Conductors Fees

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by roncarr, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. roncarr

    roncarr New Member

    I would like to know what fees bands pay conductors nowadays.
    I have recently heard of bands paying £100 a rehearsal and even a 4th section band paying £40 a rehearsal. I dont know if this is a wind up or not.I'm not talking about top section bands either but 2nd, 3rd and 4th section bands.
  2. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    interesting, but i don't think you'll get many MD's, especially at the top end who are willing to say what they get for conducting!!

    But seen as i'm not at the top end! £5 a rehearsal or job!
    It covers my travelling and that's nice - I' love banding and to be honest I would do it for nothing if the band needed me to! I'd rather take the extra £2.50 i'm worth ;-) and have the band by new music and the equipment we need to play it!!

    I do know of MD's in the Yorkshire area that have charged upto (and including) 65 quid for a rehearsal!!
  3. vonny

    vonny Member

    roncarr is there a particular reason why you want to know? Or is it you are just being nosey ;)
  4. roncarr

    roncarr New Member

    Just being nosey. I have been out of banding for a while and was recently chatting to a friend who said his band in the 4th section was paying £40 a rehearsal which I thought a bit steep.
  5. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    they must have a surplus.

    Most bands round the north west seem to pay £10-£20 a rehearsal at that level, or a retainer per month adding up to the same.

    presumably as you go higher up the pay increases and so does the expectation.
  6. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Our first conductor, the venerable Neil Parkinson actually paid subs like everyone else.

    Since he retired, though, I think we have been paying between 10 and 30 quid a rehearsal. When we were last interviewing for an MD, one cheeky beggar was asking 60!:eek: As we are not supported by anyone but ourselves, there was no way we could afford that.

    I wouldn't have the cheek to charge a lower section band (the only ones who would want me wagging in front of them:rolleyes: ) anywhere near that much - travelling expenses and a pint would be my limit.
  7. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    We have never paid our MD in the 22 year history of the band. However, since our new MD just did lead us to another title...I think we are going to double his wages.
  8. Liz Courts

    Liz Courts Active Member

    The MD at St Agnes just takes out a bonus at Christmas...usually around £200, and all the players chip in and get him a Christmas present, just to say thanks! He's also a sub-payer (£1 per week). :)

    He's been with the band since he was 12 (1968ish), so I think there's a bit more to it than the cash at the end of the day! :)

    At Lympstone our conductor pays his subs too, and gets around £10 per rehearsal I think...:)
  9. TromMan

    TromMan New Member

    I joined my current band about 13 years ago as principal Trombone. At that time it was conducted by Philip Sparke. In those days we were in the championship section, self supporting and Philip didn't take any conductors fees at all, in fact he put money in to the band. After several new conductors we ended up in the 1st section with only half a band. I took over as MD temporarily 3 years ago and didn't take any money out. I like Philip actually put money into the band. We went down to the 2nd section still with half a band. At this years we got back into the 1st section [we still only had 18 players on stage + percussion]. I decided prior to the area that I would resign as MD and go back to playing [rather badly at the moment]. The band is now searching for a better MD to take it forward and so far I have heard fees ranging from £25 to £75 per rehearsal. This is a lot of money when added to the rent for rehearsal premises for a self supporting band to raise. My point after all this waffle is, you have to be dedicated to the band you are conducting to want to do it for any length of time for nothing and there doen't seem to be that many people around these days that are prepared to do it, especially with half a band or less at most rehearsals. I know there are a few very good conductors who go from band to band offering their services for high rates and they do tend to get good results. The MDs most of us need are the ones who do all the gigs throughout the year that bring in the money and seem to manage to pull off reasonable performances with limited players and also get a good performance at the contests. I hope there are some of these people around because we need one now!
  10. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    Thats quite an achievement!! Congratulations, and welcome to the forum TromMan
  11. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    What a conductor gets paid can be a sore point; if it's any consolation, that's a fact that doesn't just hold true in banding!

