Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tips for Working as a Freelance Musician

Pete Moser has written a very useful article in MusicLeader about Working as a Freelance Musician, with sections on job roles, the workplace, equipment, skills development, fees, insurance, promotion and lifestyle. Especially illuminating is a list of pros and cons of the musician's freelance life:

What are the advantages of being a freelancer?

-You can choose your own work and hours, you have no boss and you are free to play.
-You can take on projects that inspire you whilst being able to continue doing your own creative work.
-The very nature of freelancing means that your workload is often varied and rarely routine.
-You don't have to do anything that you don't agree with.
-You can always change what you do if you don’t feel you’re good at it or stop enjoying it.
-You can control your own life to an extent. You do in fact answer to many people and/or organisations as a freelancer, but you get to choose what work you undertake and often when and how you do so.

What are the drawbacks of being a freelancer?

-You can find yourself unable to refuse work.
-The nature of freelance work can be erratic, leaving you feeling insecure about finances.
-You have to fill in self-assessment tax forms!
-Holidays sometimes have to take a back seat, as you either cannot afford them, or don’t have enough time because of heavy workloads and/or commitments.
-Your earnings are erratic and you can spend too much time away from home.
-Work can become an obsession. You think that if you aren't working, you should be, or that you can’t afford not to.

To a certain extent, the freelance nature of work in the arts is determined by employers determined to cut labor costs, who then hire people as self-employed contractors rather than actual employees. Perhaps this ultra-efficiency is why there is mounting evidence that the arts are growing at a much faster pace than the rest of the economy in many Canadian cities.

Which reminds me, I have to finish my taxes tomorrow.

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