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Hiring a professional musician for a cocktail party, wedding, anniversary, dinner party or corporate event makes the event extra special. Costs for a live solo musician can vary depending on factors such as the length of the performance, how far the musician has to travel, the musician’s skill level and how in-demand the performer is.

Skill

Generally, the more skilled the musician, the higher the cost. But that’s not always true. Some musicians who are just starting to perform can be less expensive but quite talented. Listen to music on a performer’s personal website, SoundCloud or Bandcamp site to find someone whose style fits your needs.

Experience

Musicians with a lot of experience playing at events tend to cost more. For some people, the extra cost is worth knowing that they are getting someone who has been demonstrably successful at his or her craft.

Time

Many musicians charge based on the amount of time you want them to play. For example, Tucker Dale of Redondo Beach, California, charges $200 for up to two hours and $50 an hour thereafter.

Type of event

Some musicians’ costs vary depending on the type of event. For example, Scotty Paulk of Austell, Georgia, charges $50 an hour to perform at restaurants but $100 an hour for private parties and weddings. MarkOHarps of Arlington, Virginia, charges $100 for a small 45-minute dinner party and up to $350 for a large wedding and reception.

Union musicians

Members of the American Federation of Musicians union have defined minimum rates. While this may be a more expensive route than nonunion options, you will likely enjoy a highly professional experience.

Travel distance

Some musicians charge travel fees to attend events that are relatively far from where they live and typically work. For example, Aaron Copenhagen of Acoustic Guitar for All Occasions in Burbank, California, charges an initial flat fee for a set number of hours but adjusts that based on travel expenses and the gear needed to perform the job. He also charges by the hour for overtime. The Ocdamia Strings of Anaheim, California, sends musicians free to events within Orange County and Los Angeles County but charges $1 per mile in excess of 20 miles from Anaheim.

Consultation

It’s always a good idea to meet with the musician in person or over the phone to plan your event and make sure expectations are set. This should be a free service.

Deposit

Some musicians require a deposit upfront to secure their services. For example, The Ocdamia Strings requires a signed contract and a 25 percent deposit to book a date and time. The remaining balance is due on the day of the event before the performance.

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Millions of people ask Thumbtack for help with their projects every year. We track the estimates they get from local professionals, then we share those prices with you.