Today I had to reluctantly pass up a good gig because it conflicted with Rent. It would have paid nearly twice as much with a slightly smaller time commitment. It was another musical, too. I love playing musicals. I'm happy to be the regular guitarist for Act3, but it would have been nice to "diversify" and get my foot in the door somewhere else.
There are some musicians who would have taken the more lucrative gig, but I'm not wired that way. If you constantly go to the highest bidder without regard for the people who already hired you, you may get some good gigs at first, but you'll eventually find yourself with a bad reputation as you burn your bridges. That's not to say you should never jump to another gig, but you should have a really good reason. While I won't earn as much money playing Rent, I'll be playing for an organization of terrific people who have been very good to me, and who have let me know that I'm their first call guitarist for the foreseeable future. If I had taken the new gig, I could have jeopardized my future with Act3 for what might well have been a one time gig…not a smart tradeoff.
Each situation is different, but here are some factors I take into consideration when I'm lucky enough to be contacted for a gig that conflicts with one already on the calendar.
- If the first gig is a freebie and the new gig pays, I'll take the new gig.
- Money is a consideration. I don't know what my breaking point is, but I have to be honest and admit that I can be bought. It would have to be for a LOT more money.
- Enough time to find a replacement. If I had been asked to play the new gig a month or two ago, I probably would have taken it, because it would have given Act3 plenty of time to find another guitarist. If I switched gigs now, I'd be leaving Act3 in the lurch. It would take them time to find another guitarist, and the new guitarist would have had to scramble to learn a difficult guitar book.
- Opportunity. I love playing for Act3 Productions, but if I got a call to play a show at the Fox, or if a well known touring artist wanted to hire me, that opportunity would be too good to ignore. I'd take the new gig.
I'll generally stick with the first gig, but I'll switch gigs given a certain combination of opportunity, time, and money. For the most part, though, it's going to be difficult to get me to drop one gig for another. To me, it's very important to nurture relationships with the people I play for. That means being loyal to my client, and if I do decide to switch gigs, it means helping them find a replacement. I'm not the #1 guitarist in town, but I earn big points by acting like a professional. I show up early, dressed appropriately, with my music prepared, and unless I have a really, really, really good reason to switch, I stick with the first gig and dance with who brung me.