[Dixielandjazz] Fw: Gigs Paid or Otherwise

Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis larrys.bands at charter.net
Thu Aug 9 18:49:10 PDT 2007

What about the concept of  "paying your dues?"

I believe that you have to be flexible.

Some gigs just make cash flow and keep you in practice but I am not
advocating that you run yourself ragged for low or no money.

Steve Schwartz
Steve S and all
There isn't anything wrong with paying dues. I have paid plenty and there 
isn't anything wrong with being flexible.  Personally I don't mind playing a 
gig for less money if maybe I have sold it as a package or there is some 
advantage to do so as you pointed out to keep the chops up or keep the group 

It's very hard to keep a group focused if you only play every so often.  I 
like to have rehearsals but I will go for a Monday night gig instead of a 
rehearsal.  I charge and pay more than the union allows at another venue for 
a Monday night rehearsal band.  At the same time it's less than I would like 
but after all it's a Monday and we wouldn't work anyway so it's gravy.  This 
is a very limited offer and only goes out to Senior venues and not the whole 
world.  Week nights are really dead around here for the most part.

As you know by now I think that if you spend the time you should make a 
reasonable amount of money.  What is reasonable here is a lot some places 
and very little somewhere else so I don't think we should make sweeping 
judgments as to what a musician should make but I think it should be more 
than someone flipping a burger or greeting people at Wal-Mart.

At the end of the year I make more money with my duo than with all the 
groups that I play with.  By using a computer to fill out the band allows us 
to compete vigorously with even the low end guys and DJ's and yet still make 
pretty fair money for ourselves.  I believe we offer a lot more than the 
other guys in the business.  It's a consistent product and less hassle than 
a full size group.  There are some trade off's though.

Some people would consider what we do to be an unfair advantage but it 
allows me to book the guy that is strictly looking for price.  Even so there 
are people who will book much weaker bands simply because they have 4 or 5 
guys and completely suck.  That I can't fight.

I would like for everyone to look at his booking practices and figure out 
what is fair and not necessarily what guys will work for.  Hobby players 
seem to be afraid to say no to someone and some may not be able to deal with 
the rejection.  By the way that's true in any sales gig.  Is that true of 
you and your sales practice with your band?  Are you afraid they won't like 
you or if you charge more that they will look around for a better band or 
worse still say no?

Being in the sign business I came across a guy who's nickname is Superfrog 
and has a line of sign protectant.  He also markets sales videos that demo 
and teach you how to make and sell signs.  He shows the customer three 
signs; one simple, one nice and one very cool.  The customer gets to make a 
choice between the three price options.

Bands could do that too with dress, time, number of musicians, recorded 
music during the breaks or added vocalist.  You could start with your bottom 
price that you get now and that would be the one hour, casual dress price 
then add an amount for formal wear or costume then give them a price for the 
second and third hours for both options.  What can you lose?  It's what you 
were getting anyway but you might get more and the flexible part comes with 
maybe throwing in the third hour if they book the second hour or formal wear 
if they book the second or third hour.  Sometimes I charge day rate on week 
nights.  This way you can seem to be flexible but really not since the start 
price is what you are asking now in the first place.  That way the customer 
can seem to get a bargain.

You could figure out the options or prices but by offering different options 
you can get around the "well you charged someone else" less.  There are 
people out there who love to dicker on price and options.  Ask any car 
salesman.   So throw them a bone and give them something that you would have 
thrown in for free anyway.

The whole point is that with some salesmanship you can get more money for 
your group and at the same time make the customer feel like he got the best 
of you.  The other point is to offer more than one option.  If your calls go 
something like this.
You -- Hello
Customer -- How much is your band
You -- $400 for four guys for four hours
Customer -- thank you - click!

The problem with that conversation is they got information from you but you 
got nothing from them.  You have got to get them talking about what they 
want and then explain your options.  The more they talk the better.

It's a good idea to have all options written out and posted by the phone and 
not talk off the top of your head.

Although I don't do this you could role play.  You be the band leader and 
someone else be the customer and come up with some common scenarios. 
Practice them until they are smooth.

I know at least 4 big bands in the St. Louis area three of which are very 
good and sell themselves short because they think they can't get more.

The conversation might be better if it went like this:

You - Hello
Customer -- How much is your band
You -- we have several options.  Could you tell me what kind of event you 
are planning and the date so I can see if we are booked.
Customer -  gives date
pause, take a minute, breathe deep, think maybe even look at your calendar.

You - Yes we are open that night.  What time is your event going to start.
Customer - seven o'clock
You -  we have several options.  our basic rate is _______ for two hours
Customer - Our event is going to be three hours.
You - we add $25 per hour for each player
Customer - that's a little over our budget
You - Normally we charge $10 per musician extra for formal wear. (or 
normally we charge mileage for that location )Could I throw that in to help 
you out?

(If they say yes you just got $25 more per man and you would wear tuxes 
anyway and the customer got something for free)

You could come right out and ask them what their entertainment budget is. 
That way they tell you what they want to pay.

And so on - Another question that they usually ask if it's a more or less 
cold call is what kind of music do you play?

I answer with almost the same question.  I have several types of groups that 
play different styles at different events.  Could you tell me what kind of 
event you are planning etc. etc.  Ok for that kind of event we usually 

Sometimes I knock off $10 or $20 if they will book multiple engagements or 
play an extra hour.  The seniors will often go for that since they have re 
occurring events.

You can get more money!  It's all in the sales pitch. The worst you might do 
is play for the same money as before.
St. Louis 

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