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Get the Gig: How to prepare to dump your day job for music | Music

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Question: I would like to leave my job to pursue music but am not sure when I should. Obviously, right now, during COVID, is not a good time, but when we get back to normal, when should I make the shift?

I am asked this question a lot, but before I share my thoughts, I want to clarify that my answer is only my opinion and if someone chose to leave their job at a different time than I suggest, that does not mean they made the wrong decision. Instead of putting a specific timeline as to when or how a musician should leave their job, I have a financial checklist I suggest. Once a musician can check all of these boxes, then they might be in a strong position to leave their job.

Always confirm your compensation in advance. I have worked with countless artists who feel awkward about talking with a venue about compensation. They do not want to appear greedy or too money-focused, so they choose not to talk about it until the show is over. Unfortunately, this often means that the venue pays much less than the artist was expecting, or not at all. All of the financial details should be clarified in advance, before the show is even confirmed. Not only will this assure you are not surprised at the end of the night, it will allow you the ability to pass on gigs that cannot support you. You should never need to feel awkward or greedy by clarifying finances. Good venues expect to talk about finances in advance.

Set aside money for taxes. Once you earn $600 or more in a year from your music, you will be expected to pay taxes on that income. One of the biggest pitfalls I see that hurts musicians (and I have made this mistake too) is not being prepared to pay the year’s taxes. I am not an accountant, so you may want to seek more exact numbers, but I always suggest setting aside 20 to 25% from every gig for taxes. Every time you cash a check, set money aside, so at the end of the year you are not shocked by a large tax bill. On this point, you should add extra money for taxes to the amount you charge venues. If you need to make $200 on a gig, you should charge $250 to set $50 aside for taxes. Pro tip: As you acquire higher-paying gigs, you will start to see venues and events request a W-9 form. Do not be worried by this — it is very standard. They need this form for their own tax filing purposes. However, it also lets the IRS know that you received income from that organization. So you will be expected to pay taxes on that income at the end of the year. I know a lot of musicians who try to get out of providing a W-9 for that reason, but it is a requirement of a significant portion of well-paying clients, so it is better to get into the habit now. You can find the W-9 form online at irs.gov.

Set aside a percentage for marketing and equipment. In addition to setting aside money for taxes, I encourage musicians to set up a separate bank account for marketing and equipment. After you start playing some regular gigs, this account should contain only money made from music. Your 9-to-5 income should no longer go in it. This will allow you to see all of your marketing and equipment expenses over time and allow you to budget accordingly.

Have an emergency fund. Entertainment will always have unexpected down seasons — it is more “when” than “if.” An emergency fund will allow you to continue playing music when the bumps in the road come along.



Jake Laughlin with book

Last spring, Jake Laughlin released the book “Get the Gig: A Musician’s Guide to Booking More Live Shows,” and he has since launched a podcast by the same name. 




I tell musicians that when they can check these four boxes — confirming compensation in advance, setting aside money for taxes, a separate budget for marketing and equipment, and having an emergency fund in place — then it may be time to consider going full time.

I was very excited to receive this question. While living in such a challenging time, there have been so many wonderful voices encouraging self-care. I think it is important to remember that self-care is also needed in our finances. Preparing financially allows playing music to still bring us joy, instead of being so stressed that music has lost its fun. I want to make sure your music career always brings you joy and fulfillment, not stress.

That being said, I know there are a lot of musicians in great financial struggle right now. Through no fault of your own, there are just not enough well-paying gigs right now. Lots of working artists have had to seek work outside of their art.

I think there is a feeling in the creative community that artists who only make money through art are “real artists,” and those who make their money by other means are somehow “less than.” I have seen so many joyous, happy artists become embarrassed or ashamed of the way they make money today and feel they aren’t “real musicians” (this was true before COVID as well).

