Fees: Why I’m NOT giving you a discount.

Before Starting this please refer to the Musicians Union’s Campaign ‘Work Not Play‘ It’s not as in details as I remember but you get the point!

This Week’s Video


Musicians are regularly asked to work for free or reduced rates, because people assume musicians are just charging what they can and not because it is the least they can charge to make sure they are still eating by the time your event comes along!

Everyone thinks musicians lives are basically this:


but in reality we are all very poor…

Especially harpists because harps are expensive, and then strings are also expensive and cars to get to gigs are expensive and having a house big enough to put your harp is… you guessed it… expensive!

But we all pretend like we’re all very wealthy because that is what you have to do as a self-employed musician.

This is getting too much like a buzzfeed article so I’m going to type in paragraphs now.

I can not give you a discount because if I do that then playing at your event is not worth the time it took to get there. Let me explain this in a work thing. If it costs you £25 to get to the office and you are only paid £6 an hour and your boss says ‘We only need you for 4 hours today’ you have lost £1 getting there. So you may have well stayed home and been £25 richer!

This is an exaggeration I know, but it’s the way it looks for musicians. If I am playing at a wedding for half a day, and have to take time off my residency and they want me to work for less than I would earn at my regular gig it is not worth the fuel to get to the gig in the first place.

When you work out what you charge, you look at how much everything is:

  • Rent
  • Bills
  • Council Tax
  • Tax TAX!
  • Car, MOT, Insurance
  • Instrument Insurance!
  • Food and expenses
  • lessons with teachers
  • new strings/equipment

Then you look at how much you can afford to charge in order to keep all that and there is your total. So when I say I charge X amount for an event it is because that is the most reasonable amount I can charge without hitting the poverty line or making a loss for the year. Most young musicians just starting out will be in quite low income brackets unless supported by their parents or a full/part-time job. That’s the reality of it, asking someone on £10,000-£16,000 a year to work for less is the equivalent of asking your maid to come in on the weekends pro-bono just to ‘tidy up a bit’. It’s not fun.

Here is some tips to talking to musicians about money:

  1. Ask if you can pay in instalments! (I do 50/50 split between deposits for events because it lightens the load)
  2. Change your event to be in the middle of the day Monday-Thursday. (Musicians basically work weekends, unless they teach during the week. I do not, I do discounted prices Monday-Thursday)
  3. say things like ‘What would suit you?’ for payment, they may have a system.
  4. Pay promptly and as close to the event as possible. Rent waits for no man!
  5. Say things like ‘Really?! How affordable’ and ‘You are such Good value’ because it shows that you appreciate the musicians work, talent and time!

And that’s it. so, to review:

Be nice to your musician they are probably a lot poorer than you and never ask for a discount. Got it? Good, learn it!


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