Regular engagements?

  • Participant
    daniellethetexasharpist on #146945


    I have the possibility of getting regular restaurant work and wondered if any of you all do that and if you would mind sharing what you charge?
    My regular rates were too high for them, but I’m willing to go lower since it would be regular, but also don’t want to sell myself too cheap. But if I go too expensive, they would go for a pianist instead.
    Would you recommend still doing the higher upfront price to cover setup expenses, or spread it out to a more even hourly rate?
    What do you all do?

    Thank you!

    daniellethetexasharpist on #146946

    Also, would you all ask for a deposit for this type of job?

    carl-swanson on #146947

    My understanding is that regular jobs are charged at a completely different rate than one-time jobs. How often do they want you to play for them?

    daniellethetexasharpist on #146948

    They are asking for once or twice per week.

    Jerusha Amado on #146949

    Where are you located?

    daniellethetexasharpist on #146950

    I am located in the North Texas area.
    I need to reply to them by 5:00pm today…

    daniellethetexasharpist on #146951

    So still thinking about it…

    Would you recommend treating it like any other engagement with a contract and deposit?

    barbara-brundage on #146952

    You want a contract. Without one, you’ve got no recourse if you show up one night and they say, “Gee, it’s slow tonight so we don’t need you,” or “Season’s over. Bye!”.

    A deposit isn’t usual for a steady, at least not that I’ve ever heard. You might do one day so they can see for sure that they want you, but then you should get a contract with some kind of notice clause (for both sides), unless you are as skilled as a friend of mine is at getting restaurants to agree that he only shows up if he hasn’t got something else better that day. (I wish I knew how he gets them to agree to that.)

    I’ve usually done a 4-week notice clause in the past, and I used to figure pricing based on my two-hour minimum for three or four hours. In other words, when I was charging $250 for a two-hour casual, I’d do a three hour brunch for that.

    However, everything is pretty weird right now, so I’m not so sure that any of this applies anymore. But you do need to consider the situation where they may suddenly make a change and you’ve turned down other jobs because you expected to be playing there.

    barbara-brundage on #146953

    Oh, forgot to say that the more days it is, generally the lower the fee. In other words when I was getting $250 for a weekly brunch, I would have expected to get maybe $200 a day for two days, and so on.

    Jerusha Amado on #146954

    Texas is better off financially than is Arizona, so I can’t be precise about what other harpists in your area could charge for a long term gig in a restaurant, but in the bigger cities in Arizona (excluding Phoenix) the minimum is $50 per hour.

    Is there any way you can get in touch with a professional harpist in your area to ask for advice?


    daniellethetexasharpist on #146955

    Thanks! I’ll try to do that 🙂

    Susan Abken on #146956

    In the Nineties, the pay for playing from 6:30 to 10 pm at The Abbey, an elegant restaurant in Atlanta that was in a beautiful church building that is now a church again, subcontracting from the harpist who rented a 23 to the restaurant, was eighty dollars (yes, $80) an evening.

    In the Nineties, when BB&C Productions had a golden pedal harp at The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, before that hotel switched to piano, the harpist for afternoon tea was paid sixty dollars (yes, $60) for two hours of playing Happy Birthday over and over again, interspersed with other pieces.

    Restaurants have to be large to afford live musicians. They have to turn a profit, pay the cook and the wait staff, and insurance, and then still have something left to pay the musician. That’s just life. Do not expect great pay, but it’s a way to make contacts and pass out your card, and be heard.

    Good strategy: Find out which night is the “slow night.” Having a harpist might increase traffic, a plus for management.

    Best wishes,
    Susan Abken

    daniellethetexasharpist on #146957

    Thank you all for your advice!!!

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #146958

    The other factor is tipping. Will the restaurant do anything to encourage it? Or will they put a music charge on each bill? That adds to your pay.

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