What’s Your Price Point?: Determining Your Booking Fee

A few days ago, a friend offered to help me start booking shows. He asked how much my booking fee is and I found it a hardest questions to answer. Why? Because my booking fee depends on a number of factors.  Grassrootsy is interested in knowing how you all, the readers, determine your fee. Here are some things that I consider…

What Type of Event?
Are you playing for an active listening audience or a passive audience? Will you be the center of everyone’s attention or a fly on the wall providing “elevator music”. Also, is this a benefit concert or an event where the venue is bringing in an income. If the venue is making money, you should be too. It’s only fair. More on that.

How Long are You Playing?
90 minute? 45 minute? Or 2 hours? Rightfully, if you are being asked to perform your fee should vary depending on the length of your set. But also consider the fact that you’ve had to put mileage on your car and setup your equipment for the show. If you’re asked to drive an hour commute only to play 3 songs, then maybe that equals driving 15 minutes to play a 45 minute set. Think about it and decide what’s fair.

What Type of Exposure
There are some events that I’d actually pay to play simply because I know the exposure will be huge. Of
course there is an age-old argument on whether a musician should ever play without being compensated. If an event is offering you a gig but not offering payment, it doesn’t hurt to ask. You might be surprised when they say yes. But if they don’t, and its a good opportunity, still think about taking it.

How Many Musicians are accompanying you?
This factor most often affects my price point. As a singer/songwriter, I play solo, duo, trio, and band shows.  Splitting the fee between 5 people is drastically different than taking it all.  Seriously think about how your fee will vary depending on your accompanying musicians. Obviously if you’re in a band, and you guys always play together, you probably don’t need to think too hard about this.

Who is the Event Sponsor?
Lets say you’re being asked to do a show on Friday with a major corporation. On Saturday you’re asked to do an event with a local non-profit. Both have the same set times and specifications. Maybe your would be a bit lower for the non-profit, assuming that the event will likely be raising funds for some cause? Or maybe your fee for the corporation will be higher because they operate on a bigger budget.

Judge your shows in context. When an organization or individual asks you what your booking fee is. Don’t immediately offer them a magic number. Do some research: how long do they want you to play? Is this a band show or something more low-key and acoustic? How far away is this place? etc.

Lets hear your comments. How do you determine your booking fee?

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One Comment on “What’s Your Price Point?: Determining Your Booking Fee”

  1. Jack Says:

    I agree with you! This is a hard question to answer. For the touring musician, it gets tricky because your point to point costs can vary so when scheduling a tour consider the average mileage and tolls. If you’re staying around home, less than a 2 hour trip shouldn’t require travel consideration.

    That being said, having a set price rather than dealing with ticket presales and door cuts is a good problem to have. (This also ties in nicely with a previous blog about getting signed contracts.)

    I’d rather take a lower set fee at a college student union than potentially a bigger payout at a venue that requires hitting the street with presale tickets and praying for a cut of the door.

    Also consider non-monetary compensation as part of the package. We once did a show at a ski resort and received hotel rooms, lift tickets, lessons, dinner, and some small spending cash. Great deal!

    A final thought… if you have someone booking for you, remember, he’ll probably want a cut–so price that in as well!

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