TRANSCRIPTION: "Success Beyond The Score" Podcast, S.3, EP. 5

Here is the transcription of episode 5 of season 3 of the podcast "Success Beyond The Score". Happy reading!

- Watch the video of the episode here: YouTube

- Listen to the audio of the episode here: Kajabi


I'm going to be diving into the three reasons why you should be charging for your music starting today! It's really, really warm weather and in fact, I've got a gig later on as well, but I thought I'd come on and speak with you and share some nuggets. And I would love to hear from you too. If you've got a story to tell about getting paid, put that in the comments; I'd love to read it out, give you some tips on that. And if you've got any questions, please do that.

Getting paid is a real vital thing for musicians. I said in episode one, on Monday, that I believe every musician should be paid their worth. I a 100% believe it, believe it, believe it. Of course, it's a journey, and for some of you, you're probably not charging at all —that's why you're here today. Some of you might be charging, but you think: "Actually, I want to increase my fee", or maybe you're not sure if you're doing it right, stuff like that. That's why you've come. Absolutely fine. Glad to have you. Absolutely glad to have you. And in fact, if this is the first time you're hearing me, I've got a free download which explains how you can get paid in advance, "10 reasons why they'll pay you in advance". The link is in the description. If you can't access that, you go over to the website 'cause there's a second one there as well that you can get about being a successful musician.


So: three reasons why you should charge for music starting today. I'm going to give you a lot of reasons, but I'm going to tell you a little story. I remember the first time I got paid. This was in the eighties, I had a band and we were booked to play outside of Birmingham. Everyone was like: "well we've got to drive, you know, we need to get some money", and I said: "okay". I had to pluck up the courage 'cause I was really nervous. It was nerve-wracking asking to be paid. I don't know if that's the same for you than then it was for me —not now. And I remember asking and saying to them: "you know, we're traveling. Any chance you can give us something towards our petrol?". And they gave us something towards our petrol. It was £25!

I kid you not. It's in my journal. I said: "yippee!". It was the first payment I ever got. Now, today, at the time of this recording, in the UK, £25 cannot fill a tank. You know? We're heading towards £2 a gallon or a litre. It's just crazy. But at that time, it was the best thing. It was enough to get us there. And I was just ecstatic.

You know, I've had people speak to me. I remember one lady coming to me and saying that her problem is that she's in this group, she goes out and she loves doing her music, absolutely loves it, but she doesn't get paid. I said: "well, that's a bit weird". And the thing about it is that she found out that the person who asked her to perform, they are getting paid. And when she asked them: "can we get paid as well?" They're like: "oh no, this is just for admin, you know, not for you". And she was like: "what do I do?". So I gave her a few tips and that was a turning point. Now she charges for everything. She's fine. She gets paid, you know?

Some people, some musicians —maybe this is you— you just play for the love of the music. It's like it's your gift. It's just the thing you do. You just want to bless everybody with it. You just want to tell the world and share it. And you know what, that's fine if that's what you want to do. I'm still going to give you some reasons why you should be charging, but I'm saying, for you, if that's the tip you're on and you like that, that's absolutely fine because maybe you have a full-time job. Maybe you have a part-time job. Maybe you're retired so money is not a problem, so for you, it's fine.

The thing about this is that our music art is valuable. Underline it, put it in bold, large letters: music is valuable. You just have to think about the events you've gone to, and just imagine if you took music out of the equation, what would be left of that event? People sitting around in silence, talking, and no entertainment. Now, that could be fine if you're just chilling with friends, if you just want to chat, but if you're doing a fundraiser and you just forgot people are coming and there's no music, it'll be kind of a bit sad, isn't it? Or you're going to a black tie event and there's no music to dance to. Music is so valuable, so, so, so valuable. And you need to realize that your music is valuable and what you do is valuable. So maybe it's just time to start charging and changing the status quo for you.

Now, I'm going to dive into these tips, but listen, if you like what you're hearing so far, please click the like button. Please share this video now, immediately or later to friends and other musicians you know. And of course, subscribe to my YouTube channel so you can receive more notifications of when the next one is out.


Three reasons. Firstly... and I won't mention valuable (that goes without saying, you could probably put that on number four, or probably the first one) but you —here's my number one— have costs to get to that gig. Have you thought about that? I mentioned earlier on that, in the eighties, I just needed petrol money. But is that the only cost you have for doing that gig? Think about it. Petrol, yeah. If you've got to get something different to wear, yeah. If you've got to get your nails done for that gig, yeah. Get your hair done, get shaved for that gig, yeah. Um, rehearse for that gig, yeah. The list goes on, doesn't it?

