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Gain but at what cost?

Last week I was looking forward to a regular once a month engagement. I have a few select venues where I perform regularly for a greatly reduced fee, this is because, not only are they venues I enjoy playing, but more importantly I get loads of well-paid spin-off gigs from these venues, so looking at the big picture they are worthwhile engagements.

Anyway back to last week. A day before the gig I got a message from the venue that told me that every table had been booked by one customer. This customer was surprising her husband with a birthday party. In normal circumstances, the fee I charge to perform for a private party is much more than the fee I charge for a “regular venue” engagement.

I couldn’t be bothered to argue my case for a proper fee so let it go, and I thought it’s nice to be nice so let the party organiser benefit and I will get karma points.

When I arrived the venue was full, all very well dressed, nice looking people. An American woman approached me and told me that she had arranged the party for her husband. She had written a list of ½ dozen songs (that were not on my playlist) and told me that no worries if I didn’t know them, but they were favourites of her husband, so if I could perform any of them she would appreciate it. Luckily I knew all the songs she had listed so added them to my setlist.

The gig went great, I performed as the Human Jukebox, which means the guests have playlists and text me their choice of songs with their dedications. I then announce who requested which song and if they requested it for anyone, and any reason in particular.

That night 70% of the songs I performed were as a result of punters requests from my Human Jukebox list, the crowd were very appreciative, the special songs for the “birthday boy” went particularly well and all was good.

10 minutes before I was due to end my performance I was approached by the birthday couple, they said that everybody was enjoying the night and they wanted my performance to continue so, how much would I charge to continue for an extra 30 minutes?

Over the years I have often been in this position and when the clients look like nice people I always give the same reply. I tell them that I will continue for an additional 30 minutes and they can then pay me what they think it was worth. On the vast majority of occasions, the client then pays me more than the amount I would have asked for and has never paid less than I expected.

The 30 extra minutes had people singing and dancing and a splendid time was had by all. After packing down (and getting a spin-off gig from one of the guests) I went to say goodnight (and get my extra money), the couple were very complimentary, but embarrassed as they said that they had no cash with them. I told them not to worry they could transfer the money to me. The American lady told me she would call me the following morning to get my bank details.

No call came, despite me sending messages (including sending my bank details) to both her and her husband, I have had no response. When I have called my call is not picked up. I have now given up on them returning my calls or paying me.

This experience is not going to noticeably impact me financially, but it has served as an awaking that although I believe I am very worldly-wise, sometimes I can be naive. Despite this, I have decided that if I find myself in the same scenario again (but not with the same people) I will behave in the same way.

I hope it’s another 40 years before I am left out of pocket due to my naivety, and…….. I hope that the monetary gain that the birthday couple has experienced by not paying me, is worth the karmic debt that they have incurred by being a couple of shit-pots!


About Tobias. A. Hogg

My daughter, my nephew, Christian Scientist actors and now even my 80 something mum are all doing it and I have decided to have a go. My intention is to record things that intrigue or amuse me and the source of my experiences is probably going to be centred around my chosen profession gigging singer, but who knows what future blogs may bring.

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