In my own creative endeavors, I often felt that I was not a “real creative” either. I was so ashamed that I was not supporting myself solely from creative means that I left my 9-to-5 too early and was faced with unnecessary financial stress because I had not properly prepared. I spent years beating myself up trying to prove that I was a “real creative.” Looking back on it, the only person who actually cared whether I was full time or not was me. There was not a single person who judged me for having other forms of income, but there were people who judged me for leaving my 9-to-5 too soon.

If you make art, you are an artist. Income or no income, you have arrived. If you are making money by other means, I want to say how proud I am of you. You made a tough decision, but it was the right decision. You are doing what needed to be done and I have endless respect and admiration for you. Through it all, never let yourself feel that the value of your art is determined by where your checks come from. You are an artist, playing stadiums or working a 9-to-5, and you are never less the artist we are all awed by.

Thank you for the art you create.

Featured Musician: Vaughn Faison

Discover Denton recently hosted our Quarantunes competition in which artists all over Denton submitted music they wrote during stay-at-home orders. One of those artists was Vaughn Faison. He submitted a song called “Beauty” that blew us all away. Later that same day, Vaughn came back in to Discover Denton with Lizzi Trumbore to perform for Twilight Tunes.

If you see Vaughn’s name on a marquee, go! You will absolutely not regret it.

JAKE LAUGHLIN is the media and productions manager for Discover Denton, the founder of DentonRadio.com, a talent buyer and the author of ” Get the Gig: A Musician’s Guide to Booking More Live Shows.”



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Chrissy Teigen gets hair and makeup done for speaking gig while on bed rest for high-risk pregnancy

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Chrissy Teigen gets hair and makeup done for speaking gig while on bed rest for ‘high-risk’ third pregnancy

Chrissy Teigen may be under strict bed rest orders due to a ‘high-risk’ third pregnancy, but that’s not stopping her from handling business.

The 34-year-old entrepreneur took to social media to show a team of people helping her with hair and makeup ahead of a speaking gig for INBOUND on Tuesday. 

Chrissy shared the ‘good news’ with her millions of followers that she was back on the ticket for the global marketing workshop which features esteemed speakers, including Bob Iger, Van Jones, Kerry Washington and John Legend.

All work: Chrissy Teigen may be under strict bed rest orders due to a 'high-risk' third pregnancy, but that's not stopping her from handling business

All work: Chrissy Teigen may be under strict bed rest orders due to a ‘high-risk’ third pregnancy, but that’s not stopping her from handling business

Sitting in her bed while wearing a nude nursing bra, Chrissy updated her 31million fans on Instagram.  

‘Good news,’ she said ‘I am back on for Inbound. Still on bed rest, so it will be from bed, but I’m going to honor this commitment.’

Teigen sipped on a smoothie from local Los Angeles favorite, Kreation, as she chatted with her followers.

Talk about it: Chrissy shared the 'good news' with her millions of followers that she was back on the ticket for the global marketing workshop which features esteemed speakers, including Bob Iger, Van Jones, Kerry Washington and John Legend

Talk about it: Chrissy shared the ‘good news’ with her millions of followers that she was back on the ticket for the global marketing workshop which features esteemed speakers, including Bob Iger, Van Jones, Kerry Washington and John Legend

Nourishment: Teigen sipped on a smoothie from local Los Angeles favorite, Kreation, as she chatted with her followers

Nourishment: Teigen sipped on a smoothie from local Los Angeles favorite, Kreation, as she chatted with her followers

She tagged Irinel de León for hair and Kristine Studden for makeup, both of which were on hand to style her September Marie Claire cover.

Last week, the Cravings author let it slip that she’s expecting a baby boy, her third child with husband John Legend.

As she detailed issues with her placenta (similar to problems she faced during her pregnancies with Luna and Miles), she assured her followers not to worry about the baby and ‘he’s big.’

