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  1. #1
    Forum Contributor 2009 saxguy007's Avatar
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    Default What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Hi Folks,

    I use GigMasters.com to get almost all of my sax-with-trax gigs. I've been pretty successful, making their $59 quarterly fee do-able.

    I have typically charged (and received);

    $150 for a 1 hour or shorter gig reasonably close to me
    $200 for a 2-3 hour gig (or a shorter gig some distance away), and
    $250 for a 3-hour gig some drive away, as in a neighboring state.

    From these fees, I have to subtract the $20 GigMasters cut.

    However, the last couple events I've lost out on the gig to another, newer member, who hasn't played the sax that long and is taking lessons (by his own admission on his promo page). I checked out his clips, and they're reasonably pleasant, akin to one of the better buskers around the DC metrorail around here.

    This most recent time I got the notification that a client chose the other sax player (a 45-min wedding "cocktail hour"), I sent the groom a brief polite email thanking him for supporting live music, and asking him if he would do the kindness of letting me know what led him to his decision.

    He simply replied that the other sax player offered to do it for less than half of what I bid ($200 since the job was down in Virginia about an hour away, plus add another 30-45 min safety margin for DC traffic).

    Do the math. Assume $90 less $20 booking fee, and the guy is doing a saturday nite wedding with schlepping a PA for a net $70. That's bar band pay, IMO. I can only assume the fellow is undercutting me to get gigs and his foot in the door, which I totally understand.

    My issue is- am I charging too much in general? I'm not a recording artist-caliber performer, but I'm an experienced, reasonably polished player. However, I think I offer a solid entertainment value, especially compared to what a bride would pay a talent agency. I typically get very nice client feedback on my promo page.

    I realize I may need to come down a little, but at some point, I have to also value time with my family those 4-6 hours on a Saturday....

    What do you guys charge?

    Jim
    Covering the bari part- because no-one else owns one...
    Cannonball "Lady Godiva" Vintage, Selmer Ref 36 and Barone MAC 8 tenors; Cannonball Stone Series and Mk VII altos; Cannonball Stone series soprano and bari

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  2. #2
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by saxguy007 View Post
    Do the math. Assume $90 less $20 booking fee, and the guy is doing a saturday nite wedding with schlepping a PA for a net $70. That's bar band pay, IMO. I can only assume the fellow is undercutting me to get gigs and his foot in the door, which I totally understand.

    My issue is- am I charging too much in general? I'm not a recording artist-caliber performer, but I'm an experienced, reasonably polished player. However, I think I offer a solid entertainment value, especially compared to what a bride would pay a talent agency. I typically get very nice client feedback on my promo page.
    In my area of work, writing music, things changed dramatically about 15 - 20 years ago when a flood of what would have been amateurs (previous to there digital revolution) started working for peanuts or even free to get their feet in the door.

    It's reality, the way round it is to move to a different marketplace or work harder on your marketing to make sure the client appreciates the value of what they get for paying the extra for your professionalism, experience and talent.

    Marketing. Either work on that or accept you may have to compete at the same level, i.e. based purely on trying to offer the best price for compared to someone else.

  3. #3
    TK Melody Endorser/
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Compared to where you live and work Oklahoma City is a slower economy and live music in the vain of jazz/pop/smooth jazz is not at all valued. In order to compete I have to charge $150 for a three 45 minute show.

    Last week a restauranteur emailed through Facebook and asked if I would drive 30 miles and play for $25 plus a free pizza. REALLY? At first I was pissed and then I wrote them back and gave them my rates of $45 (2 set minimum) a set plus two free meals.

    They never contacted me again.

    Times are tough all over.

    Happy Gig Hunting.

