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Private Party Booking Advice

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by supermonkey, May 6, 2006.


  1. supermonkey

    supermonkey

    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Hey dudes-
    I've been approached about booking my 5-piece band for a private party.

    I don't know any of the specifics yet, i.e. date/time, length of show, venue, involves travel, indoor/outdoor, etc. because I've been playing phone tag with the jive turkey trying to book us.
    I'm assuming we'll have to provide a PA and sound guy, and that it will be a 2-3 hour gig.

    Still, when I finally speak to him, I want to be professional and straightforward. So I'm trying to get an idea of what to charge.
    We just started up in Feb, and we're all more experienced with booking/handling club gigs than this sort of thing. But this is the sort of gig we are aiming for, so we want to do this right -- give him something of a deal, but not undervalue ourselves, you know?

    So any experience with booking this type of gig would be helpful to lay on me.....

    TIA!
     
  2. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    I quote a price based on $100/hr per musician. I never tell the client this figure. Make a price and make it smart. Don't say $2300. Round to $2500. Remember you can always go down with your price, not up. Leave yourself some wiggle room. Good luck.
     
  3. supermonkey

    supermonkey

    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks, man.

    So, I just got off the phone w/ The Man.
    It's a 4-hour gig, outdoors at his lake house. I charged him exactly what you said (even though I hadn't gotten a chance to check back here yet.... great minds, eh?...). So it'll be $500 plus PA rental -- which will actually probably come by way of our drummer, who has connections on that end....

    So, this works. It's our first show like this, so I don't feel like sticking it to anybody until I feel 100% confident we're worth it.
     
  4. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    For a 5-piece band for a four hour gig should have been $2,000 (if you were using the $100 per hour per musician formula).
     
  5. I think your price of $500 is a bit low for a private party, but if this is the first gig you guys are doing of this kind, I suppose it makes sense to charge a little lower and see how things go, then you can up your price for future gigs.
     
  6. SBassman

    SBassman

    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    $500 being low is a very regional gig-specific thing.

    If it's an informal private party, with no special requirements or dress, $500 for a band is decent money in many parts of the country. I'd take it every time. :)
     
  7. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I was just curious if you are getting anything in writing for this?
     
  8. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    We'd do it for way less, so yeah. $500 is good. Especially considering that they're also paying for the PA. Wish I could find a place that would do that.

    And get it ALL in writing.
     
  9. SBassman

    SBassman

    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Re: getting it in writing

    Just remember, folks, that getting it in writing cuts both ways.
    I'm not saying not to, but, when you do it in writing, you need to be careful.

    For example, one pitfall a band can make is how they word What Instruments will be there. Often, party and wedding bands will have different members for different events. i.e. having a sax on some nights and not others. You don't want to have any of that be assumed, and then have a customer get angry because Joe The Awesome Sax Guy, who played at that bar 2 months ago with the band, isn't at today's cocktail hour.

    The same goes for the Number of people, and how the slots are filled. When you're going to spell it out in writing, you want to be clear that if it's a 4 piece band they are hiring, it's 4 pieces, but not necessarily 4 specific names. You may have a problem one day, and need to sub a person, and you want the wording to support that without any problems.
     
  10. supermonkey

    supermonkey

    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks for the replys, fellas.
    Some a little too late, but.... ;)

    Yeah, I'm TOTALLY getting it in writing. All the stuff that's critical, you GOT to have it under contract.
    I have a boilerplate contract that I'm modifying and having our lawyer thoroughly check out. I'm definitely not making us beholden to anything that would potentially be to our disadvantage, but neither am I asking for all the gfreen M&Ms to be removed. We've already sidestepped a pothole that our drummer and keyboardist mentioned. Funny story actually, they got booked for a wedding and ended up having to move their setup 4 times during the event!
    Needless to say, we're contracted for 1 location..... We're really striving to be professional for gigs like this, but I wouldn't contract on something like wardrobe unless the employer insists. And then, you just work that out in the fee....
    This situation is going to be pretty chill, so it's fairly easy. My biggest concerns were the logistics; at an outdoor party in high summer I wanted to make sure we were under cover, had adequate and safe power, were off the ground, and that the "cutoff point" related to poor weather was clear. And all that's in there.

