How To (Politely) Switch Off Free Or Underpaid Work By Fluterscooter

know your worth

A favourite dialogue amongst classical musicians is all about cash. Not how much we are all earning (I see you laughing), but about how we’re always being robbed of our worth. We’ve all gotten those calls for what sounds like an amazing gig till we hear “but we do not have a budget” or “we’ll supply meals but that is all” or even “that is excellent EXPOSURE” or my personal favorite, “you’ll be compensated if the tune has placed”…etc.

After graduating from Juilliard, I had been involved from the hip hop and pop music universe. Producers and conquer manufacturers, who were frequently not musicians, would phone me to the studio (generally after 10pm) and have me perform flutes or keyboards above their tracks. I am certain that they sensed my naivete and took complete advantage of this. They said the tracks would visit famous artists and that I believed I’d hit it rich by working together! Obviously, as a recent grad, I was bankrupt. Broke, for example, having $2 in my bank accounts and needing to discover where I could find the maximum Top Ramen packets. We have been there. I was visiting the studio for a couple of months at this time, and I couldn’t locate the ideal time to speak to the manufacturers about when I would get paid. Perhaps I was fearful, or I simply didn’t understand how to initiate the conversation, but it got to a stage where I started feeling cared for, and I started getting fed up. Even though out of great faith, they might have provided me $100 for the services and time, I’d have been happy. So then, doing exactly what any genre must do in this circumstance, I phoned my local Musicians Union.


Wherever you work and live, there’s a neighborhood Musicians Union. The American Federation of Musicians is comprised of over 80,000 musicians and offers several free tools, and you’ll be able to locate the regional marriage on their site. In my scenario, the neighborhood 802 enabled me to get all of my earned cash from the studio job and then a few. This was a surprisingly simple and speedy procedure. The union rep and I fulfilled and calculated the number of hours I worked and when, the number of tools I played with, and for that which artist/song/record tag. Then they contacted the record tag using a “grievance,” and every time, I got a check for exactly what I had been owed in accordance with Union rates. I learned a whole lot from the process, too. By way of instance, if you “dual” on alto flute, piccolo, pennywhistle, get paid also for all those doubles. If you operate after midnight, then you receive overtime rates. The Union supplied me with all the knowledge to be certain that this wouldn’t occur again, and it’d me recognize the significance of negotiating my own fee.

(even if that means turning down work)

“what’s your fee?” I don’t understand the reply to this question since it varies so much depending upon the circumstance. But it’s something we ought to at least have an idea of, when placed immediately. If you answer with “anything you can manage” or “I am flexible,” you’re already giving the impression that you don’t have some idea of your worth. When requested, I look at several aspects to ascertain a reasonable fee. To begin with, traveling time. Your hours spent in transit are spent not working, so factor that in. The site is also significant. When it’s a smaller school or place, they’ll most probably not have as many capital as a bigger one (even though this isn’t necessarily the case). Research past artists that have performed/taught in the place, and if you believe it’s right, ask them exactly what they were paid. Start high so it is possible to negotiate down. It is like bargaining at a street market. Always know your bottom line, and if it isn’t accepted, walk off. And, obviously, get everything in writing. This may seem as a no-brainer, but always be certain that you find everything in writing, even if it’s only an email or text saying what and when you’ll be paid.

Do You Actually Need The “EXPOSURE”?

Provided that artists continue to perform work at no cost, all musicians are influenced by it since it continues to perpetuate this never ending loop. If one person takes free or underpaid work, it’s setting a precedent which most of us undervalue our craft. The degree of flute playing is greater than ever nowadays, and schools are accepting and much more flutists than previously. It’s clear that recent graduates will need to get out there and have network, but this may occur without agreeing to perform work at no cost. But if you’re trying to find a teaching job, this is sometimes hard, as many colleges simply don’t have money to bring in guest artists.

From a current PHD grad: “I believe when I was not so experienced at the commencement of my career, I had to perform work for vulnerability. However, as I became more acquainted with gigging, etc. that is when I realized that I got the vulnerability and that was time for me to begin valuing myself more as a musician. On the other hand, the only method to acquire a academic teaching job whilst not needing any adjunct positions would be to make myself known, particularly in my country and local area. There is no way around that. Funds are restricted at associations.”

The larger question here is why associations don’t have the money. How can flute studios spend budgets for guest celebrities and festivals? And do professors/departments think it’s ok not to pay someone a commission to provide a master class? Conservatories and universities ought to be offering courses with this to both a pupil and professor degree. The dialog about money should start NOW rather than be something we are reluctant to discuss. “Scared money do not make money” because they state.

And if you’re doing work (and doesn’t call it “work,” because job suggests getting compensated ) for vulnerability, in what age or purpose in your career in case should you believe that you’ve been exposed ?

(if there’s none )

As previously mentioned, many high institutions don’t have enough money to bring in guest artists, but there could be means to find exemptions and money. 1 example: supplement the free work with a department that does have the cash. I often do so when I blend recitals with discussions to audio business or entrepreneurship courses. Was your dissertation about French flute music? Speak to the French department in the university to find out whether they’d be considering a lecture/recital. Or, ask whether you’re able to sell your own CDs (or flute luggage;-RRB- following your concert or class. What type of flute would you perform with? Many times, flute business sponsor their artists’ and emerging gamers’ occasions to attract more exposure to their own tools. You will find chances; you merely need to ask, and get creative!

We are living in a period that beneath worth the arts over (I’m talking mostly about the USA). Arts programs have been cut off, audiences are decreasing, jobs are decreasing. Most of us know that, as far as we would like to see things improve, we have to make the very best of what we have and begin thinking otherwise.


There are lots of volunteer opportunities available within our communities, and offering your services to some charity or cause you believe in is almost always a fantastic idea! But when it’s a college, concert place, or some other stadium which pays musicians to teach or perform, these are NOT ACCEPTABLE areas to offer! We have to prevent this cycle and the only method to do this is to stand our earth and make everyone understand our value.

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