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What are you actually paying for?

So, musicians can appear expensive but what are you actually paying for? There’s an image going around social media which addresses this, finally stating that you wouldn’t ask a plumber to fix your toilet for exposure. Today I want expand on this a bit.

Firstly many musicians will charge according to union rates and their level of experience. Those undercharging are likely to still be studying and may be in the process of getting their first bookings. Those who studied at a prestigious college, with many contacts, followers and experience will probably charge more per hour.

But music’s a hobby and a passion, right? Well, it can be a hobby, however, once you start looking for professional musicians, it is exactly that, a profession. No matter how passionate we are, it’s a career we’ve created for ourselves, so we need to be paid.

Once you get into this territory, you are paying for someone who has spent years learning their craft, hours of practicing until they got the sound they wanted before setting themselves a higher goal. Music is brilliant but it isn’t all fun and games. There are lots of hidden costs too, if there’s no space to rehearse at home, there’s a need to hire one. Instruments need to be maintained and insured. Websites and other commercial aspects need to be paid for. Service charges from booking agencies could have a big influence on the cost as musicians will need to be paid for their time but may need to boost their price to take account for the percentage their agents will take from the fee.

You may believe that you’re just paying for the hour, but remember that the musicians you are hiring have worked for several hours previously to make sure that they deliver the music that you have asked them for. In some cases, you may be putting on a project that has low budget but is for a good cause, for example, a charity. Some musicians may take part in this because they feel emotionally invested in it. I say this a lot, but if in doubt, talk to your musicians. You never know, something could be negotiated, just avoid the ‘exposure’ word.

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