“How much does your band cost?” she asks on the telephone. So what do you say now?
You may be strong enough and established enough in your field and have enough work to be confident of telling her firmly the two prices you charge – one for public events and one for private functions.
Two principles in negotiations are 1) to delay until you get answers to your questions, 2) also not to present your demands up front until you know what the other side wants.
For most of us the answer we give will depend upon a number of questions
Issues to ask about
Is it a private or a public gig?
Will there be repeat business?
Which night of the week? Tuesdays are blank, Fridays are quite busy
Will they pay for band travel expenses?
How much do they normally pay? You could ask her this while you dream up your answer.
The following issues are on your mind as well but don’t ask these questions because you’ll give away your negotiating position.
How much do you yourself need the work?
Will you get extra publicity from the gig? For example the Jazz Café is good, lead band in the Festival is good The Rat
Catchers Annual Benevolent Society Ball is not much cop.
Might you get better paying work for this day later?
Is it a crummy or exotic location? An Australian tour is good, a gig in Wigan is poor.
How big a band can you put in? Can you get away with a trio or quartet?
Are you willing to negotiate on your price? They will be for sure.
Three steps to negotiating your price
Keep at the back of your mind the top price you would like and make sure you bring this easily into the conversation_- also have a bottom price but don’t go anywhere near this without a big struggle. You can bring it in slyly by saying something like, “The last time we did a gig like this I think we got £500 for it,” and see what they say. You can always come off this figure later, by saying that you normally charge a lot less.
Stay with the truth and say “It depends on a number of things, can I just ask you some questions about your gig?” And just ask them the first five questions
above. How much they normally pay tells you a lot about the price you can charge. If they say it is a private function and they don’t have any experience of hiring bands, you can be sure they have already done enough research to find out they they’ll be paying between £500 at the bottom end and more than £1,000 at the upper end. Not the top end – that’s a £5,000 figure.
Tell them your top price allow a bit of room to come down. Ask them what they think. If they demur, ask them what they were hoping to pay. Ask them if the money they have suggested is negotiable; would they pay your expenses; will the band be fed, could you cut the band size to fit their budget and so on. All the while, you are listening and buying time to consider whether you want to do it or not. Ask for time to make a couple of notes, just ten seconds will do, choose the figure you want and go to stage three.
Tell them what you want for the gig and ask them how they feel about that. Just go firm, if you have to come down on the price, you might be able to grind out a bit more by asking them to pay for the petrol expenses in your cars. 30p a mile x 2 cars x 80 miles is £48.00. You can add in a meal as well putting on another £200 for a quintet.