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‘Eat the rich!’: Musician shares tip for getting paid more (updated)

It goes all the way to the top.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Oct 11, 2023   Updated on Oct 12, 2023, 1:55 pm CDT

Musician Helena Hallberg has some advice for musicians invited to play private or corporate gigs: Look up what the CEO gets paid.

In a TikTok that has more than 100,000 views, Hallberg, a Nashville-based multi-instrumentalist and singer, shares what happens when her band is offered a corporate gig.

“We look at their 2022 results, and look at the balance sheet and see how much money they made,” she says. “See how much the CEO got paid.”

“And then we adjust our rate accordingly,” her bandmate adds.

@helenahallbergmusic You get yours, artists. #womeninmusic #fyp #newmusic #songwriter #independentartist #musicrelease ♬ original sound – Helena Hallberg

“This is so real!! I do this when pricing speaking engagements for conferences,” said one commenter.

All publicly traded companies are required to disclose quarterly financial statements. Executive pay is typically disclosed in annual statements.

CEO pay in a range of industries has ballooned over the last few years while worker pay has stagnated and led to labor strikes and unions.

While big-ticket tours have done well this summer, some independent musicians have stopped touring altogether due to COVID-related costs and health issues.

The Daily Dot reached out to Hallberg, who exposed TikTok to the Appalachian dulcimer, for comment on this approach. She is an independent artist with a debut full-length album out next year.

Update 1:47pm CT, Oct. 12: Hallberg tells the Daily Dot that this approach applies to events like conferences or company parties.

“The CEO-pay aspect is really just one of the metrics I look at,” she explains “It can be a reflection of how well the company is doing, as well as a metric to determine the willingness of a company to spend money on things ‘non-essential’ to the business.”

Hallberg also says she learned to value her work from an experience last year. She booked a gig, and the company offered her more money than she quoted.

“That’s never the situation you wanna be in; one where you could have asked for more money,” she says. After budgeting for logistics and travel, she realized she still wouldn’t be making much profit.

“So from then on, I became diligent about really knowing who’s hiring me and what my services might be worth to them,” she says. “They can always counter with a lower offer if my quote is too high.”

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*First Published: Oct 11, 2023, 5:18 pm CDT