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s the cost of living continues to rise, negotiating a good rate of
pay is more important than ever. But how can you go about
raising your rates when it's challenging enough to raise the
subject in the first place?
It's okay to talk about money
Broaching the subject of payment shows that you value what you do.
It's worth trying to get this right from the beginning. Practise your
approach. Try rehearsing what you plan to say out loud until you
can deliver it with confidence. Money can be hard to talk about.
“Give yourself the okay to talk about money,” says Dave
Webster, MU national organiser for live performance. “Be very
straightforward and make sure you have your business hat on when
you have this conversation.”
This applies whether you're dealing with an industry
professional that has similar discussions on a daily basis, or a
member of the public who has never booked a band before. It's a
business transaction either way, so be sure to treat it like one.
Do your research
Your rates should rise as your reputation grows, but asking a happy client
for more money can feel risky. The trick is to approach the subject in a way
that makes you sound reasonable. It can help to cite external factors such
as inflation, so do your research first.
“The Retail Price Index is a good benchmark for increasing your fees,”
says Dave. “It's also useful to look at any changes in fuel prices and to be
aware of what other musicians are earning.” The MU's suggested minimum
rates are a useful starting point. They can be found at or by
contacting your regional office.
Try to see the fee from the client's perspective. If they've suggested a
price, they're unlikely to have plucked it from thin air. If it's a function,
what's the overall budget? If you are booking a gig, will there be room
to manoeuvre after the venue has covered its costs? And when there's a
middleman involved, it helps to know how big a cut they're taking.
Be transparent
People are less likely to feel short-changed if they understand what they
are paying for, so it's a good idea to keep things as transparent as possible -
especially if you work in education.
“Whoever engages you, whether schools or parents, they need to know
what they are paying for,” says Dianne Widdison, MU national organiser
for education and training. “Being open about your charges and policies
will encourage professionalism on both sides.”
Remember to differentiate between the price you charge and the
amount of profit you'll see after taking off tax, travel and other costs, as
well as factoring in the time commitment involved.
We all want to get paid fairly, but talking about money can be hard. For
more advice on negotiating a better fee, get in touch via
MU members get access to a range of career development advice. If
you're considering a change, contact your regional office and book
a one-to-one with your MU official for bespoke advice. For general
advice and more information about how to join the Union, please visit
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