Part 3 – Keeping Gigs Being in a Band vs. Being a Mercenary and how to Behave

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series HOW TO SURVIVE BEING A MUSICIAN IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

Part 3 Keeping Gigs Being in a Band vs. Being a Mercenary and how to Behave Welcome back!!! I know for all you diehard fans out there you are probably a little sore at the fact that this installment took a little longer than usual to get out, but considering the topic, it is all too appropriate…

Last time I left you I explained the big difference between being a side man and a leader. In this article I will be delving deeper into that ever important role of being a wandering minstrel and the big decision you must make: Being in a band or being a mercenary?

When I say “being in a band” I mean just being in ONE band. Sure, being in a professionally
monogamous relationship can work and feel great BUT it’s not 1955 any more and more often than not you end up limiting yourself. Furthermore, trying to make ends meet by only performing with one group is nearly impossible these days. You tend to only gig once or bi monthly, unless you’re a part of a popular group and/or on the road for 9-10 months out of the year. Usually with this type of situation you’re working a 9-5 just to survive with little time to actually focus on music. Of course there are exceptions (retired older men with fedoras or pony tails) …

For those of you who solely want to work in the music industry on the creative side, be prepared to do a lot of different things. Professional polyamory (versatility) is probably the biggest blessings of being just a side man, or “mercenary”. When done right you become a popular swiss army knife or an in demand instrument of utility.

One of the biggest perks of the “hired gun” life is your freedom of choice. You have the flexibility to say no to any situation. Of course there is the age old advice of never saying no to a gig and having an open mind because blah blah blah, but eventually if you stay in one place for long enough you end up knowing the land so to say, and you’re going to have to say no eventually.

Below are the 3 big points that most musicians use to decide whether to take a performance

The music is good: You’d be surprised how many people are willing to take a hit financially
because of fun music, especially if their calendars are open…

1. The money is good.
2. There’s a great hang.

From my experience, points 1 and 2 are usually the major deciding factors and 3 is the swing
state. From what I’ve found, the people that are most successful at this “mercenary” work are well mannered and organized musical encyclopedia. The only counter I can find is that you have a fresh sound or approach that everyone wants, but in this day and age that’s becoming a rarity. So for the rest of us humans I’ve compiled a list of what NOT to do…

Always late to everything (gigs and rehearsals)

3. Constantly intoxicated
4. Being argumentative and defensive
5. Overly analytical/wasting time
6. Not being able to play your instrument

If you can happen to avoid these 5 big things, you should be able to do pretty well. After all, as musicians we need to band together and show each other respect and love. The world is
already a terribly orange tinted place and our profession is continuously mocked and dismissed.

Why should we fight amongst ourselves and make our communities that much more hostile?

Series Navigation<< Part 1: Studying/Learning your craft (Acquiring Basic Technique, A Means to Imaginative Infinity)Part 2: GETTING A GIG (BEING A LEADER VS. A SIDE MAN) >>
Dick Metcalf, editor, Contemporary Fusion Reviews
Dick Metcalf, editor, Contemporary Fusion Reviews
Dick Metcalf (aka Rotcod Zzaj) is a globe-hopping musician and poet who spent many years roving the world until he finally settled in his current abode, Lacey, Washington... just down the road from Seattle. He started IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION magazine in 1990 (still being published), and Contemporary Fusion Reviews magazine in 2016. He also was a keyboard player & singer for many years... you can hear (and download for free) many of those works at his "Internet Archive Collection". If you'd like to support our efforts and get something in return, there are also a few of these albums for sale on the Rotcod Zzaj BandCamp site"

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