Four Things Every Musician Needs to Know

#1: Hobby vs. Service

Hobby: Noncommercial. Start and stop whenever you want. You don’t have to work continuously to hone it, spend time and money advertising it, or carry equipment. However, when the time, place, duration, and high quality are all specified, that’s not a hobby any more – it’s a service, especially in a business BASED on (making money from) that service.

#2: Saying No to Lousy Gigs

Try it, it’s incredible: liberating, empowering, valuable… Did you “lose” a mediocre gig just ’cause you asked for what you’re worth? WIN! Use the time you save in making more great music, busking, recording, making a video, or performing at a celebratory “we said no” house concert.

#3: No Band is an Island

We’re all in the same market, and it’s not that big. When bands devalue themselves by performing for low, zero, or negative compensation, they drag everyone else down with them, consciously or otherwise. Just ask someone who was playing in clubs in the early ’80s what whey were making, then look up “pay to play.”

#4: Exposure Kills

It’s no coincidence that the ubiquitous term ‘exposure’ refers to what kills you in bad weather – it’s generally used to get artists to work for low or no compensation in exchange for an unspecified amount of an intangible commodity of dubious value. Booking agents will freely tout their venue’s excellent exposure opportunity, yet tell you there’s no built-in draw.

Author: Jake Pegg. Coordinator, Fair Trade Music PDX
Local 99 exec board

Excerpted from Local 47’s article on Fair Trade Music, June 2012.

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