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At what point do you start charging? #1207621 05/28/09 05:23 PM
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xxmynameisjohnxx Offline OP
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So I'm starting to realize...I do ALOT of musical favors for people. All for people who I know and am good friends with, but still. Like I played my Sister's wedding, free, I've played multiple times in various church music nights for free, I'm playing my mom's school's graduation tonight, I'm playing another wedding in the fall, I've accompanied singers for auditions and given them recording and stuff of their music...all free. I don't mind doing this stuff free...but at what point should I come up with some type of charge on people? Like I said, it's not that I mind doing this stuff, I really enjoy it, but being a seventeen years old I'm kind of in need of money.
For everyone out there who makes money doing the same stuff I'm doing now for free, when did you stop doing free work and start charging?


Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.
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Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx] #1207736 05/28/09 09:01 PM
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Well, doing it for free is fine when you're just learning. Now you've done this enough, it's time to start charging. Start with the next thing that comes up. If it is someone who expected it to be free, just let them know that your time is worth something and while you'd love to help them out, you do deserve to be compensated for your time. Have a set fee that you would charge. For me, I charge $75-$100 for a wedding depending on the amount of music required. Ask around to people in your area, because I'm sure the going rate is much higher in San Diego. Whatever that rate is, decide if you want to be slightly less so that you will be helping out whoever hires you.

I still do some things for free, but every church knows they need to pay me. I charge my voice students whenever they need me to accompany them for a contest. I only do things for free if I really want to, or if it's something that will get my foot int the door for a paying gig sometime in the future.


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Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx] #1207748 05/28/09 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by xxmynameisjohnxx
So I'm starting to realize...I do ALOT of musical favors for people. All for people who I know and am good friends with, but still. Like I played my Sister's wedding, free, I've played multiple times in various church music nights for free, I'm playing my mom's school's graduation tonight, I'm playing another wedding in the fall, I've accompanied singers for auditions and given them recording and stuff of their music...all free. I don't mind doing this stuff free...but at what point should I come up with some type of charge on people? Like I said, it's not that I mind doing this stuff, I really enjoy it, but being a seventeen years old I'm kind of in need of money.
For everyone out there who makes money doing the same stuff I'm doing now for free, when did you stop doing free work and start charging?

John ... (I hope that's your name) there's no time like the present. Age doesn't matter much if you can do the job. And since it is a "job" you're doing - time to charge.

Create a one page 8.5 x 11 sheet with your services and rates on it. Then, give it to people when they ask for your services. Don't be bashful about this. If you can deliver, you should be paid!

Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: eweiss] #1207756 05/28/09 09:35 PM
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I'll be interested to hear the responses on this. I vote for, if you are doing a good job and esp. if you are playing for something crucial, like a contest/audition (vs. making a scratch recording to practice with at home), you deserve to be paid. I mean if nothing else you should be getting some gas $ to arrive on site, right? You'll have to play it by ear to some degree tho', your charge may depend on 1. the person you're playing for (a poor high school student), or 2. the difficulty of the music (are you going to have to invest 10 practice hours???). If you can, if you're at some sort of event with other accompanists you can inquire about their rates. I was surprised when asked my rates for accompanying flute students at a local contest and when I quoted 20$ the teacher basically told me that was too low, that this was(to paraphrase) a big deal with cash prizes and 35 would be more of the going rate. (There's another idea, if you can locate instrumental or vocal teachers you could ask them what sort of charges their students pay when they hire accompanists). Of course the higher charge made my nerves twice as bad!!!!!!!!! ha Then again the going rate for All State choir auditions was more like 25. It really varies.

Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx] #1207807 05/28/09 11:46 PM
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Ask around your area to find out what the going rates are for these types of gigs you are doing. You could ask college students what they charge, for example, for weddings they do and accompanying jobs they take. Then set a fee schedule on paper like someone else on this thread suggested. You can still do free favors for close friends and family but definitely, please don't be afraid to charge for everything else. You are a talented young man and work hard. People expect to pay for your services. Other guys your age have jobs, this is yours.


