March 18, 2004 at 5:00 am #89285Laurie MuirheadParticipant
About a year ago, the “Harp Column” did a great article on “What
harpists charge” (freelance harpists).March 18, 2004 at 5:00 am #89286
This is a sore point for me at the moment, because I am losing so much work to student harpists who are advertising and raking in gigs because they charge $60 – $75 for a wedding. Unfortunately, to much of the public a harpist is a harpist, and if she is young and cute so much the better. I know this is true, because when I was 20 something customers would hire me because I was pretty and had long hair. (Yes, they pointed that out to me, my ability had nothing to do with it) I lost a gig just today because the customer was used to a high school student who charged $75 for an hour long gig. I can’t compete with someone living at home, with a mom & dad to pay for insurance, wardrobe, gas, strings, music, van, memberships, advertising, phone expenses, professional development, repair, business supplies, etc….. Not to mention self employment taxes, which I doubt they are paying. I also have to compete with adult harpists who do gigs for a lark on weekends, and work a full time job during the week, so they have benefits & a good paycheck and don’t mind working for next to nothing. I had a call from a longtime area professional last week who was practically begging me for my leftovers. I wish I had any to give her. Ok, that is a long whine. My new rule is: if you advertise, charge full professional rates. If you play for a friend, it is up to you. If you are not good enough to charge professionally, then you should focus on developing your technique and wait.March 19, 2004 at 5:00 am #89287
I just want to apologize to Laurie for posting such a cranky response to a very reasonable question. I hope someone on the board can give her a better answer, and educate my poor attitude at the same time.March 20, 2004 at 5:00 am #89288
This is such a hard issue.April 8, 2004 at 4:00 am #89289Evangeline WilliamsParticipant
I didn’t start playing harp until high school, but had been studying piano and voice for many years.April 12, 2004 at 4:00 am #89290kim-adamsonParticipant
I don’t think that a student harpist should charge any less than an experienced harpist just for the reasons that Katherine cited.December 21, 2004 at 5:00 am #89291
Oftentimes students do not have a realistic idea about money, so it is up to their teachers to help educate them on what is appropriate to charge. I remember when I was in college I had a job mentoring a high school girl in music and the school district paid me $10 hr. At the time I thought it was a lot of money and worked hard to live up to my high paying employment. When extraneous costs are not an issue, and when there is no awareness of the consequences of undercutting other harpists, students can easily charge inappropriate fees.
Consumers obtaining the quickest and cheapest product is a business model that will always be present. It’s the reason for hamburgers. As professional musicans we have to work around it by appealing to a select consumer at times. Giving performances and having a presence in the local media (newspaper, radio, a website, etc.) are all ways to establish a reputation that can appeal to the folks who can afford the highest quality options.
When I started gigging I called my current and former harp teachers about fees and they helped direct me.
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