I'm going to be talking about reasons why you should work for free, the contradiction of working for free on Monday, that's coming up. But today I'm talking about getting the pay and getting money. When you think about all the things that you've got to put your hand in your purse, put your hand on your pocket... I mean, for me, this week I bought a new saxophone reed because I'm playing tonight and my own ones are on the way out. For you, it might be a guitar string. It might be a pair of new sticks for your drum. I don't know. It could be a new rosin for your violin bow, you know? You've had to put your hand in your pocket and then they're asking you to come. Surely there should be some kind of exchange.

If you're thinking: "oh no, I can't do that", look at it this way. You go to the shop and you decide to buy a loaf of bread. Operative word: buy. If you walk into that shop and take the bread, it's called stealing, isn't it? Unless they're giving it away. But there's an exchange of money for bread. You need bread, they're selling it. You buy it and the money that they get is to make more bread.

Exchanging your music for money is a fair exchange. They want to be entertained, you can provide it. Fair exchange. The currency is money. That's what it is. Money. So you've got costs to cover and that's one way you should be thinking about charging from today.

The other reason why you should start charging is your livelihood. Okay, so you have a full-time job or a part-time job, which is not music related. Maybe you do teaching and other things in music, and therefore you prefer to gig for free, but you've still got bills to pay. You've still got to keep the light on when you're rehearsing. You've still got to keep warm If it's a cold day when you're rehearsing, you've still got to put food on your table.

Charging helps you to make a living from your music. And that's what I did with my music. It started off as a hobby. I was doing a full-time other job in education and other things, and gradually as I charged and got more money for it, I was able to transition over so that I make my living through my music.

You've got bills to pay. You cannot leave on fresh air. If music is your full-time thing and you want to make it full-time, fresh air will not pay the bills. You know, the gas man will look at you and say: "what's that?" Mind you, gas is kind of air, isn't it? But can't exchange it. Can't exchange it.

And number three: your reputation. Hmm. If you do not charge, you will be the go-to person for performances for free. They will be saying: "I know a great sax player, a great musician, singer. I can get that person. Oh, we don't have to pay!". Now, remember, there's an opposite side of the coin —I'm going to be dealing with that on Monday— I'm just dealing with this side of the coin where it's time to get paid. So you are just going to be known as that, that kind of musician. And I remember speaking to a promoter once and well, actually, I wasn't speaking to the promoter, I overheard this promoter saying: "I got a list of musicians and they come to me for free because they just want to play. They just want to be on the stage". And that was that person's attitude. And I thought: "whoa, that's not good because they don't really understand what it takes to get on stage. They don't understand what we have to go through".

Your reputation, to change it, you've got to be your own ambassador. You've got to be the one that says; "actually, I have expenses", or "yeah, I can come, but this is what I charge". And there're nice ways of saying it. You don't have to be aggressive, you don't have to be shy about it. You've just got to be comfortable with it. You've got to be the person to change your reputation because they don't have a crystal ball, they can't look at you and know you want to be paid. You’ve got to tell them you want to be paid.

Let me put a bonus one in for you here. If you don't charge for your music, you are letting your own side down. I mean, you make it difficult for professionals like me to charge, because if, like that promoter, they can get people for free, when we come rocking up with our fees, they're like: "oh, I can get someone free". However, of course, if they want the professional musician who delivers stellar work, of course they're going to pay for that. But if you are not charging when you should be charging, you do make it a bit difficult for people like us.

I remember reading on the Musicians' Union, I think it was on their Twitter feed a few months back —maybe longer than that— where there was an incident. Two things on the Musicians' Union. One was that it was commented by a lot of the professionals that people who are students were getting the job, the promoter was just taking that. And eventually, there was a case that happened. There was a particular event that was being put on, and rather than people booking a professional musician, they were going for students because they're really cheap or free.

That's not good! Students, put your foot down! You need to be paid! You need to charge! Everyone needs to charge. So please, if we are going to change the culture around musicians working for free, then we all... I wouldn't say go on strike, but maybe we have to do that. But we all have to say: "I have some expenses that need to be covered" or "I'd like to be paid" or whatever. I wouldn't say: "I'd like to be", we're not asking them, we actually say that this is our fee.


If you've got some questions or comments, I hope you're putting them in the chat. I'm just having a quick drink. Let me have a look through the questions.

Okay, so we've got a couple of comments here. Oh, hi Adriana. Nice to see you. "Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us". Oh, anytime, Adriana. Anytime, I'm here to help. You know, I'm here to help.

