Artists toss around a lot of terms to describe work, especially on social media. While we all know what they mean in general, it may be unclear exactly what each one means in terms of the work that is done and the obligation everyone involved has to each other. Here are a just a few common work terms in the arts, and what each type entails.
Gig (May also be called a set, or if the person is a spoken word artist, a reading.)
When you hire a musician for a gig or set, a spoken word or a literary artist for a reading, this means they have agreed to share their work with your audience for pay. You pay them the agreed upon fee. If that fee is to be $0, that should be made abundantly clear from the beginning, before anyone signs up to share their work. If that fee is to be any amount of money, you owe that artist that amount upon the completion of the work they agreed to do.
The only time it is acceptable to withhold this fee is if the artist did not do the work you hired them to do, if they failed to show up, refused to perform, or arrived too drunk or high to produce their work. You still owe the artist the fee you agreed to pay them if members of your audience didn’t like the music or the poems, you don’t like the artist as a person, or you decided mid set that their art wasn’t suitable to your establishment.
An artist asking you to collaborate, often shortened to “collab” in contemporary speech, is asking you to partner with them. They do not pay you. You do not pay them. The two of you are going to work together on the project. Any money or other benefits gained will be split between you, according to whatever agreement you make before you start.
Get this agreement in writing. An actual contract or agreement signed by everyone involved is best. At the very least, work out the details via email, so that everyone has saved, printed records of what each person agreed to do.
A “pitch” is an independent artist asking you to give them work. You will most commonly hear this from writers. The person may reach out to you proposing that they write an article about a local band for your guitar magazine, or cover a music festival for your newspaper or community webpage. When someone sends you a pitch, they are asking you to hire them to complete the project they suggest, and pay them for it.
Once you agree to the person’s pitch, you are obligated to pay them for the work when they produce it according to the agreement. The article or other project is not free just because it was the artist’s idea to create it, and not yours. If you do not want to pay for whatever the artist is pitching, turn down the pitch.
Open mic or showcase
Artists participating in an open mic or showcase can be thought of as swapping their work for the guaranteed audience the venue provides. This is where the term “the wage is the stage” applies. No money or other goods change hands in most cases, but the venue owner or manager gets entertainment for their establishment, and the artist gets their work shown in front of anyone who attends the open mic or showcase event.
Although the artist is not typically asked to pay to participate in an open mic or showcase, they may be asked to pay at the door for anyone who is accompanying them but not performing, and expected to purchase food or drinks if the venue is a restaurant, cafe, or bar. Artists and their entourages need to pay and purchase without complaints or snark. Supporting the businesses that support the arts is an important way to keep the arts alive in your community.
Free content library
Video clips, articles, photos, and other pieces of work included in an online collection or library labeled “free” is just that, free. It means you may use the content on your own webpage or in your print publication without paying the artist. When using free content, remember to respect the artist’s stated rules for use, and respect their work. Using something offered to you for free is different than stealing it. Never alter the work to make it appear that you created it unless you have been given direct permission from the artist to do so.
In situations where none of these terms are being used, it is perfectly acceptable to bring them up yourself, and to ask questions until it is clear to everyone what type of work the artist or artists involved are offering. Asking “Are you asking me to collaborate with you on this article, or is this a pitch?” Or “Are you looking for strictly paying gigs, or are you open to playing at an open mic or a showcase?” is perfectly acceptable.
Anyone who uses social media to promote their arts career, or do pretty much anything else, has seen articles about a practice called “quiet quitting.” Right underneath them, you may have also seen articles proclaiming “quiet quitting” to be fake. And following that, more articles declaring quiet quitting to be not only real, but so prevalent, everybody you work with is doing it.
“Quiet quitting” is indeed fake in that it is not a unique or new phenomenon. At the same time, it is real, because it is nothing more than a new term for something people have been doing for as long as workplaces have existed. As for “everybody,” that is nearly impossible to measure, but it does seem as though people are becoming more prone to the behavior the term describes.
The term “quiet quitting” is new shorthand for “getting tired of being asked to do more and more work for the same or less pay, and simply refusing to do so.” People who engage in behavior that is now called “quiet quitting” are not leaving their jobs, and they are not necessarily quiet about it. They are just doing the bare minimum amount of work that they have to do in order to keep their jobs, and nothing else.
In years past, the only acceptable attitude among American workers was a willingness to do anything and everything you could to please your supervisors and/or customers or to promote the business you worked for. If your job duties as a receptionist were to watch the front desk, answer the phone and take messages, direct visitors to the correct offices, and respond to emails sent to the general information address, you did all of those things, and you cleaned the front lobby and helped the guy in the first office with his paperwork if he needed help. You even came in early and stayed late to finish those tasks if asked.
Being late for family dinner, missing the occasional child or grandchild’s game or performance, and having little time to relax and unwind in the evening were just things you had to put up with as a worker. Work was supposed to be hard. It was not supposed to be enjoyable. Praise from your bosses, promotions, and your income were your rewards.
Those who gave into this wholeheartedly were praised for being “hard workers” and “dedicated employees.”
Then came the concept of “work-life balance,” a politically correct, corporate-speak term for not allowing your job to take over your life to the point that it becomes your whole life. Workers declared themselves to be seeking “work-life balance.” Corporations lured employees in with promises of “work-life balance.” The term even grew to a ratings category on some job websites.
But like most trendy terms, “work-life balance” began to lose its meaning. It devolved into an empty buzzword. Workers promised “work-life balance” still found themselves doing more work than they agreed to do when they took the job, with little to nothing in it for them. And despite all the stock photos of people lounging next to palm trees accompanying “work-life balance” articles, most workers were unclear as to what that actually meant for them. The point at which a job consumed too much of a person’s time, thoughts, and energy was a fuzzy dot for too many people, and one that often bounced around.
