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When Do You Say 'NO'?!


Edendude

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Here's the scenario...

 

My band usually plays local club gigs for $100 per man. Typical weekend warrior club gig pay, and actually better than average since we play what we want to play, including many originals.

 

Recently we were offered a gig on a Thursday night, which unbeknownst to us turned out to be a corporate Xmas party the club is hosting. Our drummer overheard the club owner bragging that the club would make TEN GRAND that night.

 

Armed with this 'insider information', we asked $200 per man for the gig. Feeling this was justified by it being a corporate gig, and a weeknight, meaning we'd all have to get up early and head off to our day jobs, next day.

 

The club is holding out and saying they won't pay the $200 per man.

 

We said "sorry can't play the gig in that case".

 

Would you have drawn the same line in the sand, or not?

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It has nothing to do with what the club "ought" to pay you. I take it you weren't working on percentage before. You'd probably NOT to work on percentage on this nights when it would come to less than your usual rate. And my guess, ED, is that the request was not based on some feeling of entitlement to part of his take, but on the fact that if he's getting that much, he might be less willing to turn you down.

 

And that's exactly what it should be about. It's just about seeing how much he's willing to pay for what you do. No harm asking. And of course he's entitled to refuse.

 

Would I have done the same? Maybe. Anyway, what does that matter to YOU? I would've based my decision on how inconvenienced I would feel, & on how much I felt I could tolerate a refusal. But I doubt we're all the same on those grounds. So you'll just have to ask yourself!

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Our reasons for insisting on $200 per man, were based on our feeling that we were being taken advantage of by the club in this instance. Plain and simple.

 

Why am I interested in what others would have done in a similar situation?

 

It interests me for two reasons...

 

Firstly, I always find it useful to learn about the creative ways other musicians handle the business side of what we do. Secondly, I'm interested in the general trends in other areas. Specifically whether clubs in other areas view bands as nothing more than a cost factor, or as stakeholders to be treated with respect.

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Originally posted by Edendude:

Our reasons for insisting on $200 per man, were based on our feeling that we were being taken advantage of by the club in this instance. Plain and simple.

I'll just say I think that's a mistake, & leave it at that. What else in his pocket do you want to claim a right to?

 

And isn't absolutely everyone a "stakeholder"? Bad economic theory makes bad economic behavior.

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Quote:Our drummer overheard the club owner bragging that the club would make TEN GRAND that night.

 

10k is not that much for a x-mas party. Sometimes

that may include a dinner with salad for each

guest and the norm is 2 free drinks,although we have done x-mas parties where it is open bar.

when someone say's they will make ten grand,

that is usually not the gross profit from that event,but the overall charge that includes all the

food,drinks,cooks/catering and servers & bartenders.The club was most likely not budgeted

to pay more for a band for that event.You should

go back there and appologize and try and salvage the gig,it will pay down the road.

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The club will have no additional overheads, other than paying two extra bar staff for the night. Catering is being handled by an outside company, and will be picked up by the corporation.

 

The club stands to make 'ten times' the amount it would normally take in on a Thursday night. We are only asking for 'double' what they would usually pay us for our regular gigs.

 

We normally charge $150 to $250 per man for corporate gigs. And the club is aware of this fact, too.

 

And I'll add...

 

This is a club that has done VERY well by having our band play gigs there in the past.

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I don't think "a line in the sand" is ever a good way to go in music (or much else). It sounds later in the game than it should be, in that I'm wondering if he made you a counter-offer.

 

You could try to justify why this gig would cost more than usually but also realize you asked for a 100% increase in you fee. I got an estimate from a roofer at $2400, if I ask him to do essentailly the same thing and says $4800 I'd tell him to take a walk, even if materials doubled in price becuase every cost and everything didn't double so the fee shouldn't.

 

I'm not saying you shouldn't get $200 each but in terms of the increase and the idea that he probably budgeted you guys in when he figured the price for the night it would feel like your gouging him. I bet that if the corp asked you to play it upon his recommendation you might be able to ask $200 or more without batting an eye. He should have asked you guys what you'd want before he submitted his price to the company, but things don't always work out that way. For the sake of good relationships if you could get him to see the reason for the increased costs, and there may be many legitimate ones as a Thursday night is not a Weekend and that entails alot, and maybe in the future you'll get a better deal on similar situations.

 

Best of luck.

check out some comedy I've done:

http://louhasspoken.tumblr.com/

My Unitarian Jihad Name: Brother Broadsword of Enlightened Compassion.

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Well all that being said. He sounds like the typical Greedy bastard that takes advantage of

Musicians. Screw him, take the gig,eat the food

hit on the women & throw out a Tamborine for tips.

Work the party goers by taking requests. If the

club owner gets pissed at you for doing all that

just tell him you learned to be greedy from him and your just trying to make a living. :cool:

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Well the good thing is...

