First, ask yourself, what is my minimum? If the offered price is less than your minimum, it’s not worth your while and you don’t do the gig. Never undercut yourself.
Second, what do I think is the maximum asking price where the buyer will still be willing to hire? If a buyer says no to $1001, but yes to $1000, $1000 is your maximum. Figuring this out takes practice and experience.
You have your minimum and your (speculative) maximum. Time to negotiate! You want to get closer to their maximum and they want to get closer to your minimum. Good luck!
I have posted one of the tracks I submitted as part of my application. It’s Joe Henderson’s Isotope. (Link)
Hope you enjoy!
RH – 1234123123412312312341234
LH – 5432132143213213214321321
“Culture has proven it produces a positive return on investment”
“Music from both the cultural and business aspect is a sound investment.”
I have been seeing phrases similar to this used more and more frequently to convince the government for more arts funding. It popped up quite a bit in the previous federal election as well.
I should say that I’m not out to disprove anything. I just think that sometimes people habitually use and accept phrases like these and so my intuition is telling me to look at them closer. Kind of like the phrase “Toronto is the most multi-cultural city in the world.” Torontonians hear this everywhere, but I’m unconvinced. Do we accept these ideas because they’re based on empirical fact or because it creates buzz and strokes our ego as proud Torontonians/artists?
First of all, if you know where I can find studies that show investment in the arts produces a positive return on investment, please show me (for that matter, if you know where I can find studies that show that Toronto is the most multi-cultural city in the world, please show me that too!) I would be most interested in how much those positive returns are, and also how arts investment compares to other investment options.
I suspect that Heather Ostertag and others are guilty of over simplifying the meaning of investment. What do they mean by “positive return?” Do they mean positive monetary return? Cultural return? Intellectual return? Without any context to these arguments they seem redundant. It’s rhetoric. Which means they’re not necessarily targeting government officials, but also artists and the general public. For artists, it becomes a mantra they can instinctively use to encourage investment or combat cuts to arts funding. As an artist, I can say that I’m not the most knowledgeable in the fields of monetary investment and macroeconomics so simplification would be most welcome!
Instead, young amateurs and hobbyists are posting awful performance and instructional videos for beginners who don’t know any better. After all, what else are they going to do? They can’t play professionally because they’re not good enough. So places like YouTube become their outlet for performing on an international stage. The worst part is that they’re getting a head start in developing an online presence and a dedicated fan base.
Things will inevitably change. Hopefully fans will know the difference between quality and inexperience. But regardless, this is a great time to your foot in the door. It’s time to start flushing out all those inexperienced Internet ‘experts!’
I’m most happy with a performance when I’ve found my zone. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s difficult to find and even when I’ve found it, it’s difficult to retain. It occurred to me that your zone is a place of absolute freedom from the constraints of self-consciousness. If a performer is NOT in the zone, they may feel an internal pressure to play a certain thing or sound a certain way.
For example, they may be overly concerned that they are boring their audience, and feel pressure to alter their performance to keep them engaged and entertained. They may be unprepared or nervous. They may be fearful of sounding un-hip and therefore artificially hipify their music. Maybe they feel a pressure to sound like someone they’re not, hoping to bypass judgment from their peers. They’re all different issues, but will all contribute to the clouding of your zone.
What’s the solution? It mostly boils down to performance experience. And playing what you know and only what you know. Develop a concept you’re confident with and put yourself on the line.
Otherwise, you’ll sound how you feel: unfocused and out of your zone.
Be brave and be honest.
Sometimes I like listening to improvised music and pretend it’s written music.
You can access this video and many others on my Post page.
Of course, my initial response to this statement was defensive. Who cares?!
Second: Guilt. Yeah, I should know this piece. I’d better check out Johnson if I want to be a true jazz pianist.
Third: Confusion. I do respect the jazz tradition. I’ve checked out lots of music from the 1920’s! I like music from the 1920’s! Why is knowing Carolina Shout so important?
Last: Acceptance. I don’t need to know Carolina Shout to make meaningful music. Maybe we’ll cross paths in the future, but for now, I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing.
But one question remains: Why don’t I know Carolina Shout?
Here’s what I do know:
Most importantly, I know that I’m seriously dedicated to my craft and that if something warrants checking out, I check it out! I would describe myself as a diligent student of music.
But out of 22 years (I’m 25 now) of being in pre-school, elementary school, high school, music school, music camp and university, not one of my teachers ever mentioned James P. Johnson. I’ve been to many live concerts and I own a lot of music. I’ve never heard a performance of Carolina Shout. I’m not a jazz scholar (clearly), but I’ve read my fair share of biographies, blogs, essays, history books and theory books. I’ve never read about James P. Johnson. I’ve never seen or heard his name on television, the radio, magazines, newspapers, the Internet or any other form of mainstream media. And since hearing his name for the first time on this occasion, I haven’t heard of him since.
