One time a really good trombonist told me that if you work for free you will, of course, be a busy trombonist. We laughed and for a time, I really took that to heart. I was not going to be that lackey and never did a gig that did not pay decently. Unfortunately, I lost some friends (lets call them acquaintances) along the way. If the first question you ask when someone says they have a gig for you is "How much does it pay?" you start to get a reputation as a hard-ass, miser. The truth of the matter is that music often does not pay well and sometimes does not pay. Oh, there are exceptions and you can work hard to be one of the fortunate ones that gets paid well each time you leave the house, but you are part of a small and dwindling group. If on the other hand, you want to enjoy yourself, play interesting gigs and be well thought of in the musical community, you take as many gigs as you can handle. If you are good, paying gigs come your way. If you are average, you get the gigs that match your skill level or you need to hustle your own. I have observed that less-skilled players can get choice (paying) gigs just because they are nice people that others want to work with. So, it is a combination of things. But the bottom line is do not put money first or it will have the opposite result...people will stop calling. Take every gig, hustle your own, be the nicest guy or girl out there, and keep working on your skills. That is the way to do it.
Dr. Michael Kearns
Musician, educator, husband, father, web designer ... my life is like a mosaic with each piece vying for my attention.