People termed “quiet quitters” are those who caught their dot, brought it into focus, and have refused to move past it. They are the ones who, when scheduled to work from nine in the morning until five in the afternoon, begin their work at nine and end it promptly at five. If their job description as a dish washer and bus person requires them to wash the dishes, clear and wipe down the tables, and roll the silverware at a restaurant, they complete those tasks. But they do not finish them as quickly as possible so they can pitch in and help the wait staff serve customers.
Whether “quiet quitting” is something advisable to do or not depends on the specific circumstances and behavior involved.
Sometimes, all that extra work you do, all that time and attention you take away from other parts of your life to devote to a job, don’t accomplish much beyond lining the CEO’s pockets. You’re doing extra work so they don’t have to take on the expense of hiring additional people to divide up the labor fairly. You are also sending the message that taking advantage of people is something the employees of your workplace will tolerate, encouraging the higher-ups to do it even more. “Quiet quitting” would be the right thing to do in these situations.
In other cases, refusing to do anything you do not absolutely have to do in order to keep your job may mean failing to help someone in genuine need. Refusing to pitch in to help a struggling coworker, brushing off another staff member’s concerns, or refusing to participate in projects that could improve working conditions for everyone because “that’s not your job” or “you spend enough time worrying about this place,” are not new trends in workplace behavior. They’re examples of not so good, old-fashioned selfishness.
Awareness months are often silly, overused, and more annoying than helpful. There is an awareness month for everything, and people often fall into the trap of displaying colored ribbons but doing little else. But if we bypass all the ribbons and the memes and the merchandise with glib sayings, awareness months can be useful for their original intention, bringing awareness to an issue that needs to be addressed throughout the year. They can also help raise funds to cope with the issue.
In October, awareness is raised for an issue that impacts the lives of many artists, depression. We all know the stereotype of an artist as someone who is constantly brooding, irritable, and prone to locking themselves away to write, paint, practice their instrument, or sculpt in isolation. In some cases, the person experiences periods of mania, in which their creativity flourishes, but they can do little else.
There is some grain of truth to this stereotype. In 2017, the journal “Perspective on Psychological Science” published a study called “Creativity and Mood Disorder: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis.” This study, and others, have found a strong correlation between creativity and mood disorders like major depression and bipolar disorder. But correlation does not imply causation. While mood disorders like depression appear to be more common among artists, your mood disorder did not give you your creative ability, and your creative ability did not cause your mood disorder.
Artists are more prone to depression and related disorders because working in the arts is so often low paying, competitive, and costly to maintain. You have to deal with constant criticism, steady rejection, and a never-ending search for paying work much more often than those in other fields. And that’s on top of the issues you see in the world and feel called to address in your work.
The signs and symptoms of depression are going to be everywhere this month. But there are a few things about it we may know, but tend to disregard or forget.
Telling someone to “snap out of” or “get over” depression does not have the hoped-for effect, and is more likely to worsen their outlook.
You may think you’re going to shock the person into approaching everything with a skip in their step and a smile on their face when you tell them to just get over or snap out of things. And they just might start skipping and smiling…but it will only be around you, to avoid having to listen to you make them feel worse again. Their condition will not improve.
When you tell someone to “snap out of it” or “get over it” or “just quit worrying about it,” what you’re really telling them is that whatever is going on with them makes things more difficult for you, and you don’t think you should have to deal with it. You just became one more voice telling a person who is already suffering that people do not in fact care about them.
And be honest. That is exactly what you meant. If you really thought commanding someone’s mood disorder away would fix everything, you’d be hiring yourself out as a 100% guaranteed instant cure for all mood disorders. And you’d get a lot of clients. Depression is far from enjoyable. If all you can say to a depressed person is “Just stop being so depressed,” it’s better to say nothing at all.
Your depression or related mood disorder is not a license to mistreat others
Irritability is a common symptom of depression, as is fatigue, and a loss of hope. This may be why you want to make plans with a friend, simply fail to show up, and then tell them off when they become upset with you. But a reason why you want to do something is not the same thing as a license to do it. You are just as responsible for managing your own mental health issues as you are for managing your own physical health issues.
If you’re diabetic, it’s your responsibility to read the label on the bread and make sure it has no more than three or five grams of sugar per serving, not the department manager’s responsibility to throw all the bread with six or more grams of sugar away. As someone with poor depth perception, it’s my responsibility to find transportation other than my own driving, not other drivers’ responsibility to swerve out of my way when I move into their lane because my eyes can’t follow the lines on the road. Similarly, if your depression leaves you irritable and fatigued, it is your responsibility to manage those symptoms, which may include getting professional help.
Having a mood disorder, or being treated for one, is not an excuse to avoid practicing your art.
Given the prevalence of depression and bipolar disorder among artists, and the increasing acceptance of medication to treat these disorders, there are undoubtedly a lot of artists out there with mood disorders, and many of them must be getting treated for them. If having a mood disorder in any way prevented the practice of the arts, there would be a lot less art in the world.
Just as with your other behavior, it is your responsibility to manage your symptoms and your work. If you feel like you can’t make that gig you spent months promoting because you’re feeling fatigued, it means you need to find a healthy way to manage fatigue. If you feel like ideas come to you more slowly on your new medication, find some ways to generate ideas.
Your art is not a good reason to avoid treating your depression or related disorder
In the study referenced above, the researchers’ findings were clear that art does not stem from depression or other mood disorders. An artist can certainly use their depression, bipolar disorder, or any other health issue they may grapple with, in their art. But the disorder itself is not the reason you are an artist.
Perhaps you wouldn’t have become an artist if you hadn’t had to face depression. That still doesn’t mean having depression is the source of your artistic ability. People are led to the arts during therapy for physical illnesses and injuries too, and breaking your arm or being diagnosed with cancer certainly doesn’t cause artistic ability to appear.
Anyone who notices symptoms of depression or a related mood disorder, like anxiety or bipolar disorder, in themselves is urged to reach out to a licensed professional for help. These are the people who can help you both manage the symptoms and work around any side effects that may impact your work, in and out of the arts.
It is important to take depression symptoms as seriously as you would take the symptoms of any other illness, in yourself and others
Just in case someone hasn’t come across a review of the most common symptoms of depression recently, they are: prolonged feelings of sadness, lasting two weeks or more, experiencing guilt, often out of proportion to the situation, a lack of hope, fatigue, marked increase or decrease in sleeping, similar noticeable increase or decrease in eating, body aches, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and low motivation. Movement may feel difficult, as though the person’s limbs were being weighed down. Depression may cause feelings of worthlessness and a general low opinion of oneself. These may extend to feelings that one would be better off dead, even thoughts of suicide.
Those who have bipolar disorder will experience periods of these symptoms, alternating with periods of unusually elevated mood, excessive energy, intense irritability or even anger, difficulty with impulse control, and oddly fast speech or movement. They may feel invincible, or have unusually favorable opinions of themselves.
Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms, or any other symptoms of depression or a related mood disorder is urged to reach out to a licensed mental health practitioner in their area as soon as possible. If you see these symptoms in a loved one, encourage them to get help. Seek immediate emergency care if you or someone in your life has or expresses the urge to harm themselves or anyone else.
Author’s note: This article, and all articles about mental health and mental illness on Artist Cafe Utica, are written by one of your fellow artists. I work in creative writing, content writing for artists, and adult education. Before I began this career, I was a reporter. My research comes from my years as a reporter, from research I have done for my art, or from research I do for the purpose of writing the articles you read. I am not a licensed mental health practitioner or any other type of healthcare professional, and these articles are not healthcare or professional health advice. If you have or believe you may have a health problem, including mental health, please contact a local licensed mental health counselor or speak to a doctor.
Content writers are everywhere and available to write about everything. You may see ads from people looking to hire a content writer to provide copy on anything from tires to mattresses to makeup to parenting and pet care and travel. The website you’re reading right now is a free service, online portfolio, and online office for a content writer whose niche is artists in and around Utica.
When you talk to someone who identifies themselves as a “content writer” it may feel a bit like being interviewed by a reporter. One is not a better writer, a more important job, or a better person than the other. But there are important differences between these two careers.
A reporter’s responsibility is to the public. A content writer’s responsibility is to whoever is paying them to provide the content.
A reporter’s job is to report the news accurately, or, if they are writing a feature, to present an accurate picture of the issue or situation. That’s it. Whether there are media outlets out there that actually do this, which ones they are, and which ones are the worst at violating this rule are matters for debate. But ideally, a reporter should be there to do nothing more than present the truth.
Content writers’ jobs vary according to their industry, or niche. If they’re writing for a science or health website, then their job, like the reporter’s, is to provide accurate, truthful information. If they’re writing for a company that sells lumber, their job is going to be to educate the public about the use of lumber, and to sell that company’s lumber. Either way, the owner of that website determines what the goal of the writing should be, and the content writer must meet that goal.
When a reporter reaches out to you and asks for an interview, you are a source. When a content writer interviews you, it is more of a collaboration.
Being interviewed by a reporter and a content writer may feel like the same situation, but your role is a bit different. A reporter is interviewing you because they are gathering information for the news story they are going to write. You are not their coworker. You are not their supervisor. You are there to provide information.
A content writer probably sees you a bit differently. In some cases, you are still there to provide information. If the writer for a mental health blog reaches out to you because they just started college and you have a Ph.D. in Psychology, they are looking for a source of information, just as a reporter writing a feature would do. But a content writer may also see you as someone they are working with. They might ask your opinion on the shape the article should take, show you pieces of it as they work, or allow you to insert a few pitches for your business into the piece.
There is no “on the record/off the record” when you work with a content writer. This is a real thing in the field of news writing.
If there is a reporter in a movie or tv show, at some point, somebody they’re interviewing is going to lean forward and whisper, “This is off the record.” Typically, the reporter gets an evil gleam in their eye, says “certainly,” and then reports what they said anyway.
The evil gleam and reporting it anyway is invented for the sake of conflict necessary to the fictional storyline. This is considered unethical behavior in the field of news reporting, and most reporters do not do this. They do, however, have the right to say, “I identified myself as a reporter, and anything you say to me in this interview will be considered on the record,” in response to “This is off the record.”
Most reporters still do not do this. In my ten plus years as a reporter, if someone said “This is off the record,” I put my pen down and politely chatted with them for a few minutes, or listened to them, then brought things back to the record by saying, “I have a few more questions for the article,” and waiting for them to agree to return to the record. If they said “This is off the record” before everything, I would ask them if there was something they could tell me on the record, for the article.
Still, once the reporter identifies themselves as a reporter, if they do not agree that something is “off the record,” they may use that information or insight for their work.
The whole concept of “on the record/off the record” isn’t going to be a part of the situation if you’re talking to a content writer. You are free to ask questions throughout the interview about what will and will not be included in the piece, tell them what you agree to have in there, and what you would rather they not use.
It is not appropriate to ask a reporter if you can approve their piece before they print or broadcast it. It may be appropriate to ask a content writer for final approval before the piece is used.
Looking back on my time as a reporter, I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody said, “You’re going to let me read that before you publish it, right?” I would be rich enough to just give my novels and arts content away now, and would never have to charge for anything. But the answer was always, “No.” A reporter may verify facts, dates, and other information with you during the interview, but their copy goes to their editor, then to print.
Content writers may allow you to look over the finished piece before it is submitted. It will depend on the conditions of their workplace or the assignment. If this is a concern for you, ask before you agree to the interview, and respect the answer. If the content writer says, “No,” and you feel you cannot participate if you do not get to approve the final copy, let them know you won’t be part of the project right away, rather than after the interview. It’s much better to bow out in the beginning and give them time to find someone else than to agree to talk to them anyway, then pressure them into giving you a copy once the article is finished.
