In most cases, it is tempting for musicians to turn down money. Why? Because they need it to pay for studio time, take care of personal expenses as well as paying a manager. In this light, musicians sometimes settle for low-paying gigs, even if they are A-list artists, forgetting to know that this can lead to a dangerous downward trend that makes people devalue their work.
It is sad to say, but the major reason why the status of most Liberian musicians has not changed is because they continue to accept low–paying gigs.
Matter of fact, a low-paying gig is good for upcoming artists; not professional artists. As a professional musician, whenever you accept a low-paying gig you send the message that you do not value your time and work.
The problem about accepting low-paying gigs is that it tells event planners or bookers that you are willing to work for less than your market value, and once people have such notion about you, it makes you a cheap musician.
Once people notice that you are cheap, they will always bring you low–paying gigs just to get a deal at your expense.
Also, by accepting a low salary for gigs, you are reinforcing the stereotype that Liberian music has no real value, which sends the additional message that people can continue to offer low-pay to musicians and still have their service.
Frankly speaking, the end result is a downward trend, which will not only leave you poor, but harms the industry as well. Therefore, it is better to say “no” to low-paying gigs.
Why say no when Liberia’s music industry is still underdeveloped? Why say no when people don’t buy music in Liberia? Why say no when you need money to record another song, and to cater to other needs?
It is difficult for Liberian musicians to say no. But saying no is the best method to change people’s perception that Liberian music lacks value, and therefore there is no need for them to invest in the struggling industry.
Saying no to low-paying gigs clearly sends the message that artists in Liberia value their work and they are not willing to engage in a race to the bottom on pricing.
By doing this, you are telling people, most especially event planners and bookers, to create fair compensation for every Liberian musician, or else they will not provide you their services.
Lastly, ‘indie’ musicians (upcoming musicians) should be aware that they need to sometimes say no to low-paying gigs in order to make people respect and value their work.
This task is difficult, but its end result will yield better fruits than going after low-paying gigs.
Meanwhile, it is sometimes necessary to accept free gigs than a low-pay one; but do it when the time or opportunity is worthwhile.
Remember that the intention of clients who are willing to offer you low-paying gigs is to rip you off your fair share, which will leave you poor.