Innovating Through Artistry

When to Take a Gig

In Author: David Cutler, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Music on August 5, 2009 at 1:52 pm

All artists, and especially entrepreneurial ones, are presented with many opportunities throughout the course of their artistic life.  When a gig or other opportunity comes your way, you will be confronted with whether or not to take it.  Some offers are clearly too good to pass up, while others are riddled with problems and not worth your while.  But sometimes the choice is not so clear.  Perhaps the opportunity would require you to refocus energy in a completely new direction.  Does it have the potential to unlock new doors in the future, or will it just be a distraction from your primary goals?  When deciding whether or not to accept a gig, weigh the amount of time and life energy it will take against the benefits it has to offer, which may include: 

1)      Pay.  Will the compensation make it worth your time?

2)      Connections.  Will it build relationships with potentially important people?

3)      Future Projects.  Will it open the door to new opportunity?

4)      Personal Satisfaction.  Will you find fulfillment from the work?

5)      Prestige.  Will it add to your reputation?

6)      Skill Development.  Will it help you develop a new ability?

7)      Portfolio Building.  Will it fill a gap in your work experience?

8)      Artistic Challenge.  Will it help you grow musically or intellectually?

9)      Debt.  Will it repay an obligation to someone who has helped you in the past?

10)  Service.  Will it allow you to contribute something meaningful to the community?

Rating Scale:

# of Benefits Comments
8-10 Take it!  This is a dream gig.
5-7 The gig has an incredible amount to offer you.  Take it if at all possible.
3-4 This still sounds fairly appealing.  As long as you don’t have too much on your plate, take it.
2 If you really need the work, you may need to take it, but in the meantime, try to create some more opportunities for yourself.
1 Only consider this if you are desperate for work.
0 Run and don’t look back.


David Cutler balances a varied career as a jazz and classical pianist, composer, arranger, educator, and conductor.  Visit for information about his book (now available!) The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living, & Making a Difference, a Resource Center with 1000+links, and much more.


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