Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Establishing Value

Over the last few weeks, I have appreciated the chance for some last-minute accompanying opportunities. I didn't expect to be available for music gigs until the end of the year, so I hadn't really done much advance planning for December. As I was confronted with the question of how much to charge for rehearsals and performances, I realized that it was time to deal with some beliefs about money once and for all.

Money has never been a preoccupation for me. I would prefer not to have to worry about dollar signs at all and just compose, collaborate with other musicians, and spend time connecting with and inspiring other people. There is nothing distinctly economical about the culture of integrity, gratitude, and grace I envision, although people would probably make different choices with their money if they acted more out of gratitude than fear and embraced integrity. But coming to terms with my beliefs about money will be a big part of how I am able to create what I want in the the coming months.

When I had a full-time job in a related field, my bills were getting paid, but I wasn't spending the time and energy I wanted to creating music. Even as I tried over the last year to develop ways to perform the duties of my job in such a way that my creative goals were also being satisfied, I encountered communication hurdles that consumed a lot of the time and energy I freed up. Some of the people who had control over my position had expectations that were different than what I was trying to create, and it ultimately resulted in my vision taking me away from that position.

Looking back at that situation, it was a convenient way for me to avoid addressing the issue of money. Having a salary meant that there was a concrete dollar value already placed on my time and expertise. Anything I was able to create in my "spare time" didn't need to have any financial specifics attached, because the money I needed for survival was coming from another source. Asking for more just seemed greedy.

Now I am recognizing that the money I earn from my music is a byproduct of my music having an opportunity to impact people's lives. I also realize that it doesn't serve any part of my vision to undervalue myself. Having a clear and specific dollar figure in mind for accompanying jobs, music preparation projects, and commissions doesn't mean that I can't be flexible. But it sets the stage for a better financial foundation for what I want to create in the world. Stepping away from fears about survival or an attitude of neediness opens space to actually have all of the ingredients my vision requires. I believe big dreams are best supported by fully acknowledging my capability and value.

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