Archive for June, 2017

Being Asked to “Audition” by Working for Free?

June 14, 2017 Comments Off on Being Asked to “Audition” by Working for Free? Uncategorized

SERENITY NOW. Every time I think I’ve seen it all, I’m proven wrong in the WORST WAYS. This is a message going out to all the brand spankin’ new aerialists, or those who have Big Aerial Dreams, and I hope it reaches the people who need to hear it most. Here goes.

The Latest Really Shady Business Practice

Picture this: you go in for a job interview at Morganstern and Wompbottom Law Offices. You meet Ms Morganstern, and the interview goes something like this.

“So, I see you want to be a legal secretary.”

“Yes, yes I do! I’m really eager!”

“Great! So, we’ll just need you to work a few days as an audition. Then, if we like you, maybe we’ll give you the job sometime down the road.”

“…… OK….. that seems a bit unusual, but may I ask what the rate of pay will be for the few days?”

“Oh – like I said – it’s not really work, it’s an “audition”. You know, so we can see if we like you. No pay.”


The latest thing to crop up here in NYC (and probably other places) is the Working Audition – a company will express interest, but want you to work a night for free in order to be considered for regular gigs. Friends, this is not how this is supposed to work. Many companies have apprentice programs, where green aerialists learn the biz by performing at a reduced rate for a bit while beingĀ actively trained, but free? No bueno. If this is a professional event (as opposed to a volunteer situation for everyone), you are being taken advantage of, and (unintentionally) undercutting our industry.

If someone asks you to work a gig for free as an audition, RUN FAR FAR AWAY. This is not how this business works.

Beware of Artist Pyramid Schemes

What the heck would that look like? Maybe someone offers “free aerial training” in exchange for working a few gigs, and entry into This Fabulous New Company (wow – I’ll bet that aerial training is going to be REALLY TOP NOTCH). Oh – and hey, you’ll also need a professional video that’s $$. And headshots that are $$. And a costume which is $$. And you’ll also need this workshop…… See where I’m going with this?

Want excellent training? Look around – you’re swimming in it. Broke? Plenty of spaces offer work study. That “training” you’re going to get from a pyramid scheme is gonna be worth as much as those gigs – $0.00. Do it right. Take classes, put in the time, and if someone offers you aerial work with “no experience necessary”, RUN AWAY.

Not All Arrangements Are Bad

I’ve seen arrangements between teachers and students work out a number of ways. Some teach in exchange for the student doing admin work, or assisting with other classes. Some teachers put in the time in exchange for a percentage of the artist’s earnings for x number of years. Some companies get newbie performers up to speed by training business specifics on the job (and providing costumes, apparatus, rigging, etc) in exchange for a reduced rate on the gig. Arrangements exchanging excellent training for other services can work out great, so long as the training IS excellent and there’s a real spirit of equity.

That said, an audition doesn’t equal working a gig free. That isn’t an audition, that’s working a gig for free. They could just as easily have you come into the studio and do a legit audition. Newbies beware – shenanigans abound. Dare to imagine, Laura

PS – Scammy McScammertons, you’re being put on notice.