A quick tip based on recent experience – do not be afraid to stick to your guns when setting a price for touring crew work.
If a potential client (artist manager, booking agent or musical director) says he cannot afford your price, you should not drop your daily rate just to get the tour. Dropping your price can make you appear desperate in the eyes of your client and also sets a precedent when trying to negotiate a contract in the future.
For example, say you are a FOH engineer and your rate is $250 a day. You are offered a 32 date tour andthe bands management inform you they can pay no more than $175 a day. If you say ‘yes’ to this offer they will then know that they can reasonably expect you to drop your price whenever they ask you in the future. That is not good for you. However, if you say ‘no’ you run the risk of losing 32 days of paid work. What should you do?
You should offer a compromise, one that works in your favour. If the prospective client really cannot pay you your full rate then inform them that you may be able to work for a reduced rate – and that the service you offer will also be reduced.
Explain what service you provide at your usual rate i.e. providing your own mics, drive rack, set up of back line, line check, sound check, mixing the support band, mixing the main act, packing away the mikes and back line etc. Then inform them that, for the reduced fee they are offering, they cannot expect to use your mics, drive rack and that you will not pack up or load out back line.
Your client will still get the main service they want from you – an FOH engineer for instance – and you will know that you are still working and yet have not compromised yourself just to keep the work.
Once you have clarified this situation and have been confirmed for the tour you should make sure to write it all up in a tour crew contract and issue it to the client.
For instance, by using the contract to stipulate your daily or weekly rate and when you expect to get paid, both you and your client will know exactly how much you are working for, what is expected of you and when the client is due to pay you.