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How to fairly quote a job to a traveling artist?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by sleeplessknight, Jun 17, 2014.


  1. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Seattle
    Hey all, I might be playing a couple of one-nighters in August for what appears to be a constantly-touring artist. The guy's genre is 'blues rock', where he sings and plays guitar, and sometimes (according to his video) he has a backing band. I answered his Craigslist ad seeking a bassist for these two dates, we've talked a bit, and he wants to hire me. However, he's asked me "What would you like to make for each gig?"

    This question bothers me for a couple of reasons. One, I don't want to quote him TOO low - if he's only making a couple hundred bucks for himself, a drummer, keys, and 'the in-town bassist', I'd hate to price myself out and say "a hundred bucks a night, please". Two, I don't want to leave money on the table - if he's bringing the same band through town and getting paid a couple grand, I don't want to be the chump that's getting paid a hundred bucks to learn all the tunes for two nights (one date is an hour drive from me).

    I guess the tl; dr is, there's a Venn diagram of "I want to help this guy out because I like his originals and I want to make sure he gets a good bassist at a fair price" and "I still need to get paid somewhat fairly too". Is it rude for me to ask him "What's the venue paying you to bring yourself and a full band down for a night?"
     
  2. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    FWIW, I was offered $250 and $350 this winter to back a moderately well-known blues artist on two dates when his tour passed through this area. If you *have* to put the first figure on the table and the dates don't involve travel, around $250 is a reasonable starting point for a generic club date. (If it's B.B. King playing for an oil-rich oligarch, bump your bid accordingly.)

    If you don't want to give the first number, a couple other options:
    • Quote just above what you think is reasonable and invite a counter. "I'd *like* to make $400 a night, but that might not be workable here. What can you do for this date?"
    • "I could probably do it for what the drummer's making. What's drummie getting?"
     
  3. M0ses

    M0ses

    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Start high. Smart negotiation won't lose you the job.
     
    Remyd and Mystic Michael like this.
  4. I do think it would be rude to ask him how much the venue is paying him. It really doesn't matter what he's getting paid - what matters is what you're getting paid. I would tell him you want to get paid "all that I can". He's doing the hiring, let him quote the price then you can negotiate from there. It sounds like he's played this game before.
     
    etherealme likes this.
  5. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Maybe the venue he's playing in would be a clue? If it's some little bar, I wouldn't expect more than a regular bar band gig. If it's a 2000-seater theater, you're in another order of magnitude.
     
  6. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Conventional wisdom has it that the first person to name a figure - any figure - usually loses the negotiation.

    MM
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
  7. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    There is a real strategy to effective negotiation. Not knowing how it works puts you at a considerable disadvantage.

    One thing is for sure: If you bid too high, you can always come down somewhat. If you bid too low, you'll never be able to take it back.

    MM
     
    M0ses likes this.
  8. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    One clue: If he could afford sideman pay much above $250-300/night, it becomes more likely that he'd be touring with regulars.
     
  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Don't be too greedy. Unless your rep makes you to only "name" bassist in the area, you are not the only person he is getting offers from. If you start at $500 and another starts at $250, who do you think is getting the gig.

    How did he get your name? Unless it is personal referral, he probably contacted several bassists.
     
  10. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1

    Jan 17, 2009
    N.H.
    He's playing you on the fee.
    Start higher than normal & negotiate from there.
    Good luck, it could lead to a steady thing.
     
  11. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Seattle
    we emailed back and forth a bit, his offer was $60/night, to which I said 'thanks but no thanks'.
     
    Remyd likes this.
  12. KeithPas

    KeithPas Supporting Member

    May 16, 2000
    Poulsbo,Wa
    Good answer
     
  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Yeah, I know some guys like that around here. They aren't touring, they are playing the same clubs local bands are, and are generally just too cheap and lazy to keep a regular band.
     
  14. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Wow
     
  15. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Yeah. Nobody who needs craigslist to find a band is paying hundreds. You handled it well, sleeplessknight.

    You never know how things will play out, or who is next years 'surprise success story', but it's best to politely turn down low-ball offers. Thank them & move on. I have been called back after turning down a gig, it improved & could afford reasonable rates.
     
  16. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    The best way to establish a general starting point to charge is to start asking the busier local musicians what they are making for various gigs. Whether it's travelling show dates, artists who hire regionally, or even what local faves with a draw are paying their sudeguys. This, at least, gives you a fair negotiating starting point.
     
  17. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Did you counter offer? Maybe he was opening negotiations. Granted it's a lowball, but if he's a near constant touring guy playing small venues he's got to hold on to that dollar til the eagle grins, so he's going to come at you low as a matter of course. The trick is to find his upper limit, or at least a place where you are OK with the money and he can afford it.

    Rather than "thanks but no thanks", maybe "Thanks for the offer but $60 won't do it. Considering the travel and prep time I'd think $250 but I'm not married to that number. Can you do any better than $60.00?"

    It's also possible $60 is all he can afford to pay and he'll take whatever he can get for that, but the only way to find out is to make a counter offer and see where that leads. Unfortunately since you've already turned him down, the opportunity to find out is now closed to you unless he comes back with a counter offer.
     
  18. I think you did the right thing. Someone who comes in low balling that bad isn't going to do much more. He'll probably keep ticking names off his list until he finds someone who will do the gig for free AND paint his house! Freaking musicians.
     
  19. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Seattle
    Aw heck, I'm just going to post the email thread here. Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent :)

    (Ordered from oldest at the top, to most recent at the bottom)
     
    etherealme likes this.
  20. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    I think you handled this well, SK. An attempt to meet in the middle was made & you kept your own responses far more professionally worded.

    I admit that I'm as surprised as the 'TA' that you are finding regular work in the 250-350 range on craigslist!

    Well handled, SK. :)
     

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