 

We were very diplomatic about it.

 

We did not present a 'line in the sand' to the club. They asked us if we could play the gig, and we replied by thanking them for asking us, and that we would love to play the gig, and would require $200 per man. We also made it clear that we charge $150 to $250 per man for corporate gigs, because there is no risk to the bar as far as there being a crowd or not.

 

The reply from the club's entertainment manager was that they could not pay us more than $100 per man, but offered free drinks to the band members. This is not much of a deal, considering two of the band members do not drink at all, the drummer will have one beer the entire night, and I will have between two and three drinks during the whole evening.

 

We have left the ball in their court, saying that we will have to graciously decline their offer to play that night, unless we are paid our usual corportate gig rate.

 

So who knows...

 

The club is probably trying to convince other local bands to take the gig for the lower rate, and if they come up dry, they may make a counter offer.

 

Ironically...

 

We are playing another corporate gig the very next night at another venue, and no questions were asked regarding our fee.

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Originally posted by Edendude:

...The club is holding out and saying they won't pay the $200 per man. We said "sorry can't play the gig in that case".

 

Would you have drawn the same line in the sand, or not?

This is how I would've handled it: I would've used $200/per as the asking price, then negoitated with him for the details: set times, breaks, perks (drinks and food for the band), dress code, etc. Given the owner a chance to "make a deal" so that both of you would've won out. I would've set the absolute floor at $100/man with full perks.

 

How much the club owner "gets" (was $10K the gross or net receipt after overhead and expenses?) doesn't factor into it, because even though I don't know all the details, you were probably cutting into his profit margin (10-20%) which probably set him off against you to start with. He probably is already calling other groups to get his $100/per, and count on the "word" to his friends that you were asking for too much money to begin with.

 

Negotiation is how you get work, as well as referrals. You're in a business, same as him, and negotiation is part of business strategy 101.

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I don't think you are out of line at all. Our cover band always doubles its rate for private parties and holidays. The bars we play know it and most will pay it. I mean, it's a Thursday, it's a private affair and he stands to make a ton of dough. Share the wealth baby! But, a private gig is a bunch more work too. The crowd expects to be involved and catered to - speaches, requests, etc.

One club owner recently called and said after the first of the year, he would be paying all bands $50 less. Now, I know he is in the business to make money, but ER packs this place every time we play there and I got the impression that this was a "see how bad they wanna play" thing. Greedy bastard. We counter-offered a 3 set show rather than 4 and he didn't call back - while one town over we play a weekend gig for $125 per man per night.

 

Stick to your guns.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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If it wasn't already a night that you were scheduled to play for your normal rate, it's alright to ask for more. If you were already scheduled to play that night for your normal rate, you're in a much less desirable position to be bartering with them for your services.

 

Even $150-250 per person for a corporate gig is pretty low. Holiday parties tend to be very good opportunities to make good money. Don't sell yourself short for the sake of playing.

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It sounds like you did the right thing to me.

 

If you had already booked the gig you can't really go back and renegotiate.

 

I've been in the same situation, you play at a club, they get used to paying you "club rates" and then they expect you to play for the company party or a corporate party for the same amount.

 

The answer is "no". If you say yes, you will never get the money you deserve. Now of course they may stop hiring you for the regular club gigs, but that's the way people operate.

 

There's not a lot of loyalty between the hirerers and the hirerees.

 

And when there is it always seems to work out on the side of the hirerers.

 

$250 a man is on the low side for corporate gigs around here. And the band is always fed and often given drinks.

 

And I don't want to deal with "per man" prices. It is a band price which includes booking and leaders fees and supply of a pa system. I may not even be paying everyone in the band the same thing and the client doesn't need to know any of that. When the corporation books a party do they start with a Per Waitress or a Per Cook price?

 

"Free drinks" should never be accepted in lieu of money. The band should be sober when doing the gig. You are professionals.

 

And those "free drinks" cost the bar very, very little money. They just think we are all idiots.

 

"Oh boy, free drinks. And there will be lots of women there. Let's do the gig for nothing".

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Bump/Jeremy...

 

My feelings exactly.

 

And for the record, this was not a gig we were scheduled to play. As mentioned above, they just 'assumed' our fee for a Thursday night corporate party would be the same as our usual Friday/Saturday night gigs we play there.

 

And I know for a fact this club has done very well by us, and we are always the band who is ready to step up to the plate when other bands cancel. As was also suggested above, it should be give and take, and I think they should share the pie and have more respect for a band who is always willing to work with them and go the extra mile. For example...There have been numerous times when we have extended our last set from 50 mins to 90 minutes, because the bar was still full of very thirsty people and we knew it would make a big difference to THEIR bottom line for the night.

 

It's just about fairness.

