When to play for your friend for free

Here are the aspects to consider before accepting to play for your friend for free.
  1. FOR A LESSON: Give one for free. When they become regular, find something your friend can teach you to make a trade.

  2. FOR A WEDDING: When your performing is considered your wedding gift to the couple, go ahead. For family members, it's best not to play at all so that you can fully share their special moment with them.

  3. FOR A CONCERT: Avoid playing a concert gratis because of the large required amount of practicing, rehearsing and performing anxiety, unless it's a trade.

  4. FOR A RECORDING: Play for free on one or two songs. When you play for the whole recording, make sure to get a percentage of the profits.

  5. FOR AN AUDITION: Do accompany an audition unpaid for your friend. Usually your friend will return the favor by taking you to lunch or coffee.

Picture from http://www.makinghistory.upenn.edu/happenings?page=17

1 comment:

  1. Geraldine,

    Great advice! I would like to add a couple of things, though.

    As a composer I am very lucky to have a number of friends that will play for me for free. I am very thankful and always let them know that I really appreciate their time. I treat them out for lunch/dinner after rehearsal as much as I can, and would sometimes cover for some expenses if they need a ride to carry their instrument. I've also offered to barter in the past (web/graphic design, and social media advice), and you've covered this in point 3.

    This being said, I spend a huge amount of time advertising each concert (designing posters and flyers, sometimes silk screening them, writing press releases and mailing it to various media contacts, posting on multiple social media platforms, etc.) and it is actually something more that I can offer in exchange for somebody playing for me: exposure. You are very well aware that networking is a key aspect of our careers as musicians. How many times have people been offered a contract after being heard on stage? As a result, I would add a #6 that would be playing as an investment for future (and hopefully paid) gigs.

    Finally, I am very loyal to the musicians that have played for me in the past and will try to hire them for money as soon as I get a more lucrative gig. This is the other side of my #6: people invest time in my music by performing it, I offer back some opportunities as soon as I secure them.

    Thank you again for your great blog!

    Thomas Deneuville (French-born composer living in NY. Mean tiramisu)


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