Playing in a small smoky bar, making next to nothing, using a small closet to change… it all sounds very romantic and adventurous. But those conditions that you face are not necessarily what they have to be.
Although it can be difficult for emerging artists to get gigs and find places to perform, they should not settle for whatever scraps that are thrown at them. This does not mean that they should let go of opportunities. Instead it means that every performer should know exactly what they are entitled to in terms of worker’s rights.
Once a person declares that they are a working industry professional, they are protected by a set of standards known as OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards govern the way that working conditions need to be in order to ensure the health of the performer. This includes clean toilets, access to drinking water, provision of a changing room and storage room for equipment, etc. It can also regulate playing time and break time. The industry standard is fifteen minutes of break in between every ninety minute set.
Unfortunately, many performers are not aware of these standards and are therefore taken advantage of by the owners of the establishments that they play in. Once they performer knows the standards they can always complain and take it up with the owners if they are not adhered to. This means that the performer will not be in breach of contract if they refuse to play due to unsafe conditions.