Years ago, I made a conscious decision to change my mindset when it came to how I viewed my career in music. Looking back, five years later, I can say without a doubt that it was one of the smartest moves I ever made.
I recently came across an article I wrote at the time about my decision and feel like I can say now, without a shadow of a doubt, this mindset will be a game-changer for your future if you embrace it NOW.
From The Archive: "Salary VS Hourly" // The mindset that will change your career
People in a career that pays a 'Salary' have a natural advantage over those of us working an 'hourly' freelance career. By not recognizing it, you could be missing out on the mindset that could determine your success.
Salary: Being compensated a set amount throughout the course of a year to accomplish a specific job or vocation.
Hourly: Us musicians who get paid determined by the gig or event. The gig often en flux, the pay often en flux.
You may have already spotted it.
Someone working salary naturally looks at their year as a whole and decides up front the level of work, professionalism, and quality that they as an employee are going to hold themselves to.
The disadvantage we as musicians have is the constant temptation to look at each gig as a unique individual job situation; therefore placing upon each one an individual level of importance and priority. We naturally begin to categorize gigs into mental folders of the importance we place on them.
The outcome: We begin to half-ass it at gigs due to external reasons such as how much/little we're getting paid, who we're playing for, the level of musicianship of the other musicians, or the chance this gig could lead to a bigger opportunity.
Check it out! This isn't a mindset that will just happen due to laziness or something happening to make someone jaded, this is the natural inclination and is going to freakin happen unless a you are proactive.
Thinking about how I can personally counteract that mindset is something I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about. Here are three actions that have been a massive help to me:
1. Sit down (literally sit your butt down at a table with pen and paper in front of you) and decide the level of musician/artist you're going to be. Be specific and write it down. Awhile back, some things for me were: "Always showing up knowing the songs down cold, memorized" "Always showing up (set up) on time" "Always show up with professional, working, gear." And so on... Even down to the clothes you're wearing...
2. Once you're done this RESOLVE to hold yourself your new level of awesomeness and NEVER slack on it. NO MATTER WHAT! I don't care if you need to find someone who you play with regularly and tell them that if they catch you slacking on any of them you have to buy them a steak dinner, whatever you have to do. Do it!
Finally, once you've decided your standards, look at every gig you're asked to do up front and ask yourself, "Am I willing or able to show up in all my full awesomeness to this?" This is tough because it may mean saying no to somethings. (What, say no to a gig???? Musical Blaspheme!!!!) It also, takes away opportunity for excuses. Oh you're doing this gig for free? I don't give a crap, if you agreed to do it, show up and kick butt.
Quit looking at each gig as a paycheck and more like an installment in your yearly salary. Whether or not you're successful depends on it.