"He who pays the piper calls the tune"
Eliminating obstacles in the payment process can not only make for a much better experience from the client’s perspective, but can also make a huge difference in cash flow for the piper. While each performer has a slightly different approach and method to collecting on a gig, here are several things to consider:
Deposits are typically recommended for piping gigs. Not only do they help solidify the contract between client and performer, but also provide some liquidity for costs that the arise prior to the event, such as gas, uniform cleaning, equipment repairs, etc. I usually ask that events booked a month or more in advance pay 30-50% of the total quote as a deposit although other pipers choose to use a flat fee for the deposit. For short-notice events inside of a month (especially funerals), I usually waive the deposit — opting to have the client pay in full on the day — as it tends to make the process easier on both parties.
The rule of thumb is to allow the client to pay by whatever method works best for them. This means that the days of the cash-only method are gone. Not only does expanding available methods to include credit and debit cards, PayPal, or other “FinTech” platforms sometimes more convenient for the client, but they also improve cashflow and can be easier to track for reporting purposes.
I mentioned in my Tools for Bagpiping Gigs post about how I use Invoice2go to handle both card payments and record keeping, but other services are available too. Especially if the client wants to pay by card on the day of the event — having a handheld payment system like PayPal Here or Square can mean the difference between getting paid on the spot or waiting for a check in the mail a week later.
While I haven’t been asked yet to be paid by Bitcoin, it might be worthwhile to start looking should the need arise.
After talking about the merits of card and electronic payments — there is the drawback that typically all transactions will incur a processing fee. While new users usually enjoy a promotional period where the processing fee is waived, the transaction costs eventually creep into any digital payment method. If you are wary about paying fees, you may consider extending the payment period or offering a small discount if the client pays by cash or check.
Tipping isn’t too common an occurrence for bagpipe gigs, but if you are fortunate enough to get a little extra - be sure sent a special ‘thank you’ email or card!
Pipe on friends,