Helping hands: She tagged Irinel de Leo¿n for hair and Kristine Studden for makeup, both of which were on hand to style her September Marie Claire cover

Helping hands: She tagged Irinel de León for hair and Kristine Studden for makeup, both of which were on hand to style her September Marie Claire cover

Oh boy! As she detailed issues with her placenta (similar to problems she faced during her pregnancies with Luna and Miles), she assured her followers not to worry about the baby and 'he's big'

Oh boy! As she detailed issues with her placenta (similar to problems she faced during her pregnancies with Luna and Miles), she assured her followers not to worry about the baby and ‘he’s big’

‘Oops! I’m stupid … anyway,’ she said. ‘Its growing beautifully, everything’s good. I’m feeling really good, but my placenta’s really, really weak and it’s causing me to really bleed a lot. 

‘Basically it’s just pretty high-risk and, you know, it’s just this poor thing has been through so much already.’ 

Her doctors ordered her on strict bed rest last week due to her ‘difficult pregnancy.’ 

‘I didn’t really know that bed rest was, like, in bed,’ she admitted online. ‘I honestly thought bed rest was you have to really really really relax, stay home; I thought it could be couch rest.’  

Yum! Hoping to lift her spirits, Chrissy showed off an adorable #bedrest donut arrangement with unicorn sweets made by celebrity favorite, Blinkie's Donuts, from her friend Lauren Makk

Yum! Hoping to lift her spirits, Chrissy showed off an adorable #bedrest donut arrangement with unicorn sweets made by celebrity favorite, Blinkie’s Donuts, from her friend Lauren Makk

Luna to the rescue! Her four-year-old daughter has taken great care of her mother

Luna to the rescue! Her four-year-old daughter has taken great care of her mother

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With ‘Gig 2,’ Virgin Media sees way to double broadband speeds

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After a successful first gig, most groups start planning a second.



Virgin Media has already switched on a gigabit-speed service for about 3.7 million UK homes. Technicians at the British cable operator now see a way to double those speeds in what they are calling “Gig 2.”



Trials carried out in the town of Thatcham in the south of England, and announced today, delivered a service of 2.2 Gbit/s to homes over the DOCSIS 3.1 technology that Virgin Media is using. That is about 34 times the country’s average connection speed.



It would instantly catapult the UK to the top of most broadband league tables if it became widely available. And Virgin Media reckons a Gig 2 upgrade could be done without breaking the bank.


Virgin Media reckons it can avoid these digs when upgrading to higher speeds.

Virgin Media reckons it can avoid these digs when upgrading to higher speeds.




Speeds were effectively doubled by fattening the signal. In technical parlance, that meant activating a second OFDM block on DOCSIS 3.1, says Neil Geary, Virgin’s director of network evolution (OFDM stands for orthogonal frequency division multiplexing and is a widely used digital communications system).



For its Gig 1 deployment, Virgin uses half an OFDM block and bonds this with its older DOCSIS 3.0 technology. Adding the second block on DOCSIS 3.1 “grows the pool of capacity,” Geary tells Light Reading. “That is a new thing we’ve been configuring and testing.”



It appears to give Virgin a big advantage over BT, the UK telecom incumbent, which must dig up roads and install fiber when upgrading from the copper-based broadband technologies that still serve most homes.



“There is no civil engineering work required with this,” says Geary. “We have a network pathway beyond 1 gig to make sure we keep ahead of customer demand.”



No commercial thunder

And yet Virgin Media is not about to activate a 2Gbit/s service commercially.



Across a network that now reaches more than 15 million premises, most homes have no gigabit-speed option.



That will change next year, when Virgin is due to complete its Gig 1 upgrade for every single household. But Gig 2 is for the “years to come,” says Geary. “We have to see how the Gig 1 approach goes.”



The absence of civil engineering work does not mean upgrades are easy for the cable operator, a part of the Liberty Global empire.



Geary reels off a list of technical challenges. TV encoders need adjusting so that Virgin’s TV service consumes smaller amounts of spectrum, freeing up OFDM blocks for broadband. Analog network equipment needs to be upgraded.



