You have arrived. You are well positioned. Your experience, knowledge and training are worth something. Your time is a valuable commodity.
The way the world often works: if you give your art away for free, you risk the receiver not valuing the work you do. You might be asked again to work for free. Unfortunate but true.
Planting seeds for the future can be invaluable, but please be selective. However, doing something just for the cache rarely offers you a return on your artistic and time-spent investment.
Mark Watters is a six-time Emmy Award-winning composer and conductor whose diverse career spans 400 television episodes, feature films, DVDs and video games. Now directing the Film Music Composition Department at the Eastman School of Music, he is often asked by young composers when it’s right to take a scoring job at a low or reduced fee.
“There are various forms of payment for a project. Money is just one of them. They are:
1. To develop or maintain a relationship with someone, usually the filmmaker*
2. A credit. Sometimes this is more valuable than a fee.
3. A new experience such as the opportunity to work in a genre different from what most people associate with you.”
Two additional thoughts: Composers are often loyal to those who showed up for them in the beginning, and played for a little, reduced or no-pay job. *Composer James Horner regularly hired musicians who worked for him for free after he made it to the A-List. He was not alone.
Take the job if it will make you feel good – if it’s a subject or cause that’s important to you.
In my own experience of offering my “services” for free, I have received good pay-offs down the road. Some came quickly; others came a year later. As noted above, some “freebies” made me feel good. That’s still true today. But most often, nothing came of it, and that’s okay. You live…you learn.
On a few occasions, there were people who were on the fence, or just could not commit to paying for the work they knew on some level was necessary for their future. In those few cases, I said “pay me 100 dollars.” That helped them understand that (my) professional services are worth something. And by paying me, they were immediately more invested in themselves and in me. They became more motivated and tried even harder to further the craft at the heart of their potential career.
Here are some thoughts and affirmations from outside the music world written by Amy Morin.
The work you are doing, and will do in the future, is important. It’s worth something.
The work you are doing matters, especially in the times in which we currently live.
Please share your thoughts and experiences.