First, I would like to say that this discussion is solely focused on reed players playing musical theater gigs- not brass or strings or anything else.
There are some theater companies that choose not to pay reed players fairly. Sometimes this means not paying for doubles, not paying for cartage, and/or not paying for being onstage (and possibly wearing a costume) while playing a show. There is something fundamentally wrong about the thinking behind this. Each instrument that you play requires work. Here is a list of that work. For each instrument played, you:
-Purchased it - this requires money and time to pick it out
-Purchased the accessories it requires (mouthpiece, reeds, ligature, neck strap, head joint, barrel, horn stand, etc)
-Devoted your time, efforts, and money towards studying that instrument (sometimes involving multiple college degrees and/or private lesson fees)
-Transported it from your house to the venue and vice versa (sometimes requiring a complicated plan involving multiple trips, parking fees, paying for a dolly, etc)
-Pay for instrument insurance (hopefully you do!)
-Spent time warming up, practicing, choosing reeds
-Spent time swabbing it and putting it away
My point here is that for every instrument played, you deserve to be paid. Sure, you can take a gig that doesn't pay doubles - but if you do, be aware that you are underpaid, underappreciated, and disrespected by the theater company. I've played gigs like that and sometimes had good experiences. I'm not saying don't always say no to these underpaid gigs. Sometimes - like if you're just starting out in the scene - it's good to take them to get out there to meet other musicians which can lead to other, better gigs. Or if you really like the show and the players involved it can be an overall good experience either way. But at a certain point in your career you need to stop taking these underpaid gigs or you'll be going backwards. Ideally, the city you're in would require you to be in the union in order to take union gigs. This would create a high quality, competitive, and healthier financial environment for the musicians involved.
I've always been a hands-on, practical person. I like to know how things work - how all the pieces fit together. This blog is a collection of advice, experiences, and questions intended to be a practical guide for aspiring freelance musicians.