So I've got the question or comment from Green Pearl: "actually, I have told people my price and they walk away. I never hear from them again. Is this a bad thing?" Hmm, is this a bad thing that they walk away from your price? Is this a bad thing? No, I don't think it is, actually. I don't think it is. I don't think it is.

A few things here. How do you feel about it? That's probably the most important thing. But if they walk away, they walk away. Sometimes you just have to have standards. I mean, look, if you are going to buy a car and you decide you want a Rolls Royce or you want a Ferrari, or whatever high end car it is that you've got your eyes on, you know, Porsche, whatever. You go in there and you tell them you want this car, and they say: "this is the price of the vehicle". You walk out, they're not going to run after you and say: "oh, come back, come back, you can have it for free!". No, they're sticking there saying: "that's the price of the car. You can't pay it? Walk away". Why should it be any different for you? So if you say your price and people walk away, it's fine. It's absolutely fine.

Okay. Do we have to rationalise some of this that I've just said? Perhaps. "Is your price reasonable?" would be the question. Are they being a skinflint? Are they just these type of people who say: "oh, that's expensive" because everything's expensive and they don't want to spend any money. Sometimes it's that, you know? You have to think of your reputation. Obviously check out what everybody else is charging in your kind of arena and field of play to see that you're in the right ballpark. And if you are, it's fine! Tomorrow there'll be someone who will come along and will pay the fee you are requesting.

Of course, if you just continue to level up in what you're doing and be found on social media and all these kind of things, people are going to pay. They absolutely are. But people walk away. Now, I have many people who walk away from me. Yep. I will say what my fees are and they'll say: "no, thank you". That is fine. I do have many other people who pay. As I said, it's like that loaf of bread. You'll go into your local supermarket, you'll look at the shelves, and there'll be, let's say it's whole wheat, whole grain, obviously it's brown, healthy stuff, and there's different brands, there's different makes, and they're different prices. You're going to choose the one you want, aren't you? That's it. That's the person who's walking away. They're going to choose someone else, however, someone's out for that loaf and you could be that loaf and you get paid. I hope that really helps. Emotionally, don't worry too much about it. It can be disappointing, especially if you need the money, but you’ve just got to be careful. If you take that gig up and go for less and it doesn't work out, you're going to be kicking yourself.

Um, obviously now we're going to the realms of negotiation. Is it the time to negotiate? That's the other element of it. You know, should you be thinking about what you can trade for the price rather than dropping the price? What else you can give them or whether you lower it slightly, a whole quagmire of things, but you’ve got to be really happy with you and your decision. And remember, there's lots of customers, but there's only one of you. And there'll be somebody who'll want you time and time again.

Okay, let's look at this. How do I decide how much to charge? There's a few things you can do. One, the primary thing I did was, when I decided I wanted to charge and I wasn't just going out for a 20 and 30 quid to cover my petrol at that time, I actually contacted a few sax players I knew and I got on with, and I said: "I'm going to ask you a personal question, very private, and you don't have to give me the exact details, but some ballpark information would be really, really great. Um, do you charge for your performances?" and they said yes. I said: "can you give me a ballpark range, what do you charge?" And they told me. I said: "what type of performances do you go out for that kind of thing?" and they told me. We had a conversation. I said: "thank you very much, because I'm thinking of charging and I don't know what to charge. I'm just glad that I can hear what it is you do".

Then I contacted somebody else and I asked them that. I think I contacted about five sax players. They’ve got to be people who you feel that you are in the same kind of sphere, same kind of arena. You know, you pretty much do similar things because it's no use going up to Kirk Whalum, who's like one of the best sax players in the States, and asking him 'cause his fee is going to be like way, way, way, way, way, way, way more than you because he's Grammy nominated, Grammy award-winning. He's got all these experiences and things so his fees are going to be in the thousands and if you are just starting out, you are not going to be charging thousands because, yeah, people will walk away. In fact, everybody will walk away. You'd get no work! You want to be finding people or musicians, even if they don't play the same instrument maybe, but in the same sort of ballpark as you and get a sense of that.

The Musicians' Union (woo-hoo), do have a guide on the website of the minimum fees that you can be charging out. That's worth checking out on the Musician's Union website for the UK. In your country, you'll probably got a musicians' union or music organizations, and they may also have some guidelines that you can check out. I hope that helps you.


Let me check again. Let me check the time. Okay. Okay, so, so far, I can't see any other questions. Let me just have another sip. Now, possibly you're a slow typist and you're just getting the questions in. That's fine. I'm going to be wrapping up soon, and if I don't get them, I will check back later and I will answer them for you, so you've got that. But do remember, if you are interested in getting paid in advance, I've got a really cool PDF download on my website, F, R, E, E, G, I, F, T, S for sugar. On there, there's two free gifts. The one that I'm referring to for this is "10 Reasons Why They Will Pay You Before Gig Day" and the other one is "25 Secrets of the Successful Gigging Musician, Singer, Rapper and Spoken Word Artiste". You can go on there, grab them, and that way we can keep in contact, which is really, really cool.