    I think that most conductors are well aware of just what a financial tightrope many bands at all lebels are walking, and I don't think for a minute that any conductor would want to land a band in serious financial difficulty.

    However, the flip side of the argument is this. I can earn £30-£35 a night just turning up and playing in the band for the local amateur operatic society. A full professional session rate is in excess of £50. On more than one occasion I have been lucky enough to be paid in excess of £150 for a concert (as a piano accompanist). If I can make £35 just turning up, sitting down and putting an instrument to my lips, with no need to prepare the score beforehand or worry about the concert programme for next week or whether I've got all the players at rehearsal tonight, where is my incentive to conduct a band for £25 a night? I'm making less money for doing a lot more work!

    I know that banding is a hobby for many, including a significant number of conductors who are happy to give their time and skills for free or for expenses only. However, bands should consider the fact that if they want to attract a high calibre of conductor then they have to take into consideration what their professional musical time is worth in the music business as a whole.

    On a personal note, I try to take into account how much money a band is likely to have at their disposal when discussing fees, and also how much more work I am likely to have with them. Locality and previous allegiances also count for a lot!

  12. Lawrencediana

    Lawrencediana Member

    Until recently I played for a band which used professional conductors for major contests and fees of up to £200 a rehearsal were put forward for consideration. I have myself now gone into full time conducting and have come to an agreement with my band to take only a contrbution towards my expenses. Ithink it would be silly to overcharge a band.
  13. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Interesting discussions here indeed. It does make me wonder though....

    I am sure most bands prepare Statements of Accounts at the end of their financial year - if nothing else, because it is mandatory to maintain their charitable status or as a condition of their lottery funding, but I wonder how many bands actually have a well thought out business plan, and have done serious financial forecasting and business preparation...?

    The 'norm' is to have the concert/contest secretary contact the local parks, town halls etc or perhaps more likely - just do as they always did, and wait for these organisations to contact the band themselves to get the regular £100-a-job "Summer in the Bandstand" or "Bands on the Promenade" engagements.

    How many bands do you think actually do have a sound business plan and are proactive in looking for new sources of revenue for their organisation. I am presently not a member of a band, but when I was I remember for what must have been a period of at least 10 years, that the band didn't increase their charges to the local council for their annual appearance/slot in the "Summer in the Park" series of concerts. Every year for 10 years was exactly the same i.e. £120. I mean come on... £120 quid for 25+ musicians, plus an MD to play an entertaining and enjoyable concert for two hours plus preparation time is nothing but a rip off - and the local councils know it. They know full well that they have local bands over a barrell, and that most bands are going to accept the £120 that is available to them - even though it possibly costs them more than that to put the concert on. Councils know this because they know bands are not necessarily looking elsewhere for revenue opportunities and will always offer that amount to the next band that comes along if your band refuses. It's a case of the tail-wagging-the-dog and it shouldn't be. We undersell ourselves as a movement... and vastly.

    This is why bands need to look for and take advantage of new revenue opportunities that are out there.

    Pitch yourselves at the 'Summer in the Park' brigade and that's what you will get... yet pitch yourself at any new opportunities you find - and you never know where you might end up playing and how much you'll get for it.
  14. davidwalton

    davidwalton Member

    Never coud see why an MD is seen as the "Professional", while those playing are seen just as hobbiest's.

    A Professional is someone who earns their living from such activity, or displays a high level of skill. (Dictionary quotes)

    Seems to me that this could apply just as well to players. Not that I would include myself.

    Don't get me wrong (as most usually do). I do think that there is a place for paying MD's, but to the extent that they take £40 plus for a rehersal is just wrong. There are very few Brass Bands that earn enough to support large fees, and therefore just adding to the cost of playing for those who must pay to be involved.

    Lets also not forget my favourite people in Banding, Adjudicators. These are meant to be the most professional in the Brass Band World, yet all to often rip in to Bands and even individual players with little or no concern. Not "Professional". Not helping, and not pushing standards higher.

