AUTHOR: Marty, a.k.a. canape TITLE: Aren't I lucky to do what I love? DATE: 12/03/2007 03:11:00 PM ----- BODY:
Girl posted this video a few weeks ago. It riled me up, because it is so true. Today, I'm finally adding my two cents.

I used to think that it was musicians who were just taken advantage of as a profession. I know better now. There are so many people out there who want to get it for free. While I've discovered that it isn't an issue unique to musicians, I do think though, that it is a more prominent issue in arts based professions.

I'm here to tell you though, that just because my profession had to start of with some raw talent, doesn't mean that I didn't work my ass off to become good enough to earn my keep this way.

Music is one of those majors that you can't just walk into your freshman year of college. There has had to be years of training prior to making that decision. Training that you didn't get in school. Private training that cost your parents extra money, and that you had to make a conscious effort to continue every year. Training that requires expensive equipment and countless dollars towards books and upkeep of the instrument.

It's not like majoring in English, math, chemistry, or any other of those core classes that everyone takes. Anyone can choose to major in one of those if they have the credentials to get into the college in the first place. Not everyone can follow through, but they can try.

To major in music, you have to not only be able to academically get into the college, but you must also audition to gain permission to major in music. It's a whole different ballgame. And if it sounds like I'm a little snotty about it, I am. I am tired of people assuming that I'm less intellegent because I'm in an arts profession. Want to compare SAT scores? LSAT scores? IQ's? Bring it on. I'm a musician because I chose to be a musician. Not because I wasn't smart enough to do something else.

My training began when I was five and continues to this day.

Why then, am I expected to do what I do for free? Why am I expected to work under any circumstances, play any old crappy instrument that is provided, work without a contract, and be okay when people cancel a gig at the last minute?

Because I'm just a musician.

I'm calling bullshit on that today. I'm so tired of people thinking that because I get to do what I love, that I should just give it away. Literally and figuratively. That's one of the reasons I shy away from getting too involved at church. The day Guy and I joined the church, I was introduced to the music director and given the list of times that the choir met and all the other ways I could "give my gifts" to the church.

Yeah. Well, I might bake you cookies. I will donate to your Joy Gift fund. I will volunteer to do many things, but I will not be your free musician. You pay your preacher, your administrators, your janitor. Pay your freaking musicians. Pay them well. Because they have been studying their craft a lot longer than anyone else on your staff.

Here's the thing. I was supposed to have a gig at a historic home that has been converted into a place for parties. The holiday season is my busiest time of year, and this year, I have had to choose my gigs wisely. I can only sit at the piano for about an hour or my hips really start to hurt. It's also extremely tiring to be "on" for 3 hours at a time. So, I said yes to some one hour gigs, put them on my calendar, began brushing up on my Christmas music, and bought a non-returnable maternity outfit appropriate for gigging.

Less than 24 hours before the first gig, the girl from the house calls and cancels. Says very casually that they won't be needing me after all.

So let me ask this of you, oh unorganized event planner, what would happen if you did that to your caterer? What would happen if you did that to the florist? What would happen if the guests did that to you? There would be money exchanging hands anyway. People would still get paid instead of just brushed off.

Do you not understand that what you have done is completely unacceptable? That you can't just hire someone for an event and then decide the night before that you have changed your mind?

No. You don't. Because I didn't make you work with a contract. And that is my fault. I know better, and I still didn't send one. You were so nice on the phone, and I trusted you. I trusted that you were going to do what you said you would do, that I would show up to the scheduled gig, play, get paid, and go home.

Stupid, stupid me. But I always trust people. Guy has been gently pointing out to me different times when I have just trusted what someone has said, been let down, and then been angry about it. When I never should have trusted them in the first place.

I'm bitter today. Tired of being taken for granted professionally.

So from now on, don't even ask me to give it away. Unless you are my friend. In which case, I give you music because I love you and want you to have it.

Everyone else can just bite me.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Karaoke Diva DATE:Monday, December 3, 2007 at 5:38:00 PM EST Fuck 'em, I say. You deserve much more than that crap. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Stimey DATE:Monday, December 3, 2007 at 6:21:00 PM EST Oh, hell yes. My second client for my videography business, who was a "friend" of mine from my preschool sucked up a ton of my time and effort and then flaked completely on the project. You know what invaluable lesson I learned from that? ALWAYS make them sign a contract. I'm sorry this happened; it's totally lame. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Perugini DATE:Monday, December 3, 2007 at 8:04:00 PM EST Amen. I have also spent many years studying and honing my musical chops. For a long time I trusted people at their word, and I too, got taken advantage of. Gigs, giving lessons, musical directing shows and vocal coaching. People think that it's all easy, because, perhaps, we make it look that way. Or maybe they just don't care.

It was when I met my husband when I finally started putting my foot down - he showed me how valuable my time and talent really was.

I totally understand. You are a nice woman, just like I am. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous labugga DATE:Monday, December 3, 2007 at 8:57:00 PM EST Just want to say that even though I've never heard you play, I admire you and your gift...I'm sorry so few appreciate what you do. You are 100% right, and you deserve so much more. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous moosh in indy. DATE:Monday, December 3, 2007 at 11:26:00 PM EST Anyone who feels they can use your talent for their own gain without proper compensationor courtesy is a jackass.
I just typed out an entire rant and deleted it.
This is your rant baby, and you did it well. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous mimi DATE:Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 12:39:00 AM EST Douchebags, the lot of em. Clients should have to give you a deposit or sign a contract.
As for friends who would exploit you, "Sure, I'll play for your party if you have your mechanic husband fix my car next time I have a soiree." ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Ally DATE:Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 1:51:00 AM EST Well said, Canape. You are so right that you shouldn't have to play for free any more than I would give free legal advice. (Except I end up doing that all the time, too. People have a whole list of questions they've been wanting to ask when they hear I'm an attorney).

I agree that musicians, and artists in general, are deserving of much more respect. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous whymommy DATE:Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 12:33:00 PM EST I demand you put your music on this blog. For free.

Damnit.

(You know you're right, don't you? I have no idea what that flake was thinking. Send her a bill and cite the oral contract that she broke. Verbally.) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous imstell DATE:Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 4:18:00 PM EST A very good friend of ours, Anne, gave Daddy-O a great piece of advice when he was first starting his landscape business. He was not charging much thinking he had little experience. She told him a very simple truth, "Other people will value your time if you value your time." I agree with WhyMommy. Send her a bill. You and your time are valuable. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Heather, Queen of Shake Shake DATE:Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 5:45:00 PM EST I'd send that party house a bill if I were you.

A church doesn't pay their musicians? Gack!

Queen of Shake-Shake ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Jenn DATE:Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 11:04:00 PM EST Grrr.... :(

I concur. Send them a bill.

Our church actually has some paid musician positions. :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Marty, a.k.a. canape DATE:Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 11:16:00 PM EST Oops. I didn't mean to imply that our church doesn't pay any musicians. They do, and they pay them well. I just meant that as soon as people hear you are a musician, they jump on all the "opportunities" you have to "share your gift."

Bogus. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Bubblewench DATE:Wednesday, December 5, 2007 at 7:47:00 AM EST Oh hell yeah you should be getting paid and their jackasses for doing that to you!

Sorry they did that to you. Totally not right, you should send them a bill. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous gail DATE:Wednesday, December 5, 2007 at 8:15:00 AM EST I was juuuuust gonna write something about this... ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Yamagoo DATE:Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 10:35:00 AM EST Former professional musician here and I can't stand the "gifted" card being played on me at church. You Go GIRL! I came over by way of CAC and have read up to this post. Great way to spend an hour! I'll definitely be back! ----- --------