Getting Gigs - Price Quotes

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Our 5-piece band plays a mix of R&B, funk, disco, classic rock, and current material as well (Bruno Mars, etc). We play bars, festivals, parties, and have a wedding lined up as well.

We are on gigmasters, gigsalad, etc.

The other day, our leader/booker was contact by lady having a private party. Only catch was, it was at 4:00 PM on a weekday, meaning all of us would have to take time off our day jobs. They told the leader what their budget was. It sounded great, and worthwhile for the band to do, plus it was for worthwhile non-profit. The band was excited and was breaking the proverbial rule of "counting your chickens before they were hatched." The lady said they loved our band, and we were the "only" one they were contacting thus far. Our leader had a great conversation with her. Our leader could see, somehow through the website, that they had in fact only submitted one bid at that point. Our bandleader quoted them what their budget price was. She came back and asked if the price was the same for 1 set versus 2 sets. Our leader told her that the real work was the travel and setting up, and once there, we were happy to play 3 hours (versus cutting it short) but said we'd shave a few hundred bucks off the price and pay the booking fee as well.

Then...nothing. She never got back to him and the bid expired. She didn't even tell him she went with someone else.

Of course we know there are all kinds of flakes and people out there fishing for a band.

What I'm wondering is what we did wrong, if anything. If she stated her budget, should our leader have quoted her half of her budget (assuming it was worth it for us to do the gig for that amount)? The budget she quoted him was a "fair price" for a pro band to play at 4:00 on a weekday, but I don't doubt for her budget price she could have gotten a better band than ours. (Putting aside how much she loved our band and demo.)

I chalk it up to not counting your chickens before they're hatched, not counting on anything, knowing there are flakes and time-wasters out there. I'm just wondering if we REALLY wanted the gig to have given her our bottom price immediately.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Of course we know there are all kinds of flakes and people out there fishing for a band.

What I'm wondering is what we did wrong, if anything.
Every situation is different, and your guy may not have done anything wrong at all in this case. There's nothing wrong with a littler negotiation on either/both parts.

Also, it's hard to know if the gal's situation changed. Maybe something happened that prevented the party from moving forward, or changed it to a venue where having a band was impossible, maybe her budget was amended, or maybe another band came in at the last minute. Don't assume that she's a flake or was deliberately spinning your wheels, those kind of assumptions make for bitter and needlessly cynical musicians.

Bermuda
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Every situation is different, and your guy may not have done anything wrong at all in this case. There's nothing wrong with a littler negotiation on either/both parts.

Also, it's hard to know if the gal's situation changed. Maybe something happened that prevented the party from moving forward, or changed it to a venue where having a band was impossible, maybe her budget was amended, or maybe another band came in at the last minute. Don't assume that she's a flake or was deliberately spinning your wheels, those kind of assumptions make for bitter and needlessly cynical musicians.

Bermuda
Thanks for the reply Bermuda! Appreciate it.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Positive-sounding inquiries that go nowhere happen pretty often, so don't worry too much about it. I don't think it's a great idea to be thinking of potential clients as flakes or time-wasters. Probably there were other circumstances at work, and there was little or nothing you could've done differently to book the gig on terms you would've been happy with.

It is a good idea to have stuff related to your fee worked out ahead of time, so you don't have to wing it with things like:
- What's your bottom line price below which it makes no sense to do the gig?
- What's your minimum charge for showing up and playing a one hour gig?
- What do you charge for extra hours beyond the normal 2-3 hr?
- What do you charge for travel greater than ~60-90min?
- What options can you offer to people on a short budget other than just discounting your fee? Fewer hours, fewer musicians, maybe?

Also have a contract ready to go-- as soon as you can get a verbal 'yes', get the thing in the mail-- they need to secure the date with a contract and deposit. I send them two copies of the contract plus an SASE.
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
Positive-sounding inquiries that go nowhere happen pretty often, so don't worry too much about it. I don't think it's a great idea to be thinking of potential clients as flakes or time-wasters. Probably there were other circumstances at work, and there was little or nothing you could've done differently to book the gig on terms you would've been happy with.

It is a good idea to have stuff related to your fee worked out ahead of time, so you don't have to wing it with things like:
- What's your bottom line price below which it makes no sense to do the gig?
- What's your minimum charge for showing up and playing a one hour gig?
- What do you charge for extra hours beyond the normal 2-3 hr?
- What do you charge for travel greater than ~60-90min?
- What options can you offer to people on a short budget other than just discounting your fee? Fewer hours, fewer musicians, maybe?

