Why I Don’t Play for FREE Anymore

I’m playing my violin for a wedding today.  It’s probably the 50 somethingith wedding I’ve played for, but it’s the first one where I’m actually getting paid a real amount… like, more than $40 and it’s a big deal.

I don’t know the couple or the family I’m playing for very well yet, but they are all amazing and such lovely people and I hope to get to know them more!

Being a violinist means that when your friends get married…. they expect you to play for free.  So I do… I just don’t buy them a wedding gift.  Me playing is a $150+ value.  If you really want me to buy you a wedding gift then pay me my $150 and I’ll buy you a toaster.  Mazel tov!

The shoes I'm wearing for the wedding :-)
The shoes I’m wearing for the wedding :-)

I’m not saying that I’ve played begrudgingly for people who have asked me to play.  I’ve actually really enjoyed the times I’ve played for my friends and have felt grateful to have been a part in their wedding.  I’m aiming more at the mind-set of asking someone to use their talents and expertise for one’s own benefit and not compensating the musician for their time and effort.

It would be similar to your boss asking you to sacrifice your Saturday for the sake of the company, but then informing you that you wont be paid.  Your boss tells you that you’re not obligated to work, but she thinks you’re perfect for the job and it would mean so much if you specifically would be there working.

Hello?!  If your boss tells you to do something… you do it!  I mean, you do it if you want to keep your job, that is…

Whether they have been your best friend since kindergarten, a family member, or you just met them yesterday, you need to compensate them for what your hiring them to do.  They are providing a service to you in order to make your wedding sound beautiful, to help create an atmosphere, fill silence,  and to pull on the heart-strings of those coming to witness your special day.  Pay them for what they are worth because music, often times, makes or breaks your wedding.

If a musician plays for free or at a discount, it should ONLY be by their choice.  “The workman is worthy of his wages.”

If you can’t afford or you’re not willing to pay your musicians… do them a favor and don’t ask them to play.  Just break out that old school boom box and play a recording of the “Wedding March” and you’ll be golden.


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