[Dixielandjazz] Fwd: booking gigs,
great read from Gerry he is one of us!!
Robert S. Ringwald
robert at ringwald.com
Fri Jun 2 22:27:37 PDT 2006
Terrific piece. I use a lot of the same techniques when am called about
My price for a 2 to 3 hour solo piano casual is now $200. If they don't
want to pay, I don't need the gig. This is, of course providing it is in
town & not a lot of travel involved. With travel, the price goes up.
And of course, this is not a steady nightclub gig price.
----- Original Message -----
From: <Talegatorz at aol.com>
To: <robert at ringwald.com>
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2006 2:24 PM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Fwd: booking gigs,great read from Gerry he is
one of us!!
OK Bob. Here it is again pasted below.
Sorry for any mix up.
Hi Keith -
I had a phone call yesterday regarding piano tuning which actually inspired
me to write this note.
A woman had called to inquire about piano tuning. She began by telling me
was unhappy with the tuner she has been using. After speaking for a while
asked what my fee is. I told her $120 if all the piano needs is tuning. She
responded by saying that the other tuner has only been charging her $65 and
doesn’t dislike him enough to pay twice the price for tuning. After telling
her that I could not imagine a professional charging so little, I agreed
her that if the cost difference was that important to her she should call
previous tuner. I have been in this business for almost thirty years and
kind of phone call is nothing new.
The interesting thing is that she mentioned the other tuner’s name and I
him fairly well. He is about my age and we both got into the piano business
at around the same time. He is a very good tuner. A few weeks ago I bumped
him at Dunkin Donuts. He told me that he was hanging out at Dunkin’s a lot
lately because his phone was not ringing. Work has been extremely slow for
ever since 9/11 and he wasn’t sure how long he could hang in there. I didn’t
have the heart to tell him that I am charging $120 and have all the work I
handle, but did offer some marketing suggestions to him for getting some
I doubt if he really ‘heard’ what I was telling him.
So, when this woman called yesterday I was struck at the similarity to the
music business. I make no pretense at knowing everything about the music
However, in some ways all businesses, large or small, are more alike than
If we took the recent emails about DJ’s cutting into available gigs and
change it to be about car sales, piano sales, plumbing service, etc, the
story line would be the same. Any auto or piano dealer (or piano tuner),
electrician, etc, can tell similar stories about clients who are excessively
concerned with price. So, how do we get around this obstacle? I don’t think
there are any foolproof formulas. However, I do believe that there are
basic principles which can be followed.
Sales people are taught that when a customer says ‘no’ they don’t really
mean it. Rather, ‘no’ is a request for more information. The theory goes
a client doesn’t buy your product it must be because they don’t fully
understand the benefits. This (combined with the need to eat) is why so many
people don’t accept “not interested’ and simply will not let it go. While I
not accept that ‘no’ is always a request for more information, I do believe
that it is often a response based in a lack of understanding of the product
Another observation I have made over the years is that many people begin by
asking about price because they don’t really know what the other questions
People who call for piano tuning are often calling merely because the piano
teacher told them they should. They have no idea what is involved so they
what do you charge?”. In these cases it is merely a way to begin the
conversation. I will usually ask these people some questions about their
old, any keys sticking, who plays, etc.). This engages them in conversation
gives me time to evaluate the situation (if the piano may need a lot of
above and beyond tuning). Most importantly, this conversation allows them to
get comfortable with me and to develop trust - by the time I quote them the
tuning fee they have already decided that they want me to do it. Over the
of a year I may have a dozen or so change their mind based on the price.
s O.K. Price shoppers do not make loyal customers. I am a firm believer that
if you don’t lose a few jobs because of price you are not charging enough.
Again, these scenarios are just as apropos for any type of business. Ask
anyone who runs a business about price shoppers and they will immediately
understand what you are talking about.
Of course, the solutions are not simple. I understand Daddio’s has been
existence since 2001. It is important to note that 50% of all new business
within the first year. Of those that survive 50% more will fail within five
years. Daddio’s has survived five years - that is a darn good start.
Having been in business for so long now I have built up a solid referral
network. The phone rings pretty much constantly. Most people ask “when can
come?“ as opposed to “what do you charge?”.
Unfortunately, I do not have a simple answer for how to build up such a
network for Daddio’s. I do know, that there are people for whom cost is not
priority (who appreciate ‘real live’ music) and that corporate events can be
very profitable. How to market to that crowd………?
Daddio’s has good musicians, good repertoire and good arrangements.
To sum this up, I guess what I am saying is ’hang in there’. All small
businesses struggle for a time. Years ago I heard this quote; “A big gun is
just a little gun that kept on shooting.” It is only a matter of time for
things to really start clicking with Daddio’s.
Don’t mean to be ‘preachy’, just wanted to share some thoughts.
P.S. Remeber at the bikers gig I was telling you about a woman who wanted to
book me for a gig? I had quoted $240, someone else had quoted $200, but she
really wanted me. She asked me if I would do it for $200. I said no - told
completely understood if she had found someone who could provide music she
liked for less money - no problem. She contacted me last week and asked if I
So, the gig is on - at $240!
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