One of the things I love about summer as a freelancing brass musician is the renewed influx in gigs spanning many different musical genres other than classical and art music. But summer can also bring with it lots of ‘freebies’ and ‘exposure-generators’ that don’t do much for career or enjoyment. Because of this I have a (year-round) system for accepting gigs that has contributed immensely to my well-being as a musician and human being.
Introducing my “System for Stress-Less Freelancing”- a simple formula that will help you work while you create your art and create your art while you work.
Gigs generally fall into one or more of the following 3 categories:
- Offers fair compensation for your time and skills
- Is artistically valuable to you in some way (i.e. good or unique repertoire, challenges or refines your skill sets, is enjoyable to perform)
- Gives you the opportunity to work with people you value and/or like as people and musicians
If a gig can offer you at least 2 of these categories, it’s worth considering. If it’s just one- or none- well, you might find it’s not the gig for you.
Sometimes a gig just pays, and pays well, and in that case it might be a good thing to take it and use that financial freedom to take a ‘riskier’ gig down the road that you really want to do or offers you a new experience. But it’s likely that even if it seems like it just pays well, it probably also affords you networking opportunities or is a resume-builder. You also never know who you’ll reach with the communication you offer through your art. That said, remember that you’re in charge of keeping your musical soul healthy, and too much of just ‘work’ can really dull the joy of making music.
Being an artist isn’t just a job. If it’s starting to feel like one, take a step back. Maybe putting a few ground rules to what you say yes to will help you find the opportunities that really make you sing.