Pricing your Band ~ A Lesson in Economics

My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. ~ Steve Jobs

I have been running the Microsoft Jumpin’ Jive Orchestra for approaching 12 years. Three to four times a year I get a call from potential customers who, upon hearing the price, respond with, “But you did (names the one charity gig we do a year) for free.” More often than not, this kind of customer wanders off when they hear our price.

The cost to our own band members to play a free gig can be high. For example, consider these costs:

1. $100 to $200 for 20 musicians to drive to gig and pay for parking.
2. $50 to $200 for subs to cover the folks who can’t make it.

And that is the least it costs us as musicians. For our last gig the band shelled out $250 just to play for a gig that paid $400.

If you look at the picture below, can see the stand fronts that my wife created for us. These have to be redone every two years because they wear out with hundreds of uses.


So I’ve created some rules that I use to price my band. Remember, we don’t get paid, only the subs do. But I have been to enough horrible gigs that I have priced some at extraordinarily high prices because, well to be frank, we don’t want to do those kind of gigs.

    • If you want us to play what amounts to 2 hours of music over a 5 hour period, that costs the same as 5 hours.
    • If you want us to play more than 2 hours, the rate doubles.
    • If you want us to play outside on a hot day, even if we’re in a tent, the rate triples.
    • If you want us to play past mid-night, the rate doubles.
    • If you want us to play on a holiday, the rate doubles.

16585138769_f7d474a29b_zAm I the only one who schedules a band like this? Thank goodness we have day jobs. Thank goodness that this band is a taxable non-profit venture. There is no money in this, we play for the love of the music. And if there is any serious money, we have in the past donated them to various charities.

More reading: Here is an example of how another group of bands are booked.

About Gandalfe

Just an itinerant saxophonist trying to find life between the changes. I have retired from the Corps of Engineers and Microsoft. I am an admin on the Woodwind Forum, run the Seattle Solid GOLD Big Band (formerly the Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra) a GOLD sax quartet, and enjoy time with family and friends.
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