Posted on March 5, 2019, 12:00 am
Working as a professional musician can be amazing. Each of us uniquely shape our creative pursuits in hopes of witnessing our dreams materialize firsthand. But as you have realized by now, self employment is a big responsibility. It often gets daunting considering the ups and downs of taking new work, or leaving work you feel has run its course. Sometimes we feel like we are one good gig or meeting away from the next career level. So what are some of the things to take into consideration about the future value of a gig when work opportunities arise?
1. Professional Income Value
If you immediately read this and thought ‘money,’ you're right! But also wrong. When you enter into business relationships with people, these relationships exist on the basis of upholding a negotiated set of terms on both sides. What is expected of you for the pay you receive? What accommodations are provided on a daily basis? It is the exchange as a whole that you need to consider when assessing new work, not just dollar amount.
As you build your business and life, you might find much less availability for accepting certain types of work or that certain terms matter more than others while you are in negotiations. These are all good things just so long as they are considered for your unique situation.
2. Professional Relationship Value
Depending on your financial obligations, this is arguably as important as the income value. Who else is associated with the work you are considering? How many people involved do you have personal/professional history with? How would you assess the tensions between everyone involved? Your relationships can have long lasting affects on your work and business. Consider how you can build up the members of any project. Everyone likes the guy/girl who makes other people sound better.
3. Professional Experience Value
Does the work you are considering contribute to your already existing pursuits? Will you be playing with a certain level artist? Does it take you to new venues? Professional experience has value on a number of levels including fine-tuning skills, contributing to a resume, and making relationships while traveling the world. Not to mention many professional experiences come from previous professional experiences so this is a big one to consider!
4. Professional Legend Value
This can be a cool perk of the job and takes a lot of forms. Maybe you find yourself on the same gig or bill with someone who played on your favorite records. Maybe its a bar gig with the bass player of a famous 70s band. Maybe it’s spending time with a 90 year old actor at an award show. Whatever it is, keep your ears open and soak up the wisdom! They make for very special experiences.
5. Professional Fulfillment Value
A lot of advancing in music comes in the form of setting goals and taking steps to hit them. Does the gig help you fulfill something you are working towards? Is it the climax of a certain professional season or perhaps an introduction to a new one? Sometimes fulfillment simply comes in the form of getting lost in the music night after night or family members coming to shows.
6. Professional Qualification Value
There are always new places to rise to in music. Sometimes a gig offers a new job position, such as band leader or music director. Perhaps it challenges you to double on a new instrument or work with sound design. Unique challenges in new gigs expand your palette for future gigs. The more you qualify yourself, the more ‘your’ sound develops.
7. Professional Reset/Perspective Value
In an industry of hyper focus and daily hustle, it is easy to lose sight of what you love about making music in the first place. Maintaining that is essential to remaining in music over a long period of time. Sometimes a single gig with close friends can bring back the love of music. For some it means putting in some long days in the practice room. The correct reset could very well be no music at all!
8. Professional Tax Write-Off Value
Part of operating as a business involves the costs of doing business. Understanding the various deductions you can take from things like equipment purchases, educational resources, business meetings, and mileage helps offset some of those costs during tax season.
9. Professional Availability/Retry Value
Professional seasons come and go. Part of making a living as a musician involves picking yourself up and getting back out there. The upside of work ending is that you are available again! Everything you were missing while busy on the gig is now at your disposal. Catch up with friends while you can because what the next season holds is soon on the horizon!
Whatever pushes you toward that next season, pursue it with a smile. Work can have a lifespan, but the lasting value of a gig is in how you choose to see it. Great things are ahead for your music if you work hard and never stop planning for the unexpected. Be an encouragement to others, and NEVER stop serving the music.
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