I don’t usually do this sort of thing where I read/watch something so profound that I want to add my own voice to it, but there’s always a first time for everything! I had the fortunate chance to read a friend’s re-post on Facebook by the infamous Wil Wheaton and it spoke to me. I myself am not a Wil Wheaton fan and have actually spent a lot of my time avoiding him on all fronts, but this one article was quite amazing and DEFINITELY applies to musicians.
So, here I go, applying what I read to music.
We ALL know people who ask us to play music. In fact, I’d say that we’re constantly bombarded by messages to perform and share our art. Great. Awesome. But we all know a certain group of people who asks of our skills for the easy payment of free, or the ‘e’ word (exposure), and it irks me. It irks me not so much that people ask for free ‘entertainment,’ but fellow MUSICIANS ask other musicians this. It also frustrates me that people say yes to these things and then go on and complain about how people expect them to play for free.
Now I told myself I will not get upset or angry, so I’m going to stop myself here and move quickly towards the point that I wanted to make. YOU promote YOU. Nobody else will tell the masses how great of a musician you are, or how amazing your interpretations can be. Only you can protect what essentially is your art and your own livelihood. You have every right to ask for payment, but you also have to have the oversight to say NO to free gigs. Nobody pointed a gun to your head, so nobody coerced you. And if they coerced you? Well you still said yes didn’t you?
Friends will always ask friends for favours, and that’s fine and dandy. Just remember that at the end of the day, you chose what you wanted to do, and if you choose to do something for free, then understand what that means to volunteer your time and hard work for maybe next to nothing in return.
Here’s a reminder to you all out there.
If your friends get upset with you denying their request to do basically free labour, then I question your friendship. In my books, friends ask for help, not discounts. I pay everyone and anyone I need for work, and if I don’t I cater to them hand and foot. These are my friends! Why would I want to exploit them for my own gain? So you need to ask yourself why would any of YOUR friends exploit you.
Musetta Stone has always operated on the premise of freely created content. Since the founding of the magazine, there has always been an unwritten agreement that anyone can create and publish content if it is positive and constructive, and if they have time. There may come a day when contributors get paid (this is NOT a foreshadowing), but until then we here on this media platform chose to freely give our opinions and write reviews. It has been a HUGE blessing to have people respond by giving us complimentary albums and tickets to shows, and like and repost our content. We never asked for that and that’s pretty awesome. But the main point is that we chose to do all of this for free; YOU DON’T HAVE TO!
YOU promote YOU, and the people around you should love what you do and spur you onto greatness. Remember, you are not your friend’s keeper, so ask for the things that you want out of an experience, be it money or even simple exposure. There are people out there that would love to accommodate you if you only you started looking.
This article is in response to Wil Wheaton’s blog post: