At the suggestion of a friend of mine, I put together a list of reasons why you shouldn’t take a gig as a sequel to my blog on this topic a while ago. Here are the 5 things that keep me from taking gigs:
1. The gig doesn’t peak my interest.
If an opportunity isn’t interesting enough to get me excited, I probably won’t put in enough passion and time to do an outstanding job. I always try to pass along these kinds of opportunities to someone that would love to put in 110% effort on it. Everybody usually wins in the end: the potential employer wins by getting a passionate musician to fill the slot, and I win by having a fellow musician owe me a favor.
2. The people in the band aren’t trustworthy and/or don’t communicate well.
If you can’t count on someone to be honest with you, or you’ve heard things about a group being flaky or cheating musicians, run. If I absolutely have to work with someone that’s unfair, I take zero chances. I ask for 100% of payments upfront, and am very careful to spell out what I need in advance with a written contract. Even then, it’s just not worth the headaches to try and do business with someone that’s irresponsible.
3. There aren’t any benefits.
I don’t insist I get paid for everything I do, but if there’s no payment, I won’t take a gig unless it allows me to work with talented, fun people on music that I truly care about. No amount of exposure does any long-term good unless it promotes you as a talented musician, in the style you want to be known for. Don’t ever settle for no-pay, miserable gigs with difficult people. It’s just not worth it.
4. It requires too much time.
Beware of gigs that require too much time, keeping you from developing important parts of your career. Remember that every yes to an opportunity is a no to another opportunity, and you want to be very careful about how you choose to fill your limited time. No one wants to get to the end of their career and be remembered for being an awesome polka player, when they hate polka music and only took a full-time polka gig because it paid well.
5. It’s outside of what I’m good at.
If you’re not great at something, either make sure you can get great at it by the time you take the stage, or say no. Never play a gig where the best result you can hope for is mediocrity.