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6 Things You Need To Know Every Musician Hates To Do

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1) Promoting Shows

This is not fun for us. We don’t like it any more than you do that the last text in our correspondence was us promoting our last show and now it’s time tell you about tonight’s show. We don’t like going around town distributing posters and flyers. We don’t like Facebooking and Tweeting incessantly about our upcoming show or new album. But we realize that this is a necessary headache we take on because we believe in our art so much. We know if we don’t promote our shows, no one will come, we won’t make any money, we won’t be able to eat that month, the venue won’t have us back, no bands will want to play with us, promoters won’t hire us for bigger shows and we’ll dissolve into obscurity like thousands of bands before us.

Every band starting off had to promote their own shows. Yes even rock stars. Please cut us a break and politely respond with: a) “thanks for the invite, will be there!” b) let us know why you can’t make it long before we arrive at the venue that night or c) make up an excuse why you can’t be there.

If you don’t respond we’ll think you hate us. We’re sensitive. Do you hate me? Then why do you have my number? Unfriend me on Facebook. You know I’m a musician. This is what I do.

2) Selling Merch

Again, we don’t like this. We’re not salesmen. We feel slimy pushing you to buy stuff. But we work really hard to get our stage pitch down and run back to the merch table after the show because we know that sometimes the money we make off of merch is the only money we will make that night and sometimes is the difference between getting to the next show on our own tank of gas or Triple A’s.

Do us a favor, when you’re pondering if you should get that last beer. Or round of shots. Don’t. Save that dough for your favorite new Tshirt. We take credit!

3) Playing Cover Gigs

Now, this falls under the “original musician category.” There are some cover bands out there where this is all they do. They love it. And that’s awesome. I will get drunk to a kick ass Beatles tribute band any night of the week. But, we original musicians take these 4 hour shit shows for one reason: money. Please don’t make our lives any more difficult by drunkenly jumping on stage and stripping for your stupid friends while spilling beer on our very expensive equipment. Please respect that we are providing entertainment. We are professionals. We have been hired to make your evening enjoyable. Some of us are more fortunate to have retired from the cover scene and can make our livings on original music. But while we’re still paying our dues in the cover world, please tip us, by our CDs and pay close attention when we slip in an original tune. Much more heart went into those songs than our version of “Don’t Stop Believing.”

4) Waking Up Early

We were either at a show late last night, in the studio or at rehearsal. Please do not call us before 10AM. Don’t think we operate on your schedule. Be respectful. Would you like us to call you at 1AM after our work day’s over?

5) Playing “Exposure” Shows

Do not offer us a show at your establishment for “exposure.” This is deliberately insulting. It says “I know more about the music industry than you do and I think this gig will further your career better than $500. I place absolutely no value on music. Oh and I stole every song in my iTunes library.” Next time, maybe I should ask you to come bartend my party for exposure. Show off your skillz! Oh, you have to provide all the alcohol too. Nothing will be “backlined.”

6) Working A Day Job

Dear bosses, don’t be dicks to musicians. The only reason we are working this job is to get by until our music pays all the bills. Don’t think for a second that we’re going to waste our lives taking your shit. We will find another job, or play some cover gigs. If you need to take out your Small Penis Syndrome on an employee, pick Tom. He’s a dick and wants to take your place someday. He’ll suck it up longer than we will. You piss us off, not only will we quit, we will write a song about you, probably use your first and last name and possibly your home address in there somewhere. And it will be our first hit single.

Photo is by The All-Nite Images from Flickr and used with the Creative Commons License

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

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Comments (25)
  1. jeff

    Okay Ari I will stop being mean to you at work I am so sorry :(


    Reply
  2. Ha

    You piss us off, not only will we quit, we will write a song about you, probably use your first and last name and possibly your home address in there somewhere. And it will be our first hit single.

    I want to print this off and put it on my boss’ desk so bad.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      Why you gotta be so mean?


      Reply
      1. Ari Herstand

        Why you gotta be so rude


        Reply
        1. Jeff Miller

          Yeah dude. You’re gonna marry her anyways.


          Reply
  3. Danny

    So much yes!


    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Dear bosses, don’t be dicks to musicians. The only reason we are working this job is to get by until our music pays all the bills. Don’t think for a second that we’re going to waste our lives taking your shit. We will find another job, or play some cover gigs. If you need to take out your Small Penis Syndrome on an employee, pick Tom. He’s a dick and wants to take your place someday. He’ll suck it up longer than we will. You piss us off, not only will we quit, we will write a song about you, probably use your first and last name and possibly your home address in there somewhere. And it will be our first hit single.

    One of the most unbelievably ignorant and absurd things I’ve ever heard.

    So Ari I have to ask, which boss is your hit single about?

