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Standard Rates for Music and Dancing

Rates for professionals, including government and trade union sources. Keep up with a FREE subscription to the BABA YAGA newsletter.

Your income will vary by job, genre, location, duration, whether or not it is unionized, and your status as a dancer. These rates are for professional dancers of all types in major cities.

SAG/AFTRA UNION RATES for dancers in music videos

  • For videos with budgets of $200,000 or less, compensation is subject to negotiation for all covered performers.
  • For videos with budgets greater than $200,000, minimum dancer rates apply, and compensation is subject to negotiation for all other covered performers.
    • Ten hours: $510.
    • Twelve hours: $614.
    • Rehearsal (8 hr minimum): $275
    • Rehearsal overtime: $40/hr.
    • $40 if performer is asked to bring any specific wardrobe item.
    • Extra-ordinary risk payments are specified for productions of any budget.


  1. Music Video: expect to be paid for rehearsal time and for the shoot. Rehearsals run from $175 for four hours to $250 for eight hours. A full, 12-hour day of shooting will be about $550. If the gig is non-union, you may also get a buyout(a one-time fee for the use of your likeness in the future). Buyouts can pay you up to $1,000.
  2. Movies, TV Shows and Commercials: The Screen Actors Guild stipulates these rates: Rehearsal fees are typically $446 a day, with each day of shooting compensating around $581- $759. (Commercials pay $303- $567.) Weekly rates run $2,034 - $2,440. You may also earn extra income from residuals, which are royalties based on the success and run of the production.
  3. Music Artist Tour: Going on tour with an up-and-coming artist means you'll make anywhere from $1,000- $1,500 per week. Hitting the road with an established, chart-topping artist will bring you more money, usually $1,500 - $2,000 per week. While on tour, you'll receive a per diem (a daily cash contribution for miscellaneous expenditures) of around $45-$75. Your weekly pay will be broken into various daily rates depending on what the schedule is. For instance, a travel day pays less than a rehearsal day or a show day.
  4. Industrials: An industrial is a show put on by a company (like Nike or Coke) to promote its products or services. These productions are usually private events, not for the general public. Expect to make similar rates as you would in a music video.
  5. Dance Company: Many companies belong to a union called the American Guild of Musical Artists, which negotiates contracts for the artists. These companies are required to pay no less than what AGMA stipulates as a minimum amount; however, dancers can negotiate for additional pay. Salary ranges depend on the company's size and location. At a medium-sized company like Atlanta Ballet, a first-year apprentice can make $365 a week base pay. At a large, international company, such as the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, a new dancer makes at least $775 a week during rehearsal and performance periods. By his or her fourth year in the company, that wage rises to $1,026.
  6. Broadway Show: Actors' Equity Association is the union that represents actors and stage managers. For dancers on a production contract, the minimum is $1,509/week.
  7. Opera: Opera companies are a good source of supplemental income for dancers. In the 2005 - 2006 season, San Francisco Opera paid its solo dancers a minimum of $689 per performance. The weekly rate was $1,435. These rates will differ greatly among opera companies and between non-union and union companies.
  8. Guesting Gigs: Working as a guest artist is a great way for professionals to earn extra income. Many local and regional studios and companies, for instance, hire guests to dance the lead roles in their Nutcracker productions, as well as any classics. A principal dancer from a small to mid-level professional company could earn up to $1,000 per show for a full-length or $700 for a one-act, plus $200 for rehearsals and $30 per diem. A college dancer, on the other hand, might earn $150 for a one-act, $150 for rehearsals, and the same $30 per diem. Travelling expenses are usually covered as well.
  9. Pick-Up Work: Non-union pick-up gigs provide performance experience and widen your dance network. Some pick-up companies can compensate dancers for rehearsals and performances, while others may only pay for performance. If you're with a truly fledgling company, your pay might be dinner after the show! Choose your projects wisely, enjoy the work that you're doing and use pick-up work to network, network, network.


Dancers's Alliance is not an official union; more of a guild that works together to stabilize conditions and wages for dancers. They are more active in LA and Miami than in NYC; the NY branch may have been subsumed into SAG-AFTRA. Their LA page on WORKING provides a good list of things to be aware of when negotiating rates.


Belly dancers have special concerns when contracting for music videos... mainly the problem with the GPs perception of bellydance = exotic dance. The following list has been garnered from discussions on about what to be alert for if your goal is to be presented as a dancer, not a wiggling butt.
  1. How much artistic control will the dancer have over the choreography?
  2. How much control will the dancer have over the camera work? In other words, will she be allowed to veto objectifying close-ups of jiggling breast and crotch?
  3. How much control will the dancer have over costume choice?
  4. How much veto power will the dancer have over marketing messages regarding her? For example, will she be allowed to veto ad copy referring to her as a "hot, juicy sex machine"?
  5. Will the dancer have an opportunity to learn in advance what the song lyrics are, and will she be able to hold the band to it? Ie, no last minute changes to the lyrics that cause them to end up with something like, "Oh, look at the sexy belly dancer - I want to jump her bones"!
  6. Will there be other dancers also on the video? If so, what will they be doing and what will they be wearing?
  7. What type of surface will you be dancing on? (Bigger issue if you dance barefoot, but still an issue even with dance shoes, they may not realize that it's dangerous to dance on certain surfaces)
  8. What are the dimensions of the dance area? Will you have a big open area or be dancing around the band or other obstacles?
  9. Does the band expect you to interact with them and or other people in the video and what sort of interaction are they expecting (do they want you to get up on the band members and grind?)
  10. What will the lighting be like? (Perhaps an issue if they have crazy strobes or something that may affect your ability to balance, focus, and not run into things while dancing)
  11. What is the story the song and video are trying to tell?
  12. Can you watch previous videos the band has done (if any)? Maybe you can get an idea of how they treat women in them.
  13. You may want to ask if you can contact the director to see if there are any story boards or mock up's in place. Usually someone has drawn out sketches of how the final product should appear, these may give you the best idea of the final product.


Regional Pay for Belly Dancers

Samira Shuruk maintains, with the help of input dancers across the USA, a Regional Rates by Region chart.

Occupational Outlook Handbook

The US Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Dancers and Choreographers describes what dancers and choreographers can expect their work to be, what it will be in the future, and what the pay scales are.

The US Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Musicians and Singers describes current and future work prospects and pay for musicians.

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