It is not a reporter’s job to promote your band or your project or make you look good. A content writer may be there to provide promotional material for you.
When a reporter arrives to cover your reading, concert, show, or lecture, they are there to report what they saw and/or heard to the public. They are not there to help you sell your books, find your next gig, or improve your public image for your fans. Those are duties for your publicist and/or your manager or agent.
A content writer covering your work for a niche website may be doing a news style piece, or they may be there to promote you or your work. It is perfectly acceptable to ask a content writer about the piece they are working on, the website or other media where it will be published, and the purpose of the piece.
While there are differences between a reporter and a content writer, both are professional writers. Treat anyone who covers your event or career with courtesy and respect. Anyone who arrives at your event to cover your work should also behave respectfully toward you and your entire band, crew, and/or staff.
Utica resident Ray “Pinky” Velazquez knows musical talent when he hears it. Velazquez began working in music in 1972, when he started DJing for the Impanema at 240 West 52nd street in New York City. He would later become the A&R Man and disco consultant for Vanguard Records from 1979-1984. During his time with Vanguard, Velazquez grew to be an expert in mixing records and scouting talent, and has signed R&B, Rap, Rock, Alternative, and Reggae acts, even working with a Rap group, “Spectrum City,” that would later become Public Enemy.
Today, Velazquez uses what he learned during his time as a DJ, mixer, and producer to help others. He is currently in talks with local businesses and organizations, mainly Phoenix Media.
“Cassandra Harris-Lockwood and I are trying to reach out to the community, to assist, lead, and inspire the youth,” he said, referring to what he describes as a process of building and putting ideas together with the owner, founder, and CEO of Phoenix Media. “Kids are dealing with violence in school, broken households. It’s a more challenging environment for the family. We want to make it better, to give youth and their families a little bit more of what they’re looking for, a little bit of hope.”
Velazquez offered a bit of guidance for young people…or people of any age..who feel called to the music business.
Define success for yourself
As with any other career field, people may have different goals in music. Most of us, from the most dedicated professional to the most casual hobbyist, would not turn down their favorite internationally known band’s paychecks, but being an international star is not truly the goal for everyone, and Velazquez stressed that it does not have to be.
Some people may truly feel called to work for international stardom. They may have a large income as a goal in life, or wish for a glamorous lifestyle. Others may be happier using their musical skill to entertain and inspire others in their region, or their local community. Some may want to teach. Others may want to promote other artists, or write songs for others, or be a part of technical components of music production.
“You have to ask, ‘What is right for me and my life?’ he said. “It may be money. It may be fame. But it may be something else.”
Be realistic about the music industry and your goals
Whether your goal in music is to make hit records for decades, open for your favorite band, have your favorite band open for you, play a local or regional club every weekend, or teach music at the high school, Velazquez noted that it is important to be realistic about the work it takes to become skilled in music, and about the music industry and the variety of circumstances that would have to fall in line to meet the goals you’ve set.
“The music business is a very large, very scary, very competitive business for a new musician,” he noted. “You have to understand the process. It’s never easy, never pretty the way people think it is. It takes about twenty-five years to be an overnight success.”
Velazquez added that this is true no matter how talented you might be. “The more talent you’re sharing, the more challenges you’re going to have,” he said. “ Use common sense. Make sure you’re ready for whatever challenges come up. Adjust your skills and keep moving. Try to enjoy the process. There is never a guarantee of anything.”
Educate yourself about your style or styles of music
Those whose goal in the music industry is to teach music at the college or university level will probably need an academic degree. Unless you have documented extraordinary achievement in music (like a grammy or past membership in a band that changed the entire field) you are going to need at least a Master’s degree to enter academia. Formal, academic education is not needed for most other goals. But that is far from the only type of music education.
“ Become serious about your craft. Read about and research your field,” Velazquez said. “If you’re going to play Reggae, learn about Bob Marley. Learn about his struggles, find out what he did to get into the music business. You have the God-given field of the internet. Look around. Absorb information.”
Seek mentors and collaborators with goals that are compatible with yours
Because the arts is such a competitive, constantly shifting, and difficult career cluster, it can be tempting to frantically approach anyone and everyone in the arts. And while it certainly doesn’t hurt to make connections with other artists in general, or to make learning all you can about the arts, or the music industry a part of your education, Velazquez emphasized the importance of working with those whose paths you would like to follow in your own career.
“Communicate with people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish,” he said, noting that this does not mean you should spend all your time writing emails to rock stars if your goal is to achieve international fame, or that simply talking to a record producer or songwriter means you’re going to be one.
“You may not be able to talk to Elton John” he said. “But you may be able to connect with someone who worked on one of his albums, or who knows someone who works for the record label that records Elton John.”
Always remember the importance of music to the world
Despite the difficulties of the music business, Velazquez urges musicians and anyone else in the field to never give up. He encourages everyone to live life with hope, and to keep the impact their work has on the world in mind.
“Music creates an opportunity to express yourself,” he said. “It’s a connection to the universe that pulls people in like a magnet. People are alone. They’re looking deeper inside themselves to create meaning. Music does that.”
Velazquez further reminded those who are farther along in their music career to remember the importance of goals, education, mentorship, and service to others.
“If you have more experience, try to share that experience with those starting out,” he said. “Put out that hand that says, ‘I care about you. I believe in you. I’m willing to help you carve out that path. You have potential.’ Give back.”
Ray “Pinky” Velazquez is certainly giving back to the community in Utica. His insight into the impact of music on individuals and on community will be a blessing for any organization he works with, and any program he helps to develop. Be sure to keep reading Artist Cafe Utica, and The Utica Phoenix news magazine, and listening to Phoenix Radio: 95.5 FM: The Heat for current information about Velazquez’s local projects.
