In this episode, Jared discusses when it’s ok for musicians to say “no.” He tries to figure out why we sometimes have difficulty doing so and offers a story that gives musicians permission to say no.
Hey, what's up musicians? It's Jared. And today I wanted to talk about when it's okay to say no, as a musician. So, before we dive in this episode is brought to you by BookLive Pro. It's a software tool that helps band leaders book and organize more gigs, while spending less time on the frustrations of the admin work. Get Your FREE two week trial at BookLivePro.com. Alright, so, you know, I run a Gigging Musicians Facebook group, and one of the posts recently that got a lot of traction to it was when I asked the question, when is it okay to say no, as a gigging musician, and I got a ton of answers. And they were super cool. Because I think, in general, and let me know if you feel this way too. But in general, musicians feel like we get taken advantage of quite a lot. I know that I feel that way too. And I'm not sure why I mean, I have a couple of theories as to why. But you know, some of the ways that I feel taken advantage of is that sometimes I don't get paid what I'm worth, or sometimes I'm asked to do too much, or too many things, where I'm not compensated fairly. Or I'm asked to play songs or music that I don't really want to, or even asked to do things that are not related to my passion, not related to music. And in general, I think some of the reasons why we get, I don't know pushed around so much, is because of our passion for art. And it's a two edged sword because I am an incredibly passionate musician. I've been one ever since I learned what a violin was back when I was like four years old. And I love music so much that I have been willing to sacrifice certain things, to pursue my art at various levels. You know, as a kid, I sacrificed doing sports so that I could take music lessons. In college, I sacrificed my interest in becoming an electrical engineer or studying French, so that I could take music classes and ensembles, I even sacrifice sleep, so that I could get up early to go to marching band rehearsal. And it was happy to do that, because it truly is my passion. And I wanted to pursue it. And that was how I did it. So I feel like that's, honestly, a big reason why we get taken advantage of is because we are so willing to sacrifice the things that we need in order to do something musical. And so I was I was, as I was browsing through those responses to my question on the Facebook group, I noticed that the things that people were mentioning when it's okay to say no, we're, they were all across the board. And they were all kind of related to things that people I guess, have have not been consistent about saying no to in the past, for example, you know, one of them said, it's okay to say no, if the gig is more than two hours away from from where you're located. Another person said, it's okay to say no, if a bar asks you to play for free, just we'll give you a percentage of the door or tips. And so the theme there is that it's each person has their own definition of what is too much to be asked to do. You know, this is very much related to the What are you worth question? And it is my personal belief. And the belief of many of the musicians I work with, is that what we do as musicians is incredibly valuable, it's much more valuable than we, we even think, because ultimately, entertainment is an incredibly valuable human experience. It's undervalued. And, you know, we need to do our best to establish it as a more valuable thing in people's minds, particularly those who are not musicians. Because I think as as musicians, we know that it's valuable, it's just hard to convince others that it is because we don't have the tools to convince people. And honestly, learning to say no, is one of those tools. It's a very important tool. Because if we were to think about it less in terms of this is art. And instead This is a service we're providing, you know, if you compared instead of thinking about it, like selling music, if we were to think about it as selling a plumbing service, which you know, don't, don't knock me for comparing it to plumbing. I'm not saying that art is plumbing, but a plumber. When a plumber comes out to your house to fix, I don't know a toilet or something and then the clock And asks the plumber like, Hey, thanks for fixing the plumbing the toilet for $50, would you also fix my shower? I'm not gonna pay you any extra, but you're already here, and you love fixing pipes. So this should be fun for you, you know, think about that if you were asked that as a, as a musician, I mean, we get asked that as a musician all the time, you already are here doing one thing, do another thing for free because you love doing it right? It's not a job to you. And while Yes, that's true, I do have the passion for music. But the perception that my service is not worth anything you don't have to pay me for adding on an extra service is completely wrong, that plumber would laugh right in your