Time should be a friend of the musical freelancer, but too many times Time is viewed as the enemy. “There isn’t enough TIME.”
“What TIME is the gig?”
“What TIME should I get there?”
“What TIME should I leave for the gig?”
“Can I play in TIME?”
“Do I have good TIME?”
Many of these questions do not get asked enough by many people freelancing as musicians. I’m going to leave the more musical questions alone for this post. Here, I will briefly cover the TIME that concerns traveling to gigs, when to arrive to gigs and TIME management in general.
Managing the time you have during the day or week is essential to becoming a reliable and reliably working musician. Get a calendar. Update it everyday. Check it multiple times a day. If a new gig, lesson time, or engagement comes in, check the calendar, accept the gig/lesson/engagement, then immediately add it the calendar. Simple stuff. Easy stuff.
The harder stuff is how to best schedule your day, especially if the day is unoccupied with lessons or gigs. One day off might sound nice, but that can turn into two days off and can snowball into…well…into you not working as much as you’d like. So schedule each day out. Have a list of “To-Do” items you’d like to accomplish that day/week. In the world of music freelancing there are no days off. Play every day. Listen to music every day. Read every day. Talk music every day. Every day is another opportunity to get better. It doesn’t have to be all day, but a little something each and every day brings you closer to your musical and professional goals.
I’ve often heard the phrase “to be early is to be on time”. This is more true in the freelance world than you can imagine. You have to plan ahead. What time should you leave for a gig? Well, what time do you want to arrive? (that was a rhetorical question. You want to arrive 30 minutes before you are contracted to play a note.) What is the travel time? Do the math, then build in extra TIME for road construction, disruption of service (if you live in a city where Public Transportation is available), vehicle malfunction, or having to stop to get gas, eat, or go to the bathroom. Anything can happen and it probably will. You might think your #1 job as a freelance musician is to play at your best at all times…well that is quite important, but TIED for #1 is making sure the contractor or the person who has hired you never has to worry about you. They hired you because of the way you play, they will CONTINUE to hire you (and recommending you to other contractors) because of your ability to show up ON TIME and be a reliable person to them.
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