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Category: Gigs

Be An Entrepreneur! Get Outside Your Comfort Zone!

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How many times have we musicians heard those phrases? Do they mean that we should try to be like Janice Martin, the violinist who plays while hanging upside down?  My most recent experience is not quite that dramatic….. “What time is the lunch break?”  I asked the stage manager, knowing that he was the one

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What Were They Thinking?

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What Were They Thinking? For most music students the transition to the professional world does not usually happen abruptly. A switch is not thrown and voila, you’re a pro. The normal course of events involves a period of time when some gigs are well paid , some not-so-well and some not-at-all. It’s these not-so-well and

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When’s it OK to ask musicians to work for free?

0 Robert Levine

For sure it’s not when the person asking has raised $1.2 million for her new album but doesn’t want to pay back-up musicians on the road. Fortunately for all concerned, she (very grudgingly) changed her mind after considerable public outcry. Many AFM locals had a prohibition in their bylaws about members working for free, at

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Being a Successful Entrepreneur— Envision the Future

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When I was a doctoral student, I was in a class that had an assignment that asked us to think into the future twenty years and forecast what the music profession would look like.  I wish I still had that paper.  It would be fun to see how far off I was.  Anyway, one student [...]

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Being a Successful Entrepreneur— There Is No One Model for Entrepreneurs—Gain Experience First

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If you have read my book, Lessons From a Street-Wise Professor, think back to Chapter 9: “Five Non-Linear Career Journeys.”  These are stories of very successful entrepreneurial musicians.  I chose to include them because they represent five different areas of the music business, but I had a secondary reason as well.  They all have reached [...]

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Being a Successful Entrepreneur — Don't Dilute Your Product in Order To Make Money

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Some musicians feel that they must dumb-down their music in order to be “successful.” I once had a conversation with Maria Schneider in which she made an interesting observation: many musicians who are focused solely on making money underestimate their audiences.  She commented that some musicians seem to think that if they write or present [...]

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Invisible Musicians

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At the end of this blog is a letter to the editor that was published in the December 13 Louisville 
Courier-Journal. In it the writer laments the absence of an orchestra at this year’s Nutcracker performance. The tone of her letter is typical of what I had read in the past when ballets have opted [...]

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Make Friends – Your Peers Are Your Best Resource

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Think about it. It’s only human nature to recommend a friend for a job. Putting aside the fact that if you recommend him or her, he or she may reciprocate one day, it just feels good to help out a friend, provided they are a good fit for the job. Even though music is a [...]

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Let The Other Guy Talk First

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Writing projects (read: compositions and arrangements) are always up for negotiation. What I always try to do is let the person hiring me talk first. After we have discussed what is involved, I quickly calculate how much time it will take to complete it. I get a price in my head that I think is [...]

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American exceptionalism

1 Robert Levine

I’ll admit to finding the Right’s fixation on the concept of American exceptionalism quite disturbing. But there is no other country in the world in which the article below could appear in a union publication. There’s likely no other city in the world in which it could appear either, of course – but, as the

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Have Your Price in Mind

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You should have a price in mind for the particular service that is under discussion. Different types of gigs will have different pay rates that are either set by the musicians’ union or are the going rates of the area. Many jobs pay scale and that’s it. A traveling Broadway show or an opera put [...]

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