I was quite intrigued by a number of hot Facebook conversations yesterday about gospel artist Tasha Cobbs and her booking fee for her performances. A member from a church in Montgomery, Alabama wrote a snarky post complaining about Cobbs’ $23,000 booking and rider fee to which Cobbs accurately replied, “If you have to ask how much, then you can’t afford it!”
I silently said an “Amen” at my computer screen and proceeded to watch all of the conversation that arose about the validity of charging $23,000 for a 60-minute gospel concert. It was very interesting to see that there is still a very strong conversation about paying people in the spiritual arena with the equivalent of chicken dinners and love offerings.
I can relate to Tasha Cobbs as I had my own Come-to-Jesus moment about my pricing last weekend. I had the pleasure of attending Jena Rodriguez’s Be the Brand conference in Houston, Texas. I had a very intense moment when Jena challenged me to declare how much I wanted to charge for a premium package within my business. It took me a full 45 seconds to state what I wanted to charge for that service. I recognized that my hesitation in confidently declaring that price is because I am still in the process of truly understanding the VALUE that I bring to the table.
Now that I’ve been home for a few days, I am beginning to see that my pricing isn’t just about paying for my WiFi, firing up my laptop, and covering my Brooklyn rent. My pricing also includes my VALUE, which encompasses my 15 years of editorial experience, the nearly 30 books I have brought to life, and the extraordinary caliber of authors I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years. I share my experience not as bragging rights but as a TESTAMENT to the VALUE ADDED experience that I know I can provide to my authors.
I can attest that when I was first starting out, I was just happy to be considered for the work, and I would just let people tell me what they were willing to pay. There is nothing like a relocation to New York, becoming an entrepreneur, and working with a savvy business coach to make me realize that I have every right to place the right number on my services that accurately reflects my time, my experience, my quality of life, and how I choose to grow my life and my business.
So many times in the spiritual arena we are used to telling people what we think they are worth instead of paying them for their known VALUE. I strongly believe that we have to break out of this mentality of compensating people with a hot meal and few hundred bucks. I’m sure the hospitality committee at that church in Alabama can hook up some great fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, and greens. But a filling plate of soul food and a paltry honorarium does NOT cover travel, lodging, a team, or company overhead.
Some of the commentary I saw yesterday also talked about Tasha Cobbs becoming exclusive and limiting her accessibility to a wider audience. Instead of being snarky on social media, the church could have been creative and partnered with another church to split the cost for Tasha’s booking fee or maybe they could have negotiated with Tasha’s team for pricing for a shorter set. Service-based providers and performers are always willing to negotiate (within reason!) for clients and projects that make sense for their business.
Tasha Cobbs now has a number of albums, a Grammy Award, and multiple Stellar and Dove Awards. Heck, I don’t think $23,000 is ENOUGH for the caliber of her talent and the appeal of her voice. So if a certain church can’t pay for her services, there is definitely an organization or ministry who understands her VALUE and will have no problem with INVESTING in the musical experience that she will provide. She has certainly done the work to not have to settle for a price point below her value.
For me, it has been a very vulnerable and scary process to confidently declare and implement a fair and worthy pricing scale for my services. Some potential clients have blinked in awe at my pricing while others have simply asked where to send the check. I’m learning that it’s really OK either way. But what I will no longer do is diminish my VALUE in the marketplace. Who I am and what I KNOW I can provide is certainly worth a whole lot more than a chicken dinner and a love offering.