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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Texas Guest Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent. (44) RE: Getting paid to sing in Retirement Cent. 14 Jun 07

Well, gee, where to start. Alot has been said here already but I'm not going to go over it and fine pick it - some I agree with and some I don't, but that's o.k. I am a folkie - I guess - and since I'm not a singer-songwriter I cannot work the coffeehouse circuit; since I don't do contemporary hits and rock songs - the bars aren't too interested in what I do either; and, the restaurants don't need me because folks are there to eat and chat, etc. Therefore, you have to be creative.

I do, however, make a living singing songs and entertaining folks. I do festivals (mostly Irish an Celtic) and kids shows and community gatherings; but, my bread and butter is my "day job" - retirement communities, nursing and rehab facilities and "memory" homes. No, I do not make a fortune - but I do get by.

I don't want to tell you what to do here, so I'll tell you what works for me. I play guitar and sing - that's it; no tapes or back-up tracks or karaoke, etc., and I do songs from the 1800's to about the 1970's. Yes, most of the songs that I do they will know, except when I'm playing a "memory" unit and then "all" of the songs they will know and know well.

It is important to know and be able to read your audience - all retirement audiences are different; believe me, they are all different. Some groups are vivacious and eager to jump right in and sing along with you and others wouldn't be caught dead singing because singing is for "old people, not us" so they just sit there and look through you until you warm them up with some stuff they are fond of.

Some groups you'd better not sing the same songs to two visits in a row and some groups only want the same thirteen songs every time you come. Most folks love the stories I tell about the songs, the artists who originally sang the songs or the "true" history that a song may be written about - a few want nothing but a juke box, "shut up and sing." Retirement facilities are all different and each of them seems to have it's own "collective" personality.

Activity Directors (AD) are mostly female and they all generally come and go with the prevailing wind - in Texas that means lots of change. Again, every facility is different and every AD is different and one would guess that any particular AD is probably looking for that "perfect match" job for her/him. It is important that you get every AD "in your corner" but understand that you will have to be a persistent "bugger" to stay busy. It is a fine line between being a pest and staying in front of their faces so that they'll call you first rather than last. Also, some of them book only one month at a time and others will book you for a whole year in advance - they're all different.

Money. Oh, yeah, money. First off, I can't tell you what to charge in your area because I don't know your economy - hell, I don't know my own economy, for that matter. I also don't mind folks knowing what I charge - for a hundred different reasons that I won't go into here. I go in at $100 for a full hour. Will I play for less? Yes. Why? Because many - not some, many - facilities have a ridiculasly low budget for music (or anything else, for that matter). So how do you know? You go in high and you decide if you want to come down.
Personally, I like to put the ball in the AD's court and simply ask them what their budget will allow - then it's a read on your part.
Are they being truthful or not? You will get a feel for it over time, trust me. I have been surprised around many a corner where money is concerned and you will be too; but, most of the AD's are honest and you'll know when they're not being honest.

You know, as much as I'm on this site I should probably join up and then we could exchange information over the phone. I'd be more than happy to answer any question you have, or, throw some specific questions back into this thread and I'll respond if you like. Hope this helps. Cheers.

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