Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Gigging in Cardiff

This does not count as a day in the 100 Days Project, because the whole day was taken up with driving to Cardiff (and back) for Ember's gig at the Wales Millenium Centre. It's amazing that a one-hour gig is in reality an eleven-hour day. The ice and snow and many tractors on the road made the journey longer than it should have been, but we would have left with plenty of time to spare anyway, being the conscientious little musicians that we are. :)

The time spent on stage is the tiny tip of the iceberg in comparison to the off-stage work. But a lot of people don't realise that - they think all you do is perform. Wow, that would be a very glamorous life! At a gig in October, a guy came up to me and we had this little exchange:

Guy: "So how many days do you work, then?"
Me: "What do you mean, 'how many days'?"
Guy: "I don't know, how many days a year?"
Me: "Do you mean how many days a year do we play gigs?"
Guy: "Yes."
Me: "It varies, but we probably play between 60 and 100 gigs a year, give or take a few."
Guy [grins in disbelief]: "And you make your living from it?"
Me: "Yes, a very frugal living, but a satisfying one."
Guy: "Wow, I wish I could only work one day in three, or even one day in four - why have I been wasting my time working five days a week all these years when I could have been working two?!"
Me: "Actually for years we worked every day of the week, and only recently, when not gigging on a weekend, we might take that time off. There's a lot more to it than doing the gigs... Like getting the gigs, promoting them, getting to the gigs, writing songs (when we have the rare chance!), recording... And all the boring admin like sorting contracts and invoicing people, updating the website, accounting, and even packing up CDs that people have ordered online, then standing in the post office queue..."

And then he might as well have said: "But it's not really work is it..." as many others have before.

Ha ha. Do you know what, I am going to mark this as a 100 Days Project after all - I think I've done OK. I've got a lot off my chest (that's some de-cluttering, ha ha), and I've done something I've been meaning to do for a long time. Put this annoying conversation to rest.

Day Thirty Two.


  1. I can completely imagine someone saying that, shocking though it is! It's akin to the response you sometimes get when someone asks you how much it would cost to make such and such, and you explain a price based on materials at cost and your time at less than minimum wage, and they *still* think it's a ludicrous price. Musicians and makers alike often put in an astonishing number of hours which our consumer-trained minds don't recognise as valuable at all and it does everyone a disservice.

    Ooo, get me! I've clearly had some decluttering to do on that subject as well:-) I adore your blog Emily, thank you so much for taking time out of your busyness to keep it updated for us. It's been a fantastic inspiration for me in terms of clearing things out (though you might not know it to look at my room right now) and keeping my own blog (http://citrusgirrl.dreamwidth.org) more updated:-)

    Big hugs,
    Hannah x

  2. I second citrusgirrl on that one - alot of people get stuck into a routine of a job they don't enjoy, five days a week, enjoying the money, but wondering why they're not happy. sometimes this comes from innocently not realising they can have a happy life on much less money and much more free time to do the things they love, and when they do realise they make the leap and become much happier people. but some people are never brave enough to make the leap, and seem to envy others who have. but that's their beef. if you're happy in your own life, there's no need to envy others'. and if you're not, having a conversation like that should have been a good opportunity for that guy to take a look at himself and reassess things. maybe since talking to you he's now making cabinets two days a week in a little studio somewhere, a much happier man. i've come across this: i work 3 days a week to support making art 4 days a week. it works for me, i'm very happy in general. but i've had all the questions about why i work part time: do i have kids (no), am i at college (no), am i lazy (no).

    i'm glad you aired it and got it off your chest, TY. keep on doing what you're doing, musically, knittily and bloggily. we love it <3 xx

  3. Ooooof! What an annoying pillock! It reminds me of people who think that staying at home and being a full-time Mum is a walk in the park. When I was going on maternity leave, someone actually wrote in my leaving card, "Enjoy your holiday"!!!!!!!

  4. Good gods, really?? That's shocking!

    Sadly my sister is one of those who isn't brave enough to make the leap, and she says many things which clearly demonstrate her disdain for my choice to be time-rich/money-poor. I used to work one week a month (21 hours each day live-in) and then have three weeks off, so technically I was still working the equivalent of full-time hours, just all in one go. Anyway, when I was made redundant last summer my sister greeted the news by saying "Perhaps now you can get a proper job".

    Hannah x

  5. came across this blog while exploring the site, love it!! At least you're working hard at something you love. I know your music and its absolutely amazing; you bring joy to peoples lives and thats something to be damn proud of.....i doubt that bloke can say the same thing!!! :D have a good one xxx