I don't know that this has already been covered somewhere, but I'd love to read a post on charging for Festival accompaniment. 1 song in 1 class vs. 5 songs in 1 class. I've always charged per class my hourly rate no matter how many pieces played, but would love to hear some other points of view.
Run by organizations such as local Kiwanis/Rotary clubs and chapters of organizations such as NATS or MTNA, these annual festivals provide performing opportunities for hundreds (if not thousands) of local young musicians with the opportunity to win scholarships, receive an independent evaluation from an adjudicator, and strut their stuff in front of parents and the musical community.
The vast majority of the classes for voice, strings, winds, and brass require a pianist to be there, providing the potential for a huge amount of seasonal work for those pianists who are willing and able to put in the hours required for this often strenuous work.
However, the issue of how much pianists should bill clients for their time can be daunting. Here are some of the billing possibilities for pianists:
- flat rate per performer
- hourly rate per class
- single charge per performer per class
- additional charges for rehearsals
- additional charges for lessons
- bulk rates for multiple participants from one studio
- discounted rates for multiple participants in a class
There is often a fair amount of disagreement among pianists as to how they prefer to charge, and among teachers, performers, and parents as to how they prefer to pay.
Here is my recommended best practice for playing at festival classes:
Amount charged per performer = flat rate per class per person + rehearsal and lesson times as applicable
No studio deals, no hourly rates for festivals (which can be notoriously behind schedule), no bulk rates for multiple participants within a class or from a studio.
Here's an example:
A singer asks a pianist to play for two classes at the festival. They agree on one and a half hours of rehearsal time. For this example I'll arbitrarily use an hourly rehearsal rate of $50 per hour and a festival class rate of $30 per person per class. The amount charged will therefore be 2 classes @$30 each ($60) + 1.5 hours @ $50 ($75), for a billable total of $135.
If you're charging with this system, you have the option of fine-tuning your rates depending on whether or not you wish to offer lower class rates offset by higher rehearsal rates, or vice versa. I do not recommend an all-inclusive flat rate per person, as if there a particularly large number of rehearsals, the pianist can feel cheated, and if there is a negligible amount of rehearsal time needed, the performer will feel cheated. With the broken-up billing method above, it will probably result in different amounts charged to different performers, but at the end of the day, both pianist and soloist will feel that they were dealt with fairly.
This billing practice may result in pianists feeling out of sorts if they have to commute all the way to play for the festival for only one person. It may also result in pianists making a sizable amount of money if they are particularly overworked at festival time. I believe this is appropriate, as playing for festivals requires a lot of note-learning, rehearsal time, schedule juggling, time spent waiting around, personal interaction, and potential performance anxiety.
Earlier this evening on Twitter, I asked this question: "Pianists--how much do you charge for accompanying at festivals? Do you charge for the class + rehearsals or a flat rate?" Below are some answers that I've received so far (huge thx to @eusebius24, @JeffThePianist, and @musicformedia). What are your practices for billing at festivals, competitions, and workshops? Do you feel my recommendations are appropriate? Are you pressured into giving rate discounts? What do you recommend for pianists entering the field of festival playing?