Recently, I was asked by a fellow singer to be her back-up for a wedding. She was on the edge of the flu and didn’t know if she would be able to sing the next day – on Valentine’s Day. The music was 1 hymn and The Lord’s Prayer. Easy enough for a days notice. I got all the info and asked both my friend and the accompanist what the compensation was for this gig. The answer from both were more like justifications for not getting paid. They said that this was a second marriage, only about 10 guests would attend, the bride and groom were both in their 70’s and finally, they were both good church friends. Let’s be honest, at some point in a musicians career, the type of request and $$ become the deal breaker, a choice between “yes” and “no”. As singers find their niche and performing community, time with family, friends, for rest, work and performing, becomes very valuable.
With this information, I declined as her sub but thanked her for thinking of me. Within 30 minutes, I got a phone call saying the bride would compensate the singer with $150. This, I feel is an average fee for a wedding singer. A rehearsal of any kind, $200 is not out of range.
My point is not to talk about my fees or my ability to say no to a gig. It is to support fellow musicians in their ability to ask for what they are worth. Saying yes or no to a wedding, hotel entertainment or other gigs that might call your musical integrity into question, must include:
– the date of the gig – time involved at and before the gig – music required – equipment necessary – other musicians needed – other non-musicians such as the wedding couple family members involved – other musical tasks you might be expected to oversee like the soundboard or mics for the service – and your compensation delivered before the event begins. Know your ability to fulfill the above mentioned possibilities and suggest options if you can’t or don’t want to do something. You are a valuable part of this event so please step into it as if you believe that fact. They are compensating you for your experience, education and ability. Coming in to sing for a beautiful wedding is enough.