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what would you charge for an acoustic gig where you had to learn 20 songs?


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I played an acoustic show not long ago and some people who'd attended sent me an email about playing their wedding in a year. Seemed ok but they wanted me to learn an EXTENSIVE song list and play as a duo. Now, I know some of the songs but what would you charge to do a show where you had to learn all of this:

 

Forever and ever, amen.---Randy Travis

My Girl---The temptations

Sea of Love---The Honey Drippers

Gloria---Van morrison

If ever I would leave you----Various artists

The Very Thought of You---Billie Holiday

Piano Man---Billy Joel

She's Always a Woman---Billy Joel

No Rain---Blind Melon

Short Skirt/Long Jacket---Cake

Shine----Collective Soul

Mr. Jones---Counting Crows

***Crash into Me---Dave Matthews Band

Can't Buy Me Love---The Beatles

Tiny Dancer---Elton John

Rocket Man---Elton John

Benny and The Jets---Elton John

Suavemente---Elvis Crespo

***Everlong---Foo Fighters

***Yellow---Coldplay

I get a kick out of you---Frank Sinatra

I walk the Line---Johnny Cash

Ring Of Fire---Johnny Cash

Let Love Rule---Lenny Kravitz

Say you, Say Me---Lionel Richie

Black or White---Michael Jackson

Try a little tenderness---Otis Redding

Peaches---The Presidents

She Don't use Jelly---The Flaming Lips

I've Got a Woman--Ray Charles

Sunrise---Simply Red

I believe in a Thing Called Love---The Darkness

This Magic Moment---The Drifters

Got you Where I want You---The Flys

Lola---The Kinks

Possum Kingdom---The Toadies

I come from the water---The Toadies

It's a Beautiful Night---The Burden Brothers

All These Things That Ive Done---The Killers

 

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I played an acoustic show not long ago and some people who'd attended sent me an email about playing their wedding in a year. Seemed ok but they wanted me to learn an EXTENSIVE song list and play as a duo. Now, I know some of the songs but what would you charge to do a show where you had to learn all of this:

 

 

I wouldn't play it! Looks to be more trouble that it's worth.

 

I've been playing at weddings and receptions for a very long time.

 

I have never had to learn more than two requests.

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I'm meeting with them on Sunday to see exactly how much of this list we'll have to learn. If it's every single song they might want to hire a DJ. Between my buddy and I we know probably 15 of the songs but that still leaves 15-20 more to learn and that could be a tough show. Not to mention I have no idea how "black or white" or the Cake song would sound with two acoustics.

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~40 songs, the vast majority of which are not great for dancing...

They put together a list of their favorite/most 'special' songs, with no thought as to how they'd go over in a wedding setting.

That's their choice, I suppose, but boy does that raise questions.

 

Are they looking for you to put on a concert or perform at their wedding reception?

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I'm meeting with them on Sunday to see exactly how much of this list we'll have to learn.

 

 

I highly doubt they even know what they're asking for. The amount of work it would take. And then... well... you know weddings. They ask for this and that and then they find themselves so wrapped up in the event of getting freaking MARRIED!!!! (as they should be) that they aren't even aware of what you did or didn't do.

 

If it were me, I'd use the next meeting as a chance to get them up to speed with the reality of the situation. "Give a couple of 'must have' tunes and we'll kill them for ya".

 

You know? They just aren't aware. That's cool. Teach nicely.

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I played an acoustic show not long ago and some people who'd attended sent me an email about playing their wedding in a year. Seemed ok but they wanted me to learn an EXTENSIVE song list and play as a duo. Now, I know some of the songs but what would you charge to do a show where you had to learn all of this:

 

 

40 songs in a year is not that big a deal is it? Actually you say you only have about 15-20. That's not that much. I'd probably charge $500-$600. Geez, I just learned 40 songs in the last 2 weeks for a show that I got asked to sub for this Friday. Charts are your friend.

 

Weddings are good opportunities for more bookings, and the bigger your catalog the more valuable you are.

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You could fill perhaps 3 hours with those songs. Find out exactly how long you're playing for, and if that's going to be broken up with toasts etc. Maybe ask if there is also a DJ. Is this just for a reception in the background, or are you supposed to accompanying everyone dancing?

 

When I have to learn music for a gig, I usually consider that to be something I do on my time. Your fee can be determined by a bunch of factors, inc. their overall budget, are you hiring people to play with you, whether this is a fancy affair or not, if you need money for gas, hotel, food, gear etc. As noted by sbrett, once you know more tunes, you're worth more in the future.

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I highly doubt they even know what they're asking for. The amount of work it would take. And then... well... you know weddings. They ask for this and that and then they find themselves so wrapped up in the event of getting freaking MARRIED!!!! (as they should be) that they aren't even aware of what you did or didn't do.


If it were me, I'd use the next meeting as a chance to get them up to speed with the reality of the situation. "Give a couple of 'must have' tunes and we'll kill them for ya".


You know? They just aren't aware. That's cool. Teach nicely.

+1 +1

and forty songs is a long gig. How long is the reception scheduled?

 

This is the kind of thing that soured me on wedding gigs. I have not done one since around 2003 because the demands of the couples are almost always ridiculous.

Most 'wedding bands' (I used to sub with a very 'prestigious' one here in L.A. in the '90s) will accept up to three requests...for the reception arrival, father/bride/mother/groom dance, first dance. The rest is usually their established play list. Anything more than the basic 3 is a hefty charge (arrangements, etc.) intended to discourage this stuff.

