Pricing a Gig: 17 Questions to Help You Set Your Rate

Posted on July 4, 2013 by


Pricing a GigA client asked me another question about pricing a gig today so here we are yet again with more distinctions to help you help yourself and your clients. The question was this:

Out of curiosity, if you don’t mind sharing, what would you charge for a two spin, one person show. Casual party appearance…

I wondered if he was asking me what I would charge or what he, who only has done one performance, should charge because those numbers should not be the same thing in my world.

Where I’m at with my flow lifestyle, I’m not even sure I would do a casual appearance anymore and not charge money for it. If I were doing a casual appearance it would be for a friend, like what I did with Nova and Zihni a few weeks ago where it was a dress rehearsal for real show and we did it at our friend’s birthday party. For me casual appearance means no costume (a funny statement considering most of my casual daywear is more costume-like than most amateurs costumes are) or make up, no hassles, no formal agreements and no money changing hands, which for me is everyday life. I will throw down fire at most any party I go to for fun if I’m with my friends. And it will be entertaining. That isn’t necessarily true for everyone else. So what is casual for me may be nerve wracking for someone with relatively no performance experience. Context context context…

That said, there are a variety of other factors that determine the value of what you’re offering as a performance. For example, a longer set is not necessarily a better set. I’ve seen videos of “professional” artist who were spinning solidly more than 30 seconds longer them their fire lasted. I think that’s highly unprofessional and makes us look bad. I think a 2 minute set where the fire is burning bright the whole time is better than a 3 1/2 minutes set where the fire is dead for 30 seconds. And, in fact, when creating a show, I think it is generally going to be more interesting to have three different props in a six minute period than two props. Shorter sets are often more engaging because things are constantly changing and it leaves the crowd suspenseful and wanting more rather than satiated and unengaged. Being able to control these factors affects how your presentation goes and is part of creating a better show, in my opinion.

To help you out, here are 17 Questions to Help You Set Your Rate so that you can understand many of the factors associated with the price setting process and can educate your self, your clients and your prospects:

  • How many different tools are you spinning?
  • Are you doing one contiguous show that is back-to-back burns or are you doing two different sets that are separated by some period of time?
  • How much time between the sets?
  • How long is each set?
  • Is it the same tool or tools each set?
  • Are the sets the same or different? (length, style of music, type of tools, etc.)
  • Is anything choreographed?
  • Are you paying a booking agent?
  • What are your expenses? (Fuel, gas, parking, tolls, etc.)
  • Do you have to pay money to get there and/or once you are there? (Entrance fee, parking, car rental, hotel room, coat room?)
  • Are there other benefits other than cash you want/will trade? (Photos, video, web articles, press, etc.)
  • How skilled are you? (If you can’t get through a set without unrecoverable tangles consistently, you probably shouldn’t be charging money for it yet… )
  • How good are your costumes? (Couture, elaborate, expensive, specific to the gig, etc.)
  • Do you have to bring a sound system?
  • Do you have to create special music or costuming for this performance?
  • How much does your fire safety or safety crew charge?
  • With all the fire dancers out there, what reason would somebody would be motivated to hire you over everybody else?

Written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you are looking for help setting your rate or to step up your skills as a student, performer or instructor using personalized coaching with GlitterGirl, email her directly (GlitterGirl <at> TempleOfPoi <daught> com).

Posted in: Articles, Performance