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Learning how to confidently price your services is typically a challenge for most musicians looking to make money from their work. More often than not, many of us end up grossly underpaid, and have a hard time determining a justifiable figure that we can command on a regular basis.
But fear not, my friends! There are some helpful guidelines I’m about to share that will help you share your talent with the masses, for a fair and well-deserved rate.
1. Consider your experience when pricing out your services.
Firstly, think about the following questions:
- How long have you been doing this for?
- What is your background?
- Did you study your craft professionally for many years?
- How long have you delivered these services, paid, to others?
All of these questions are very relevant when figuring out where you personally fall on the “food chain” of your service industry. Obviously if you are new and just getting started, you should start your offerings at an affordable rate to begin building your client list and experience. Many people even go for an “unbelievable deal” type of rate just to garner enough attention and fill a schedule quickly.
From there, and as demand increases, it’s best to be open with your clients and explain that your time is limited and you have decided to increase your rates in order to be more aligned with current market value. There’s nothing wrong with that! Or, if you’ve been doing this a while, it’s appropriate to be compensated fairly for what your time is worth, especially if you could be making the same or more doing something else related to your craft.
For example, if your rate to session engineer someone’s studio project is $75/hr with a 2-hour minimum required, but you only make $100/show to perform live from 7pm-close with your band at the local bar, you may need to rethink how much your time is worth.
In this example, unless the live performance is personally fulfilling to you in ways that justify the steep drop-off in earning, it would make way more sense to either take on more studio clients during that time, or start asking for more money to play your gigs/find higher-paying venues to maximize earning potential.
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2. What does your overhead look like to be able to deliver services?
If you’re going house-to-house giving music lessons, what is the cost of gas, time traveled, wear and tear on your vehicle, or the cost of an Uber roundtrip? If you own a studio space customers visit you at, what is your rent, insurance, upkeep costs, utility bills, and expenses for the on-site gear and equipment being utilized? If you are a session musician providing tracks for other artists, what is the financial split from the website where they found you? Or if they are your personal contacts that are clients, what is your cost to accept credit cards and maintain a CRM system, bank account, state and federal business fees?
All of these things examine the cost of your overhead, and need to be taken into account. Otherwise, you’ll end up in a situation where you’re actually losing money for the opportunity to work.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “A Guide to Getting Music Production Clients.”
3. What do others currently charge for providing these services in your market?
For services provided locally, all you’ll have to do is reverse-engineer your search to see what others charge for the same things. A simple scan through Google typing things like “guitar lessons near me” or “piano tuning in [insert city]” will bring up other local competitors so you can see what information they have posted online, or even secret shop them from an old email so you can get an idea of how much they charge for what. Do this a few times to get a real feel of what the range looks like near you, and then consider the info you’ve ascertained from above in order to decide where you should ultimately end up priced.
If you’re offering services remotely, then you can cast a “wider net” in terms of competitive pricing. Obviously cost of living differs from place to place, so what someone might need to charge in rural Nebraska could vary greatly from what makes sense for another person to charge living in Manhattan. That being said, if you are offering a niche service or have a plethora of valuable experience with a solid résumé and samples of your work to back it up, you can make an absolute killing offering your services online.
The market will usually dictate what you’re really worth in that regard. If your peers are charging an average of $500 for remote mixing work, it doesn’t matter if you live in a penthouse or travel cross-country in an Airstream year-round, the customers still pay what they pay.
Considering all of these factors will help you refine your services, how you deliver them, and ultimately determine how you can maximize profits while sharing what you do with as many people as possible. And getting fairly paid to do what you love? Well, what could possibly be any better than that?
Don’t stop here!
Continue learning with hundreds of lessons on songwriting, mixing, recording and production, composing, beat making, and more on Soundfly, with artist-led courses by Kimbra, Jlin, Kiefer, RJD2, Ryan Lott, and of course, Com Truise: Mid-Fi Synthwave Slow-Motion Funk.