Red flag!

Red flag!

You are reading this because I have asked you to do a performance for no pay.  

Red flag!  

You should seriously consider turning down this gig.

Artists are exploited when they are asked to perform for no pay.  Presenters take advantage of artists when they tout "exposure" as a substitute for money.  "The mayor will be there!"  Presenters don't mention the extravagent sums of money they've spent on decorations or the fact that every venue staff member setting up chairs, every food service worker waiting tables, every valet -- essentially everyone except the artists -- will get paid.  Exposure should be in addition to fair pay.

Exploitation is committed by artists too.  Established artists use their name, challenging music, and the opportunity for "experience" to entice young players... and pocket the cash.  Even beyond such brazen exploitation, however, any time a band-leader brings a non-paying gig opportunity to collaborators, s/he becomes a front-man for the exploiter.  "Kris says it's a good cause, and I trust him so..."

This is the situation in which we find ourselves.  I -- a (relatively) established, financially-stable artist -- have offered you a gig opportunity that doesn't pay.  For some crazy reason I didn't tell the presenter to fuck off, but instead teamed up with him/her and am now asking you -- possibly a young, struggling musician or even worse, a student! -- to join me.  The chances that this is not horribly exploitative are thin.  You should tell me to fuck off.

But if you're still considering it, here are a final three things that must be true for you to take the gig.

  1. This performance will make you grow as an artist.
    You will practice harder than you would have without the gig.  You will learn new music, play new arrangements, or improve your solo spot.  You will play with musicians that push you.
  2. You can afford the time.
    The more exciting the challenge, the more time will be required.  If you don't actually make time to practice, the performance suffers and worse, the growth that is supposed to be your pay, evaporates.
  3. You can afford the expense.
    Consider gas, studio rental, bachi.

If after all this, like me, you still want to do the gig... then let's go for it!  Please, please help me make the performance worthwhile by making the most of the artistic opportunity.  We must both make our growth so compelling, that we turn the exploitation in our favor.