I have a culture-specific side business where I sing and lead singing folk songs for a pre-wedding event for Punjabi/Pakistani/Indian weddings. When I first started, one of my first queries was from someone who said they were looking for performers for her friend’s (the bride’s) event. We spoke at length, and she asked me to send them videos of me singing/performing. I advised that I was having a reel made, but for the time being, if they wished, I could make a video of me singing so they could get an idea as to what I sounded like. She agreed. My phone at the time was terrible, but I recorded two decent videos of myself singing so they could hear my voice, the types of songs I sing, my pronunciation, etc. etc.
I got the following e-mail from the husband:
Client: We are still working on some minor details with the hosts and hence the delay. We should be able to close it out this week and will pay you your deposit. In the interim, please send across your service agreement so I can review the same. Can you please share 2 references and some videos where you have performed in an actual event? The videos you sent were very dark and also not what we were looking for.
I sent them my agreement. They e-mailed asking to meet and we went back and forth, with them changing the appointment time last minute, and also clarifying that they’d wanted videos of me performing elsewhere. I advised that I could provide references, but couldn’t get them the types of videos they requested prior to our meeting. When I sent an e-mail re: my fees, I got a call from the wife asking me to eliminate the travel fee. We finally ended up meeting at my office for my main business on a weekend. They expressed their displeasure at the videos I sent them and clarified that they wanted video of me performing at another person’s event:
Client: Basically we want proof that other people have paid you for this service.
Yes, they said this.
Notes about my agreement at the time: My particular service is/was new in the area, so there isn’t really a market rate, but my rate at the time was lower than musicians/other singers hired for similar events. I charged a flat fee for an hour-long performance plus a travel fee based on how far I had to travel, and a stipulation that the client pays for parking – all fairly standard. I also required a 50% deposit to hold the date. This particular event was to be held a two-hour drive away from me so my travel fee was $50 to cover gas/tolls. But like I said, the wife haggled me out of my travel fee prior to our meeting.
The meeting itself was pretty exhausting, but it basically came out that the husband and wife have a band (they both sing) and they’d been hired by their friend to take care of the entertainment for the event. They were given a certain budget, the bride requested a traditional folk singer, and they had been haggling with me in order to keep their margins.
After our meeting I received the following from the husband:
Client: Thanks for your time the other day. I did a review of the service contract and would like to suggest a few changes.
- Please change the duration of the performance to 2 hours from the start of the performance. I will confirm the exact start time to the extent possible but as you are aware, it is an Indian wedding which typically follows IST 🙂
- Please add that artist will partner with other vocalist from ——- to deliver the performance.
- Please add that you will be a part of the ——- team and will not solicit business as an individual
- ———has the right to record and publish any recording of the event as part of their promotion via various social media and artist provides full permission for the same.
- Client will compensate no more than $20 if there are any parking fees charged at the venue. Artist will make all reasonable attempts to find free or economical parking at the venue.
For additional terms:
- Please change (4) to 1 week from 2 weeks [re: cancellation]
- Please change (5) to 1 week from 2 weeks [re: cancellation]
Since you have not been able to provide any verifiable references or recordings of your past performances, to cover our reputation risk and to meet the client request of getting a group of female singers, we would like to add a clause that you will get together with us to do at least 2 1-hour sessions prior to the event to prep.
Given that we are working with each other for the first time, it makes sense for both of us to be cautious but I am absolutely certain that after this event, we will not even need any kind of formal contracts and so much back and forth. Just to give you some context, I have NO paperwork whatsoever with the DJ who is the real backbone for the entire success of this event since it is an outdoor location which needs a lot more horsepower in terms of sound and also configuration as we have worked with him for over 3 years.
In terms of compensation, we will only pay 50% of the total amount of $xxx which is the industry standard.
Yes, they wanted me to include one of their singers in my performance, rehearse with them prior to the event, and perform for twice as long, but they wanted to pay me half my fee. Much more than that happened afterward, but this post is already super long. No, I didn’t take the gig, but it took multiple e-mails and messages for them to understand why.