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we do sometimes (i try not to anymore) but i reiterate again and again. "first time in" rate. We did this recently at a college bar. They had a great night, loved the band and our pay went up to our "above average" rate. Plus we got a few more dates on the books.
It's very difficult to get them to bump your pay. Once they know they can get you at that rate, that's the rate they'll keep you at. I don't recommend it.
While I generally agree with this, the "difficult" part is simply walking away; something you must be prepared to do if you try this approach.
I have done it on a few rare occasions with the duo under the following circumstances:
- The discount was ~16% based on a firm one-time-only agreement.
- We knew that we would impress, bring a good crowd & be a great fit for the venue/existing clientele.
- Confident that the place had an existing revenue stream that could support our fee.
- We were perfectly willing to walk away, should they refuse to come up to our minimum after the first gig. I'm a firm believer in leaving some business on the table (eg pikers).
So far we're about 50/50 between the walk-aways and the places that kicked in.
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As a general rule, I try not to discount the first gig. However, there are those situations where it is appropriate. I am making a discount proposal to a new venue in our town. The owner owns another place that I play at regularly and I trust him as a business man. The new venue needs a little boost and my dance/party band draws pretty well. I'm offering him a discount on the first gig to help him get things going with the agreement that we will have a regular schedule at our normal rate. One gig at half price with a guarantee of 7 more gigs at full price is a worthwhile trade off to me. Again, I have worked with this owner before and trust him to keep his word.
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Great topic! I think it's a decent practice if you want to play a venue and they need a little persuading. I haven't done it in awhile either. My pitch for venues like that (I'm solo of course) is if we don't have a successful night I'll pack it up early and we'll try it again another night. It normally works because then they don't have to worry about eating a couple hundred bucks if the night is slow.
I did it to get into a bar that books bands 6-8 times a year. I knew the bar owner from before and he was willing to give my new band a chance. I didn't like doing it, but I figured it would probably pay off in the future. And since I have played there steadily over nearly three years now with my current and former bands, I would say in this case, it paid off.
I wouldn't do it unless I was pretty sure we would get rebooked several more times in the future. If it's for an out-of-town club that may just turn into a one-nighter, don't do it. Quote your full price. I gave one club a $100 discount when they asked "How much for two nights?" after I told them the one night price. Obviously, this is their way of seeing if you will 'work with them' because it's damn easy to add the original price times two, right? After giving them the discount price, it seemed to just give them the idea that we had to go even lower if we wanted to work with them in the future. We don't play there anymore. I'd rather play places that just pay what you expect than have to fight, bitch and moan with people over it.
Stick to your guns, but if you want to try the discount, as RupertB said, be ready to walk away if they refuse to go up to your non-discounted price in the future.
This has worked for me with 100% efficiency. Every time I want to play a new venue, I write to them with a nice personalised letter, offering my services at a reduced rate (which is clearly specified), and unless both parties are happy after the show, we'll part ways. I follow up with an email 2-3 days after, then a phone call a week later. Every place I play wants at least a second gig, if not functions, regular work etc. Go for it I say, but know what you are trying to achieve. Like someone said earlier, if you are simply looking to expand your venues, this is one of the best ways to do it.
'Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens'.