Monday 22 December 2014

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on YOU!

So a few weeks ago I was supposed to do a concert. It didn't happen. There are many reasons it did not happen, none of which you need to know about. However, I have learned some fairly interesting lessons and the past few weeks have led to a change in my attitude towards working for nothing.

I have been doing this job, this singing lark, for a long time and we singers/actors are a sensitive bunch (it's not just me). It goes with the territory. We need reassurance from time to time. We need to feel wanted, to feel valued. It's not that we need to be praised constantly we just need to know what we are doing is, basically, OK. We need to know what we are doing is not awful. 

As the years go by I feel less and less bothered by what other people think of how I sing. I think this is because I have been doing more work on my own, or just me and a pianist. We, between us, decide how we are going to put something across. We do it for us and, not necessarily, for anyone else. Of course I want people to enjoy what we do but I try not to feel judged or upset if someone does not enjoy the fruits of our labour. I am not self indulgent when programming. If a song I don't much care for works in a programme I will sing it and find a way to enjoy it. I always consider the audience's needs as well as my own when putting sets together. It is essential that I make myself happy, though, and as time marches on this becomes more and more important. There is no point in pursuing this career if it doesn't make me happy. Life is short (my new found obsession with Grey's Anatomy has taught me that) and I am fed up of doing things simply to make others happy. Particularly when my attempts to make others happy goes unnoticed. I am not looking for thanks and praise for helping but I do not appreciate being taken advantage of.

I should have realised what I'm worth years ago and put a stop to the constant advantage-taking but I am, for the most part, a nice person and I like seeing other people succeed. All I ask for in return is respect and hope that people will not assume that they can walk all over me because they did it before and I did not complain. I love getting involved in projects in their infancy. Seeing where they go, hoping they work out, hoping they lead to bigger and better things for the project's creator. Lack of money does not worry me, I will work for very little (often for cake) if I like the sound of the project or like the instigator of said project. I suppose you could say, at times, I do allow myself to be taken advantage of but, sometimes, I don't mind. I just don't understand how anyone can allow themselves to constantly be the advantage-takers of people who are trying to help them. We performers, particularly the nice ones, deserve better.

There are times when working for little or no money is appropriate. I am not totally against profit share or similar schemes. However, goodwill only goes so far. If you want to produce something of a professional standard using professional artists you have to be prepared to treat them like professionals and not expect they should be grateful just to be involved. Treating someone professionally does not necessarily mean you pay them the big bucks when you can't afford it. Just don't take the p**s. 

So, to all those who are "creating opportunities" take note, if someone is giving themselves, their time, their talent for basically nothing this should be cherished. This person should feel like what they are doing is appreciated. I, personally, did not choose this career to make pots of money but it is my career. I am not an amateur and if I am willing to give my time for nothing that is a big deal. Yes we want to be out there performing and, to a certain extent, we relish the opportunity to get out there whatever the circumstances but I have seen too many producers expect performers to be down-on-their-knees grateful that they have been given the chance to perform and not be rewarded financially. The performers, not the producers, are expected to kowtow and give thanks. It should be the other way round!

Apologies that the above post is lacking in festive cheer. I had written it, or a version of the above, a few weeks ago but hadn't wanted to post until now. However, I must take this opportunity to thank you all for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a sensational New Year.

PS if you are at a loose end on February 22nd you could always come to this:

Booking is now open so follow the link to get your tickets. You can eat pizza while I sing. Win win!

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