The NON Negotiable Rate
I just had an exchange with a man who called to ask for my services as a vocalist. He sent me an email and in it he told me how much he was going to pay me for my services. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this. On the other hand, this is just an offer. When you walk into a store and you see a price for a particular item, there is a reason why it is that way. Have you ever tried to figure out why something costs what it does? Better yet, have you ever researched why it costs what it does in a very detailed fashion? Most things are created from start to finish by more than one or two or even three people. We just dont' take the time to break it down in our heads most of the time. Are we paying the real price for things or are we being tricked into paying certain prices based on our emotions and pre-existing habits?
Back to my story. So he quoted me a price and I quoted him a price $100 higher as my minimum rate. He immediately answered back by saying that this was a complete add on that was suggested by a good friend of mine that requested me. I was instantly grateful for her as I always am, however, I felt that there was dirt in the milk. One of his first sentences was the fact that his rate was so and so but nobody pays him that either. This made me take a deep breath. Firstly, this was not about him, it was about me and my rate. I really concentrated on creating a reply that did not appear to be ego-centric yet got my point across. I explained that I appreciated his honesty, event though I was not all the way sure that he was actually being honest. I went on to say that I work hard and that I do not associate myself with the common rate. I have a rate that fits my abilities. however, I was sure to give appreciation for the recommendation. In this business, it is commonplace for musicians to be paid based on the day of the week as opposed to their actual abilities. Do not get me wrong, there has to be a basic starting point in any business, however, it can always be negotiated in many ways.
The exchange ended with me accepting the gig based on my friend's recommendation of me. I was at fault because I did not make my rate clear to her. In the future, I will let her know what my minimum is and that will hopefully alleviate any future problems. Now there are exceptions to every rule for sure. If you are not working and you get a call to do work, does your integrity stay the same or does it weaken? As I was taught at a very young age, there are deals being made everywhere in every way. If you went into a Mercedes Benz showroom with every intention on buying the $75,000 dollar 2013 sedan convertible, could you walk out of that place only spending only $70,000? The answer is yes you could if you found the right sales person who was hungry enough to get paid. However, there are less hungry sales persons in a Mercedes dealership than in a common, everyday dealership. In my humble opinion, people pay for what they want and the price is secondary if the value exceeds question.
If you have a specialty in any field, people will somehow, some way find you and pay you what you are worth time and time again. This is not an empty placement of words, this is the truth. So I ask all of you, are you striving to survive and fit in, or are you striving to be the person that people look for to deliver something that makes people come back for more again and again? There is no right or wrong answer, there is only perspective. I personally strive for the latter. With that option comes more accountability, yet it also offers many more choices in a myriad of ways as it relates to how you navigate your craft or profession. If you demand a strong price for what you do and you do not deliver, you will not be in business for very long at all. Did you know that under 10% of the population owns over 75% of the worlds assets and controls the money that comes from them at the same time? They are ahead of the curve, so they have the luxury of paying for anything as well as setting any price for something that others want. Is that magic or what? I think you smell what I am cooking....Be it and then claim it. Never reverse that sentence...Be well...