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Music & Money Monday – What Are You Worth?

Here’s what I said over a year ago in a post called More On Pricing:

“One of my most dreaded questions during my career as a professional musician was “how much do you charge for…?” I hated it for two main reasons: first, I hated to have to draw attention away from the music and onto money. Second, I always felt like no matter what was said, I’d either ask too much and not get hired or worse, get hired easily and suspect that I could have asked for more money”

The point of that post was arriving at a logical and realistic rate to charge for your services. I came across a related post at Duct Tape Marketing, where John Jantsch asks “Are You Worth More Than You’re Making?” He also suggests a way to determine your pay rate, but here’s what I’m bringing to you today: “If you want to achieve any of your goals and finally start making what you are worth then you’ve got to find a way to stop doing $5/hr work. Period.”

I can relate…

With the exception of a ’64 Rambler, my family always bought used cars. My dad was a music teacher but he was also a fairly good shade tree mechanic. And because he hated paying others to do work he could do himself, he often spent weekends – sometimes SEVERAL weekends – underneath the hood of one of our cars. He used to joke that he could fix anything, it just took him three tries.

This used to drive my mom crazy because she saw the toll this took on my dad in terms of time and his ability to do other things. Of course we saved money this way, but what was the real cost? What was the value of my dad’s time relative to the cost of paying someone else?

I’m not sure what his pay scale was, but he was probably paid slightly better than a great mechanic. BUT, it took him three or four times as long too. So, using imaginary numbers, he might have saved $150.00 by doing a three hour job himself, but it REALLY cost him $450.00 or more of his own time. He lost money big time.

So what about you? As an entrepreneur, this is a particularly powerful question. Because of the nature of your work, it’s easy to fall into this trap. You probably think that as long as you have enough gigs on the books, it’s wise to mow the lawn, fix the shower and change the oil on your car. But, as the CEO of You, Inc., your responsibilities go far beyond showing up and playing music.

What if, as John suggest, you payed a kid $20.00 to mow the lawn and spent the same amount of time marketing your talents? What’s that worth? More than $20.00?

I realize there are times when the economics of your situation make it necessary to do things yourself, like when you’re um, er…BROKE! But, even then, be aware of the trade off and use it as motivation to move yourself ahead. As a musician, you are a highly skilled professional. You’d consider it crazy for a successful doctor or lawyer to work on their car, and the same applies for you.