    Next time one of these gigs comes up, our fee will definitely be more. $500 is pretty dinky around here too. But we wanted the gig (mostly for the experience) and I think it will be worth working cheap right now in the long run.

    Thanks again for the input!
     
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, best of luck with that. Pretty much ANY time somebody hears how much (or little) you charge, that's your price. These guys are gonna tell EVERYBODY how cheap they got a band for. And now, not only are you gonna be stuck with your lowball figure, pretty much everybody else in the area will be too. "Whadya mean $1200 for a trio for 3 hours? I can get a quartet for $500 for 4 hours!"

    How are you gonna feel in a couple of years when you can't get $500 for a 4 hour gig cause there's a quartet out there who want the "experience" that will do it for $300 or less?
     
  12. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    Well, we can't all charge $1200 for a three hour gig.

    Heck, if I charged $100/man/hour, there's no way that we'd ever play anywhere. Around here, at least, you're lucky to get one or two hundred bucks for a show (and they almost never want to hear more than 30 minutes of music). We're excited about a gig in October that's gonna pay us $250... lol...

    We're doing a 5 day mini-tour in June, and we've tentatively budgeted $200 for the thing (covering about 500 miles round trip in gas). Hopefully about 7 or 8 performances in there (we've got 3 shows booked, and 4 more in negotiations)... but at least one booked one is for free (an outdoor festival with some local bands - free admission, but 2 or 3 hundred people who will hopefully buy merch). We are making each venue buy us a meal and provide lodging if we're too far away from band friends.

    Anyway, sometimes you take what you can get. I'd rather play than not play. And the money is just the means by which we're able to play. Heck, just ONE $1200 gig would let us play gigs for free for a month... :D
     
  13. SBassman

    SBassman

    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    C'mon now. It's common practice for a band to start out exactly the way he describes. It's not going to start the Apocalypse nor will it lower the value of every band in the Milky Way Galaxy. :)
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sure.
    And somebody playing records through a loud PA system will never replace live musicians.
     
  15. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    :rolleyes: Using this "logic", the first time a band took a free gig for exposure, no other band in the area would ever be able to get paid for a gig again. Right?

    You also might want to consider the differences in your markets. I don't know about NYC, but there aren't many event planners in the SE that would pay $1,200 for a three hour gig. Especially for a new band that lacks the references and experience of their more experienced counterparts.
     
  16. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Well, we just played a private high school graduation party (A guy hired the band for his daughter's party).

    We charged $2000. The guy didn't bat an eye. After we got there and saw the Utopia this guy lives on (mansion, his own 30 acre private lake and all the land around it, and grand ammenities to no end), we realized we low balled him (not for what we usually charge though).

    This guy probably paid us out of the spare change he keeps in an empty coffee can in the garage.

    My advice...NEVER lowball. Start out higher...way higher. If the person booking you balks, tell him you'll cut him a deal, or tell him you have another gig in the area later/earlier that same day so you'll do it way cheaper than nornal, etc. Whatever you do, don't sell yourself short!!!
     
  17. Kronde

    Kronde

    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    +1 on Sundogue...

    stick to your number for private parties.
     
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    That's just bull****, I was making $200 - 300 a man for private functions from 1983 -1987 in Augusta GA.

    Of course if there have been a lot of folks working "for exposure", then the money may have come down....

    Sundogue's right on the money with this. There are times to play for free or low digit, but booking a private party ain't one of them.
     
  19. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    ALWAYS start high. Gotta have room to negotiate. Just did a trio hit Sat for $1500 for group for four hours. The guy who booked us didn't bat an eye when he booked us. If we had said $1000 he would have said yes and we would've been kicking ourselves that we didn't ask for more.

    Right out of college a played for a guy that asked for s*** money with the idea that it was good marketing. Seemed like a resonable argument until he still asked for s*** when we'd get another gig out of it. Now when he calls I tell him I'm booked.

    If you are good, honest, hardworking, reliable, etc you will get the respect you demand. The reverse is that people will use you as a port-a-pottie if you let them. Maybe it's just a big city thing but I doubt it.
     
  20. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Nope, it's pretty universal. It's just human nature. If you offer to play for $500, no one...and I mean NO ONE is going to then offer you more.
     

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