Three Tips On How To Get Paid What You Are Worth For Gigs

I often hear musicians talk about the amount of money certain gigs pay. People chat about the tip jar having to be passed around because club owners pay so little. They might get paid a few dollars here and there for the gig,  but hey, at least they get a meal out of it. They complain about how hard it is to make a living and how tough it is. While some of those things may be true, it’s not always the reality for musicians. There is money to be made in the music business. The tip jar isn’t required if you get paid well. There is a lot of money out there. As a freelance musician, you just have to know where to find it and how to negotiate for the most money you can make.

I love the art of negotiation. I think it’s fun. I love going into a car dealership and hassling with the salesperson. It’s like a game to me. I tend to do it almost wherever I go to see how far I can push people in any business. I was in the market for a car a few years ago and went to a couple of dealers just to see how things have changed since my last purchase. I wasn’t necessarily in a position of power because I  needed a car, and they had the goods. The way I looked at it was like this; I was willing to walk away if I didn’t find what I wanted. In fact, that is what happened in the end. I walked away from the dealers and I found a car from a private seller and purchased a used car with cash.

When dealing with musicians, business owners or any kind of production where they need your services, always keep in mind that if they are reaching out to employ you, they want what you have to offer. While you may not have much leverage, you still have power. You must realize that there is a way for the both of you to win in this game. You just have to know what some of the rules are.

1) People want to make a profit:

Whatever someone is intending to pay you, you must understand they are making money from your services in one way or another. They are trying to pay you as little as they can so that their profit margin can be as wide as possible. Don’t feel bad asking for as much as you can because there is more often than not, wiggle room to play with. The person offering you a gig has a budget and they are trying to keep their expenses low. With this knowledge, you can go into any deal making process with less of a personal connection because it is all about money in the long run. Once you take any personal feelings out of the equation, you can get down to the business of increasing your profits while they are trying to do the same. In the end hopefully you find a way to help each other achieve similar goals without anyone feeling abused and/or taken advantage of. Look for a win-win scenario.

2) Get to know the general rates for your service in your area:

For many years, I was paid a certain rate for club dates (weddings/corporate events) as a drummer in the tri-state area. I thought I was getting paid a lot of money for a four hour gig on a Saturday night until I found out people were making $100 to $150 more than me. I then started to get hired for bands paying those amounts and realized there is even MORE money than what I was now getting paid when I asked around. I even found out that other bands had backline. When I discovered the going rate, I raised my own price and the bands that recently hired me agreed to my new fee without any hesitation. Think about what I said above. Why would someone pay you the higher rate when you don’t ask for more? They are trying to make as much money as they can. Why can’t you?

3) Negotiation is risky.

I was in a negotiation recently where I was going to have a production rent my drum set instead of them purchasing a brand new kit. We went back and forth over a few emails and they decided to buy a new kit instead of renting mine. I lost out on a whole lot of money but in the end had the chance to play on a top of the line drum set, brand new cymbals and sturdy hardware. It was GREAT. The downside is that I missed out on all of that money. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you have to be willing to say no or you might forever be taken advantage of. In this case it was still a win-win. A brand new kit? I’d rather play on the new kit than my 20 year old one.  The same situation occurred on other gigs. I’ve asked for certain amounts and was turned down. Well, that is one of the downsides of any negotiation. But you must understand what your self worth is. If you value yourself and your services, you should demand a price that makes you comfortable and be willing to walk away when your conditions are not met. You also have to be able to deal with being told “NO” and not getting hired, or getting the money you requested.

Think about this; when you go into buy a product from the Apple store, is there any negotiation? No. You are paying for the reputation of the company and the generally great products they have to offer. You can go to Best Buy and get a Windows product and buy something else too. That is your choice. You get what you pay for most of the time. The same applies to your services as a musician. If you present yourself as valuable and price yourself accordingly, you will be surprised at how many people will pay what you request.

Sometimes you lose, but the overwhelming majority of the time you win when you approach negotiation with this in mind. Don’t be afraid to be bold. You didn’t get into the music business to be poor, behind the curtain or undervalued. This is a business more than it is about music. Deal with the money so that you can feel freer to create the music and high art you were put on this earth to do.

Clayton Craddock is a stay-at-home father of two children in New York City. He has a B.B.A from Howard University’s School of Business and is also a 17 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in a number of hit Broadway musicals including “tick…tick…BOOM, Memphis the Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald. He has worked on other musicals; Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Bare, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q and is currently the drummer in a new Broadway bound musical titled Ain’t Too Proud.
Clayton has written for A Voice For Men, The Good Men Project and is writing a memoir about fatherhood.

Four Corners

I first heard about Yellowjackets when I was in college. Back then, Ricky Lawson was playing drums with them. I loved the sound of their music with him, but when Will Kennedy joined the group, their sound totally changed. I fell in love with the album “Four Corners” and love listening to it to this day. It’s truly a fantastic album and it brings me back to the late 80’s when I used to run to the record store to buy CDs.

It was such a thrill to know when your favorite groups put out new music, you could only pick up two or three albums at the most. There were things to consider – you had to take the time to go the store, decide which our the 5 new albums you were to choose from and actually pay a whole lot of money for the physical product you were walking out the store with.

That has all changed now. I prefer the way it is now because access to music has never been easier. I still pay for access (though Spotify) and hope that the artists made a good deal with their master, I mean label, to get paid well. I also hope Google is paying this group for what you are doing right now, watching their performance and listening to their songs…for free? Hmmmm. Do you feel bad now?

