Thoughts on Paying Your Accompanists

Let me share a lesson taught to me by my grandfather and practiced by most well known Texas fiddlers. When you enter a fiddle contest, you want the best accompanists you can afford, and Texas is the place to find them. Most contests in Texas allow 3 accompanists plus 1 bass. If you decide to use a full powerhouse behind you and increase your odds of winning a contest, you should anticipate paying each one of them 10% of your total winnings. For example, the Texas State Championship Fiddlers' Frolics pays the winner $1,500. That means I pay each backup player $150. The two exceptions to that rule are (1) trading backup with another fiddler or (2) playing fiddle in the accompanist contest for one of your backup players.

(1) Trading backup involves using another fiddle player as one of your accompanists and then returning the favor. Each fiddler in this circumstance knows the strength of the backup guitar player/fiddler, knows that the effort he/she gives will be returned, and banks his/her winnings on fiddle playing and not guitar playing.

(2) Playing fiddle in the accompanist contest involves the accompanist paying you 10% and you paying the accompanist 10% with the biggest winner paying the difference.

The moral of the story...if you aren't willing to win $1,500 and pay out $600 (4 x $150), don't hire 4 accompanists. Hire only the number you can afford to pay. Trust me, when your accompanists know you appreciate them, they give their all to help you win...and that's how they do it in Texas!