face. And, you know, you, they probably wouldn't agree to work with you in the future. So it's okay to say no to anything that you're not comfortable doing. And I think you have to be even myself, I need to be better about that. And so actually a story that happened today. I have a wedding booked in September. It's for a string quartet for a ceremony. And the way that I established my offer stack for ceremonies. And if you don't know what an offer stack is, find the podcast from a few weeks ago about offer stack. But my offer stack includes up to 90 minutes of wedding ceremony music. And so that is a clearly defined boundary. And I actually have to be even more specific about that is that, that 90 minutes can only be used in the same exact location, meaning the same four chairs that were already sitting in is our string quartet, you can have up to 90 minutes of music there. And so I had a wedding planner today, talk to me about this wedding in September, saying Well, we know we get up to 90 minutes of music, the couple is having a miniature reception for their immediate family that's in another room. That is for about a half hour outside of their 30 minute ceremony. So being that you're already doing their ceremony music, and we get up to 90 minutes of music, we're only going to use 30 or 60, will you guys play that extra half hour for free. And this to me, even as I'm saying it out loud now sounds more and more like that plumber story, you know, you're already fixing my toilet, come fix my shower, too. And so I had a conversation with this wedding planner saying, here's the reason why our ceremony pricing includes up to 90 minutes of music, it's that, you know, going playing a ceremony requires a very different skill set than playing a cocktail hour. Plus, you're now asking us to also move locations, which means packing up our instruments back into their cases, bringing an extra set of music, worrying about any other performance conditions, plus the extra time now that we're we're spending playing that music, that's a different skill set than the ceremony. And so I mentioned, we have an additional fee for that. But I have to stick to our, our boundary that a ceremony needs to be performed in the ceremony, location, and additional services need to be charged for. And he initially got a little bit of pushback. And I honestly felt a little uncomfortable sticking to my guns, because my instinct was to kind of cave to it. And I know this wedding planner didn't intend on making me feel that way. But as a musician, where this is my passion, but I'm also making a living doing it. It's just there's two competing ideas inside my mind. And I know that I will be happier. And I will make a better living, if I stick to my guns about that and say no to certain things. And so I did. And I even had to explain to her, you know what the boundaries are with the ceremony space, and the 90 minute limit what that gets. And then when I got pushback from her, I explained to her, you know, as a musician, we get taken advantage of all the time. And that's why I've implemented these boundaries, where I do have to say no to certain things. And as a result, that's why we are Wisconsin's top ceremony String Quartet. And I explained it to her she understood and said show, let the client know. And if it works for the client's budget, they'll add it on, if not, no harm done, but at least I set a precedent and a boundary. Which means this wedding planner will understand that every single additional service I do is valuable. And for you as the listener, if that happens to you too, this should give you permission to say no to things that you get asked to do that are just outside of the scope or outside of what you're being paid to do. You don't have to say yes to everything. And in fact, it's not to your advantage to say yes to everything. Understand that you have value. And I'm here to go to bat for you too. And I hope that this story perhaps inspires you to just think about what you're worth, and say no to things that don't match with that. So, I'm getting off my high horse. Thanks for listening. And if you're interested in getting your free two week trial of BookLive Pro, go to BookLivePro.com. And just one quick hint that I will be releasing my book Gigging Secrets. In just a few short weeks here, I'm going to start talking up a little bit more. Gigging Secrets is a book that you'll be able to buy online. I can't share the link just yet. But it'll be a book it won't cost that much. And in it, I'm revealing 23 secrets my step by step framework that I used to build dream city strings from nothing while I was in grad school, into a group that books over $150,000 worth of gigs every single year, and how you can do that yourself too. So I hope that gets you excited about it. If you enjoyed this podcast, make sure to like and subscribe to it. And let me know what you thought about this episode. You can shoot me an email. My email is Jared@BookLive.com. see on the next Gigging Musician Podcast and may all your performances be spectacular.