Photo courtesy of/property of Ray "Pinky" Velazquez
Over the past three years, more and more people have gone independent, or freelance, but many…if not most…people in the arts have worked independently for a large part of their careers. In celebration of Artist Cafe Utica’s return to freelance/independent writing services, here are a few reminders for those outside the arts, who are looking to hire an independent writer or other artist.
Provide them with enough details of the work you want them to do.
Writers need to know what type of piece you need written, when you need it, and if there is anything they should be sure to mention or avoid mentioning. If you commission a painting, the artist needs to know if subject, color, size, materials, or style matters to you. Musicians need dates, times, proper names and current locations of venues. Of course these are all common sense details. Just don’t forget to include them in your messaging to the person. You may think “everybody” knows you sold your place on A street and bought that new place on “Y” street, or that your office is decorated with paintings of upstate New York, but the person you’re talking to may not have heard.
Respond to follow-up texts, calls, and emails seeking more information graciously. The artist is not trying to bother you, they are trying to make sure they have enough information to provide you with the item or content they have agreed to create for you.
Respect terms presented on their professional website or stated when they agree to the work.
An independent artist is in business for themselves. They may be an individual, but their career is their business. Treat it as such. If you were to hire someone to do repairs on your house or car, and their webpage or their paperwork included terms of service, you would honor those or go elsewhere. If you use the services of someone who has signed up to sell Avon or Arbonne, or you ride with Uber or order your dinner from DoorDash, you abide by the terms of that service when it comes to prices, returns, coupons, and free gifts. An artist’s terms of service should be treated the same way.
Don’t just assume they’re going to work for free because they love what they do.
An artist who wants to work for you for free will let you know. They’ll offer you free work, or post it on their website or social media that they’re doing something for free. If they have a price listed, or you talk to them and agree on a price, pay that price. You wouldn’t tell an independent sales person that you won’t be paying for the products you ordered because they use them and love them too. You wouldn’t refuse to pay a math or science tutor because the person’s main job has been teaching junior high math for thirty years and they clearly love their work.
Pay for what you order
If you ordered standard work, something the artist would do in a normal course of work day or week, you only need to pay the stated or agreed upon fee for the service or item.
When the artist has to put out money they would not have otherwise spent to provide the work, you need to reimburse them for that expense, or provide a way for them to access whatever you need free of charge. If you ask them to review a film that is only available on a paid streaming service or in movie theaters, they need your login details or you need to buy them a ticket to the movie. If you ask for a review of services at a new spa in town, you and the writer need to agree to the services you want reviewed, and you have to pay for them to have those services. These are not gifts or bonuses. These are your business expenses for the project you want done.
This only applies to expenses that are absolutely necessary in order for the artist to complete your project. If you order an article about a coffeehouse for your food blog, including a review of the coffee, you would have to pay for my coffee. If you ask me to interview the owner and write about the history of the place and I just want a coffee when I get there, you do not have to pay for that.
Keep communication professional
There is no need to send a formal business letter to a musician you’ve known as a friend for years. You can probably just ask them if they can perform in normal conversations, unless they ask for written confirmation for their business records. A meeting is probably not necessary if you want a writer to produce some evergreen content for your webpage that can be described via email.
This does not mean anything goes when messaging the person’s professional page. An artist’s professional page is not the place to hit on them, send them unsolicited personal advice, or spam them with constant requests to do things that have nothing to do with their art.
This extends to in-person communication and the event or other work time as well. When an artist shows up to a venue to find the manager too drunk to communicate with them, gets verbal abuse or bullying from someone who has hired them to produce written content, or encounters some other unpleasant personal behavior, they are much less likely to work with that person again, and will probably warn others away as well. It is in your interest to treat artists with respect if you want the arts to continue to be a part of your business.
Support your favorite local artists, whether you can afford to spend money or not
Booking them for paid gigs or readings, buying their albums, books, or paintings, and supporting them via fundraising sites such as Patreon are of course appreciated by local artists. But if you would like to hire someone in the arts but you just cannot afford that right now, support them anyway.
Free activities such as sharing gig announcements, liking webpages and facebook pages and groups, and spreading the word about their work verbally are also big boosts.
Remember that the arts are essential
During the recent quarantine, those who were tempted to brush music, literature, poetry, paintings, photography, sculpting, and other art forms off as just “hobbies” or “people doing what they felt like” or “just for fun” learned how much they depend on the arts to cope with difficult situations, to celebrate happy times, and to impact social justice. Never forget that the arts are an essential part of our lives.
Author's note: Anyone who takes a copy of this article for their professional webpage has my permission to add the name of their band, studio, or their own name, and an invitation to contact them to arrange a gig or other work to the end of the article. Please feel free to add a sentence, or a paragraph or two along the lines of "Band A, a local classic rock band, is back on the road and available..." or "To gain your own skills in painting, sign up for lessons at studio B..."
S Someone on your facebook feed is disabled or sick. They regularly post about their daily struggles, medical appointments, therapy appointments, and emergencies. In most cases, these situations are genuine. But sometimes, it is all a lie.
The term “Munchausen's Syndrome by Internet” was coined in 2000 by Dr. Marc Feldman, a leading authority in Munchausen’s Syndrome and Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, now called Factitious Disorder and Factitious Disorder by Proxy in medical literature. Munchausen’s Syndrome describes a pattern in which a person induces, creates, exaggerates, deliberately worsens, or lies about having one or more illnesses or disabilities. In Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, the person displays the same behavior, only the illness or disability is created, exaggerated, worsened, or lied about in someone else. Munchausen’s Syndrome by Internet occurs when a person uses the internet to perpetuate one of these disorders.
