I was talking to a gospel artist recently who expressed disdain over how professional singers react to the question ‘How much do you charge”. For some reason, our music industry does not like absolute numbers, especially when you are starting out. The artist was upset because she needed background vocalists for a gig and when she inquired about rates she was given the response “It depends on your budget’. She unfortunately, interpreted that response as , “It depends on how much money you have.. if you have $500 then that’s what I charge, if you have $50 that’s what I charge. I’ll take the maximum that you have”. Needless to say this rubbed her the wrong way.
I actually clarified with her that often times singers don’t want to give an absolute figure for fear of losing the business. They think, “If I tell her I charge $250 when she only has $75, I risk losing this client. So, I’ll just let her tell me what she has, because as long as it’s reasonable, I’ll take it”. Sound familiar to any of you? Unfortunately, this is not the most professional route to take. I understand the notion that ‘everything is negotiable’, but remember singing is a business and if you are a singer it’s YOUR business, and you have to give the client (buyer) something to negotiate. Don’t be afraid of pricing yourself where you feel you are worth. If someone really wants you after they hear your price one of two things will happen. 1. They will say ‘ok’ and pay it (and u BETTER be worth every penny) or 2. They will say, “I Know you are worth that, but I actually had $x in mind to pay you, do you think you could do it for that”… now you can negotiate like a real business person. And it may mean that you have to walk away from some engagements, because they truly may not be worth the cost of time and energy in which to participate. But others are worth far more than money and it’s worth you cutting your price down in order to network with people and build a relationship with what could turn out to be a great client. I hope this helps. God bless J