    Oh yeah, right.


    Reply
    1. hippydog

      Quote “One of the most unbelievably ignorant and absurd things I’ve ever heard.”

      .

      You live a very secluded life then..


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Do your job. Do what you gotta do. Everyone has a boss, when you’re an artist, signed or unsigned or whatever.. You have a boss. Act or talk like an entitled prick and see what any boss, or fan, or label or manager does.


        Reply
        1. Jenna

          I don’t believe he meant every boss. Just the ones treating employees like dirt.


          Reply
        2. Been there, Done that

          Clearly you haven’t worked many jobs. While I now have a career that accomidates my band needs for the last decade, before that I worked jobs less than five months. I found quite often bosses think musicians that have to work a day job are a joke and not only will be a dick about it to the employee, some will deliberatly throw things at a music employee just to screw them over. My current bassist had to choose to play a show we had set up and invested thousands in, or keep his job and go to work after his boss called him that morning telling him they decided not to give him the night off that he requested three months in advance. I myself have had bosses do this to me and in all cases I was a no show to work.
          And obviously you’ve never had a boss talk condescending to you about being a musician “Gee, I wish I was able to just go out to bars each night, party and play the gee’tar.”


          Reply
        3. Anonymous

          I concur.


          Reply
        4. Anonymous

          Well said!


          Reply
  5. ww

    “6” is extremely dumb. you don’t get a pass or a break ’cause you’re some kind of “artist” and your totally above your day job. show up late, or fucked up, or with a shitty attitude – that’s on you. “music” and “art” is an extracurricular activity to 99% of the world and nobody gives a fuck if you’re a struggling musician. don’t be a schmuck and burn bridges at your day job, ’cause the chances of you getting to a point where “music pays all the bills” is virtually nil. flip that burger and do it with a smile.


    Reply
  6. Willis

    Bunch of crybabies. Suck it up, deal with the crap and be happy that you get to do what you love.


    Reply
    1. Veteran - US MUSIC INDUSTRY 1970-today

      Bunch of crybabies. Suck it up, deal with the crap and be happy that you get to do what you love.

      hahahahahahahahaha …lmao …good one ;)


      Reply
      1. Pianist Guy

        Every time I talk to people of my town of birth in Europe, they are incredulous. “One must have a day job to be a musician in America? Not just be a musician, like here? Weird.”

        This country’s GDP is a mere fraction of the US one, yet people can have a full life being “just” a musician, own a house without much difficulty, etc. Maybe – just maybe – the New World could learn a thing or two instead of pretending to have a superior economic system?


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          We don’t have (or claim to have) a superior economic system, just a superior music market.

          There’s a difference.


          Reply
          1. Pianist Guy

            I think a superior music market in America would manifest itself through its results. By most musicians being able to afford a comfortable living without having to hold a day job.

            Since we are discussing day job ins and outs here, this is apparently not the case. Unless by “superior” one means “closer to an oath of poverty”. :-)


            Reply
            1. Something To Ponder

              I never heard a garbageman, a dog catcher or a door guard ever say, “I’ll do this part time until I can do it for a living.”

              So all the BS lip service notwithstanding, our society DOES value more a garbageman, a dog catcher or a security guard than a musician. The proof is in the envelope.


              Reply
        2. Anonymous

          yes Europeans place a much higher value on music and art and are generally given more respect I think. In Italy, Peter Gabriele is practically “St. Peter Gabriele”


          Reply
    2. Anonymous

      Humm? How many people in this world get to do ANYTHING they really love for a steady income? The fact that musicians are able to express their creativity regardless of whether or not they become “successful” is a gift from God. You are accountable as to what you do with your gifting, even if no one apprieciates it.The fact that you have ability and talent makes you a success already, not the $$$$$. Its wonderful to get a deal and have recognition, but to have left something beautiful of yourself and committed yourself to your craft, Is of far greater value. SO, that being said, I leave you with a quote from “Pappa Jo Jones when asked about his success. -” First you become a HUMAN BEING, then you become a MAN, then you become a DRUMMER” If you are bummed about your day job, hold your head high and take comfort that you have some dignity and are not living off your girlfriend or wife. If it is meant to be, the pieces will all fall into place.


      Reply
  7. David

    So true about the day job


    Reply
  8. SEO, SEO, SEO

    7) SEO

    Seriously, noone seems to care about SEO in the music industry, it is one of the reasons piracy sites very often have more traffic than the artists’ official .com sites!


    Reply
    1. Kyle Williams

      Haha, nice! If most musicians knew about SEO they wouldn’t definitely hate it.

      People do care, but they’re the artists trying to leverage traffic for keywords to already established artists, music genres, etc.


      Reply

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