As with the other forms of Factitious disorder, Munchausen’s Syndrome by Internet is carried out with the primary goal of controlling others, and/or gaining attention, sympathy, nurturing, or pity. While the person may have a secondary goal of getting money, gifts, or time off from work or school, this will not be their primary motivation. A person who makes themselves or someone else out to be in worse shape than they are with the primary goal of gaining resources or avoiding any type of work is “malingering,” not engaging in Munchausen’s behavior.
Here are just a few of the most common signs of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Internet.
The condition is “too textbook.”
In any medical condition, the patient has to have a certain number of symptoms of the disability or illness, as judged by a medical professional qualified to make the diagnosis, in order to be diagnosed with something. The specifics, including the specific number and pattern of symptoms, will vary according to the condition. However, almost no medical problem requires absolutely every, or even most, of the possible symptoms or signs for a diagnosis.
Those using the internet to exaggerate or falsify a condition often claim too many symptoms. They seem to have everything wrong with them that a person could possibly experience with the disorder or disability they claim. Sometimes, the posts are more realistic, but sound as though they're copied from case studies in a textbook, or are in such a different voice than the person's normal tone, they seem copied from another website or a book.
Posts contain contradictions
Despite their careful attention to faking or exaggerating a condition, Munchausen by Internet perpetrators tend to get caught up in the drama they create and make mistakes. A person who claims they have debilitating allergies and respiratory problems may claim they cannot be around any type of fumes, then post photos of themselves getting a chemical treatment at a salon when urged to “treat yourself.” Or they might make one post about their condition making them unable to eat, then post a photo, but forget to edit the edge of their dinner plate out of the shot.
Claims go to extremes, and often swing from one to the other
People with genuine disabilities and illnesses cope with a wide variety of experiences. Some are dramatic, but many are mundane. They must cope with everyday challenges and issues, that may or may not be interesting to their followers on social media.
In falsified or overblown situations, the perpetrator often behaves as though their condition is made up entirely of extremes. They may repeatedly claim a miraculous healing followed by a life-threatening or dramatic emergency. New, intense symptoms might develop regularly.
Something seems to happen to them anytime something happens to anybody else.
This sign is the easiest to see in online support groups. The Munchausen’s Syndrome by Internet perpetrator will often post about an illness or disability related tragedy or a miraculous improvement immediately after anyone else gains attention for something they post. But the person may also post to their personal page anytime anyone on their friends or contact list posts anything that gains attention. Watch for dramatic posts soon after a mutual friend gains attention online, or for the suspected Munchausen’s by Internet perpetrator to comment on a post, and then add something attention-getting to their own page.
The person’s life is full of tragedy of all kinds
Because the person’s primary goal is to gain attention, they are often willing to expand their efforts outside of their alleged illness or disability. Watch out for people whose lives are not only a constant battle against an illness or disability, but a series of serious issues or tragedies.
Friends, family members and other supporters sound suspiciously like the individual in question.
Some Munchausen’s by Internet perpetrators go so far as to create fake accounts. These are designed to make their condition seem more real, and because they know that we tend to follow virtual crowds on social media. Seeing somebody else offer encouragement or sympathy is likely to encourage us to add our comment. One of the most telltale signs of these invented family members, friends, and other supporters is that they sound an awful lot like the person they’re supposedly talking to. They may use the same terms, make similar word choices, or talk about the exact same topics.
Anyone who suspects someone else of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Internet can only look out for themselves and others. Quietly withdraw your attention from the person’s posts or page. Reach out to others privately if they seem to be getting drawn in. Openly challenging or arguing with the suspected perpetrator will only get you cast as the villain in their narrative.
by Jess Szabo'
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
In a few days, it will be May, Mental Health Month….and it hardly seems we need it anymore. Various mental health issues are discussed openly, written about online, and portrayed in the arts. The rarest and the most common mental health issues are favorite topics, and we especially love to borrow terms from the diagnosis and treatment of those health issues, and use them to mean whatever we want. Here are just a few of the most commonly misused mental health terms.
OCD: “I wanted to just leave the books on the table, but my OCD wouldn’t allow it,” we might say, or “I have OCD about getting the dishes done instead of leaving them in the sink.” Statements like this don’t mean any harm or ill will, they are just inaccurate. What you are describing here is a perfectly normal dislike of clutter or dirty kitchens. “OCD” actually refers to “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,” a mental health issue characterized by obsessions, such as fears or urges the person must fight to control, and compulsive behaviors. A person with OCD might indeed be distraught by a discarded pile of books or a sink full of dishes, but it wouldn’t be a simple irritation and urge to clean things up. A person with true OCD would experience deep distress over fears of germs or the urge to arrange things in a certain way.
Depression: Depression is a mental illness characterized by intense feelings of sadness, loss of interest in things the person once enjoyed, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, physical pains that cannot be explained by another illness, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, loss of appetite or the urge to overeat, and difficulty concentrating. The symptoms last for at least two weeks, and cause a discernible disruption in the person’s life. In common speech, we use “depression” to describe ordinary feelings of sadness, guilt, or fatigue that are actually direct responses to instances that arise in our life.
Triggered/Triggering: The true meaning of the word “trigger” in mental health care is when someone with PTSD experiences something that launches their mind into a flashback of the traumatic event they experienced. If someone has PTSD from being attacked in a parking garage, and their mind causes them to relive the trauma every time they enter a structure similar to a parking garage, that is a “trigger” for the person. In contemporary popular speech, people use “triggered/triggering/trigger” to refer to absolutely anything that bothers them in any way. We say we’re “triggered” if something irritates, angers, saddens, sickens, or otherwise distresses us for any reason. Many people have unfortunately taken this one step further, and use the word as a power grab. When someone claims to be “triggered,” everyone else is immediately expected to alter their speech and behavior to please that person.