The real question: Why isn’t anybody talking about James P. Johnson?
I have no doubt that Johnson is an important figure in music history and that he contributed significantly to jazz culture. But if nobody talks about him, nobody’s going know him! If people talked about Johnson like they talk about Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, Oscar Peterson or J.S. Bach, then people would check him out!
The most telling part of this story is that I was one of ten pianists being chewed out that day. They never heard of him either! I’ll admit that some pianists are less diligent than others, but regardless, you have to admit that this isn’t only a case of pianists neglecting the jazz tradition. If ten diligent jazz pianists have never heard of a cultural icon, then something more revealing must be happening. I would argue that this is also a reflection of society neglecting the value of cultural preservation.
The deep question: Who’s responsible for preserving culture?
You are! We are!
If something moves us so deeply that we feel the duty to preserve it’s impact for later years and future generations, then we are responsible for making that contribution. The bottom line is that unless we do something about it, our generation is going to forget and worse, the next generations won’t know it ever existed! Write about it, speak about it, record it and perform it. And do it often!
It’s silly to assume that the younger generation will preserve culture. Not because their negligent, but because they can’t preserve what they’ve never heard of. The younger generation also won’t preserve what doesn’t move them. Carolina Shout was written almost 100 years ago. In cultural years, that’s a long time ago. And in many cases when it comes to art, the older it is, the harder it is for them to relate. Which is why you need the older generation to pass on their passion and enthusiasm. When I was young, my habits were at the mercy of the previous generation. Unfortunately, they missed an opportunity when it comes to the preservation of Carolina Shout.
(Side Note: This isn’t about Carolina Shout anymore. There’s a much bigger picture here. One that involves learning from our ancestors and not being part of a regressing culture.)
While we’re on the subject, a colleague of mine once gave me a funny look because I wasn’t familiar with Randy Weston’s playing. My best friend doesn’t know any songs by The Beatles and yesterday I heard someone laugh because their friend didn’t know who Susan Boyle was. For the diligent, this raises the last issue: You can’t know everything.
The lesson: Don’t chew people out for not knowing something. The reason they don’t know is because you never told them!
A compromise: I’ll give you permission to chew me out, but only if you chew out the entire jazz community too. We’re all in this together!
UPDATE: I’ve written a response (link)
First of all, competitions are useless to the advancement of a career unless you can get past pre-screening. If that happens, then can you can start cultivating relationships, perform live for your peers and maybe even walk away with some money!
So when preparing for pre-screening, there’s a struggle. You really want to make it to the next round and so your demo has got to be bold. You want to make it clear to the judges in the first 30 seconds that you can play fast, groove hard, be creative, acknowledge tradition, retain interest and attract an audience. The problem, considering all of these things is that it’s very difficult to make an honest statement that represents you and your musicality. Should you play for the judges, or should you just play?
Competitions are unpredictable. The most deserving doesn’t always win. Sometimes it’s the person who’s the most commercial, or the person with a touching story. Maybe it’s the person who’s the best looking. The point is that you’re never going to know what judges want. I’ve come to realize that you’re best shot is to stop thinking about it, find the zone and do what you do best.
I thought I’d start blogging. I think It’s important for artists to be transparent with their ideas and experience, and blogging can be an effective tool for enhancing relationships. The only problem is that it’s going to be a hard habit to start, although, there isn’t a shortage of topics to reflect on. A quick list I made:
Music: The Piano, Improvisation, Composition, Composers, Learning, Bad Habits, Theory, Musicians, Recordings, Teaching, Performing, Practicing, Technique
Business: Marketing/Promotion, Relationships, Booking, Economy, The Internet, People, Websites, Blogs, The News, Making Money, Teaching, School
Aesthetics: Good/Bad Music, Purpose of Art, Purpose of Artists, Creation vs. Recreation, Art and Culture, Ownership, Genre,
Stay tuned, hope you enjoy!
An exciting new website update I'd like to share with you:
First, I've joined the blog bandwagon (www.chrisdonnellymusic.com/Blog/blog.html) where I will be regularly sharing news, thoughts and ideas. Feel free to subscribe to the RSS Feed and leave comments!
Also, I've added another page called POST (www.chrisdonnellymusic.com/Post/Post.html) where you can easily access photo albums, audio clips, videos and transcriptions. I've just posted transcriptions (in PDF form) of some Doug Riley solos. More to come, hope you enjoy!
All the best!