Have you ever been asked to perform for free?
Has your interlocutor tried to explain this request with some sort of “logical reasons”?
Have they ever called the need to be paid for your performance “delusions of grandeur”?
If your answer is “yes” to at least one of these questions, this article is for you!
Everything started a few weeks ago when I read an article that discredited a Sydney-based band, for refusing to perform for free.
I am not going to link to that article, as I personally think that this would only increase the popularity of such article (you wish you'd receive more clicks thanks to me!).
Let's just say that it was another attempt to treat the work of performing artists as if it were just a hobby, a passion unworthy to be paid as a real job (Seriously? We still have to deal with this rubbish?).
The problem is that there are still too many people that ignore what's behind our profession.
Hence, they try to fool you, to bargain shamelessly, as they consistently do when they are on holiday in one of those exotic countries that they love to call "undeveloped".
To them, you are an “undeveloped worker”, a person one step away from homelessness.
There's not much you can do about it, but trying to remain the educated and polite professional you are (and they probably will never be), without transforming yourself into the Hulk.
When they say: “You have fun while you perform, so why can't you perform for free?”, just smile and answer: “You only see that I'm enjoying my time while performing because that's what professionals do: they only show you the good part of it.”
A good performer will never show them how boring, complicated and frustrating it is sometimes, to practice and rehearse for years and years.
The audience will only enjoy the results of it.
Moreover, performers face challenges such as high mobility and low job security, more than any other industry (According to a report made by the Victoria University, 64% of performing artists work freelance or self-employed in Australia, opposing to the 19% of the general working population).
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that passion is a crucial motivator to keep performing artists in this industry, but this doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t pay for their services.
Finally, the act of assuming that performers shouldn’t insist on being paid every single time they perform, just because they enjoy it anyway, shows an embarrassing naïveté and lack of objectivity.
In fact, there are many professionals in the world who actually enjoy their jobs (doctors, chefs, brokers, teachers…), but again this doesn’t mean that their passion and some “exposure” are enough payment for their services.
In conclusion, it has been a pity to read such ignorant presumptions made by a “journalist”, but we all know that many more people will ask you to “take the opportunity” to perform for free.
Show them your professionalism, don’t transform yourself into the Hulk: just smile and move on.
[May I ask you a favour? Do not share those clickbait articles, not even to demonstrate how wrong they are: you are only playing their game!]