The Freelance Lifestyle—Managing Your Gigs, Time, and Money
Most musicians spend at least a portion of their careers as self-employed professionals. Freelancers perform as substitute players or guest artists with various ensembles; they also may perform at weddings, corporate parties, restaurants, and hotels, or for more extended commitments, such as recording projects, musicals, and festivals.
Freelancing can make for an interesting and varied work life. But the freelance lifestyle also means not having a steady paycheck, or an employer to provide benefits, paid vacation time, or a regular schedule. So for freelancers to be successful, they need to manage their gigs, finances, and time effectively. Most musicians learn the ins and outs of freelancing the hard way, by making mistakes. But many mishaps can be avoided. The freelance lifestyle can be made easier with the right information, planning, and networking.
The Tale of Joan, Bootstrapping
in the Freelance World (Part 1)
Joan B., a bassoonist, started freelancing while a graduate student. It started with
her teacher and friends recommending her for a few orchestral gigs. Joan also played
woodwind quintets with friends. They did several gigs together—four weddings
and a funeral, in fact—plus a party for a local political bigwig. But, after graduat-
ing, Joan found this sporadic work was not enough to pay the bills. So she audi-
tioned for the sub lists with several regional orchestras. She also asked her former
teachers for the names of local contractors—the people who contract freelance