I picked up the bass to initially impress a girl. Fast forward many years and I have a bass guitar strap wrapped around my neck and no girl. I never envisioned becoming a professional musician, not at least getting paid! I was having fun running around pubs, clubs and any venue that would have our little group. Our payment was either £20 behind the bar (mines a Guinness please) or a free meal voucher.
Now that’s all well and good, but then it hit me. During a charity concert I was thinking. The bar staff are getting paid, the stage crew are getting paid, the security, the various stalls. They were all getting paid apart from us! I thought it was wrong then and I think it is wrong now. As a musician I am providing a service to the person/persons who booked me. I expect to get paid. Why shouldn’t I? “it’s not a job, your only doing this for fun” one venue booker told me.
My reply is this. I have trained for nearly twelve years to become a professional bass player, composer and music educator. I have put in a lot of hard work to get to where I am. I have spent thousands of pounds for my work, from having lessons at £20 a week for years, my equipment costs at least £20,000 including instruments amplifiers etc. My tuition to accomplish a licentiate in music teaching cost at least £4000. My studio cost thousands, my adverts, website, social media, portfolios, PR companies, instrument repairs, transport (car and diesel) clothes I wear to perform. Should I go on? So by investing all that money into myself, my business my life and training to the highest standard in my profession your telling me I shouldn’t be paid? It is a real job. It’s my job, and I am damn well proud of it.
It took me a lot to get this far. I wake up everyday at 05:30am. I shower, get dressed, then I go to work. I start work at 08:30am. I practice for 3 hours, then I compose and sort out business paperwork, my diary and anything else I need to do before I start with the days private lessons or record bass guitar for somebody. I usually finish work at around 23:00pm Monday to Friday. Sundays I am usually examining/performing candidates for graded exams (All day). If you don’t class this as a job I don’t know what does. I believe that every professional musician should be paid fairly, most aren’t even paid at all. It is not a hobby it’s a job.
I charge for lessons, for recording sessions, for compositions, for arrangements, master classes. etc. Why shouldn’t I? I wouldn’t expect my builder to come over and say “Don’t worry! I’ll build this lovely extension for a plate full of food from the buffet” Why should it be different for musicians.
Please visit worknotplay.co.uk & musiciansunion.org.uk