Also have a contract ready to go-- as soon as you can get a verbal 'yes', get the thing in the mail-- they need to secure the date with a contract and deposit. I send them two copies of the contract plus an SASE.
Thanks for the ideas! And you guys are right...I wasn't trying to put out negativity or to be cynical with the the "flakes and time wasters" comment. I totally see what you're saying and I agree. We are kind of new at this booking thing.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I'm not sure where you are located, or what the music scene looks like out there, but you may have been undercut.

I live out near Boston, and that happens quite a bit, where a pro band charges its normal rate and then some Berklee kids (or recent grads) will snipe the gig for pennies becasue they don't know any better.

This happened recently with a band I've worked with: all of the musicians are free-lance (non-union) and each musician usually charges about $100/hour for a local live gig, which is less than the union rate. While some Berklee kids had a quartet willing to play three hours for $300... for the whole band!

I know every area is different, so this may not be the case, but it definitely doesn't sound like your group did anything wrong. You quoted a price within her budget, and it sounded like she was specifically looking for your group.

Can I ask why you cut the price and then paid the booking fee? Is that a result of somehting she had said?
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
I'm not sure where you are located, or what the music scene looks like out there, but you may have been undercut.

I live out near Boston, and that happens quite a bit, where a pro band charges its normal rate and then some Berklee kids (or recent grads) will snipe the gig for pennies becasue they don't know any better.

This happened recently with a band I've worked with: all of the musicians are free-lance (non-union) and each musician usually charges about $100/hour for a local live gig, which is less than the union rate. While some Berklee kids had a quartet willing to play three hours for $300... for the whole band!

I know every area is different, so this may not be the case, but it definitely doesn't sound like your group did anything wrong. You quoted a price within her budget, and it sounded like she was specifically looking for your group.

Can I ask why you cut the price and then paid the booking fee? Is that a result of somehting she had said?
Thanks for the post. We cut the price and offered to pay the booking fee because she came back and asked if we charged a different rate for one set versus two. I think she was asking for a lower price, and it was our attempt to negotiate. And it wouldn't surprise me if we were undercut. We are in the SF Bay Area. Tons of great bands out here, and I don't doubt there was a band that could have done it for less.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
If another band came in for less, you can't blame the lady. Don't we all want to save money where possible?

Of course, when you're the one making the money, it's a little different, eh? :)

It's an old story about people who will work for less, or make a less-expensive product that will sell for less, in order to make any money at all. That cheapens those people and products, but as long as the buyers tolerate it, it's a downward spiral. How many young musicians don't seem to question giving their music away, and then naively ask why they can't make any money?

Anyway, I think the best bet is to establish a minimum for which you'll work, factoring-in distance and possible time off work, and never go below that. If a gig includes dinner or a bar tab, or accommodations, consider that as income. It may be that charging a little less results in more gigs, and you 'make it up in volume' as they say.

But it's a fine line. I remember the old story...

"These dolls cost us $2.50 to make, and we sell them for $2.40"

"How do you make any money??"

"Volume!"

:)
 

DrummerCA35

Senior Member
If another band came in for less, you can't blame the lady. Don't we all want to save money where possible?

Of course, when you're the one making the money, it's a little different, eh? :)

It's an old story about people who will work for less, or make a less-expensive product that will sell for less, in order to make any money at all. That cheapens those people and products, but as long as the buyers tolerate it, it's a downward spiral. How many young musicians don't seem to question giving their music away, and then naively ask why they can't make any money?

Anyway, I think the best bet is to establish a minimum for which you'll work, factoring-in distance and possible time off work, and never go below that. If a gig includes dinner or a bar tab, or accommodations, consider that as income. It may be that charging a little less results in more gigs, and you 'make it up in volume' as they say.

But it's a fine line. I remember the old story...

"These dolls cost us $2.50 to make, and we sell them for $2.40"

"How do you make any money??"

"Volume!"

:)
No, I don't blame her for getting the best band at the best price. What I wonder is if we should have just given her our minimum price right off the bat. Versus trying to slowly negotiate down from her "budget." Really, it's fine. We have other gigs on the calendar, a wedding next month, and 3 private parties coming up as well as an art and wine festival in our hometown. This gig won't make or break us. But it's one that the leader and I really were hot to do. Her budget was most likely a lot higher than our minimum. But again, it was a "fair wage" for a pro band.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
What I'm wondering is what we did wrong,


In any business there will be shoppers. That's all they are until they sign a contract. Don't take it personally or worry about a single event. With more experience, you will learn to recognize red flags in potential clients



In my real business, I never negotiate pricing. Doing so sets a bad precedent. You could possibly do some value engineering and maybe find ways to reduce the cost but the product will not be the same.


The only thing you can do to sell yourself is provide a good product.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
With more experience, you will learn to recognize red flags in potential clients
Red flags would be great! But sometimes there aren't any. Sometimes things just change, and it's unforeseen by any of the involved parties. I'm sure we've all made some sort of commitment, and had to back out or change it.

I'd give the benefit of the doubt to the potential client in this case. If a band views every person that interviews and then doesn't hire them as the enemy, it becomes a very unhealthy, adversarial situation for all.

Bermuda
 

uhtrinity

Senior Member
We get approached all the time for playing parties, benefits, bars, etc. In reality only 25% ever materialize. People in general are bs'ers and will promise everything.
 

STXBob

Gold Member
What I wonder is if we should have just given her our minimum price right off the bat. Versus trying to slowly negotiate down from her "budget."
Never start at your line in the sand. If you do, you leave yourself no room to negotiate.

Before anyone says, "People don't want to negotiate. They want the 'best price' right up front", I'm calling horsefeathers.

I used to sell cars. There was a dealership who made the mistake of listening to customers when they said, "Give me your best price." The dealership marketed itself as the "best price, no haggle" dealership. They were honest. They really did give their bottom-line price.

They were closed within 18 months.

I'm no good at negotiating (which is why I'm not still selling cars!). I give my rate, terms, and conditions up front. If people balk, I tell them to call a plumber and try to negotiate, see how far it gets them. It's the same thing - you're trying to contract the services of a professional.

Now, if another professional's rates come in lower, I don't lose a lot of sleep. It happens. "You get what you pay for" means that the customer will probably figure out that the bunch of teenagers they got to play on the cheap will not give as satisfying a performance as a group of well-rehearsed music-industry veterans.

But I categorically refuse to participate in the downward spiral. That only ends in pay-to-play, which I despise.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
It happens to me too. Lots of deals that don't happen. I ask for a deposit to weed out the phonies. I've been stood up too many times.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Red flags would be great! But sometimes there aren't any
But very often, there are. There are probably hundreds of them. They can be subtle but, with enough experience, you learn them.

For me, (in my business, not a CL ad) when someone tries to get me to lower my price, it's a red flag. Even if they accept the terms and sign a contract, they will often try to add things and expect them for free since I'm already there doing other work.

If a good client adds something small, I may do it for free if the rest of the job went smoothly. If someone tries to sneak it in, I politely ask for more money.

Another red flag is when someone says they can send you more work lol. I have to try not to laugh every time I hear that one. When you actually start sending me work, we will talk about your compensation.



Never start at your line in the sand. If you do, you leave yourself no room to negotiate.........I used to sell cars. .

There you go lol.

The car buying experience is the worst experience anyone will ever have. I have been through it SOOOOOO many times and it has never changed. The only thing I enjoy about it now is that I'm able to talk frankly with everyone involved. I openly laugh at their scripted attempts to "earn my business" and mock them at every opportunity. I'm pretty much a dick, but in a laughing matter.


I have operated a strong business all my life and I always state my price and stay with it.

Some people like to negotiate. I don't want to work for those people. Once you set the precedent that you will give in to their requests or demands, you put them in control of your business.

Starting high and lowering your price is a waste of time and energy that could be better spent..
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
Truth be told though she's an ignorant swine for not sending you a short email just confirming you're not required.

Basic common decency I'd say.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
More people are against negotiating than I thought.

We have the luxury of being able to negotiate for our services; we don't want to go below our minimum, but there's always room. I took a gig not too long ago where the hourly rate was lower than my usual rate, but I was given a hotel room for the night and free food/drinks.

Being freelance, I even have to negotiate my rate with the band leader/musical director, which can be just as challenging and involve just as much negotiation. Another reason to negotiate is if you can make it up on volume: if I cut $50/hour off my rate, but know that I'm going to book 3-4 gigs with a group, I'm still making out and don't have to worry about filling those dates.

I would never dip below my minimum, but one of the great tools in our arsenal is the ability to negotiate.
 
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