    I think every competing band has at some point been slated in remarks provided by an Adjudicator. How many thought that was useful? How did it help your Band improve?

    We need to get it right at the very top of the Banding World first.
  15. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Totally agree with John's remark's regarding the "summer jobs" fee rates. At Killamarsh we have a minimum fee for these jobs and if we can get more, all well and good and there are better fees out there for these jobs; we have engagement fees between £175 and £300 dependent on location.

    We have however specifically turned down one "good venue" because they would not consider paying above £135 (a certain extremely popular stately home in Derbyshire) and declined to play at another popular holiday resort in Nottinghamshire - their treatment of bands is poor - difficult to get near playing area with cars, cars & instrument cases searched for drugs, no drink on stand (very hot summer days) or eating in on site restaurants.

    We were invited to play at another local stately hall last year and asked again to play this year however they wanted us to reduce our fee because other "bands" were charging less than £100 - not going there thank-you very much. I think they now have a military style band, a Police band (who I think don't charge) and a band that is mainly learners.

    This year at Killamarsh we have 20 engagements and concerts up to September and I think that is probably too many but if we only charged £100 I could double the number of engagements.

    So to the bands that are charging less than £100 good luck and you are welcome to those jobs - just think if you charged twice as much you could do half the work for the same money. Perhaps we should have a National Minimum Fee for bands?
  16. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    :clap:I applaud you for those comments David, well said. It's no use laying into a band regarding their performance with words we know all too well such as "intonation issues, 6/8 quaver timings, note lengths" - we need positive constructive criticism from adjudictors. As I have said before we have a few exceptional ones, many good ones and unfortunately a few ridiculously pathetic ones with no right (or qualification) to be where they are.

    Anyway, that's a subject for another thread.... mustn't start me on that one here...;)
  17. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Totally agree with your comments tubafran. We had to go back and look at our fees about 2-3 years ago. And to be honest, we did put our fees up quite substantially, and it does mean that we lost some of our previous regular summer engagements and we don't have as many engagements now during the summer months. However, we still earn more over the year, and less engagements means less financial cost to the band re conductor/borrowed player/transport costs per engagement.

    Depending on the band, and the standard of any players that a band may need to borrow, the costs to turn out for an engagement can easily be into the hundreds, so accepting an engagement with a low fee is not always financially viable.
  18. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    John's remarks are interesting. We review our fees every year, and set notional fees for each type of job (evening concert, parks job etc etc). We allow our concert secretary scope to negotiate around this notional fee with the event organiser, taking into account factors like the size of the job, the date (ie holiday season), whether it's for charity or not, even if we feel we want to do it!

    This system works pretty well, although we recently had to reduce our fee for a local park job because the council had cut the funding available by 50%. The organisers decided to reduce the number of concerts and wrote to ask us if we would consider a reduced fee. We did, grudgingly, as it is quite a prestigous job and we always get a good audience, but I doubt we would do it for the same reduced fee next year.

    Which raises another question....if all the participating bands had said no to playing for less and as a result there were no concerts at all this year, where would the blame lie? The council or the [mocks up local paper headline] "money grabbing bands..." :rolleyes:
  19. Cyndy

    Cyndy Member

    My Hubby is MD of local band, I quote"when I have to get paid for a hobby I love as a player or conductor I will give up" we dep whenever we are available and as yet have never charged a fee, we play/conduct because we love brass bands and to help fellow banders.
    I also wonder if MD's who do charge declare it!
    I am not talking of travel expences here,we don't charge them, but I understand that some people need to
  20. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    Can I say first that I agree that judges remarks should be constructive. They should give a clear indication on the overall shape of the performance and standard of playing rather than counting faults and mistakes.

    However, if basic elements of training (tuning, timings, note lengths - as mentioned above) are not up to scratch, then the judge cannot and should not ignore that - if they do, they are not doing their job.

    If I received a remarks sheet(s) suggesting a band I was directing was out of tune, inaccurate or skimping note values, I would want to know.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2006

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