One of the big challenges all musicians face is the overwhelming amount of amazing paying work. I’ve found some ways to cut down on some of those annoying 5 figure gigs, and thought I’d share them with my audience.
Next time someone famous calls you with a wad of cash for a gig, I’d recommend using one or mor of the following techniques:
1. Be defensive from the very beginning.
Remember, the only reason people are trying to hire you is to rip you off. Set the tone early by cutting right to the “how much money are you going to pay me?” question. When they tell you how much, chuckle under your breath.
Tell them that it’s kind of insulting that they even thought of calling you with that ridiculous price, but you’ll think about it. Of course, you’ll call them up a week later after not having thought about it at all and agree to do it. If they've given the gig to someone else because you didn't commit, this is your chance to throw a massive temper tantrum.
2. Add in guilt.
Make sure that they know what a massive favor you’re doing by even working with them. Constantly remind them that you’re not getting paid what you’re worth. If that doesn’t drive it home, itemize what you do and point out each item. Show up to practice on time? That’s worth around $450. Bring your own instrument? That’s another $300.
There’s an almost endless list of ways to make someone feel guilty about being so demanding, even if they’re being really easy to get along with. Get creative!
3. Show up late.
To absolutely everything. The key to this strategy is not which events you show up late to, but how late. If you’re too late, it’ll look like you don’t care. Shoot for around 15-30 minutes late, since I’ve found most people will tolerate this level of incompetency for awhile. Remember, if you show up too late you can always lie and tell them your mom died. Again, be careful- they might catch on if you don't show the right emotions.
4. Always be right.
The great part about this step? You don’t really have to be right. All you have to be is difficult and obnoxious enough that people stop arguing with you. People tend to be too polite to fight you super hard, and it’s the biggest advantage you have when you take this position.
Another benefit of this technique? If you work with insecure people, they’ll occasionally mistake your confidence in the complete crap coming out of your mouth as the mark of a “seasoned professional”. If you find someone like this, do everything you can to work with them in the future. These people have a much higher threshold for crap than most, and you'll be able to be impossibly difficult with them without risk of getting fired.
5. Bash the people around you over the head with all the amazing stuff you’ve done.
Most of the time this step will not be necessary if you establish early on that you’re better than everyone else. If you have to resort to technique, try to work it naturally into conversation. Here’s how you might do it:
“That guy with the baseball cap at the bar reminds me of when I was working with XXXX. I remember stepping off the private jet in Tahiti (again, lie if you have to here) and then being cheered by those 30,000 people in the soccer stadium as we melted their faces with our mind-blowing talent. I’m sure there were a couple of fans there who had baseball hats on, too.”
6. Accent the most obnoxious parts of your personality.
Old fashioned rudeness goes a long way. If you’re struggling with this one, create a fake allergy. Peanut allergies are the best because almost everything somehow comes in contact with peanuts, giving you more chances to be a pain in the butt at all meals and backstage events.
If that sounds like a lot of work, just be on the phone 24/7. Talk loudly and laugh all the time. Make sure to do it around as many of your co-workers as possible.
7. When all else fails, have a meltdown.
Again, this pushes the “you’re fired” boundary, but it’s a great last resort if the people around you are exceptionally kind and tolerant of your behavior.
Meltdowns are where you get to channel the creativity that you never actually put into your music. You could be subtle by silently weeping while you play, or you could choose someone randomly in the band and pick a fight. It’s up to you. Let your inner artist shine.