Psychopath: Most of us have the idea that a psychopath is someone who is out of touch with reality, but that actually describes “psychosis” or the state of being “psychotic.” A psychopath is a person who lacks all empathy for other people. They are unable to love people as most of us do, and can only experience shallow feelings for others, as one might have for a favorite item of clothing or piece of equipment they use often. Psychopaths do not feel shame, remorse, or guilt, even in situations when those feelings would be warranted. They are, however, typically highly skilled at reading people and faking genuine emotions for others. Most are charming, personable, and persuasive. While we tend to say someone is “psycho” or “a psychopath” when they do something shockingly vile and disturbing, most psychopaths are not violent. They don’t value human life and dignity, they just don’t want to risk the punishment if they get caught, or find the aftermath of violence unpleasant on a personal level. Most psychopaths are actually perfectly suited to work in corporate America. They can make decisions that generate cash for the company without regard for the impact those decisions might have on people.
Dissociative Identity Disorder: (often called DID, or Multiple personality disorder, or “having alters” in common speech): While this disorder is listed in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the book used to classify mental illnesses, there is much argument among mental health professionals as to whether this disorder actually exists, and if it does, whether it is created by unethical or incompetent therapists rather than a true response to extreme distress. .The trauma necessary to create it is certainly real, and it is definitely possible for the mind to split to protect itself, but how and whether or not true separate personalities form from this is debated. For the purpose of this article, we are going to assume that it is a real disorder, including the formation of distinct identities within one person. And those distinct identities would need to be there…along with a certain number of other symptoms, for the diagnosis to be made by a professional. Somebody who goes on YouTube claiming they “have alters” or “know they have DID” because they sometimes like to eat foods they usually don’t choose, like to switch up their clothing style from time to time, or felt more sensitive or easily irritated recently is jumping on a bandwagon for clicks and views, not describing a genuine struggle with a mental disorder.
In our art, we can use misdiagnosed, misunderstood, or misused terms from mental health to further the plot or aid in character development. A character who insists they’re “OCD” when they’re just irritated by clutter, someone who confuses ordinary sadness with depression until they meet genuinely depressed people, or a psychopath who has everyone fooled but reveals himself in the narration of the story would all work well in a piece of creative writing. Off the page, when we are dealing with the genuine health issues faced by actual people, much more care and caution should be taken. If you suspect that you are dealing with any mental health issue, whether it be one listed in this article or something else, do not attempt to diagnose and treat yourself. Contact a licensed, professional mental health care provider as soon as possible.
Author’s note: This article is the first in our special series on mental health for May. These articles are intended to generate ideas for art work, clarify some misunderstood terms often found in writing and other art forms, and encourage artists to tend to their own mental health and support the mental health of others. They are NOT intended to diagnose or treat any condition, or to stand in for any form of mental health care. I am not a mental health professional on any level. Anyone who believes they may have mental health issues, or that the mental health issues of someone else are impacting their lives is strongly encouraged to reach out to a licensed mental health provider, or speak to a trusted doctor, nurse, or pastor as soon as possible.
For two years, we did everything online because of the pandemic. Now that we are returning to offline gatherings, the price of gas and everything else has made staying home and interacting online a necessity for more and more people all over again.
Due to the increased stress from all of these issues coming one right after the other, online support groups are especially popular, but they can be confusing to navigate. It’s easy to join something because of a single keyword, only to quickly realize you have little in common with anyone else posting or chatting. Or maybe you do not personally face the issue, but it is something you would like to write about in a song, novel, poem, or script as a way to publicize the issue for those who do.
If the group has the words “support,” “survivor,” “victim,” or “warrior” in it, that group is for people who personally cope or have coped with the issue.
Regardless of what you may think of using any of these terms to describe a person who has grappled with an issue in their life, these are some common terms to denote a group for people most directly impacted by whatever the issue might be. A “Depression support group” is for people who have been diagnosed with Depression, or in some cases, who have experienced symptoms for weeks, months, or years but been afraid to seek treatment. If the group is for “Natural disaster survivors,” it’s for people who have been in the direct path of a natural disaster. “Bullying victims” is for those who are currently dealing with bullying or have in the past, and “Fibromyalgia warriors” is a group for people who live each day with fibro.
While some groups with these keywords may welcome those who are simply concerned about those who deal with the issue,as a general rule, they are limited to people whose lives are directly impacted. Regardless of their policy on this, online support groups are not for those who are merely curious or seeking information for personal use. Never join a support group in order to write about an issue, market your services or your art to the group members, or “just to see what those people are really like.” You may have helpful, loving intentions, but this is not the way to carry them out. It will only make the group members feel uncomfortable or afraid in what may be the one place they felt they could open up. If you cannot find another group that addresses the issue, contact the administrators or a moderator via private message and ask to be pointed in the direction of general resources.
Look for keywords like “awareness,” “education,” and “advocates” if you are not personally impacted by an issue, but seek to learn more about those who are.
Groups welcoming those who want to learn more about an issue so they can help in some way are typically named “awareness” or “education” groups. They may also be a group of “advocates,” or “supporters.”
Read through the group description carefully before you join a group like this in order to write a paper, article, novel, poem, script, or song about someone with the issue. If the group exists for education and awareness, members may have no problem with you joining in order to complete a project that publicizes their issue or presents those who cope with it in a realistic manner. Just be upfront and honest about why you are joining the group.
Everyone who gives you advice or guidance on any issue in any online group should be assumed to be a “peer supporter” unless they can prove otherwise.
It is easy for someone who knows a little bit about an issue to come across as an expert to someone who knows nothing about it.. Always check with a verified professional in the field that deals with the issue you are experiencing before doing anything anyone in an online support group tells you to do.
Even if the person offering advice can provide links to their professional webpage, remember that reputable professionals do not join online groups and beg people to be their clients in order to drum up business. Check with a licensed professional in your area before taking health, legal, or banking and investing guidance from anybody you meet online.
