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Session Playing/How Much to Charge

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by JimmyO, Apr 23, 2006.

  1. JimmyO


    Dec 15, 2004
    Durham, NC
    ...so there's this somewhat popular touring folk/rock band from Canada that's going to be in my area this summer for a few festival gigs, and they need a bass player to sit in. A friend of mine knows the band and gave them my contact information. They asked right off the bat what I would charge.

    Now, I've never really been a hired gun before, so I have no idea how to answer this question. To me, it seems it would be a function of how much they get per gig, which I don't know.

    Session playing being uncharted territory for me, does anyone have any wisdom to share on this subject? Is there perhaps a "scale" for session playing based on the approximate size of the gig? Is there a "safe" amount to ask for?
  2. aarono


    Feb 14, 2006
    Have them make an offer, and if you're comfortable making that amount than do it. If not, ask for a price that'd you'd be happier with.
  3. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Careful. If you ask for too much, you run the risk of pricing yourself out of the gig. But if you ask for too little, they might not respect you...

    Best thing is to do some research in your local market. Ask any of the local pros - whatever instrument(s) they play - what the going rate, or range, would be. In the meantime, ask the band to make you an offer. From a negotiating standpoint, it's always better for you if the other party names a figure first...

  4. aarono


    Feb 14, 2006
    1st Paragraph. I don't believe they'll disrespect you if you're low-priced. They'll just see you as a bargain if you're skill : price ratio is slanted the right way if you know what I mean.

    I must agree with your 2nd point though. If you don't know the field, don't offer a price. You'll most likely place a value that's off and embarrass yourself or insult the other person.
  5. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    no i totally think they will disrespect him.

    here's an example. My friend does body work and paints car's. he does some really nice cars, he's even had a couple cars what were in hot rod mag. (not a full spread or anything but still its pretty impressive to have a car in there)

    some bikers wanted to get their bikes painted by him and asked for a quote, he didn't quote them very much cause there wasn't any body work to do just a couple of fenders and a tank to paint. None of them came back and all went to a competitor that charged them over twice what he quoted them. Now they could all see the hot rods in his shop, they new he had a couple cars that were in hot rod mag but still didn't come back cause his price was too low.

    they didn't wanna brag about their paint job that cost $XXX they wanted to brag about their paint job that cost $XXXX even if the cheaper pain job was just as good or even better!

    so if he prices himself too low i think they will wonder "why's this guy so cheap" and be more critical of him.
    Garret Graves likes this.
  6. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Call your local musicians union. Tell them you want to hire a bass player and ask what the current scale is.

    If you don't have a union office, call the one at the closest city. I think Canada has a musicians union doesn't it?
  7. Certainly do your homework to find out what a "going rate" might be, but try to get them to make the first offer (a basic business/negotiation rule) - they may come in at more than you were going to quote.

    Aside from understanding the going rate for musicians (the sell side in this deal), try to understand the economics of the band (the buy side). The amount of money they are making from the gig (including any sponsorships or subsidies for doing a tour) will influence how much they are willing to pay. You may not be able to figure this out with much accuracy, and you probably don't want to ask them directly, but if you can get a feel for this, you will be better prepared to negotiate.
  8. Eisenmann


    May 12, 2004
    hmmm I think this seems a little bit strange to me.
    I know talkbass is one of the biggest, supposably the biggest bass-related board on the web and I'm sure some session bassist are around here.
    but no one of those answered and said something about what they charge.
    Sure, it propably starts with free drinks and can end with - I don't know - 10k$ dollars ( :D ) and it's hard to give advice but still it would be interesting to hear.

    Or is this something you won't ask a professionell musician?
    like a gentleman's agreement among session-guys?

    I really don't have a clue about all this stuff
    really sorry if I did something dishonorable now :bag:
  9. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Ok, I dont know what the union rates in the States are but generally speaking I charge 300euro per session...it's actually not a lot of money considering I'd get the same amount of money for a 2 hour live gig..whereas a session could take anything up to 12 hours depending on the complexity of the piece..now, where I make most of my money is on royalties...ie everytime that track, ad, tv theme, film soundtrack etc. gets played I get a percentage..(I'm still getting cheques from sessions I did 5 years ago).

    From my experience (and it could be a completely different system in other countries)..the musicians union will ensure you get paid standard rate per session its then up to you as the musician to join other organisations which will take care of the royaly end of things...eg: in Ireland you need to be a member of IMRO http://www.imro.ie/ (which is generally more for songwriters rather than musicians) or RAAP http://www.raap.ie/

    (Also bear in mind for every session you might actually play for 10 minutes ...but you'll be "hanging around waiting" for HOURS)
  10. Here's an example of the Los Angeles session recording scale (with the general assumption that this pertains to artists affiliated with a major label (Madonna, Jane's Addiction, etc.) that pay for a session player to lay down tracks:

  11. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Hey I wasnt too far off..345.98$ (for 3 hours) roughly equals 273.619 EUR :)

    (unfortunately most sessions I've done dont allow for "waiting time" :(
  12. tkozal


    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    Yes, I recall a few years ago the benchmark of "$110 an hour", which has gone up obviously a little.
  13. bassplayin


    Dec 5, 2005
    I've done recording sessions for as little as 2 pints of Guinness and as much as $200 a song (14 songs over 2 days- $weet!). Usually I will normally ask for $80 or $100 per song, depending on my mood and financial status at the time. If I know that the session is for a major, has a major budget, and that recording is going to be released on a national/international level, I'll ask for more and push for points on the record as well. If it's a limited or NO budget recording and I really dig the music, I'll do the session on a sliding scale with extra points on the record, should it totally blow up out of left field.

    As for touring, I like to get at least $200 a gig and at least $25 per diem. I've gotten as much as $500 a show, my own hotel room, and $40 per diem.

    While there is a "standard" rate, I'd rather keep working and putting my playing out there. There will be low paying sessions/gigs as well as mad money ones- use your best judgement and ask for a fee thats appropriate to the situation.
    Garret Graves likes this.
  14. What would be sort of a low-average rate for getting points? I'm in my first situation of playing for them right now, and I'm not sure what to ask for...

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