Some cables must also be replaced. “It has been quite a journey,” says Geary.



Just like BT, Virgin is also building anew. While it can boast a speed advantage over its main rival, its network remains unavailable in many parts of the UK. Virgin is working to extend coverage through an investment program it calls Project Lightning.



First announced in early 2015, the plan was to reach an additional 4 million premises by this year, giving Virgin access to nearly 17 million in total.



But Lightning has clearly fallen well short of the original expectations. So far, Virgin has been able to add about 2.3 million premises to its footprint, including 93,000 in the April-to-June quarter.



In the meantime, Lightning has gobbled up much of the roughly £1 billion ($1.3 billion) that Virgin invests in capital expenditure every year.



Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.


Even so, if consumers genuinely care about connection speed, Virgin now has an enticing offer in areas where it competes against BT and resellers of the BT service. Geary also plays down any suggestion that cable might struggle on the uplink.



“I am pretty comfortable with a 10:1 ratio with a residential use case,” he says, pointing out that most traffic growth has been on the downlink side in the Netflix era.



A gigabit-speed service gives Virgin a generous 100 Mbit/s on the uplink. During the Thatcham trials, it achieved uplink speeds of 214 Mbit/s.



Whether Gig 1 upgrades carried out so far have brought commercial benefits for the operator is unclear.



As in mobile, there has been little evidence of a correlation between faster speeds and higher customer spending. Many subscribers care more about good levels of customer service, technical reliability and extra features.



Yet Virgin did pick up another 24,000 cable customers in its recent second quarter, giving it nearly 6 million in total.



That compared with a loss of about 6,000 subscribers a year earlier and was Virgin’s best quarterly performance since 2016.



An improvement in those numbers during the Gig 1 rollout would be an encouraging signal indeed.



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— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading



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“Was Hoping I Got the Gig”: Serena Williams and Alexander Zverev Indulge in a Funny Conversation

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Alexander Zverev‘s funny banter with Serena Williams caught everyone’s attention recently. After a heartbreaking loss to Dominic Thiem in the finals of the US Open, Zverev will aim to reach the latter rounds at Roland Garros.

The German withdrew from the Italian Open after an exhausting run at the US Open. Hence, he will have little to no clay practice before heading to Paris.

Recently, Zverev uploaded an Instagram post welcoming former World No.3 David Ferrer as his coach. The duo started working in July this year, as the Spaniard’s work ethic had always impressed Zverev. Ferrer retired in May 2019 and won 27 titles in his career, despite the era being dominated by the Big-3.

Serena Williams jokes with Alexander Zverev

“Grind season just around the corner. So found just the right guy for it. Welcome @davidferrer1982, wrote Zverev in the caption.

Interestingly, the 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams commented on Zverev’s Instagram post. Williams wrote a funny comment saying that she was hoping to get the job and will have to wait for the next time.

“Nice but I was hoping I got the gig…next time,” commented Williams on the post.

Serena Williams at US open 2020
Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Serena Williams of the United States reacts against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the women’s singles semifinals match on day eleven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Zverev came up with a cheeky response to Williams’ comment and said that he will have to win a few Grand Slam titles before asking Williams to become his coach. Zverev also referred to the American as the GOAT.

Alexander Zverev and David Ferrer Partnership

Alexander Zverev at US Open 2020
Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Alexander Zverev of Germany returns the ball against Dominic Thiem of Austria in the men’s singles final match on day 14 of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

The duo made a solid start to their partnership as Zverev reached his maiden Grand Slam final at the US Open 2020. Although Zverev earlier spoke about their partnership being on a trial period, it seems that Ferrer has been welcomed as a full-time coach.

It will be intriguing to witness the way the World No.7 performs at the French Open, considering Ferrer was a 2013 Finalist at Roland Garros. Zverev has not gone beyond the quarterfinal stage at the clay-court Grand Slam.



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