SESSION TWO: Part 1 - Finding Work as a Musician
I was wondering if you could do a short video about making a living as a musician.
FINDING WORK AS A MUSICIAN... PART 1
This topic is one of the most popular questions that I get asked off of both my web-site and from my YouTube channel....
Being a musician is overall - financially dangerous, Because there is no steady income. Our work is centered around a wide range of micellaneous employment. All musicians face one central problem - Finding work.
Each year there aren’t necessarily more & more events and celebrations that need music - however, competition usually outpaces the work. There are already far more players than there are jobs. And, the "musician to job ratio" unfortuneately gets worse all of the time.
POP, ROCK, COUNTRY AND JAZZ:
HOW CAN ONE MAKE A LIVING IN MUSIC?
Part 2 - The Business of the Music Business
THE BUSINESS OF THE BUSINESS... PART 2
THE BUSINESS OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS:
As you’re beginning to see... Being a successful musician is a lot more complicated than it might seem at first. You must not only be an excellent player, but also an excellent; salesperson, advertising specialist, secretary, accountant, sound engineer, and much much more. It is a highly detailed business.
You’ll need a data-base software program. FileMaker Pro. To track everything that has to do with the business side of how you’ll run your music career. Another piece of software you’ll really need is an accounting program. I use QuickBooks Remember that literally any expense related to your business may be tax deductable, so you have to keep accurate records. Whatever you do, don’t ever spend money you make without recording in in your record keeping system. Whether you live in Canada or the US or wherever... The taxman will more than likely review you in your life as a musician. They know that it is a business where those involved are artists and let’s face it - artists are more or less known for not keeping very accurate records.
WHAT TO CHARGE:
The trick here is to price yourself just above the average in your music scene. If you price too low - a client might be suspicious of the quality they will recieve. If you price yourself too high - you’ll probably lose jobs. I’ve boiled this all down to the following points:
1). Join a Union: The Union will offer you the advantage of using Union Scale for certain jobs that you do. This will be especially true when you get recording work that is more industry related. The Union keeps watch on the scale for these jobs and they can also often give you good advice on certain contracts.
2). Join a Booking Agency: They will take care of the details of contracts and booking for you. Plus, when you go and book events directly, you will have an excellent idea what the fees are to stay competative with the agnecies. You don’t want to undercut the agencies, because they will quit using you.
3). Never Perform Free of Charge: It is important to remember that only amateurs play for free. This concept is usually called a, “free for exposure gig.” The problem is that this “so-called” exposure is almost always non-existant making the gig
4). Make a Chart Listing all of Your Prices: For all of your groups, projects and jobs overall - have a detailed price list ready to quote possible clients. You have to be consistent and fair in your pricing. Quote overtime charges, costs for PA sytems, lighting, travel and any other related expense. Have a system that you stick to for your billing and always use it. You’ll discover that if you’re good at what you do, the more you charge, the more you’ll be respected. And, the opposite is also true - the less you charge, the poorer your reputation will become.
5). VIDEO TAPING: Musicians in larger more Union Conscious cities will sometimes walk out on artists (when unannounced to them) the artist started audio or video taping the stage show. This is because audio or video taping any performance requires that the musicians involved be paid, “Production Scale.” Here is an example; in Canada if you are hired by our National Broadcaster, the CBC to go into their studios to perform a piece for a radio program - you will get one scale of pay. If your band is recorded in a venue, you’ll get another scale. Live production and studio production basically carries different pay scales. And, they are certainly different than playing a performance that is not recorded. Many times the artist being backed up will either think (or try to convince) the musicians to think that producing a video recording will help sell the show - and the musicians involved will reap benefit in some manner from this. Professional musicians - tend not to bank on artists pursuing personal careers, because they know from experience that these artists seldom reach any true success. And, any success had - carries no actual guarantee with it that every musician on the recorded gig will actually reap any true benefit. So, unless everyone is truely happy with audio or video taping a performance - it is best to either get paid production scale or just simply don’t record the performance.
6). HAVE A CONTRACT FOR EVERY GIG: Once you and your client have agreed to the details of a job, get everything in writing. There are two main reasons for this:
Save yourself time by using a standard contract with every client. Trust me everything will go better if you do, and you might be very sorry if you don’t.
“No one should drive a hard bargain with an artist.”
In the next video in this series we will take a look at the internet and the resources available to you if you can educate yourself about online marketing systems... Also, we’ll be discussing some long term goals and planning which are involved in choosing to be a musician as your career path.