what to charge for freelance playing

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I am a private piano teacher, but also am branching out in freelance work such as playing weddings, parties, etc. I have a BA in Music and am wondering if that plays a role in pricing. What should the hourly rate be, or any other suggestions anyone has?

Thanks so much! Karyn

-- Diane (karynsgreys@yahoo.com), July 29, 2003


I am a jazz pianist who mainly does freelance work as well as teaching piano. This is the one field where having a degree (I have my Bachelor of Music) doesn't seem to affect pricing one iota. The people who will be hiring you are mainly concerned that they like the music that you play and that you act professionally (ie. show up on time, dress appropriately, etc.). Typically the more experience that you have doing this type of work the more you'll be able to charge. At this point I get most of my work through references. If people like what you bring to their event they'll pass on the good word!

Now, for me to suggest how much you should charge is a bit tricky. I'm writing from Montreal, Canada and I assume that you are somewhere in the States. Usually I don't charge by the hour but set a flat fee based on what they're asking me to do. I take into consideration how long I'm going to be there, how many sets of music I'll play, whether I have to get together any special repertoire (ie special requests), what type of function it is (wedding music is always more expensive than party music), what their budget is (I can be flexible - I hate to turn down work). Also, we arrange ahead of time the start time and finish time. If they want me to play over- time we set an hourly rate. So far this summer, playing with my jazz trio, I've earned an average of $300/wedding. That's $300/musician. On Sunday I played a party with my trio and got paid $125. I always try to arrange a meal and drinks for the musicians as well. I'm also a member of the American Federation of Musicians (musician's union). They have set up a standard of pricing that I think varies from area to area (ie. I'm pretty sure that the Montreal prices are just for Montreal).

I hope this information is some help to you. I imagine that you will be playing solo classical (non-jazz) piano and I'm not sure if the pricing works in the same way. Good luck!

-- Kate (pianojazzgirl@yahoo.ca), July 29, 2003.

Make sure to arrange for payment on the day of the ceremony BEFORE it starts. No pay, no play. Sadly, it happens where people think it is okay to pay you late, or not at all, thinking that they're paying you by feeding you. Also, if you have to rehearse with someone else (like a member of the Bride's family who sings), be sure to charge for that. Who will you use as a backup, if any, if you have to cancel for some good reason?

And I'm sure I don't need to remind you to get it in writing, along with a policy on bad checks....

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), July 30, 2003.

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