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.

I Miss My Kids

 

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One thing I learned from being away from my kids since July 9th is that I’ll NEVER AGAIN take chances on future success.

Never again. NE-VER!

My days of “hoping things will work out” ended as of right now. I won’t do anything with the hope that things will get better in some unspecified time and place. No more investment now for the unknown future.

The “spec” days are for young folk, not for me.

It’s time for some stability, big payouts and living the next 49 years in the least stressful way as humanly possible.

I love my family more than anything and will be making every move, from now on, with them in mind. My mental and long-term physical health will also be front and center.

Maybe it’s just me, but as cool as things may seem on the surface, some things are just not worth it in the long term. With each passing day, I’m figuring out what really matters to me.

These two matter.

Fatherhood matters.

Raising two people who are going to be the next generation of citizens matters.

It’s time to get back to NYC and be the father I want to be…and have always been.

Nov 7th…I’ll see them again and I’m never leaving them.

 

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.

Sleeping In

One of the benefits of being away from “home” and being a full time musician and working on a musical is the ability to get rid of the alarm clock. Waking up at the perfect time (10:00AM) is glorious. It’s even better when it’s quiet and sunny when you open the windows.

Ahhhh…a preview of life as a retiree. Let me calculate my pension benefits, plus my social security, plus my Roth IRA…..add that up and combine my…

Oh damn…I guess I can retire in 40 more years. Maybe I should be getting up earlier?

Just kidding. I’m good. I’ll be just fine.

I can get used to not having to get up at 6:15AM to pick up my kids from my ex-wife every day to bring them to school in the mornings. It’s a good feeling to actually sleep in after getting to bed after a gig.

The bad thing is that I’m away from my kids. I’m happy with the fact it’s temporary.

This late morning thing is not bad. 8 more years and hopefully I’ll be able to do this on a regular basis. By then, my son will be off to some form of higher education.

I’m going to enjoy every minute of this for now.

Chuck Berry

In 1994 I had the opportunity to work with Chuck Berry. I was young and barely knew what I was doing but it was a great learning experience.

I had been playing with a pianist named Daryl Davis while I was in Washington D.C. and trying to move to New York City to be a full time professional musician. I did several blues gigs with Daryl and after a while he asked me to perform with Chuck who he had known for many years. I said, “Hell yeah!”

Why wouldn’t I?

Well, my first gig was at a place called Tramps in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan. I’ll never forget it because it was my first big gig in the city. A few people who I just met came to see me there and I thought I had officially “made it.” A pretty big venue with an international living legend! I was really excited.

Well, the feeling was short lived. During the second song, Chuck turned around and gave me one of the nastiest looks. I was playing in one tempo and Mr. Berry was in another. His look was like he was saying, “Look motherf*cker, play MY Goddamn tempo! Do you know who I AM?!?”

Well, I carefully adjusted what I was doing and played with him. I guess I was a bit too excited.

We got through the gig and I had a blast.

I played with him again at an outdoor show and I did a week with him in Atlantic City. All of the gigs were fun. It is an honor to have worked with him.

One thing learned from him is how the music business can operate. I didn’t expect much and I was kinda just happy to play with him. But, he got paid $35,000 in cash and I got $90. Yup.

 

He deserves every penny he can get, but I know that I certainly wouldn’t do that at this point in my career. No sir! Get a young kid to do that or pay me a whole lot more for my time.

There is money to be made in the music biz. You have to find the people with the money and have them funnel those funds into your accounts.

I’m glad I had this experience. It’s fun to look back at these photos to remember a certain time in my life that I’ll never forget.

January-March

   
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks so far this year. I hung out with a bunch of old musician friends of mine (and some new ones) while filming a song for a new TV show backing up the Delfonics, subbed a bunch of dates at the musicals Avenue Q and The Color Purple, recorded three new songs for a new artist at a great recording studio in midtown,  played the Hora for what seemed like 30 minutes at a rare January wedding and backed up an amazing singer at a tribute to Petula Clark at the Metroplotan Room here in Manhattan.

 January-March are generally slow times for musicians. I’ve been fortunate to have been busy during the first half of this month. I’m looking forward to seeing what is in store for the next few months! 

#thankful

Branford Marsalis: The Problem With Jazz

  
When laypeople listen to records, there’re certain things they’re going to get to. First of all, how it sounds to them. If the value of the song is based on intense analysis of music, you’re doomed. Because people that buy records don’t know shit about music. When they put on Kind of Blue and say they like it, I always ask people: What did you like about it? They describe it in physical terms, in visceral terms, but never in musical terms.

In a lot of ways classical music is in a similar situation to where jazz is, except at least the level of excellence in classical music is more based on the music than it is based on the illusion of reinventing a movement. Everything you read about jazz is: “Is it new? Is it innovative?” I mean, man, there’s 12 fucking notes. What’s going to be new? You honestly think you’re going to play something that hasn’t been played already?

So, you know, my whole thing is, is it good? I don’t care if it’s new. There’s so little of it that’s actually good, that when it’s good, it shocks me

Read more HERE:http://www.seattleweekly.com/2011-09-14/music/branford-marsalis-the-problem-with-jazz/