How to Set Your Rates/Prices as a Performer

How to Set Your Rates/Prices as a Performer

A question many performers dread is “how much do you charge?”  And for some, their answer is not dissimilar to the mathematical trick that starts, think of a number, any number…

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In many ways, this is completely understandable, especially if you’re just starting out.  On the one hand, you don’t want to price yourself out of a job, but on the other you don’t want to charge so little that it’s barely worth your while taking it on.  This is when panic pricing sets in and you begin plucking figures from the air.  Needless to say, it’s not a strategy that works well!

So how do you go about setting your rates as a performer?  

On the assumption that you want to make a living, you’ll have to work out how much money you need to earn each year.  When you have that figure, add on approximately 30% to cover UK tax and NI contributions and a percentage for your pension fund.  You should also factor in an amount for holidays and sickness.

With this calculation to hand, you can estimate how many gigs you anticipate getting per year and divide your calculation by that number.  This will give you a price per gig that you need to charge to make your required annual income.  

Of course, it’s not quite that simple as no two performances, or clients, are the same. 

Indeed, there are numerous things that affect how much you should charge, so we’ve compiled a list to help you work out what they are and how they play into your pricing strategy.

The competition

One of the first things you should do is check out the competition.  Look at other performers in your area who offer a similar service and find out what they charge.  If their website doesn’t mention pricing, you’ll need to pose as a prospective customer, or persuade a friend or family member to do this for you.   

The point of this exercise is not to undercut your competition, but rather to find a baseline from which to work out your own pricing.   Being the cheapest is not necessarily going to bring in more business; when people are celebrating, they may well be of the mindset that they deserve something better than the budget option.  As the saying goes, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!

band playing in a living room

Talent and experience

When you first start out, you should expect to set your rates below those of more experienced performers.  The other question you should be asking yourself is, “how talented am I?”  The more talent you have, the more you can charge, although you will need to prove yourself first.

On that note, your website and social media should include videos, photographs and reviews from previous customers showing that others think you are talented too.


You will probably find there’s a particularly high demand for your services at certain times of the year, such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  With many performers booked up to six months in advance of the festive season, supply becomes scarce, meaning you can increase your normal rates during these periods.

Type of work

Some work is better paid.  Corporate clients in particular tend to have large entertainment budgets, so think carefully about the type of client you are dealing with when quoting.     Private celebrations may well have smaller budgets, but some events, such as weddings, will usually attract higher rates than Christmas or birthday parties.

Travel costs

Your rates should include time spent travelling, particularly if you are going any distance.  It can be helpful to break travelling costs down into geographical boundaries.  You might, for example decide to include travel costs within a five-mile radius of your local area and create a set charge for every so many miles beyond this. Alternatively, you could charge a per mile rate.   And don’t forget to factor in extra costs such as overnight parking, congestion charges or toll roads.

Other costs

Monitoring your costs is a good way to evaluate how much you should charge.Below we’ve listed a few items you might want to consider. The list is by no means exhaustive.

Equipment and props

PA systems and other items – you are effectively hiring these out and will at some point need to replace them so factor them into your pricing.  


Public liability insurance is essential, as is cover for any equipment and props you use.


Whether it’s a costume or a dinner jacket for a wedding or corporate event, include an amount for cleaning, maintaining and purchasing these items of clothing.  

Professional memberships

Membership of a union, such as the Musicians’ Union or other professional body.


There will be occasions when you need to stay overnight in a hotel if you finish in the early hours or are a long distance from home.


If you are performing at a wedding or corporate event, food may be provided, if not you will need to factor it in.  

Accountancy services

An account will be able to deal with your tax affairs, but they cost money, so take this into account when setting your prices.


A website is an essential tool for promoting your services, so if it’s costing you to host it, include a small amount in your pricing.

Minimum rates

Set a minimum price below which you will not go, even if the client only wants an hour’s performance!  Your evening is still being set aside for this client.   Remember, you can always say no if a booking is not worthwhile.  

Package deals

Package deals can be a good way to set your rates.  You could create a budget package, a ‘popular’ package and a luxury package.  Customers like these because they know exactly what they are getting for their money, but it can also help you, as an entertainer, to potentially get a better rate as people often opt for the middle option.  However, there will always be occasions when you need to create a bespoke package.

accounting sheet

The client’s budget

When creating bespoke packages talk to your potential client, develop a rapport with them and find out exactly what it is they are looking for.  Once you have established these details, you can ask what their budget is and determine whether the price you are aiming at is close their anticipated spend.  You may want to consider adding approximately 10% to the figure you quote to allow room for negotiations too.  

That’s a wrap

We hope this post has helped you think about how to set your rates as a performer.  While there’s no magical formula for working out exactly what to charge, you should at least have a rough idea of how much money you need to cover your costs and still make a profit. It’s up to you now to ask a fair price for the entertainment you provide.  And don’t forget, you can always say no if it’s not worth your while.

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