Here is the basic business math behind my fee:

• Suppose you are a professional entertainer like me. How much money do you need to bring home per year (after taxes and expenses) in order to earn an acceptable living? I hope you'll agree that $50,000 per year is not an extravagant figure. 

• Assuming 40% for taxes and expenses, you will need to gross $83,333.33 per year in order to bring home $50,000. (Feel free to check my math.)

• As a business owner in the entertainment field, you will work more than 60 hours per week on things like marketing, writing, web design, traveling, rehearsing, and, of course, performing.

• You will not have time or energy left over for "a day job" — but almost all of your billable hours (i.e. performances) will concentrate around Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.

• There are only 156 Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings in a year. These time slots are very precious, because if you book one for a cut-rate fee, it will no longer be available if a fair-paying client comes along. 

• Divide your minimal gross yearly salary ($83,333.33) by 156 Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings per year. That gives you a minimum fee per engagement of $534.19. It's just that simple.

Therefore, my minimum fee is $534.19 — right down to the penny — and I usually charge much more for a variety of reasons.

This is an absurdly low number, by the way, since it assumes that I am fully booked for every single Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night of the year — without exception, and without a vacation.

 

Obviously, this is not how reality works — but it does illustrate the answers to two questions most people have never seriously thought about:

 

1.) Why, exactly, is professional live entertainment so expensive?

— Answer: Because it has to be.

2.) Why am I taking a risk if I pay too little?

— Answer: Because an entertainer who asks for less than a professional's wage is, by definition, an amateur.

 

Now you know. 

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