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Old 07-02-01, 11:38 AM   #1
Steven Ragatz
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Post Was: Free Busker Act...

One of the first lessons that anyone who tries to build a career as a self-employed learns is that benefit shows beget more benefit shows. Yes, it does seem to be true, and yes, all of the benefit organizers spew the same spiel. “All the hot dogs and exposure you can eat. There will be press! There will be media! There will be EVERYTHING!! Well, everything except money…”

I think it important to handle these situations within the proper context. As performers who deal with the profession on a daily basis, we have to remind ourselves to consider the position of those who are vying for our services. If you are being called by someone with some charity organization, chances are this individual has either volunteered or been drafted to do something like “find entertainment” for their event. Usually, this person doesn’t have any say or control over the money allocations nor do they have an artistic bone in their body. It is not surprising that they are willing to ask for something for nothing. Hell, why not? You don’t get what you don’t ask for, and if you do ask, you just might get it.

No, I do not begrudge the event organizers in these situations. These people are not looking for a quality performance, they are looking for any performance. They want the illusion of entertainment at their event. They are trying to create a festive atmosphere with a shoestring budget.

In cases like this, I usually try to be as polite as possible, explain that I donate my time to a select few charities each year. Then, to leave the interaction with a positive feel, I always refer them to someone else who I think might be interested in their program. I give them the names and numbers of some less expensive performers that they may wish to call who simply want to get out and do it. It’s always a good idea to try to help the poor organizer find someone else even if you don’t wish to do the show.

In short, lets not feel that we have the added obligation to “educate” these people on proper etiquette etc. Save the pompous-artist routine for when it is needed.

Now, as I said, I think context is important. An entertainment agency that I had worked with for over a decade called me last year with a charity gig to promote the city of Cincinnati. After sending the promotional tape etc., and after having been told about the theme and the $$$ that were being poured into this event, I was asked to donate my time with the assurance that I would be hired for the same event when it came around again the following year.

Every now and then something happens that reminds me of the drawbacks to living in the US Midwest.

In spite of our long-term relationship, I couldn’t communicate enough scorn to this agency for even the suggestion. I expect this sort of request from the client, yes, but the entertainment representative? No. We haven’t talked since.

There is room for arguing whether or not taking free shows undermines the market. I suspect this could be the case in some areas where competition is high, but I get tired of performers who like to play business more than they like to perform. I think there is nothing wrong with taking a gig, any gig, if you want to do it. Any show will have its benefits and drawbacks. All performances offer at least one thing – opportunity. Any opportunity is better that none.

There are plenty of reasons to want to do a show other than for the money. I think that it’s unfortunate for everyone when a performer withholds services without giving the situation consideration unless there is a “proper” paycheck at the end.

It’s a difficult balancing act in itself deciding when to be tight and when to loosen up. But, no mater the circumstance, we all benefit if we remember to go into the gig, paid or not, as if it were the most important performance of our careers. With that in mind, even when the situation sucks, the audience’s experience won’t.

Steven Ragatz
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Old 07-02-01, 11:22 PM   #2
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If they call me, I expect to be paid. At the least an honorarium. Except when I don't.

Often I will crash a charity festival or other charity event, picking my own time, duration and costume to suit my needs.
I am a better performer for the experience, and I hope that the unpredictability has not undercut the market for predictable talent.

One well known charity event asked me to audition. Boy was I surprised to find out there was no money to be had. I told them I didn't appreciate the waste of my time as I had been crashing their event for years.

What bugs me the most is the whiners, we are poor, etc. Better to at least show me enough respect and try and sell me on the benefits of performing at their gig instead of the insufferable whining.

I encourage them to be creative: if they charge admission, give me 100 tickets and enough time and I can sell them or trade them to some one else. I can use parking passes, car wash tickets, Restaurant gift certs,Air plane tickets, etc. Funny thing, it is usually too much effort for the poor dears! But not always.

Walking tall and stretching imaginations! (I hope)

Bill "Stretch" Coleman
Walking tall and stretching imaginations!
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Old 11-05-02, 10:50 AM   #3
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From a mime list. Ian had wondered what to charge on his first paying gig. An earlier responce said $200 an hour. I like this answer better.

Bill "Stretch" Coleman

Stephen Chipps wrote:
> Hi Ian,
> Pricing your work is a tough and personal subject, and every market
> has
> its own limits on 'what the market will bear'. The best rule of thumb
> is: "Get what you can." Yes, you can quote me on that. Take into
> consideration any down time, travel costs and any special needs the
> client has.
> I asked a friend once about this same subject, and his reply was
> something like this:
> Client: "How much do you charge for two hours of performing?"
> Performer: "What is your budget for this event?"
> Client: "One thousand dollars."
> Performer: "Then that will be fine. Perhaps we could hand out some
> nice
> gardenias to all the ladies at the event."
> Obviously, this won't work in all instances.
> Try roses instead.
> -Moderator
> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
Walking tall and stretching imaginations!
Bill 'Stretch' Coleman
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Old 11-17-02, 12:38 PM   #4
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What we have found, through the years, is that if you cut your rates, and do a gig for less money at the request of the person hiring you, often there is a price to pay.
Permit me to digress. Last year a charity called, begging us to perform. They wanted us to cut our price, which we did.
I told them of our requirements ( a large stage, 24 ft or more) a PA system and we must be able to unload props next to the stage. I also asked her to publisize us, which she asured me that she would.
You guressed it...we got to the gig, and our large stage was a truck bed that was narow and dangerously high for both us and tha animals. It was only 8 feet wide, and 16 ft long.
No publicity!
We had been had! My poor husband spent 2 hours loading and unloading props and the PA system.
In our experience, you get no respect if you lower prices.
Sure, you will lose some gigs by sticking to your guns, but in the end it's worth it.
Pris's 2 cents
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