When you hire a musician whether it’s for playing your wedding, teaching your children, recording your piece, etc., there are things to keep in mind. Some of these seem small but they can make the experience much richer and rewarding for both parties.
If you are on a tight budget, be upfront about it. This way, there is a smaller chance of misunderstanding later on either end. Explain the gig in good depth of details, and include the total pay amount. The musician will either take it or not. If you are wary of having to ask a ton of musicians, there is a simple solution- ask the musicians for other recommendations in case they are not available. They will most-likely help you out. Don’t ask for their rate and then try to bring it down. You are not buying a t-shirt at a flee market, you are buying someone’s service and their time and resources to prepare and to be there. The music industry is a very competitive one, and the odds are they are already offering you the best deal possible.
Payment (part 2)
Be on time with your payment. The best thing to do is prepare a check or cash for the musicians at the gig to be given upon their arrival. This way you don’t forget to pay them and remember when it’s too late.
Again, be very specific about what you need from them from the get-go. Do not expect extra material/ time from the person you are hiring, especially for free. If you have specific material you want to be performed, e-mail the music or the titles as early as possible. Do not expect a flawless performance of a Ligeti concerto the morning after the night you e-mail the PDFs to the musicians/ contractor. No matter how easy or sight-readable you think the music is, send it early!
This part seems to slip a lot of people’s mind. Make sure you tailor your hiring to the size and the location of the venue. If you are hiring a woodwind quintet, don’t do it outside (if you can help it) or in front of an AC unit- oboes and clarinets are notorious for cracking under rapid change in humidity/ temperature. If you are hiring a jazz combo for a corporate fundraiser event, make sure there is plenty of space between the musicians and the people dancing. Musicians do not like it when their music stands get knocked over by people who don’t even realize what they did was not cool. For teaching, make sure the room is spacious and is not a storage unit. Make sure it’s sound-proofed.
Try to leave the gig to just being that gig. Do not talk of future gigs. Keep things professional and pleasant but try not to interact way too much. If you appreciate their service, shoot them an e-mail the following day. Musicians value their time and sanity highly. This is not the only gig where they have to be surrounded by many people who are interested in chatting them up in various lengths.
Family/ Friends/ Students
And lastly, if you hire someone to do a professional task, you must pay them professional rates. Do not expect to pay lower rates for any reason. If you really deserve a discount in universe’s eyes, the people being hired will let you know. But for the love of God do not ask for a discount. Be a good person.