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Steady Gig To A Blank Calendar…Overnight



Guitarist Taylor Roberts shares his experience of going from a solid regular gig to the uncertainties of freelance work.

Photo credit (above): Lilly Scheetz

I went from being well into my 9th year of the gig every musician would’ve killed for to a blank calendar, overnight. The details aren’t important. The real point of this is that nothing lasts forever, and the measure of a musician – in my opinion – is how they respond to such an abrupt change.

After the initial sting of being let go from The Great Gig in the Sky wore off, my hustle kicked into hyperdrive. I’d made a name for myself in Northeast Florida and the surrounding areas over the years, so I got to work. Before I knew it, I had a full calendar again. The “gig economy,” as some people refer to it, can be a pretty slippery slope. Feast or famine. However, since August, I’ve had no more than 5 days off per month. Yes, I’m working harder than ever (and not making close to what I was), but the pros far outweigh the cons. I’m playing in a different room, for a different audience, every night of the week. That’s hundreds of new impressions I’m making on a weekly basis. In terms of the long game, and the overall growth of my career, this is exponentially more beneficial than playing in the corner of the same restaurant 5 nights a week.

Financial stability may seem like a foreign concept to most musicians, and I’m no different. I was under the delusion that my steady gig of nearly a decade would always be there. But as I mentioned earlier, nothing lasts forever.

The main perks of that gig were the great pay, the consistency, the affluence of the clientele, and the occasional mingling with celebrities (I got to play for The Rolling Stones, for crying out loud). I also developed some great relationships with the guests that have resulted in lifelong friendships.

The downsides were there, too. My phone stopped ringing because, according to the vast majority of others, I was “always booked.” True, if I decided to fully dedicate myself to this one venue, that was the case. However, when I felt a career boost (or even better paying gig) presented itself, I had the option to pull my independent contractor card and get someone to fill in for me while I played the better gig.

Is the grass greener on the freelance side? Overall I’d have to say “yes.” It’s definitely more exciting! The unpredictability and uncertainty can weigh pretty heavily on my psyche, but at the end of the day, it only serves to strengthen my resolve to keep pushing. As it was with the steady gig, I’m sure this phase is temporary as well. Something bigger and better is bound to come along soon.

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