Your Reputation As a Musician

Musical Utopia minus 1

I just finished hosting a jazz jam session at my place in Chicago. It really was a lot of fun and almost an entirely positive situation. It was the type of jam where everybody was eager to play, learn, and to share their musical knowledge. This truly creates a wonderful environment to create music in. It's a rare experience for me these days. There was just one slight exception though to my "Musical Utopia". The drummer never showed up! He had committed and confirmed but was a no show. We played without a drummer for the entire 2.5 hours. He never called, emailed, sent a contact. Of course the situation was made worse when an hour after the session I see him drinking coffee walking down the street (he lives across the street from me). Now, from a business perspective this created a particularly interesting situation that I want to examine in this post.

Just a jam session or more?

Even though I love this drummer's playing and have worked with him in the past my whole opinion of him has now changed. After today I can't ever feel comfortable hiring him or recommending him again. I need to know that the people I do business with are going to be responsible. I also need to know that if I recommend someone for a gig they will show up. My name and reputation is on the line. Now, he may have been thinking, "It's just an unpaid and casual jam session. What's the big deal? Who cares if I show up?". The answer to that is simple. On the higher levels of the music business we all care. Flakiness is absolutely not tolerated. It's an amateur move.
The music business is a business based off of who you know and your personal reputation. When you tarnish your reputation you are essentially punching holes in the way you do business and limiting your options.

2.5 hours = $$$

Here's another interesting way of looking at it. Giving some hypothetical examples of things that happen everyday in the music business. If I hire the drummer for 5 gigs a year paying $200 each. Then his this irresponsible action took $1000 out of his future pocket. Lets not stop there. What if on the 4th gig the bass player on the gig also loves his playing and decides he wants to hire him for his own project. That band plays twice a month and pays $125 a gig. Now we've taken another $3000 out of his future pocket. Of course this scenario can repeat itself over and over again if say for example the guitar player on the new gig also needs a drummer for his own gigs....another $2000 out of his future pocket gone.... and the cycle can continue indefinitely.

The Big Picture

The bottom line that we as musicians must always keep in consideration is that even the smallest decisions we make can affect our careers in profound ways. Responsibility and Professionalism must be in place at all times. Every decision counts. Never forget that.

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