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Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: Barb860] #1207815 05/29/09 12:16 AM
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I'm not sure when, but at one point during my student years, someone just asked "so how much to you charge?"

I think when you suddenly look old enough or sound good enough for people to ask that question, put a fee on your services and never look back!


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: Kreisler] #1207847 05/29/09 03:03 AM
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Okay thanks. Basically I know I'm ready to be paid, in fact I've been asked how much I charge for that stuff before. I got $15 for playing the graduation tonight, I wasn't expecting anything so that's fine, :P. I'll start charging small amount from now on depending on the situation, but I'm fine doing free stuff for awhile. I don't get gigs often, but over the last month I've got 3, so hopefully it'll pick up.

I like Kreisler's advice the best, once I start getting consistently asked how much I'll start charging. :].


Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.
Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx] #1208096 05/29/09 02:23 PM
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First...always do it for free if it's your mom. smile

I would do it for free if it were my own church, but charge other churches.

And then I would let it be known that I only do it for free for actual family members. (If I liked them... smile

The easiest thing might be to make business cards and hand them out to everyone you know. They will, for sure, start asking if you charge..that's your opening...good luck!


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Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: pianoobsession] #1208118 05/29/09 02:57 PM
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I was happy to play for my sister's wedding for free; it was one way to ensure she had good music at the wedding. smirk

I sometimes use a sliding scale - if I think the person has a financial hardship I'll lower or waive my fee.

I don't always ask for monetary reimbursement; sometimes its fun to be taken to dinner. smile

Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: whippen boy] #1208197 05/29/09 04:41 PM
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I advise you not to charge until you have some business advice about what records to keep, how much to put aside for taxes (start with 20%), and permitting. If you are going to be serious about this, you are going to have to take care of these things.


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Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: BDB] #1208237 05/29/09 05:46 PM
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Thanks BDB, I wouldn't have thought of that. Right now I'm not getting consistent enough business to worry about taxes, but once it seems that things are picking up I will for sure.


Chopin: Nocturne No. 15 in Fm. Op. 55 no.1.
Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx] #1208253 05/29/09 06:30 PM
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I guess only you can make the decision about taxes, but I seriously doubt that every 14-year-old babysitter is putting a lot of thought into that. I think it's OK to put that on hold until, as you say, business picks up.

You definitely need to charge for your services. People will take advantage of you if you don't. They won't do it to be mean. They just truly don't understand the amount of effort that you put into lessons, practice, and maintaining professionalism.

And don't let yourself be caught in the notion of "I'm doing it for the experience, not the money" unless it really *is* a good experience. Chances are, you won't even have the opportunity to charge for such an experience. The only circumstance in which you should not charge is if you're deliberately giving your services as a gift, in which case it should be clear that it is a gift, with real value.

If you would not give a casual acquaintance an expensive wedding gift, why would you play at their wedding for free?

As a footnote, I think it goes without saying that if you are charging for services, you do need to act like a professional.

Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: xxmynameisjohnxx] #1208296 05/29/09 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by xxmynameisjohnxx
Thanks BDB, I wouldn't have thought of that. Right now I'm not getting consistent enough business to worry about taxes, but once it seems that things are picking up I will for sure.


Keep track of EVERY expense associated with your playing gigs: gas, mileage, dry cleaning the suit, any music purchases, etc. etc. as these deductions become a huge benefit to any tax situation you might find yourself in. Depending on how much of this you do, you could make some good $$$ and, as a self-employed person, would of course be entitled to the benefits of deducting your biz expenses.
Perhaps this is too much info. right now but down the road it's going to matter.


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Re: At what point do you start charging? [Re: Barb860] #1208322 05/29/09 09:36 PM
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I can't believe some are already talking taxes. The dude didn't even make a dime yet.

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Uncle Sam can wait. Let em shake someone else for some coins. In fact, I think there should be no taxes for music teachers. grin


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