You realize that the cheers from the audience after a particularly difficult passage are for a sports play on the big screen TV over the bar, and that in fact, no one is listening to you.
When the gig you drove 200 miles for to make $100, and had to pay for a hotel room, is later referred to as your “summer tour”.
When your most sincere, heartfelt comments are made by people that are drunk and who won’t remember you in the morning.
When you are repeatedly told that the lead singer who can’t read, never practices and has been singing for only six months is “The strongest part of the band”, primarily because she has big tits.
When you are pleased that the pay for the gig, when looked at hourly from the time you leave your house to when you return meets minimum wage.
When someone comes up to you to tell you how much they love your playing, because they didn’t think anyone played those things anymore.
You get to the gig to find out that nothing is comped, and you’re charged $10 to park.
When someone seeks you out to complement your playing as the “best sax player they have ever heard”, and you’re the trumpet player.
When you realize that a small piece of equipment- such as a wireless mike you need- will take months of weekly gigs to pay for.
When you have to add $30 or $40 out of your pocket to find a sub, cause no one will cover you for what you are paid.
You aren’t offended when all of the young wedding guests leave after the second set to dance to the DJ at a club down the street.
When you are told that you must play until the very end of when you were contracted for, when your only audience is the bartender, and you’re being paid 40 or 50 bucks for the night.
When the bandleader or club owner wants to pay you in food or drinks, and you have $100,000 in school loans to pay off for that music degree.
When the guy collecting money at the door for the band’s performance makes twice over the course of the evening what you do as one of the band members.
When as a member of a blues band you no longer even pretend to smile when asked to play “Free Bird”.
When you know that other musicians who routinely claim they don’t work for less than $100 a night only work a few times a year.
When people who are drunk tell you that what you are doing is absolutely great and the best thing thing they have ever seen or heard, but refuse to pay more than $5 at the door.
When someone calling the cops for noise is a good thing. You get to go home early and you still get paid.
When you realize that asking women out that you meet on gigs doesn’t work, for now they know you’re a musician.
When you get invited to play the same gig the following year, which means that you don’t have tear down after this year’s gig.
When you have, for several years, been paid the same amount for a gig, but are afraid to say anything about it for fear that you might lose the gig.
When you spend more on the bar tab than you get paid for the gig.
When you finally have to resort to playing Proud Mary in order to get the audience dancing.