The phrase “WORKING FOR FREE” is discussed here a lot.   And it is defined differently by different people.  

Each individual gets to define what  “working for free” means for themself and gets to make decisions based on their own perspective of it.  

What ultimately matters is how YOU define it for yourself and what courses of action you follow based on the meanings you assign.  

MY PERSPECTIVE

Here is my personal perspective of how I define “WORKING FOR FREE”.   

Feel free to pick and choice from my definitions or discard them completely.  

WORKING FOR COMPENSATION

We all want to be compensated for our efforts. 

From my perspective one isn’t “working for free” if they receive compensation for their efforts. 

Identifying the wide spectrum of forms of compensation can expand our ability to see the multiple layers of possible ways of being compensated. 

Like with most things in life, I do not believe compensation to be a binary equation.  It isn’t just “did I get paid /did I not get paid.   Especially since “payment”, itself, can be infinitely defined.   

Here are just a few of the ways I personally view compensation (in no particular order).  How valuable each of them are would vary from person-to-person, case-by-case, circumstance-by-circumstance.

  • Experience
  • Starting relationships
  • Maintaining relationships
  • Knowledge
  • Fun
  • Working out kinks
  • Practice
  • Building library
  • Stretching
  • Publishing
  • Comradery 
  • Royalties 
  • Fees
  • Working with musicians
  • Satisfaction
  • Discovery
  • Getting foot in the door 
  • Deferred payment 
  • Credit
  • Food
  • Adventure 
  • Bonuses
  • Building reputation
  • Something to barter
  • Fulfillment
  • Satisfying curiosity 
  • Ownership
  • Association with project
  • Travel
  • Appreciation
  • Ego stroking
  • Excitement
  • Staying sharp 
  • Celebrity
  • Making music
  • Helping others
  • Soundtrack released
  • Access
  • Paying it forward
  • Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll
  • Awards
  • Relieving boredom 
  • Publicity
  • Blazing new directions 
  • Teamwork 
  • Bragging rights
  • Premieres
  • Gifts
  • Prestige 
  • Staying relevant
  • