Here's what I don't get. Say you're the leader on a $400 quartet gig, and the club owner offers you a 50% raise, but "changes his mind" a week later and cuts your pay by 50%. You wind up with less than you started with$300! ($600 -$300) But then look at the opposite: say you have another $400 gig with the same club owner, but this time he first cuts it by 50%, then a week later "feels bad" and gives you a 50% raise. You wind up with... you guessed it: $300 ($200 + $100). Seems we jazz artists can't wineven the fundamentals of math are stacked against us!
My Analytical Truth Hurts
But you can use those same fundamentals to directly counteract any math actions the club owner takes. For example, for a $400 four-hour gig, if he raises your pay by 50% then reduces it by 50%, you could respond in-kind by raising the hours by 50% then cutting them by 50%. Net result: $300 for a three-hour gig, maintaining the original $100 per hour. Or you could raise by 50% then cut by 50% (or, for that matter, cut by 50% then raise by 50%) the number of musicians in the band, leaving three musicians playing for $300still $100 per player. So it turns out it's all in your handsgo figure!
Dear Mr. P.C.:
Every time I hire players for a gig, they say "when's downbeat?" This seems kind of square to me. Shouldn't they want to know when the upbeat is?
The problem is that upbeats are tempo dependent. The first tune of the night always starts on the downbeat, but the first upbeat could be anywhere from half a second (at mm = 60) to a tenth of a second (at mm = 300) later. Maybe the upbeat swings harder, but the downbeat is a constant; an indisputable truth.
Too many jazz musicians are lost souls, and the downbeat may be their only anchor. When they ask "when's downbeat?" it just shows their need for certainty and a spiritual center. Denying it to them only reveals your own spiritual void.
Dear Mr. P.C.:
I recently took a steady gig. It only pays $50, and the leader gets really upset when I try to sub it out. What can I do? If I get called for a $60 gig, there's no way I'm turning it down.
Dear Fancy Pants:
Your perspective is all wrong. Let's think big and say you get offered a $100 gig. When you tell the leader "I have the chance to make twice as much money as your $50 gig," he'll understand. But if the steady paid $75, and you could only tell him "I have the chance to make a third again as much," he'd be a lot less sympathetic.
That simple math explains why the best steadies are the ones that pay next to nothingor nothing at all.
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