15 Funny Questions I Get Asked as a Working Musician
Q: I know you usually play for two+ hours. Since we only want one hour, can we pay you half?
A: I understand but, no. It takes me an hour to set up, an hour to tear down, travel time, and practice time for your gig. Playing one or two hours makes no difference to me. Same price. Also, I make more tips for two+ hours. Higher tips come at the end of the evening so, cutting my time and guaranteed rate in half works out to cutting my take home by about 60+%.
Q: Do you want to bring a friend to play with you? That could be fun.
A: Absolutely fun. But, I pay my friends to play so either you have to pay more or I have to pay them out of my pocket.
Q: Do you want to play my event for free? It would be great exposure for you.
A: No, thank you. I get plenty of exposure and I believe in paying musicians what they are worth. When musicians start playing for free, it cuts the throats of musicians who try to make a living at it. Also, free exposure doesn’t have the payoff one might think.
Q: Can you play my event for free? It’s a benefit concert.
A: Maybe. I do at least one benefit a year. I also donate art and give money away to various charities. I’m a fan of generosity. But, I get asked to do about 10 benefits a year so, give me some grace if I say no.
Q: Since you’re officiating our wedding ceremony, can you also bring your guitar and do a few songs?
A: Probably not. Unless we are really close friends and, that’s a lot to ask. It’s like asking your mechanic to do a free oil change and rotate your tires since he’s checking out that noise anyway.
Q: Since we are hiring you to play 2 songs in our wedding, will you throw in music at the reception?
A: See above.
Q: Can we save money if we provide the sound system? My friend has one.
A: I’m willing to talk but, in most cases the answer is no. Once I showed up and they wanted me to play through a stereo receiver using the headphone jack for my guitar and just sing really loud without a mic. I now travel with my own sound system and everyone’s happy.
Q: Do you ever play for tips only?
A: No. But my freshman-year garage band did. We sucked.
Q: The wedding is in Yosemite but, you only have to play two songs without amplification in the woods. It’ll take you like 10 minutes. Is that cheaper?
A: No. Sorry. It’s more expensive. Yosemite is a 3.5-hour drive one way. Your wedding is at 8:00am so, I need to spend the night the evening prior to make sure I can be there on time. Which means, I’ll be committed to your wedding from about 3:00p on Friday to 1:00p on Saturday. Plus accommodations. Plus meals. Plus fuel.
Q: I can’t pay you too much but, food is provided! The food will be awesome! Is that okay?
A: Thanks, but . . . as my friend, Ben the youth pastor once jokingly said when he received a bunch of cookies, bread, and jam at Christmastime, “Someone please tell these people I’m not hungry. I’m poor.” Also, food and drinks are provided at almost every gig I play for my going rate.
Q: How many people will you bring to our restaurant when you play?
A: Ummm. I put the word out but, I don’t require RSVP’s to my shows. It’s a gamble. I can tell you I usually draw 50-100 folks depending on the venue and the night. I can’t make guarantees.
Q: Can you do all these songs on this request list?
A: I like doing new songs that I usually don’t do but, that takes time to learn them. If you want to pay me to learn songs not in my repertoire, I’m game. I’m usually generous and add one or two I know you like but, not your 150-song list of B-sides and Rarities. However, I LOVE hearing what kinds of songs you enjoy so I can see how that lines up with my repertoire.
Q: Can my (daughter/son/husband/wife/friend) get up there and do a song with you?
A: I like having fun. If you are the person paying me, we might be able to work that out. Let’s talk about it in advance and keep it to a song or two. Also, it depends on the venue. And, it means I’ll have to set up more equipment.
Q: Can I bring my (guitar/harmonica/uke/djembe) and join you sometime?
A: Probably not. Unless you are a professional, and I’ve heard you, and you want to practice, and we talk about the tunes in advance, and it seems best for the gig.
Q: Can you play Free Bird?
Other things that are sometimes used to try and “sweeten the deal” that aren’t super helpful:
“It’s a beautiful place. You’ll love it here!”
I’m sure it is.
“Your wife can come too!”
My wife has heard me 10,000 times. She’s my biggest fan but, would rather stay home and sip chardonnay while binge watching Madam Secretary. I understand.
“This might lead to other gigs.”
Actually, that makes sense sometimes. Not always. Rarely, actually.
“We will put you up for the night so you don’t have to drive home.”
I appreciate it but, I love my bed and my wife that’s in that bed.
“You can drink all you want!”
Thanks. While I enjoy a good beverage, I’m a professional and limit myself so I can give you a good experience instead of drunk playing.