We pay a minimum guarantee of $90/each for up to four performers (band plus caller) and
$75/each for more than that, loosing money on that night and dipping into our reserve when
necessary. I tell performers in writing that the default is equal shares but if they wish
another arrangement they must ask in advance and the band must agree. And, some callers do
ask for a higher guarantee. Even when they don’t, when a caller is coming from a distance,
sometimes 3+ hours and the musicians all reside locally I will simply set aside “travel
money” before dividing shares. Nearly all musicians are understanding of the need for
It sounds like you just need to be more proactive about asking for either a specific
amount, a specific share percentage regardless of the number of musicians, or travel
funds. The one share to caller, three shares to band (regardless of size) is not
At our dance, the house takes 20% of the profit AFTER minimums and expenses (rental,
insurance, flyers, etc) are paid. The 80% remaining goes to the performers. Our method was
developed based on Chrissy Fowler’s formula (Belfast, Maine dance) which was in turn based
on Concord, MA (I believe). I PDF of our Dance Cash Worksheet can be found at
MS Word Version is at http://bit.ly/1UGya56
On Jun 9, 2016, at 9:10 PM, Jack Mitchell via Organizers
As a caller who travels a bit to call, not always
traveling with a band, pay schedules which reduce the caller's payout based on how big
the band the caller is booked to work with are somewhat frustrating. If I go into it
knowing that I'm traveling with a 4 or 5 person band, I know that is going to affect
the pay on some dances. But when I'm traveling on my own and the pay is a share of a
pot for all performers, and I've been booked with the band with 6 local musicians and
that pot is divided 7 ways, it can be...disheartening (and also hard on the wallet if
I'm trying to break even on the trip).
Our local dance group works on something similar to the NEFFA model that you mention --
we know that we will lose money on some dances, and budget for that. We are able to pay
$165 minimum for up to a 4 person band and a caller. We also share any profits from that
particular dance with the band and caller. A smaller dance that I was involved with for a
while paid out shares of the door. (Of 5 shares), one share to the caller, 3 shares to the
band, 1 share to the house (they have since changed that to offer a guarantee).
On Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 2:34 PM Dan Pearl via Organizers
You will find all sorts of financial models out there, but which one is best for you
depends on a few factors.
An organization with a large bank account can perhaps run in the red some percentage of
the time. Larry Jennings, when setting up the finances for the Thursday NEFFA Contra
Dance in Concord, MA, estimated that we should lose money about 1/3 of the time. The
practical implication is that we have a higher guarantee than dances that need to be in
the black all the time.
We also allocate a different guarantee per player depending on the number of performers.
(Fewer perfs. => more per person).
We also kick in some time/gas money for those coming from a "distance".
Annoyingly, bur probably fairly, we have two "bonus" bands: The first band pays
out a fraction (depending on the group size) of the excess beyond a certain gate figure.
The second band kicks in at a higher level and essentially pays the performers any excess
(this recognizes that super-attractive performers are likely the cause for a
much-above-average attendance, so they should be rewarded.
Whatever you decide to do, try and be as fair as possible.
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