Four Things Every Musician's Gotta Know
Regardless of the type of music they perform and where they perform it, If every musician was aware of these four simple truths, every one of them would be a lot better off.
#1: Hobby vs. Service
Hobby: Noncommercial. Start and stop whenever you want. You don't have to work continuously to hone it, spend time and money advertising it, or carry equipment.
However, when the time, place, duration, and high quality are all specified, that's not a hobby any more-- It's a service, especially in a business BASED on (making money from) that service.
#2: Saying No to lousy gigs
Try it, it's incredible: liberating, empowering, valuable... underrated.
Did you "lose" a mediocre gig just 'cause you asked for what you're worth? WIN! Use the time you save in making more great music, busking, recording, making a video, or performing at a celebratory "we said no" house concert.
We're all in the same market, and it's not that big. When bands devalue themselves by performing for low, zero, or negative compensation, they drag everyone else down with them, consciously or otherwise. Just ask someone who was playing in clubs in the early 80's what they were making, then look up "pay to play."
#4: Exposure kills.
It's no coincidence that the ubiquitous term 'Exposure' refers to what kills you in bad weather - it's generally used to get artists to work for low or no compensation in exchange for an unspecified amount of an intangible commodity of dubious value.
This term is so widely abused that booking agents will freely tout their venue's excellent exposure opportunity, yet tell you there's no built-in draw. They don't even realize the contradiction: they're trying to say you'll win new fans, but only among people you manage to bring!