Saturday, January 12, 2008

Poll Results: How Much Do You Charge Per Hour for a Rehearsal or Coaching?

The votes are in and here are the results of the latest poll which asks the question:

How much do you charge for a rehearsal or coaching? Please convert your rates to US dollars.

And here are the results:
  • Under $20 - 3.8%
  • $20-$29 - 13.9%
  • $30-$39 - 20.3%
  • $40-$49 - 30.4%
  • $50-$59 - 12.7%
  • $60-$69 - 8.9%
  • $70-$79 - 2.5%
  • $80-$89 - 1.3%
  • $90-$99 - 0%
  • Over $100 - 6.3%

Here are the same results in a pie chart:

This Google map of the 79 respondents gives you an idea of where everyone was located who took the poll. The respondents were overwhelmingly located in Canada and the United States, which minimizes the effect of currency fluctuations (since the CDN$ and US$ are effectively at par right now).

An anonymous reader left the following comment:

I think many of us are often unclear or shy about what to charge--something our plumber or dentist or people in other professions would never flinch about. A discussion of the reasons for that as well as the reality that rates vary according to many factors, (not the least of which is location) would be interesting.

What influences a pianist to charge what they charge? There are several factors that come into play, such as:

1. The cost of living in a given area. Cities, towns, and rural areas vary in their cost of living. Places where basic costs such as food, accommodation, and transportation are more expensive will tend to drive up rates in comparison to areas with a more humble cost of living.
2. Level of education. If someone has terminal degrees in the collaborative piano field, they may end up charging more than someone that doesn't because of their qualifications on paper.
3. Job experience. If someone has a solid background in the field or knows all the rep, they have every right to charge higher fees because of the depth of their experience.
4. What others charge. For every area, there is an average fee range. You can charge on the high, low, or middle area of that range in order to both place yourself in the hierarchy and attract clients of a certain level of experience.
5. Supply versus demand. Where there is a scarcity of pianists, the average rate may tend to rise because of the demand. I notice this in Toronto every spring, when the overflow of the work from a massive number of musicians needing accompanists gets taken up by pianists who don't regularly play the scene, and often charge rates way higher than the regulars, who usually have lower and more disciplined rate schedules.
6. Working with students vs. working with professionals. It has been said that pianists that work with students charge less than those who work with professional musicians. I'm not so sure about that, since many students I know can tend to have even more disposable income than the slightly older professionals musicians, many of whom are juggling families and several jobs.
7. Institutional regulations. Some schools of music pay their accompanists a fixed rate, either through salary, scholarship, per hour or per recital. Some schools let the market dictate what the rates are, paid for by students. Others have been known to fix rates that students pay for the freelance accompanists. There are also several schools that have instituted the dreaded Undergraduate Accompanying Requirement, which mandates that undergraduate pianists have to do a certain number of accompanying hours, non-paid, in order to graduate (resulting in a large number of desultory pianists and the collapse of the local freelance accompanist market.)

My best advice to pianists regarding what to charge is to be fair and accountable, but not to sell yourself short.

As always, your comments are most welcome on this issue. In the coming weeks I'll be looking at different options for billing structure, taking into account common services such as rehearsals, lessons, coachings, auditions, recitals, and competitions.

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