    B
    “We are what we repeatedly do.
    Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
    ~Aristotle

  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Member rsclosson's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Undercutting fellow musicians has been around for as long as I have been playing. I wish that musicians would realize that it is not us against each other as much as it is us against the club/restaraunt owners. Lots of college music majors here in Tallahassee will play for beer. (I know that sounds almost combative, but it is a very real issue.) Undercutting just cheapens the entire profession and makes it harder for all of us to get good paying gigs. I wonder what a restaraunt owner would say if I told him I could get the same cut and size steak down the street for half the price.
    1955 Olds Opera Tenor (Buffet Dynaction
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  5. #5
    Forum Contributor 2014 Smokey613's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    It is called a free market... as with a lot of other things today, most just look at the price. This works well for less talented players like myself who do like the opportunity to play in a live venue and are not trying to make a living playing.
    Super 20 Silversonic Tenor 427xxx - Purchased New 1968
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  6. #6
    Distinguished SOTW Member rsclosson's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey613 View Post
    It is called a free market... as with a lot of other things today, most just look at the price. This works well for less talented players like myself who do like the opportunity to play in a live venue and are not trying to make a living playing.
    Well, I hope this does not turn into a flame war. Whatever works for you is fine and I wish you much success. I have my day gig as a computer network tech and pick up the occasional jobs myself. I am not willing to let my family starve on my wish to be a musician. I LOVE to play and take a gig every time I get a chance. My going rate for a wedding (and I get it) is $400 for 2 hours. While I hate to turn down any opportunity to play, I would rather lose a gig than make it harder for my musician "brothers" to command their hard earned and justifiable price.

    When I was 14 years old and living in Pennsylvania, I had a union card. At the time, you could not play up there without one. I am not currently a union musician. I can see both the disadvantages and the advantages of unions, but I still live by the philosophy that musicians should stick together.
    1955 Olds Opera Tenor (Buffet Dynaction
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  7. #7

    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    This is really more of a marketing question...and which market you want to serve. Musicians here (San Diego) will work for nothing, or next to nothing because they believe they have to compete on price. The "standard" restaurant gig is $100 each. There are corporate bands here making $8-10k a job, around $1500 each. Music is no different than most other businesses, you can compete on price or find a more affluent market and compete on other factors. There are buyers out there that determine quality by the price you charge, as in Jim at $200 is much better than Fred at $90. (price perception) I don't want to bore you guys with a lot of marketing stuff, just a few ideas.....

  8. #8
    Forum Contributor 2009 saxguy007's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Thanks everybody for the replies so far. The comparitative data are helpful. Just today, I saw this from a Facebook friend-


    I Love This! Musician vs. restaurant asking for musicians to play for free on Craigslist. Genius. Craigslist Ad: We are a small & casual restaurant in downtown Vancouver and we are looking for solo musicians to play in our restaurant to promote their work and sell their CD. This is not a daily job, but only for special events which will eventually turn into a nightly event if we get positive response. More Jazz, Rock, & smooth type music, around the world and mixed cultural music. Are you interested to promote your work? Please reply back ASAP.

    His Reply: Happy new year! I am a musician with a big house looking for a restauranteur to promote their restaurant and come to my house to make dinner for my friends and I. This is not a daily job, but only for special events which will eventually turn into a nightly event if we get positive response. More fine dining & exotic meals and mixed Ethnic Fusion cuisine. Are you interested to promote your restaurant? Please reply back ASAP.


    LOL! But seriously, I was just trying to get some objective comparison data, and not have this degenerate into yet another moan-fest about underpaid musicians. Yes it's a free market, and just as weekend warriors like me have disemboweled opportunities for full-time players, so too will truly desperate bottom-feeders affect weekend warriors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post

    It's reality, the way round it is to move to a different marketplace or work harder on your marketing to make sure the client appreciates the value of what they get for paying the extra for your professionalism, experience and talent.

    Marketing. Either work on that or accept you may have to compete at the same level, i.e. based purely on trying to offer the best price for compared to someone else.
    I think this is the direction I'll need to go, to be sure. Granted, I'm already pretty maxed out on this, having paid for studio portraits and expensive studio time for polished demo recordings. Even with these materials that illustrate differences in playing skill, new guy was still apparently "good enough" for that client. The only thing left to do I suppose, is fork out even more dough for a nicely-produced video segment, where I be sure that my playing is really "locked in".