If you're interested in having a coaching session with me, of course, there's a link over there that you can book one. And if you like what you've heard today about three reasons —I've actually given you more than three reasons— why you should charge for your music starting from today, which are your gig costs, your livelihood, your reputation. I talked about letting the side down and I also mentioned that your music is valuable. If you like anything that you've heard today, please share it with other musicians so that they can learn and grow. Because remember, the world is big enough and there's enough space, and there's enough room around the table for all of us to have a piece of the pie, piece of the music pie and have our own fan base. There's no need to keep my information just for yourself. You can share it. I want to be shared! So yes, please share, please like, share, subscribe. Go grab those free stuff.

Now, tomorrow is Saturday (at the time of this recording, obviously if you're listening in the future or whenever you're listening, it won't be Saturday), but my next topic is Monday and it's called: "Is Playing for Free A Contradiction for Musicians". So today I talked about getting paid, Monday I'm talking about working for free, because it happens to us, but I'm going to sort of dive into some of that just to help you so you've got a real good balance about your charging and working for free, and I look forward to seeing you.


Let me see if there's anything else, if there's any further questions. Let's have a look. Hi Michelle. Hi! Hi! "Would you charge per song or per hour?" Yes, you should charge per song. Okay, Green Pearl! Thanks for echoing, Green Pearl, because I see all the comments and everybody sees all the comments here, it's not a private chat, haha. Per song or per hour? Michelle, that's a really good question. Um, I don't charge per song. However, I do know players who do that. So, if charging per song covers your costs, and that's the way you want to work, that's fine. I find that sometimes, if you charge per song and then there's an encore, do you turn around to the promoter or the person who booked you on stage and say: "they want a second song and I'm going to do it. You’ve got to pay me more!" You're not going to do that, are you? You're probably going to just do it for free or not do the encore, or perhaps your fee per song includes something in case there's an encore. There are some times the encore becomes more than one, more than two. Yeah, so I mean, you just have to have your rules pretty firm about how you want to work the per song route.

Per hour is good because it means you can do so many songs within that time, including the encores. So if you can play the instrument —I play the sax, it doesn't have to be sax, I don't know, everybody has piano, guitar, drums, whatever— for a straight hour, including encore and that works better for you, then you can do the per hour route. I think it's just about the duration, then, you know? Even if you break that into two sets, you can do it that way. So it's down to how you want to work and how you want to manage it. I don't like the per song route because I get booked for... I go by the time I'm there, and my whole day, to be honest, so I would probably do a 90 minute set, a 60 minute set, 30 minute set and things like that.

Um, my rate is down to the event. What type of event. Is it a wedding? Is it a festival? Is it a funeral? So my rates are more around what I'm doing and how long I play. I have my maximum and minimum, that goes without saying. But yeah, you might even want to go with the package, you know: "for the bronze package, this is what I do, and for the silver package, this is what I do, and for the gold package, this is what I do". There're different ways, whatever works best for you, but just be careful with the per song, if when you get there, they want you to do more because someone didn't turn up or there's an encore and then you've only charged £50 and then you'd have to negotiate on the spot to get paid. And then, if you're going to negotiate on the spot, get paid immediately. Get it paid online, get it paid in cash. Don't walk away with it not being paid, because you may not get that money. Some people forget to pay or move on to the next thing. Some people are good, some people are genuine. I hope that helps, Michelle.


Alright, well listen, I have been on here and thank you Laurence for telling me I'm loud and clear and Green Pearl. That's really cool. I've answered quite a few questions. I've got to go get ready for my gig. But if you've got any more comments, suggestions, put them in the comments box, I will get to them. I will answer them and give you a reply. Don't forget to grab one of the free gifts, particularly if you want to get paid in advance. There's one for that. "10 Reasons Why They'll Pay You Before Gig Day". And the other one is "25 Secrets Of The Gigging Musician, Singer, Rapper, And Spoken Word Artiste". You can grab both of them, by the way. You don't have to just grab one.

Please like, please share, please subscribe.

My next topic is: "is playing for free a contradiction for musicians". It’s going to be good, it’s going to be good, and thank you for coming! I’m enjoying this, you know? I’m on —from eleven days— I’m on day five, so I’ve got another six to go. It’s good! Okay, so thank you, let me find my music… there we go, I think it’s that one, yes, it is, and I’ll see you~