This is intended as friendly guidance to musicians who have been invited to play for us or wish to be invited

How we choose performers and what we pay

We normally invite performers whom we have already heard at other concerts in the area. We seldom invite performers who contact us “out of the blue”. If you do wish to contact us to offer your services please indicate what fees you are expecting, if you do not do this there is no point in contacting us as we have to work with limited budgets and we may not reply to your emails. To give some guidance, for our Farnham concert we typically have to pay £200-£450 to hire a venue and have ticket sales in the range £800-£1200, so we typically pay professionals:

  • £300-£600 for a solo performer
  • £400-£800 in total for a duo
  • £600-£1500 in total for a trio or quartet

In some cases where the performers are playing for fees that are below their normal ones we may agree to pay in addition the amount by which the donations received exceed our total costs. All our concerts now are funded by retiring donations and sponsors and associated gift aid. We have found that this arrangement provides more total income than ticket sales and makes our concerts accessible for music lovers who might not afford a full ticket price.

VAT: TBS is not VAT registered and so VAT added by a performer is a cost to us. Hence the fees that we agree include any VAT and we do not pay VAT on top unless we make an explicit agreement to do so.

When we put on concerts to give students performing experience we normally provide a small gratuity and this is the case for the Godalming concerts.

We know that the market is over-supplied and fees are very low compared to other professions but we have to work within what we receive from ticket sales and private donations.

We aim to continue contact with young performers and if possible to invite them back again after an interval of around two years. We take great pleasure in the successful development of your career.

Contractual Terms

We do not normally sign individual contracts but the following are the terms under which we operate. We agree what we will pay by email and if we intend to pay travelling expenses we will state this explicitly in the email, otherwise you should assume that they are included in the fee. If you are unsure please do not hesitate to ask. On occasions when the level of donations from the audience allow we may pay more than we have agreed.

If you have to cancel for reasons beyond your control we expect you to inform us immediately and to try to offer a replacement.

We will cancel a booking only in extreme circumstances. This has happened once in over 10 years due to a misunderstanding about the programme. If we have to cancel more than one month before the concert we do not undertake to pay any compensation, but we might pay some depending on the circumstances. If we have to cancel less than one month before the concert for reasons under our control we will pay reasonable compensation provided that we have the funds to do so. If we have to cancel because another critical performer has themselves cancelled and has not provided a satisfactory substitute we will not pay compensation but will try to rearrange the concert and programme.

We do have some cancellation insurance through Making Music and if the insurance pays for a cancellation we will use the money to provide reasonable compensation, even above what we have just stated.


We will agree the programme in advance with you. When you send a list of the pieces to be played please include:

  • full name and dates of the composer
  • any catalogue number of each piece eg BWV021 or D.960

We have found that audiences do vary according to what is played and so we do not allow performers to play what they want, although we will take account of your wishes and the pieces that you currently have “on offer”. We need to avoid concerts where the performance is wonderful but we do not enjoy the music. So the choice of music is more important for us than it is for many music societies.

We are very happy to act as a “live rehearsal” for performances at venues such as the Wigmore Hall provided that the programme is likely to appeal to our members.

How we will treat you

We aim to treat you as well as we can in a friendly and informal manner. We welcome you when you arrive in Farnham for rehearsals, we provide tea/coffee and biscuits, we feed you a light supper before the performance and leave the food for you to have a snack during the interval or after the concert, we pay you within a few days after the concert.

If you need it we will try to meet you from Farnham train station and drive you back there afterwards.

We have been told that we treat performers better than almost all other societies.

Comps, visitors accompanying musicians and babies.

As our concerts have free access and a voluntary reitring collection the issue of comps does not arise. All musicians are welcome to bring friends and guests..

Please do ask us at least two weeks before the concert if you plan to bring a child or infant and especially if you need somewhere private to feed the baby. If we are going to give you a lift in a car we can only take a baby is you bring a suitable baby seat, otherwise you will need to get a taxi.

A cautionary word about social media and politics

We observe that a number of musicians express political views actively on social media. Whilst accurately informed and well argued opinions are always welcome as they advance knowledge and understanding, some of the views expressed on subjects such as Brexit and US politics are disrespectful and rude to people who hold different opinions. TBS depends heavily on the good will and generosity of its sponsors who hold a range of different opinions on such topics and we are unlikely to invite to perform those musicians who make disrespectful and rude posts on social media.

