3.10.2012

every bellydancer should know...rates {industry standards}

It's all fun and games until it's time to talk about money. Isn't that always the way? 

Most people don't like to talk about money. I get it. This is the thing though, last time I looked (I really did!) the bellydance profession was not included in any agency issued professional salary guides. Therefore it behooves professional bellydancers to research and converse about pay rates a bit more openly than you would discuss your taxes or another profession's salary. It's especially helpful for dancers that are newer and just crossing over into the paid realm of bellydance.
At first it seems like unstable and confusing territory. "Am I asking for too much, is it too little, what are other dancers asking, will I get tips (as if "HOW" we get tipped isn't enough to worry about), should I give a discount?"
Relax, it will all smooth out in front of you as you gain more experience, it won't be nearly as unsettling as it seems at first. But before that you will benefit from:
  • good industry standard pay rate data
  • caring guidance from an experienced professional
These two resources are your quickest path through the murkiness of bellydance pay rates. So many dancers think being armed with the cold hard facts and figures of pay rates is enough to represent themselves as professionals. Never underestimate the value of the experienced dancers that came before you. Whether they are your coach, mentor, instructor, fellow class mate, or friend -- if they are a successful, ethical and caring professional bellydancer with many years of experience -- you will be on fair and stable ground in no time if you heed their input. If they truly care about you and the future of bellydance they won't steer you wrong. Of course this requires you do your homework and research to find the right "guides".
Personally speaking, I can't express to you how grateful I am to my experienced dancer contacts, friends and coaches (Taheya, Zoe Jakes, Michelle Joyce to name a few) that helped me on my way to becoming a professional paid dancer many years ago. Their advice on working with bands, managers, money, clients and SO much more was and is GOLD! I believe in paying it forward. If I could ever be of service to you, you know where to find me:)
about industry standard rates
Beautiful dancer Samira Shuruk has generously provided a great Bellydance Rates by Region page (to read click here) on her website. I highly recommend it. I completely respect how responsible Samira is in reminding the reader that
"This list has been created for the express purpose of being a pro-active tool for dancers to gain awareness of the fair rates in their region. Remember its about being fair, not forcing higher rates than a region can support, or creating a hostile environment with anyone."
Other valuable reads and lessons in bellydance pay rates:
Sage Aunt Rocky (Morocco) gives her story here on the dangers of undercutting. 
Behind the Rates by the beautiful Shems! Read it here.
Some general do's and don'ts from the Nazeem Allayl Dancers website. Read here.

This information and advice should have you well on your way to having an intelligent and productive discussion on rates in the bellydance industry. And remember -- it's good to ask away!  
What are some of your questions on rates in the bellydance world?
xo, 
G

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