The checklist is great. But take a look at the number of items on it. Putting aside the work of practicing, rehearsing, composing, booking gigs, networking, promotion and performing, there are thirteen, count’em, thirteen potential areas of exploitation.
We are all responsible for our own careers; it is each musician’s job to ensure that he or she is protected. However, let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees. The music industry is huge, and in it are many individuals, companies and corporations whose business plan fundamentally involves exploiting musicians.
There is no substitute for careful attention to the financial aspects of your career, but at the same time, an exclusively individual outlook (aka DIY?) leads to the same old story of musicians getting the short end of the stick, again and again and again.
That’s why we think a union of musicians is so important. The AFM has a large dedicated staff, working day in and day out on behalf of musicians. Artists need somebody to push back and help shape an industry that by and large has made a ton of money off musicians but not returned a lot of it to us.
Back to personal responsibility… labor unions, including the AFM, are democratically-run, grass-roots organizations. The only way that we can be effective is for our members — working musicians — to be involved. So get involved! If you haven’t joined the AFM, consider joining. If you have, start making your voice heard.
And the next time you see helpful career advice for musicians, think about how much money is riding on us not following through.