What we expect from you

Please understand that we are run by unpaid volunteers who do have other commitments. Performers who are easy for music societies to deal with will receive many more invitations to perform, and we do recommend our performers to other societies. We say this in a friendly spirit and hope that it will help you to gain many invitations to play. We need:

Your email address, the best phone number to contact you and within the two days before the performance your mobile number for use in emergencies. Please put your phone number in your email signature and also put an indication of the times of day when you are most likely to be reached by phone.

A reply within 2 days to our emails and any messages that we leave for you. If you are not able to provide any information within this time then please send a one sentence reply indication when you will be able to do so – this confirms to us that you have received our email or message and have the matter in hand  – we understand if you cannot reply fully immediately.

One or more photos to use in our flyers, webpage and printed programme. If you are an ensemble we prefer a photo of you all together. If this is not possible then we need head and shoulder photos of each of you with reasonably similar photo backgrounds, so that we can make up a collage, or at least photos of each of you in the same style. The photos need to make you look attractive to the potential audience and to other potential concert organisers, so we want happy looking performers not sullen scowls (even if they are fashionable). Perhaps it is a matter of taste but slightly less formal and slightly side on photos seem to look best (ie shoulders and/or head should point slightly to the side).  Have a look as some of the collages we have used for our festivals see what we mean. We suggest smart but not necessarily full blown performance clothes. Anything looking like a “glamour” photo should be avoided so no airbrushing! Sadly we have been sent many photos that do the performers no credit. They also need to be at least 1500 pixels wide – the higher the resolution the better. We need these photos as soon as possible after booking you. In your own interests you should have these readily available and downloadable from your website. It is disappointing what poor photos we are often given, especially by younger players.

Details of your programme as agreed with us as soon as possible after booking you. Where there is one, we need the catalogue number for the pieces to be played and if there both a Opus number and a catalogue number we need both.

Pianists: Please tell us as soon as possible if you will need a page turner or if you can bring a friend who will turn for you – we will pay their travel and a small fee.

An interesting personal biography for inclusion in our programme to be provided at least two weeks before the concert so that we can put it on our website. Sadly the standard type of biography in the classical music industry is AWFUL and most unsuitable (it is a CV not a biography). Our audience want something interesting to read about you, not a list of pieces you have performed, places you have played at and people you have performed with. Things to include are:

–          What attracted you to become a musician

–          The people who have influenced your career most and why

–          What has helped you most in your career so far

–          Your favourite composers, music, and performers

–          Your hobbies and other interests – the more unusual the better!

–          Your long term goals

If it helps to write the biography in the first person “I…” then that is fine with us. We can also write the biography for you from notes that you give us.

Information on any food allergies or preferences (eg vegetarian, vegan, gluten free) to be provided at least two weeks before the concert since we will be providing you with food and do not wish to make you ill!

Your travel plans. We can supply local maps and parking information and collect you from Farnham Station as needed but some venues are only 5 minutes walk away. If three or more of you are travelling together (both directions) by train, please buy a Group Ticket as it saves a lot of money.

Names of people accompanying you and any complimentary tickets wanted. Especially we need to know if you are bringing a child or baby.

Dress smartly and coordinate your clothes if you are a group – although our society is quite informal the human senses are interlinked and the music sounds better if the appearance is good. This is seldom an issue for single performers but if you are part of a group do try to coordinate the colours of your clothes.

Enjoy playing and communicating – smile at the audience and smile at each other – it makes such a difference for the audience.

Talk to the audience – talk about the music you are playing and mention something for the audience to listen out for – again it makes a huge difference.

Play an encore if it is at all appropriate given the programme, sometimes it is a distraction f the final piece is especially powerful. An encore comes across a “thank you” to the audience and is a good way to ensure that you will be invited back again.

Your bank details for payment. We make all payments by electronic transfer so we need your account name, sort code and account number.

And finally, if you hope to be invited back, make your mark by sending a brief “thank you” email. It seems sad to have to say this but not all performers do and such emails mean a lot to the unpaid volunteers who organise the concerts.