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

"Free drinks" should never be accepted in lieu of money. The band should be sober when doing the gig. You are professionals.

True on all occasions, but even more true when doing corporate gigs. The Miyagi posse will enjoy a few beverages during the night when playing clubs, but corporate gigs are strictly water; even when the people attending the party want to start feeding you shots/drinks. Respectfully decline. You are the hired help for their party. You are sober and professional at all times. Period.

 

ED: going rate for corporate holiday parties around here is anywhere between $3,000 - 10,000.

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You've told him that your fee is higher for corporate and private gigs. Now you have to stick to your guns. Politely and with great regret, but firmly. I do most of the booking for our band and we charge $600 locally although the going rate is $300/$400. We miss out on some gigs because of it, but guess who they call when they are having a festival or some special event and decide that they want something "better". If you said Chickenfoot Gumbo, you are absolutely correct. Lots of the other locals are as good as us or better, but that is not the public perception. Most of the other bands are starting with the premise that they want the gig and will do what it takes to get it. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Also, what Jeremy said about "per man" bullshit, cut that talk off at the knees. Tell them what the show costs. Say it like you mean it, if you don't think you're worth what you're asking, it will show.

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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When do I say no? When she doesn't spring for the dinner or wine. :mad:

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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You handled it exactly the way I would have, Edendude.

 

You have the right to ask whatever you feel is fair for your services and for a corporate gig which generally requires a bit more formality, professionalism, and ass-kissing than your typical bar appearance, $200 seems to me a fair market rate.

 

The club owner didn't consult YOU about how much to charge your following for drinks, so you shouldn't feel the need to ask HIM for permission to charge extra for a corporate party.

 

Price your band fairly and stick to your guns.

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So, I just recently had a business class in consultative selling, so let me see if I can actually use some of that knowledge. You have to put this in terms of benefits to him. What's his motivation? Answer: he wants to make money, plain and simple. Perhaps, put it to him something like this:

 

Look, you know we bring in a good crowd when we play on weekends, right? You make some money on the weekends we play. And we want you to...otherwise there's no motivation to hire us to play. So, think about this...all these folks in this corporate party are mostly folks who don't come here regularly. But, if they like your club and like the band who's playing in it, what's the chance they'll come back to your club when we're playing on a weekend? Pretty good chance, right? We want to work this out so that it's wins for both of us. So, what do you say? Can we move forward on this corporate party gig?

 

Now, if he says that he simply can't pay you $200/man because he hasn't budgeted for it, then that might very well be a fact. (I doubt it, but you should treat it as fact.) Then ask something like, ok, if we do it for $150/man, then the next four times we play weekends, would you be open to $125/man? We need to make money and we realize you do to. Will that work?

 

If you've got a good relationship with this guy, then you should be able to have this kind of conversation with him. If you can't have this kind of conversation, then just stick to what you've already quoted and pass on this gig if necessary.

 

You deserve to be paid for your performance. But, no one's going to pay you simply because you deserve it. You have to earn it, and you do that not only by your performance, but by the negotiation that goes on behind the scenes prior to the performance.

 

HTH,

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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i would of asked $50 per man and 10% of the bar. That is the going rate where I gig. You keep em in you get paid more. Encourages crowd interaction and request taking, the occasional person singing happy b-day to their betrothed, but whatever, its all about having a good time and enjoying the atmosphere and music. (or music and atmosphere) (come to think of it, don't the music set the atmosphere)...?
Check out my work in progress.
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Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

So, what do you say? Can we move forward on this corporate party gig?

Of course, any fool could figure out the angle & the incentives.

 

But it takes professional business training to learn how to follow every picth with, "So, can we move forward?"

 

;)

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Originally posted by Edendude:

 

The club stands to make 'ten times' the amount it would normally take in on a Thursday night.

 

So you're saying the club only usually makes $1000 on a Thursday night? Around here, Thursday is one of the biggest nights of the week; if a bar only made $1000 on a Thursday it would be out of business (even the corner dive has a retail value rent). And this is Central Connecticut, not New York, or some other metropolitan city.

I think they need a few big nights, but I hope you get your $200.

"Start listening to music!".

-Jeremy C

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Thursdays can be really slow around here this time of year. In the summertime it's much better, because our city's bar and pub district is known as 'Canada's Bourbon Street', so the tourist dollars make up for the slow winters.

 

But bars more than make up for it on the weekends even in the fall and winter.

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Man, if I could walk away with $100/night I'd be smilin'! It wasn't out of line to ask for more money. We actually had a bar cancel our gigs that were on the books to give another band a second chance. Since then, he's contacted us three times to fill gigs, and been all kiss butt. We asked for more $$$ as an inconvenience to us to a degree and he won't pay it (though we know other bands have gotten more $$$). We're just holding out.
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