I’ll keep my own editorial content minimal here, since I already blog and Bhuz voluminously on the subject of undercutting. But I believe that one of the most important tools in elevating the art form and protecting community standards is being able to speak intelligently about the subject of rates. After all, we’ve all been in a position where we’ve had to convince a prospect that booking a 45-minute “belly dance” show for $100 (or less) might not be such a good idea.
As the adage goes, knowledge is power. I like to read these great articles whenever I need a little encouragement or a better way to phrase the classic “you get what you pay for” speech. Share them with your dance friends and forward them to all your students! If you have an article to contribute, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list!
Wages and Why We Must Stand Together, by Artemis Mourat
Behind the Rates: Why Belly Dancers Charge What They Do, by Shems
If Prices Are Up All Over, Why Are Oriental Dancers Getting Less? by Morocco
Calling All Professional Dancers: What Do You Charge? by Nanna Candelaria
How to Charge What You’re Worth, by Michelle Joyce
Samira Shuruk’s Article on Rates & Business Ethics
Comments · 5
That’s a great list. Undercutting will always be a problem, but we need to stop doing it by accident. I think just sharing our rates makes a huge difference. When you know what everybody else is charging, you don’t have to be afraid of charging “too much”.
A good chunk of the dancers in my area started posting their rates on their web pages a few years ago, and the rates are creeping up, at least for private parties. I’ve raised my base rate twice since then, and have seen no reduction in demand.
I’d have to agree that communication stinks in the belly dance world. A lot of undercutting is more ignorant than malicious. This can be prevented by making the standard known. We can’t complain about undercutting if we’re doing nothing to communicate that it’s unethical and bad branding.
Totally agree with you on the subject of demand. I’m something of an overcutter, but when you offer a unique specialty and a pleasant, professional way of engaging customers in the pre-gig planning process, they’ll respect what you’re worth and pay accordingly.
In today’s economic climate, clients want to know that their hard-earned money is going toward something special. Low prices aren’t the be-all, end-all when it comes to value. Added value is a great recession-proof strategy and it doesn’t hurt your brand when times get better! In fact, it only makes your business stronger.
I just got around to reading this and some of the responses in Artemis’ article seem snippy and rude. I have a lot of a respect for Artemis, but I don’t think that taking her frustrations out on clients is a very smart business move.
“Years ago all the PROFESSIONAL dancers got together and standardized our wages and anyone who will work for less is not a professional dancer. You will get a housewife or hobbyist. You will be embarrassed and your guests will be disappointed and they will all know that you opted for the cheapest deal in town. It is like anything in life, you get what you pay for. You certainly do not have to hire me, but I would caution you to not hire ANYONE who will work for less than the standard wage.”
If I were a client and someone said that to me, I would totally be put off by it and think that the dancer was territorial, rude or both. You can not combat undercutting by speaking to clients in this manner.
Yes. Some of those responses are waaaay more “ballsy” than I’d ever feel comfortable repeating to any of my prospective clients! Michelle Joyce’s responses, IMO, are more tactful and to-the-point. Lots of clients, even after speaking with cheaper dancers, will come back to me because they felt I was the most likeable. Tact goes a long way when you’re fighting “the good fight” ;)
The reason why I still respect Artie’s article is that it’s still relevant even after all these years. She probably had such a fiesty tone because not many people (other than Morocco) were really writing about the issue at the time. We’ve come a long way in such a short time, but you’ve gotta hand it to Artie for taking a stand!
I love what Michelle Joyce says about the “buyer beware” tactic:
“This is a tricky one because you don’t want to sound like a jerk, but you want to warn them that all dancers are not equal. You get what you pay for. No need to beat them over the head with this one, just subtly mention it and move on.”