My wife, a violinist, used to play weddings where we used to live. She was plugged into the local network, and would sometimes be at bridal shows, paying their nominal charges to local vendors, because she would make it back in one wedding. She would arrange to play with as many musicians as the bride wanted, taking about a 25% cut of the extra price per musician.
Now we live in NYC. No strings musicians pay the exorbitant costs for a booth at the local bridal shows. My wife cut a special deal with one show, they gave her just a small table outside the entrance, which was plenty for her, but so recent that she hasn't played any weddings yet (these weddings could be a year or more out).
The brides paid $25 a head to come to the show. My wife paid $200 for the table. We got about 60 or so brides' contact infos, with about half phone numbers. (I helped her solicit brides, next time we'll do better.)
Another big show is coming up that charges $75 per bride. Again, they have no other string musicians. They're offering have my wife to pay $1750 for a booth, exclusivity in her field (string instruments), and to have her play several times during the show.
She doesn't need a booth. She isn't selling anything but herself. My opinion is that they should be paying my wife to play, not asking her to pay to play. Since I'm providing the funds to get her going in NYC, I've only agreed to let her pay $250.
I asked her how badly she wants to be there on a scale of 1 to 10, and she told me 7. It seems to me that string musicians do not pay to play very frequently at these shows. I doubt they'll have someone else if my wife does not play. I wonder how "High-end" it can be if they have a DJ or rock band, I don't know that market well here, maybe they'll have them.
My main question is, "What's the value in this, and what should our negotiating position be?" Obviously don't want to pay what they're asking. They don't seem to want to negotiate, but I'm thinking it's likely they'll accept her $250 offer at the last minute, rather than not have any strings at their event whatsoever. Would it be worth paying their full asking price? How would I calculate that? Maybe she should just pay the $75 entry fee, and network with vendors?