My biggest pet peeve as a musician and how to stop it from happening to you

Not all of my articles will be like this, I promise. I just need to get something off of my chest after a recent experience.

Now, I’m only 17 years of age,so realistically speaking, I haven’t been in the music industry or even on this earth for very long at all. However, I have been performing since the age of around 6 and have been in various bands throughout my career.

Lately, I have seen one word cropping up among my musical circles, and I’ve also seen this word actually being carried out quite recently. That word is “UNPROFESSIONALISM”.

There are several ways in which a musician or a venue can be unprofessional, these include:

  • Refusing to work with somebody due to personal differences ( this is one I have seen carried out just last week)
  • Turning up late to a gig/ rehearsal, or not turning up at all!
  • A venue suddenly dropping an act from their bill without notice or reason

There are, of course, more to talk about but I wanted to focus on these three things, because I’ve experienced all three within the space of a week!

Refusing to work with somebody due to differences

Refusing to work with a fellow musician due to personal differences, is in my opinion, one of, if not the worst act of unprofessional conduct a musician or producer can commit. There is just simply no need to be so childish, I’ve had to work with people I really cannot stand before, but when we were on stage together, there was no way you would’ve known that I didn’t like them if you were watching in the audience! Why? because at the age of 12, I was mature enough to leave all personal issues outside of the venue.

That’s what professional musicians do, and it baffles me how I was able to do this without batting an eye lid when I was merely a pre-pubescent year 8 child and I’ve witnessed full grown adults just point blank refuse to share the stage or studio with others! At the end of the day, if you want to be in the music industry, you are going to have to deal with people with slightly different opinions than you and even have to work with complete and utter arseholes, you need to be mature enough to deal with it, make the music and leave. Chances are you’ll never see that person ever again, just suck it up and play your part.

Turning up late to a gig/rehearsal or not turning up at all

This is another one that frustrates me as musician and fellow band member. Now, I understand that people have other commitments such as family and sometimes a day job outside of music and I completely empathise with these people since I am a student as well as a musician, and my education and family come first before everything. To be clear, it is not these scenarios that get under my skin, because they cannot be helped.

The scenarios I’m talking about are the situations where a band member or musician is either consistently not showing for rehearsals or is consistently late without doing the decent thing and notifying the rest of the band and not have a good reason for being late. Just putting it out there “Sorry, I forgot” is NOT a good excuse!

If a band member is constantly missing rehearsals, the band will eventually begin to find that they are lagging behind that specific member because they are rehearsing set lists at their pace. I’ll make it plain right now, if a member is not turning up to rehearsals, drop them from the band, if you want to make a name for yourselves as a band, you cannot have a member that is causing you not to progress, that may sound harsh but that’s the way it going to have to be if you want to get where you deserve to be as a band.

A venue dropping an act from their bill without reason or notice

This is a situation that I have recently found myself the victim of. Naturally, I won’t name the venue in question, what I will say is, this has happened TWO times with SAME venue.

I probably don’t have to say this, but both me and my management were appalled by the way in which my dismissal was handled by said venue and I certainly won’t be working with them again anytime soon. What annoyed me the most was the fact that there was nothing said directly to me about the reasons I was dropped and the message telling me I was dropped was also delivered through a third party.

Now how to avoid these types of situations from happening to you:

Make sure to sign a contract

Before agreeing to play at a venue, be sure to have you and the venue sign a legal contract detailing the dates you will be playing, how much you are getting paid and how long you are playing for. I didn’t sign a contract with the venue and now I’m paying for my mistake, lesson learned.

Keep a copy of all correspondence

When communicating with a venue, make sure that you communicate within a form that can be saved, email is the best form of communication for this. If you do this, you’ll have a record of everything if a venue tries to cancel your slot. DO NOT communicate over the phone if you can avoid it, if you do this, the person you spoke to could easily deny booking you altogether! If you can’t avoid talking over the phone, have a pad and pen with you to note down who you are speaking to, what time you spoke to them and also any details of the conversation.

Get paid before you play where possible

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the horror stories of bands and musicians performing a 4 hour set and then not getting paid the money they are owed. This tends to happen more often than you think, especially to bands and musicians within my age bracket (14–18). This is because, some venues think it’s acceptable to take advantage of younger bands because they assume that they are inexperienced because of their age, in my case, my age doesn’t define my experience at all, in most cases however, it does.

The easiest way to avoid not getting paid is to make sure that within the contract that you should’ve already signed with the venue, there is a clause stating that you MUST be paid before you begin to play.

Some venues may be offended by this clause and may think that you do not trust them. Just explain to them that this is not the case and maybe tell them a story of how you got screwed over by a venue before and are just protecting yourself from it happening twice.

you can also say that the contract and clause is protecting them too. In the rare case that a band mate may protest the band wasn’t paid, you’ll not only have the cash to prove that you have been, you’ll also have the “get paid before you play clause” so a venue can prove you’ve been paid and treated fairly.

If a venue refuses to sign the contract for whatever reason, the answer is simple, DONT TAKE THE GIG! sure you may lose out on exposure and money, but surely if a venue refuses to sign a legally binding contract, they probably planned to mess you about in the first place.

That’s all for this post guys, thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope it was helpful!

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