 

Well, if you feel guilty, go out to your local record store and purchase their first 10 CDs (like I already did) and you’ll see how great they are. Or maybe you can go to Amazon and buy them. Wait….maybe you can pay for access and stream their music!

Whatever you decide to do, sit back and enjoy some incredible melodies and musicianship.

 

I love this period from them. This is a great group of players:

Hit Charade

Meet the bald Norwegians and other unknowns who actually create the songs that top the charts.  
An excerpt from THIS article: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/hit-charade/403192/

Most Americans will recognize their songs, however. As I write this, at the height of summer, the No. 1 position on the Billboard pop chart is occupied by a Max Martin creation, “Bad Blood” (performed by Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar). No. 3, “Hey Mama” (David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj), is an Ester Dean production; No. 5, “Worth It” (Fifth Harmony featuring Kid Ink), was written by Stargate; No. 7, “Can’t Feel My Face” (The Weeknd), is Martin again; No. 16, “The Night Is Still Young” (Minaj), is Dr. Luke and Ester Dean. And so on. If you flip on the radio, odds are that you will hear one of their songs. If you are reading this in an airport, a mall, a doctor’s office, or a hotel lobby, you are likely listening to one of their songs right now. This is not an aberration. The same would have been true at any time in the past decade. Before writing most of Taylor Swift’s newest album, Max Martin wrote No. 1 hits for Britney Spears, ’NSync, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, and Katy Perry.

Read the entire piece here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/hit-charade/403192/

With Downloads In Decline, Can iTunes Adapt?

Anyone who witnessed the transition from the older version of iTunes to the post-Steve Jobs version knows ITunes sucks. It is confusing, cumbersome and frustrating. I think I have purchased about 8 songs from iTunes in my life so my opionion is quite biased.

I have way too much music on vinyl, CD and MP3s imported from those CDS that I really don’t need another song in my collection. Plus, there is youtube and…hmmmm…I’ll whisper it (Spotify).

It’s inevitable folks, streaming is here and not going anywhere. Submit…repent and deal with the reality of life in the new Millenium.

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Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs stands in front of a projection of iTunes at a presentation in 2004.
Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Apple’s innovative iTunes music service is still the market leader in music downloads, but after more than a decade of growth, sales of music tracks on iTunes have been declining. Last year saw the largest drop in sales — 14 percent. The drop is attributed to the increasing popularity of streaming music services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube. These services give fans access to millions of tracks from any Internet-connected device for a monthly fee or in return for listening to commercials.

But many people say they are leaving iTunes simply because it just isn’t that easy to use. When the late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs introduced iTunes almost exactly 14 years ago, on January 9, 2001, he made fun of the other software-based music players like Real Jukebox and Windows Media Player. “They are too complex,” Jobs declared. “They’re really difficult to learn and use.” Jobs unveiled the first version of iTunes software from a stage in San Francisco, boasting that it was “Really clean. Really simple” and “far more powerful.”

It charmed a generation of music fans like Alex Newsom, who gets nostalgic talking about the first iTunes purchase she made when she was only 13 years old. “I downloaded this song by Liz Phair where it’s like ‘Why Can’t I Breath Without You'” Newsom says. “I thought I was super cool because it was my first kind of grown-up-sounding song that I’d gone after myself.”

Newsom, who lives outside Seattle, is now 21 and increasingly frustrated with iTunes. For example, a recent update moved the playlist feature around. “You can still kind of go do things the old way but you have to go out of your way to do it,” she says. “And it’s clearly not the way that they expect you to do it.”

Newsom is not alone in her frustration. Jason Mosley, a web designer who specializes in user experiences, says the last version of iTunes he used — 11 — made him work harder to do what he wanted. For example, instead of being able to create a stream of songs based on a single song he likes with one click, he now has to hover over the song and bring up a temporary menu and then select from different options.

Mosley says he was “shocked to see that they had this all nested within another link.” The web designer says, “As a rule of thumb for user experience you want less clicks to get to an action.”

Mosley says part of Apple’s problem is that the basic design is old. “It was built for older things,” he says. “I think it’s just kind of been added onto since then, and that’s just going to make it heavy and slow. Spotify, these new applications, they have the advantage. They are starting fresh.”

Read the rest HERE: http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2015/01/06/375173595/with-downloads-in-decline-can-itunes-adapt

The Flying V

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On this day in music history: January 6, 1958
The Gibson Guitar Company registers its design for the Flying V guitar with the US Patent Office. The unique instrument is designed by Gibson president Ted McCarty with the intention of adding a futuristic aspect to the companies image. During their original manufacturing run, the guitars’ body and neck are constructed from African Korina wood and mahogany with either ebony or rosewood fretboards. Guitarists such as Albert King and Lonnie Mack will adapt to them immediately and will become closely associated with both artists. However, initial sales will be slow and they will be discontinued in 1959. When guitarists like Jimi Hendrix and Dave Davies of The Kinks begin playing them, it will renew interest in the Flying V and Gibson will reintroduce the guitar in 1967. The instrument will become a favorite of hard rock and heavy metal musicians during the 1970’s and 80’s. Original Flying V’s made in 1958 and 1959 today are valued at between $200,000 and $250,000. To this day, the Flying V remains one of Gibson’s most popular guitars.

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