    I figured there would come a day when all this is just not worth the bother (for diminishing financial returns), when I'm blessed with a well-paying day job that puts me in the upper-middle class. I would just rather that day not come QUITE so soon....
    Covering the bari part- because no-one else owns one...
    Cannonball "Lady Godiva" Vintage, Selmer Ref 36 and Barone MAC 8 tenors; Cannonball Stone Series and Mk VII altos; Cannonball Stone series soprano and bari

    YouTube clip MySpace

  9. #9
    Forum Contributor 2009 saxguy007's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by StanVI View Post
    There are buyers out there that determine quality by the price you charge, as in Jim at $200 is much better than Fred at $90. (price perception)
    Yes indeed! Truth be told, my day job is a brain scientist, where I have scanned peoples brains as they work for incentives. Some of my colleagues did a study where they tracked brain activation during wine tasting. The "reward valuation" centers in the midline-front part of the frontal lobe (above our eye sockets) activated in proportion to what subjects were (falsely) TOLD the different sampled wines cost, rather than their actual cost. I actually posted this on SOTW with the inflammatory idea that this phenomenon could contribute in part to the perception of expensive vintage horns as "sounding better."

    One cheap option at this point is to gently suggest to potential clients that they listen to my sound clips "with care" or some other benign language that does not come across as conceited.
    Covering the bari part- because no-one else owns one...
    Cannonball "Lady Godiva" Vintage, Selmer Ref 36 and Barone MAC 8 tenors; Cannonball Stone Series and Mk VII altos; Cannonball Stone series soprano and bari

    YouTube clip MySpace

  10. #10
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by saxguy007 View Post
    Even with these materials that illustrate differences in playing skill, new guy was still apparently "good enough" for that client. The only thing left to do I suppose, is fork out even more dough for a nicely-produced video segment, where I be sure that my playing is really "locked in".
    Whatever it takes for them to want you playing the saxophones as opposed somebody playing the saxophone.

    If appropriate do some bar/table walking. If appropriate wear a Tuxedo or nice little black dress. But if all they need is some scruffy person playing Blue Bossa in the background reading from a Real Book off a music stand, then that's all they are going to pay for.

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member rsclosson's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Whatever it takes for them to want you playing the saxophones as opposed somebody playing the saxophone.

    If appropriate do some bar/table walking. If appropriate wear a Tuxedo or nice little black dress. But if all they need is some scruffy person playing Blue Bossa in the background reading from a Real Book off a music stand, then that's all they are going to pay for.
    Pete, I would LOVE to see a picture of you in a little black dress.
    1955 Olds Opera Tenor (Buffet Dynaction
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  12. #12
    Forum Contributor 2014 Smokey613's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    In my area there are several talented musicians. There are not too many regular gigs outside of a few local restaurants and the occasional private party event. Most event organizers in this area simply want a background presence not a main act so the solo payer fits that bill nicely and is usually cheaper than a full group/band. There is a market for players of my modest talents and we fill that void nicely while enjoying the experience.
    Super 20 Silversonic Tenor 427xxx - Purchased New 1968
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  13. #13
    Forum Contributor 2014 Smokey613's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    But if all they need is some scruffy person playing Blue Bossa in the background reading from a Real Book off a music stand, then that's all they are going to pay for.
    I am not scruffy ... but I do have a music stand to "jog" my memory, it's capacity it is not what it once was and I still have a regular job that pays way more than I could ever hope to make playing music at my level. Maybe when I retire from my second career I will have more time to dedicate to playing. For now, I just enjoy any opportunity I get to play.
    Super 20 Silversonic Tenor 427xxx - Purchased New 1968
    STM Long Body 7* Refaced by Jimmy Jensen with Orange box Rico 2.5

  14. #14
    Forum Contributor 2014 Smokey613's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    BTW Pete... I had to copy your CD over to my music library. I was afraid I would wear out the CD as much as I was playing it. I never miss a chance to "introduce" your music to family and friends. I am NOT copying the CD to pass out. I am providing your web site information if they wish to purchase it. I may buy more copies to give out to various people though.
    Super 20 Silversonic Tenor 427xxx - Purchased New 1968
    STM Long Body 7* Refaced by Jimmy Jensen with Orange box Rico 2.5

  15. #15

    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by saxguy007 View Post
    I think this is the direction I'll need to go, to be sure. Granted, I'm already pretty maxed out on this, having paid for studio portraits and expensive studio time for polished demo recordings. Even with these materials that illustrate differences in playing skill, new guy was still apparently "good enough" for that client. The only thing left to do I suppose, is fork out even more dough for a nicely-produced video segment, where I be sure that my playing is really "locked in".