Tell them every song you don't know will add $50 to the bill...the list will shorten up fast. ;)

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I'm a drummer, so take me for a grain of salt, but not only are you learning the songs, but you're putting a spin on them to arrange them for an acoustic duo. Asking someone to learn 20-40 songs is a tall order. I'd be thinking at least a grand - that's a lot of time to put into a gig on top of your long performance time.

 

I'm in agreement with everyone about "how and why is this being performed" and in what capacity - that should shed some light!

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40 songs in a year is not that big a deal is it? Actually you say you only have about 15-20. That's not that much. I'd probably charge $500-$600. Geez, I just learned 40 songs in the last 2 weeks for a show that I got asked to sub for this Friday. Charts are your friend.


Weddings are good opportunities for more bookings, and the bigger your catalog the more valuable you are.

 

 

Sure, but I'd guess the vast majority of this particular list doesn't appeal to a wider audience/apply to future wedding gigs.

 

Again, that list is NOT a dance music list, even if you plan on a subdued affair (hence acoustic duo).

The chances that the time and effort it takes to learn, for example, Possum Kingdom by The Toadies, will be paid back in the long run from all the future bookings you get off of this one gig, are beyond slim and none.

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Sure, but I'd guess the vast majority of this particular list doesn't appeal to a wider audience/apply to future wedding gigs.


Again, that list is NOT a dance music list, even if you plan on a subdued affair (hence acoustic duo).

The chances that the time and effort it takes to learn, for example, Possum Kingdom by The Toadies, will be paid back in the long run from all the future bookings you get off of this one gig, are beyond slim and none.

 

 

He's in Austin, you'd be surprised.

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No, I don't think I would be.

 

Eclectic or not, a song that isn't good for dancing is a song that isn't good for dancing, and that's the first thing that struck me about the list: a LOT of non-dancing songs. That may be 100% what this couple wants, but if the goal is to parlay learning songs into leveraging additional wedding gigs, those are not the songs to be learning.

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That's actually a pretty cool list of songs which might be good to have in your pocket for future gigs but stylistically they're all over the place and some would not be an easy learn. Some would be really difficult for a duo to cover IMO.

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No, I don't think I would be.


Eclectic or not, a song that isn't good for dancing is a song that isn't good for dancing, and that's the first thing that struck me about the list: a LOT of non-dancing songs. That may be 100% what this couple wants, but if the goal is to parlay learning songs into leveraging additional wedding gigs, those are not the songs to be learning.

 

 

I never said anything about trying to get additional WEDDING gigs, just additional bookings. People book entertainment for events other than weddings. A song doesn't have to be a good 'dance' song to be enjoyable either, and just because it's a wedding doesn't mean people have to dance all night long. I'd assume if they wanted a crowd on the dance floor they would hire a DJ and have him play Cupid Shuffle all night long.

 

I still say go for it.

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I never said anything about trying to get additional WEDDING gigs, just additional bookings. People book entertainment for events other than weddings. A song doesn't have to be a good 'dance' song to be enjoyable either, and just because it's a wedding doesn't mean people have to dance all night long. I'd assume if they wanted a crowd on the dance floor they would hire a DJ and have him play Cupid Shuffle all night long.


I still say go for it.

 

 

Ok then, the list is far too eclectic for most bands to consider spending the time and effort learning to see any value from it.

 

Look, I'm not saying it COULDN'T be benficial to learn them, nor do I think anybody else is.

In a vacuum or perfect world, sure, learning as many songs as one possibly could would generally be a positive.

 

But we don't live in a vacuum or a perfect world.

Unless your whole vibe is to be all over the map stylistically speaking with the music you play, and to be able to lightly tread in a number of different musical styles & genres, but not firmly plant yourself in any (and thus, to appeal somewhat to a wide variety of potential audience members, but not have a strong following among any of them), that list adds up to a fair amount of spreading yourself (and your appeal) way too thin IMO.

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Ok then, the list is far too eclectic for most bands to consider spending the time and effort learning to see any value from it.


Look, I'm not saying it COULDN'T be benficial to learn them, nor do I think anybody else is.

In a vacuum or perfect world, sure, learning as many songs as one possibly could would generally be a positive.


But we don't live in a vacuum or a perfect world.

Unless your whole vibe is to be all over the map stylistically speaking with the music you play, and to be able to lightly tread in a number of different musical styles & genres, but not firmly plant yourself in any (and thus, to appeal
somewhat
to a wide variety of potential audience members, but not have a strong following among any of them), that list adds up to a fair amount of spreading yourself (and your appeal) way too thin IMO.

 

 

It's just 15-20 songs that he would have to learn. IN A YEAR. That's nothing. My personal opinion, but I'd take a couple hundred dollars to learn 15-20 songs. He wouldn't be doing it for his health, he'd be doing it to get paid. That's called work.

 

Your issue is with the song list, I believe the OP's issue is more to do with whether or not he feels like learning songs. There's nothing wrong with that song list...it's popular music.

 

And just a little personal anecdote....we played 'China Grove' in our first set last Saturday. Some guy thought he'd be a smart alek and yell for us to play Slipknot. We brought out 'Duality' and the crowd went wild. Clearly those songs are not stylistically similar at all, but if you pull off something that people don't expect, you get some attention. Even the people who can't stand Slipknot appreciated the fact that we could pull it out on the fly. You call it spreading yourself thin, I call it being a musician.

 

Anyway, enough hijacking. OP, learn some songs...it'll be good for you.

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