I will play music for free, if you promise not to be a dick.

Here I am back again at the computer, rambling away. I have had a bit of a strange week so far, have played three gigs, still have three to go as well as three singing lessons to teach. Three certainly is the number, if only we could have three days off...would be nice! Anyway, my week started as usual - Monday morning (afternoon) waking up pretty tired and groggy after a weekend of gigging and singing and trying to convince myself that I am actually having a weekend and not just ploughing through work. I was ploughing through work.


Monday morning blurry view

Believe it or not I am not moaning about this! (I KNOW! SHOCK SHOCK!) I love my job, I love being a singer in the capital. I love playing the piano they way I want to play it and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I can make a living form this. I can actually pay my rent. People actually give me MONEY! to play and sing. I mean come ON! It's fucking brilliant. I am fully aware of how awesome it is, I accept it's awesomeness. What I find hard to accept is a complete stranger (or 'friend' or aquaintance) telling me how grateful I should be, how I am doing what i love so HOW DARE I MOAN ABOUT BEING TIRED well you would ask me "How are you doing?"

This is sounding like a rant. It's not a rant. This is why I got a C in English twice - I ramble. That and my bad grammer. I am pretty sure all those grammer police among us have had an aneurysm by now. I'll get to my point...eventually. promise.  That small 'p' was especially for you.

So although it is hard, I let it go - the digs about getting up late and the fact that I am out until midnight most weekdays, and that you secretly think I am out getting pissed - I totally get it. BUT if I was a bar worker would you feel the same? Of course you wouldn't. 

I got put in my place this week by a member of management at a gig I was playing.  I arrived early as I usually do and merely commented on the cables lying everywhere.  Some funny, witty joke about spaghetti junction - it was a beezer.  Well that was it, I was subjected to a nice little lecture.  [in angry manager voice]"You guys work for an hour and a half, get fed and have a bar budget and don't even tidy up after yourselves.  I am going to send an email to (agency name) and tell them to let you all know.  It's not much to ask for you to just set up and when you are finished set down.  I mean we ask the bar staff, that only make £6 per hour, to clean for two hours after their shift so it's not much for you to put some cables away"  

I see his frustration, however if he would just send that email and stop spewing all his crappy management skills all over the musicians (who, by the way, are self employed and not staff) then we would have a clear procedure regarding the equipment and he need never stress about such things.  It is a high skilled job and that's why we get a little more than £6 per hour.  After tax, travel expenses, oh and not to mention all the time spent learning repertoire.  For free.

In contrast, I played one of the best gigs I have ever played the next night.  My first solo original show in AGES!  I was totally buzzing afterwards and after playing a bunch of new tracks that seemed to go down well I was a happy chappy.  Treated with respect and was encouraged to enjoy the bar with some free drinks tokens, as well as having a few tracks recorded for free.  Ace.  no money involved but I did not give a flying fuck.  I will take a free gig where I can feel comfortable over a not-so-well paid one where it actually doesn't matter what I play or how I play it.  Some folk came up and told me how much they enjoyed the show and that is a feeling you just canny charge for.


Playing at The Finsbury

So that's that!  It's all over folks! If you have read this far I thank you.  If you have any thoughts of your own feel free to comment, feel equally free not to comment.  I am telling you how to feel again, ever so sorry.



R xxx

3 comments

  • Marcus James

    Marcus James

    I agree with everything you say, and not being musical have the greatest respect and admiration (bordering on fawning) for those that do. You obviously have a natural talent, combined with years of work and commitment......but (and in a sense I'm agreeing with you) you mention barstaff. It is in my experience, common for the patrons to assume that the staff have as much fun on a night as they do, and can't understand why they want to close the bar on time, and are unwilling to serve that last round of drinks when they should be going home. In short people, myself included can be prone to inadvertant selfishness. This does not excuse the dick, who really should try to be a better manager. I heard someone say once: "everyones an arsehole sometimes, but a dick is a dick for life".

    I agree with everything you say, and not being musical have the greatest respect and admiration (bordering on fawning) for those that do. You obviously have a natural talent, combined with years of work and commitment......but (and in a sense I'm agreeing with you) you mention barstaff. It is in my experience, common for the patrons to assume that the staff have as much fun on a night as they do, and can't understand why they want to close the bar on time, and are unwilling to serve that last round of drinks when they should be going home. In short people, myself included can be prone to inadvertant selfishness. This does not excuse the dick, who really should try to be a better manager. I heard someone say once: "everyones an arsehole sometimes, but a dick is a dick for life".

  • jenjennyjenjenfaetheyy

    jenjennyjenjenfaetheyy

    You are an absolute legend! I agree with everything you rambled about. Yes, you are exceptionally talented....however, this does not mean you do not work hard!!! I know this wasn't a rant but if it was you would be entitled!! U r amazing and some folk are dicks. Fact!

    You are an absolute legend! I agree with everything you rambled about. Yes, you are exceptionally talented....however, this does not mean you do not work hard!!! I know this wasn't a rant but if it was you would be entitled!! U r amazing and some folk are dicks. Fact!

  • Rosie

    Rosie

    Hiya you two! Thanks for commenting! Marcus: I too have worked in a bar, and one that plays live music. I understand that feeling of wanting to get home and people still hanging round etc. The bar staff are absolutely not a problem whatsoever, and neither is the management. infact most are so nice, helpful and good banter, I enjoy my time with all of them. My real issue is with the feeling that being paid somehow makes it okay for them to totally overlook the fact that your job is creative, requires expression and your emotional state really affects it. i.e. if someone has insulted you right before a set, how do you go about clearing your head to focus on a good performance? And I suppose the blog was comparing all that to unpaid but extremely satisfying and creatively fulfilling gigs. For that exact reason I know a few exceptionally talented musicians that would rather work office/bar/coffee shop jobs to avoid the feeling of having their number one life passion limited in such a way for money. I do appreciate your point though! JennyJenJenFaeTheYY: you are an actual legend, part of the same team as me, and we a due a good rant soon! Thanks pals, you are amazing xxxxxx

    Hiya you two! Thanks for commenting!

    Marcus: I too have worked in a bar, and one that plays live music. I understand that feeling of wanting to get home and people still hanging round etc. The bar staff are absolutely not a problem whatsoever, and neither is the management. infact most are so nice, helpful and good banter, I enjoy my time with all of them. My real issue is with the feeling that being paid somehow makes it okay for them to totally overlook the fact that your job is creative, requires expression and your emotional state really affects it. i.e. if someone has insulted you right before a set, how do you go about clearing your head to focus on a good performance? And I suppose the blog was comparing all that to unpaid but extremely satisfying and creatively fulfilling gigs. For that exact reason I know a few exceptionally talented musicians that would rather work office/bar/coffee shop jobs to avoid the feeling of having their number one life passion limited in such a way for money. I do appreciate your point though!

    JennyJenJenFaeTheYY: you are an actual legend, part of the same team as me, and we a due a good rant soon!

    Thanks pals, you are amazing xxxxxx

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