could feel like I was being compensated fairly. But I think the bride is suffering from sticker shock, because I haven’t heard from her. 😉 It’s going to take some real doing to build this market!

    I am encouraged to find that the fee- and time-structures I’ve had in the back of my mind are lining up so closely with what other harpists would expect to see.

    Incidentally (and as I suspected), this event organizer was not willing to pay for my services. I’m okay with that. Playing for a solid hour without any compensation or business exposure would have been much more trouble than it was worth.

    #62491
    tony-morosco
    Member

    What they all said. The pricing structure Carl laid out is pretty much how everyone I know does it.

    And Barbara is correct on both counts. It is hard to raise your prices, at least to any significant degree, later on. And weddings are a LOT of work.

    I hate playing weddings. I haven’t in a long time and it would take more than my standard fee to get me to play one, otherwise it isn’t worth it for the amount of work it requires. You have to understand the structure of the different wedding ceremonies of different denominations, some denominations have very strict guidelines on what you can play. There are many more phone calls involved, and requests to play something special that you probably will have to waste time learning for that one job and never play again.

    #62492
    ricky-rasura
    Participant

    I’ve done hundreds of weddings and charge $200 for the wedding and then $150 for every hour. I tired to go up to $200 bucks an hour but it didn’t work. This was when I lived in Los Angeles. I just joined this forum!

    #62493
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    A number of you have said that “weddings are a lot of work.” That reminded me of one of the local harpists here who for years worked with a Justice of the Peace who made a whole career out of officiating at wedding ceremonies. He advertised, had brochures that he handed out, and basically promoted himself endlessly. But he also included in all of his promotions this harpist. In effect, promoting the two of them together. So the harpist most of the time was working with the same JP and knew the format. I suspect that that is the best way to go: work with one or more people who officiate at wedding ceremonies so you know each of their formats. And maybe by being closely associated with a JP or minister/priest, etc. you’ll get more wedding gigs.

    #62494
    Sylvia
    Participant

    Everyone is in a different situation. I play mostly weddings, and almost all of the church weddings are Catholic. To me, they don’t seem hard at all….although early in my career, I died a thousand deaths every time I lived thru a mass.

    FEES: I adjust my fee according to the distance from home, whether an event is inside or outdoors (obviously, Catholic weddings are in a church), and if there is any known (to me) nastiness involved…like hard to get into the building, etc. I have no idea what other harpists in the area charge, and I don’t care.

    As Tony said about music you probably won’t use again (one-timers, I call them)…. if someone wants music I don’t want to bother with, I re-direct them to another harpist , or to a vocal-keyboard combo. I just had someone give me a list of about 15 songs….about 11 or 12 of them I had never heard of, and the wedding is outdoors. I re-directed them, but they hung on and agreed I could use my own rep. I figured I don’t want to spend $$ buying it, it’s too much to memorize, and fighting thru all that stuff in the wind (it’s always windy), didn’t appeal to me…and no, I don’t use an ipad….I’m Retro and Proud (somebody send me a T-shirt, please).

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