The Compensation Question: Setting rates the right way

Artists must keep the right mindset when deciding how much to charge

Many artists dread one question more than any other.

Not “So what kind of [music, art, books] do you [play, draw, write]?”

Not, “Do you know anyone famous?”

Not, “What’s your real job?”

No, the question many of us dread the most is: “How much do you charge?”

While everyone works for a living, professional musicians, artists and creatives often live for their work. Therefore, because we creatives tend to see our work as an extension of ourselves, setting a rate can become a deeply personal decision. Some wish they didn’t have to charge at all. Others hate having to haggle and negotiate with people who balk at the costs they quote. In any case, rather than waiting to be asked about your fee for a gig, service or product, it’s best to have some things already thought out in advance.

Here’s some tips on how to maintain a proper mindset while setting your rates.

What you shouldn’t think about

1. Don’t think about what you need. The first mistake most musicians and creatives make when charging fees is becoming a prisoner of the moment. You might think about the car payment that is due, the groceries that you need, or the equipment you’ve been dying to purchase. However, all of your responses at this point are now tied to a temporary situation. Instead of thinking of what your services are worth, you’re thinking of what your current financial need is. This means you will adjust your rates higher or lower, and your pricing model will never be consistent. Instead, set your rates long in advance and don’t change them simply because of a momentary financial need or desire. You’ll avoid being swayed or influenced when you are presenting your rates to a potential client.

3 ways creatives can survive a slow season

When an artist sees opportunities diminish, it's time to do more, not less

It’s the saddest sound in the world. Actually because it’s not a sound at all.

It’s the sound of a creative’s phone that isn’t ringing.

Working as an entrepreneurial artist can take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. There are times when business is booming, clients are calling, and we can barely keep up with demand for our talents. Then, there’s the opposite – the times when days and weeks go by without a single text, email, or inquiry. Not only can this be emotionally depressing for the creative, it can be financially devastating if we haven’t set up reserves or an alternate source of income.

So, what should we do when our work flow slows down to a trickle?

Our July 2017 Spiritual Shed in Miami, FL

Photos from a wonderful ConEx event discussing money, music and how we handle the business of creativity.

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The Spiritual Shed event held in Miami, July 10, 2017 brought together musicians, artists, engineers, worship leaders and songwriters to discuss money and our approach to being compensated as professionals. Using resources like Jeff Goins’ “Real Artists Don’t Starve” and other materials, we unpacked ideas and challenged concepts that keep local and national musicians from achieving financial success. All told, our participants felt refreshed, inspired, and motivated to make the best of the gifts they’ve been given in order to develop a prosperous and rewarding career.

For more info on upcoming local events in your area, go to

Photo credit: Nicole Yarling 

Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2017)

It’s the one question that people ask creatives and artists over and over again, and it’s the one that we loathe the most.

“What’s your real job?”

Even as our culture celebrates creative achievement in the form of blockbuster movies, chart-topping singers, music and dance reality-show competitions, and overnight Youtube sensations, most people still assume that every creative has to have a plan B.

Announcing the God and Gigs Show

We’re proud to announce our new podcast, “The God and Gigs Show.” This show, hosted by Allen C. Paul and CriStyle Renae, will be a bi-weekly, entertaining discussion of topics that affect artists of all disciplines. We’ll talk about current trends, interview musicians and artists, explore practical strategies and apply spiritual principles to our careers to help our listeners excel in everyday life.

We’ll post new episodes on Tuesdays every other week, and you can get the episodes sent directly to your podcast app by subscribing. You’ll be able to find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast sites.




This new project will require more resources and support than maintaining our website does. To partner with us in the production of this podcast, become a Patron of the show by going to our Patreon page and joining our Circle, Core or Creator communities. You can support us by committing to as little as a dollar an episode. Every contribution helps, plus Patrons get exclusive access and show bonuses.