Encore Insights: How are we ensuring musicians get paid fair fees?

We regularly receive questions about the fees and rates being paid on Encore, so today I want to talk about the mechanisms we have built to ensure that the rates being paid are fair.

There are two big issues that often cause a gig to be badly paid:

  1. Uninformed clients. The customer does not know how much live music costs and does not appreciate its value.
  2. Undercutting. Some musicians quote below adequate rates in an effort to increase their chances of being booked. This prevents those musicians who do quote fairly from earning an adequate fee.

So, how are we solving both those problems?


1. Educating clients on the value of live music

As any musician will tell you, the average person on the street will typically underestimate how much it costs to hire musicians, sometimes even assuming musicians work for free.

Most people simply do not appreciate the hidden costs and time commitments of being a musician, such as instrument maintenance, time spent practicing, insurance and much more.

Earlier this year, as much as 20-30% of the clients who submitted enquiries to Encore for approval were expecting to book musicians at unrealistically low rates, meaning our bookings team were spending hours on the phone informing them that they'd need to raise their budgets or look elsewhere.

We quickly realised that rather than negotiating with clients who submitted unrealistic budgets, the best approach was to nip the problem in the bud. Now, when a client submits their enquiry they must choose from a price range appropriate for the musician type and booking length they're interested in. Here's how it works...

The Budget Visualisation Update

When a client comes to the Encore site, they begin filling in a step-by-step form, which gathers all the information our musicians need to know in order to provide an accurate quote for the job. Previously, we allowed clients to enter their budget range into a blank text box, but we soon discovered that we'd need a smarter design if we were to ensure that clients provided fair budget ranges.

These graphs show customers the average price and predicted range of quotes they can expect for their enquiry.

String Quartet budget graph

This prevents customers from entering inappropriate budgets.

For example, it is impossible to enter a budget lower than £800 for a 4-hour string quartet enquiry. If a customer cannot afford this, we nudge them in the direction of a String Trio (£600+) or a String Duo (£400+).

Function Band Budget Slider

We’ve also built similar mechanisms for Function Band enquiries. When a customer enquires for a Function Band, we show them the average price for a 3-piece band. The customer can then adjust the number of musicians requested to fit their performance space and budget.

So far, we have budget visualisations live for our most popular enquiry types:

  • Violinists
  • Saxophonists
  • Pianist
  • Singers
  • Harpists
  • Bagpipers
  • String Duos, Trios and Quartets
  • Function Bands

We are in the middle of rolling these graphs out across all enquiry types, and we should complete this process within the next few weeks.

2. Preventing undercutting

It's all very well gathering appropriate budgets from our customers, but these efforts would be entirely in vain if musicians were able to quote far below this range. For example, an amateur or inexperienced violinist offering a String Quartet for £200 completely undermines our efforts to educate the client and obtain an appropriate fee from them.

To prevent undercutting on Encore, every job has a minimum quote which it is impossible for musicians quote below.

This minimum fee is based upon the client's minimum budget range, which in turn is set according to MU recommendations, and the experience of our expert booking team, all of whom are freelancers themselves.

For example, the minimum a harpist can quote for three hours of work on Encore is £240. If they try to go below this, they are presented with the following message:

Attempting to undercut

Clicking the minimum budget link takes the musician to an FAQ on minimums and explains why we enforce these so strictly.

Both the budget visualisation and minimum rates combined ensure that musicians are being paid fair rates, and make undercutting impossible.


Your thoughts

Building the budget visualisation update was only possible with the thoughts and advice we received from our musicians - so if you've recently sent us feedback, thank you! But there's still so much more we want to improve in order to make Encore the best possible booking platform for musicians.

If you've spotted something on the site which could be better, let us know at [email protected] and we'll do our utmost to make it right.