    I figured there would come a day when all this is just not worth the bother (for diminishing financial returns), when I'm blessed with a well-paying day job that puts me in the upper-middle class. I would just rather that day not come QUITE so soon....
    I'm not sure you need to spend more on marketing materials, sounds like you have that done already. You might consider doing a little networking.... find the event planners in your area that cater to the corporate world....get to know them, make friends, they can provide you with more work than you'll have time to do. If you want to do weddings, find the top of the line planners, the ones that do the $50,000+ weddings, they have the budget to work with. Networking can be a very smart way to market....

  16. #16
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey613 View Post
    I am not scruffy ... but I do have a music stand to "jog" my memory,
    That's fine, I was just using some extra, examples. When I used to do gigs I would sometimes use a music stand, but I discovered that by not using one I could actually make my performance more of a show. Not that everyone wants to do that or that it is appropriate, but once I did, my earnings went up.

    I didn't mean to belittle people who use a music stand.


    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey613 View Post
    BTW Pete... I had to copy your CD over to my music library. I was afraid I would wear out the CD as much as I was playing it. I never miss a chance to "introduce" your music to family and friends. I am NOT copying the CD to pass out. I am providing your web site information if they wish to purchase it. I may buy more copies to give out to various people though.
    Wow, thanks very much. I'm very glad you like it. Of course, you could always play my tunes on your gigs, you'd immediately double your income

  17. #17

    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    I feel strongly that the comments here about the value of marketing are on the money.

    People seem discouraged by the associated costs, but we are looking in the eye of the greatest marketing tool ever devised--the Net.

    For better or worse, cheap cameras and Youtube have accustomed people to crappily-produced video. Find a young person with a camera and have him tape you and edit a montage on the cheap. Post it on youtube and link to it on your website. Or just post mp3s, if you can't handle video.

    Don't be satisfied with just Gigmasters. There is really cheap software out there that lets you make an acceptable website, and most companies that provide internet access offer web hosting with the deal.

    No matter what you're selling, you have to tell people what it is and what they'll get from it, and why it's better than other people's. Write up a couple of paragraphs raving about how good/cheap/stylistically appropriate/well-dressed/audience-friendly/enthusiastic/bla bla bla bla you are. Solicit customer satisfaction comments, and post them.

    Load up the site's metadata with keywords that will bring anyone in your area searching for music to your site.

    It takes work and time, but it can make all the difference.

  18. #18
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by widetrack View Post
    Load up the site's metadata with keywords that will bring anyone in your area searching for music to your site.
    That doesn't work any more.

  19. #19
    Forum Contributor 2011 Sterling Archer's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Quote Originally Posted by StanVI View Post
    I'm not sure you need to spend more on marketing materials, sounds like you have that done already. You might consider doing a little networking.... find the event planners in your area that cater to the corporate world....get to know them, make friends, they can provide you with more work than you'll have time to do. If you want to do weddings, find the top of the line planners, the ones that do the $50,000+ weddings, they have the budget to work with. Networking can be a very smart way to market....
    Bingo. Networking is one word that is never stressed enough...in any area of life. If you list your services on a website that caters to the average Joe as a consumer...the only point of comparison that people have to go by is price. i.e. The groom that essentially said "I don't need a Mercedes when I can get by with a Honda."

    As StanVI said...meet and get to know the people that throw lavish parties. My brother had a $50k+ wedding. They had a string quartet play while guests arrived and through the ceremony. Their wedding planner was an impressive lady. She had the whole thing down to a science. Someone like that (has bakers, musicians, venues, etc. on tap) is who you need to get to know.

    Make up some business cards (CHEAP) with a link to your website...which has sound/video clips. Go around to wedding and event planners in the area and press the flesh.

    You can compete on price (i.e. Walmart) or product differentiation/"quality" (i.e. Apple). Pick one...you can't really do both. ;-)

  20. #20

    Default Re: What do you guys charge for solo sax-with-PA-trax?

    Pete:

    Can you elaborate on that?

    Why doesn't it work?

    What do Google and other search engines use to determine which sites to include in their search results?

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