“What’s Your Fee?” for Weddings and Parties

by Robbie Schlosser · 2 comments

Thanks in advance for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas. I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation. Tell me what you think, and I'll reply. Promise.

Magnolia Jazz Band in Watsonville, 2010

“What’s your fee?”

Too often, a conversation begins this way, and I cringe every time.

Because it starts us off on the wrong foot.  Because for most of us, the “fee” depends on what we want.  And THAT’S where the conversation ought to begin.

For example, here’s the Magnolia Jazz Band one recent summer, entertaining at a lovely afternoon garden wedding in Watsonville.  Thank you for all your wonderful photos, Rebecca and Orbie Pullen.

Like you see here, brides, grooms, and party planners often add drums to the trio, when their celebration calls for lots of dancing.   They can also add a saxophone, trumpet, or piano, when they want a larger band.  This kind of flexibility is just one of the services we always offer, and naturally our fee depends on the size of the band.

Speaking of services, have you ever heard this? “Price, Value, Service — you can have any two, but you must compromise on the third.”

This is what I’ve been told, but it seems a little too simple to be useful most of the time.

It’s like the familiar saying, “You get what you pay for”.  Sure, this might sometimes seem true, in hindsight, but instead I’m inclined to believe “You get what you get, and you pay what you pay”.

My point is that any relationship between “what you get” and “what you pay” might seem clear but only afterward.  It’s not much help guiding what you’re going to select.

Same with those vague notions “price”, “value”, and “service”.  None of us should make decisions based on such flimsy ideas as these, that can mean just about anything in actual practice.

So what should guide our decisions?  Tell you in a minute.

First, here’s a story, to show you what I’m going to recommend.  My wife and I recently enjoyed dinner at a new Chinese restaurant in town.  The meal was wonderful, but we had a difficult time getting started.  The menu listed easily over 120 selections, ranging from familiar items, like “Broccoli Beef”, to things like “Happy Family”.

A quick conversation with the waiter set us straight.  After discussing our preferences and our budget, he described a few excellent options, and we made our selections.  I’m happy to say everything worked out very well, indeed.

So whenever we “sort of” know what we want but hardly know how to begin choosing, I recommend getting a clear, practical understanding of your options.  Knowing how to ask the right specific question is 90% of getting to the best answer.

Where am I going with this?  I’m reminded of people who inquire about my band’s availability for their wedding or party, and the first (and sometime only) question they ask is “What’s your fee?”  Most of the time they just need help getting started.  I bet they’re just as bewildered as I was in that restaurant, but I knew I needed help there.

If I began by asking about the price, I knew I’d overlook some other important options that, as it turned out, made an enormous difference.

So how often do people call you with their very first question, “What’s your fee”?  And how often do YOU begin a conversation this way?

Whatever line of work you’re in, and whether you’re buying or selling anything, here’s a tip:  Gather or recommend lots of practical advice about your options.  

Yes including (but not limited to) “What’s the fee?”


Thanks for reading this article. I appreciate your interest and hope you get a few good ideas here. Got one or two? I'd love to hear what you liked. Please write me a little COMMENT below. Start a conversation -- I'll reply. Promise.

By the way, does a friend need help selecting wedding or party music? Do them a favor: EMAIL this article, or SHARE it on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

And if you find my blog useful, please LIKE it, TWEET it, and SUBSCRIBE for more ideas. Use those cute little icons below.

Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.

How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.

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Jen Duchene

Great points you make Robbie, knowledge is the key to making the right choices.

Jennifer Duchene
Lift Your Spirits Home Transformations

Patrick Duffek

As always, you DELIVER! Robbie, you are always able to speak wisely into doing good business with clients.
I offer a shorter service at events – and oftentimes the ‘How much?” question comes up too quickly. I appreciate your encouragement to break out the options for clients.
Customers don’t often know what they need – but I do find an unwillingness to hear options, but a rush to the price. These might not be the customers we want, anyway.
Thanks for the wisdom.
Patrick Duffek recently posted..Expert Event Planner Kelly Lin — And Art ThiefMy Profile

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