June 1, 2022

Negotiating musician fees in live jazz music

What goes into consideration when negotiating artist fees? It's not an exact science. Sometimes there's a flight from New York involved. Or maybe I want to get Oliver Gannon back to Frankie's Jazz Club: there's always an extra skip in my step when he's on the stage there.

We had a pretty set standard during my first few years at Frankie's, where local jazz musicians would make a certain amount on the weekends, and it was a little bit lower on the weekdays.

If you come to me and say, "Hey Cory, I know what the local fee is on Thursdays, but I can guarantee you that I'll get people in here," we'll have a chat about that. Maybe we can negotiate a higher fee. If you deliver on that promise and we get a big crowd, everybody does well.

The many considerations for artist fees

Let's say I'm bringing in an international band: flights, hotels you have to pay them American Dollars, do they have a touring grant...

And do I have any sponsorship dollars available to me? Are there educational opportunities? There's a lot of stuff that goes into consideration. It's just not a set fee.

Is it summertime? Will the great (or bad!) Vancouver weather hurt our draw? What does the club need to make?

The long game

Frankly, I think my friend Jeremy Pelt knows that when he comes here, he will play for less than what he would ideally want. The only way it works is because Jeremy thinks long-term. That's why Jeremy's here every year: he's building an audience here.