Remember that group moderators are volunteers.
People who serve as the administrators and moderators of online support and/ or awareness groups volunteer their time and energy. It is not their job. This means you may have to wait a bit before being approved to the group, having a post approved, or getting an answer to a question. Allow the people that time. They probably have a paying job, kids, and/or other volunteer work they need to tend to as well.
If you seem to never get an answer back, if it’s been weeks and you have not heard from anybody, quietly leave the group and look for something else with a similar focus. The first group may be inactive, or the group may be so big, the moderators cannot keep up with it.
Respect the privacy of everyone in private groups, regardless of your reason for joining.
Putting people “on blast” by copying their post or comment and pasting it on to your personal page or another group page is a popular way to show everyone else their inappropriate or unpleasant behavior. In some situations this reaction may be merited. When the person has joined a group with the understanding that their membership in the group and what they say is private, it is not.
Trolling, harassment, or disagreements that disrupt the work of the group should be dealt with inside the group, and quietly reported to the group moderators. If nothing is done, delete and block everyone involved and leave the group. Unless the situation escalates to the point that you need to provide the person’s name to law enforcement, there is never any excuse for “outing” someone for dealing with an issue they may wish to keep private.
Online groups can be confusing. It can be hard to tell what the group is for, and how serious everyone posting is about confronting the stated issue or spreading awareness. But they can also be useful sources of support and/ or information if approached carefully.
As wages remain low and prices go up, many are left to depend on tipping even more than before. While tipping is always optional and up to the audience member, customer or client, here is what to reasonably expect…and what to give when you are receiving a service in the course of your work.
You and your band are being paid to perform at an event.
The standard tip is $25 to $50 per band member. This tip is typically offered by the event’s host or coordinator. If you’re playing a wedding, for example, a member of the wedding party or the wedding coordinator will be most likely to offer you a tip.
There is an open mic at a local business, and you are a performer.
Don’t count on the money from the tip jar. Unless otherwise announced, the tip jar money is for the event’s host, not the performers. Tips for people who take the stage to read their novel or poem or play or sing a song are placed in a jar, basket, or case onstage. If you play an instrument, tips are customarily tossed into your instrument’s case. If someone chooses to tip, they will probably contribute between $5 and $10. Anyone who requests a song will probably add a few more dollars.
You’re performing online. Your audience is watching you via livestream.
The standard tip for an online performance is $10 minimum from each audience member. Fans who have been following your career, audience members who request a song via the chat function, and anyone else who simply wants to offer extra support may offer $20 or more.
The event is live and offstage. You are the D.J. or music program host.
Tipping the DJ at the rate of 10-15% of the total charge for the performance is customary. The person who hired you will offer the tip. Audience members may offer anywhere from $1 to $5, but that is typically done only when someone requests a song.
You arrive early for the open mic or gig, or hang around after your performance. You are seated in the dining area and a waiter serves you food or drink.
As with any other situation in which you sit down at a restaurant staffed by waiters, tip at least 20%. If the person went out of their way to provide excellent service, quickly bringing drinks for late- arriving band members, carrying trays around your guitar case, or doing anything else extra to accommodate you, increase the tip to 25% or more.
The rehearsal or writing session has taken up more time and energy than expected and you need to order food and/or drinks. You use a delivery app like Uber Eats, GrubHub, or DoorDash.
If the driver does nothing more than show up at the door with the correct order packaged neatly, you need to add a tip of 10% to 15% to your total bill. Delivery drivers who go out of their way for you, waiting at the door until the band finishes a song, bringing extra plates and utensils so orders can be shared, or walking up an especially steep hill to get to your rehearsal space should be tipped 20%-25%.
You are unable to drive yourself to the performance or rehearsal. Nobody is available to give you a ride. You depend on Uber or Lyft to get you there.
Rideshare drivers should be able to count on a tip of 15% to 20%. This is for the average safe, clean, pleasant ride. You may want to offer a slightly higher tip to the driver who helped load your instrument or other equipment into the car.
The band is taking a break and everyone is hungry. You run out and pick up the takeout order. When you get to the counter, there is a tip jar next to the cash register or order pickup window.
In the past, tipping was not expected at self-service windows. Today, a tip of 10% of the total bill is customary. While you are picking it up yourself, the tip is for the staff who carefully prepared and packed your order.
Writing this song (or poem, or novel) has absorbed so much of your focus this afternoon, you completely forgot you were supposed to run to the store and pick up some items you forgot the last time you went grocery shopping. And you have to do it fast because you need to be at a venue to perform this evening. At the store, a floor associate goes out of their way to help you gather the items quickly, and the cashier bags everything according to the room it belongs in to save you time.
Retail employees at “big box” stores are one of the few categories of service people you should not tip. They will certainly deserve it, especially if they have gone out of their way for you. But tipping them will likely get them reprimanded, if not fired. And don’t try to sneak them some cash when the manager isn’t looking. Large corporate retail stores have cameras all over the place. If the manager doesn’t see them, somebody else on staff certainly will.
Some appearance maintenance is in order before your next performance. You head to a salon for a cut, color, professional skincare service, or manicure or pedicure.
Tip professionals who help you look your best at least 25% of the total cost of the services. As with all other tipped work, if you asked for something that was especially difficult or time consuming, tip a bit more. This applies to time spent in consultation too. If your goal was to adopt an obscure retro style, and the stylist took extra time to scroll through multiple web searches on your phone with you, or if you weren’t sure what you wanted when you walked in, and they spent time helping you make a decision, show your appreciation with a higher tip.
When you are in a position to receive a tip, of course you will respond with grace and gratitude, regardless of the amount offered. When you are in the position to offer a tip, always err on the side of generosity. You are supporting your fellow artists and community members.
by Jess Szabo'
Originally published on Artist Cafe Utica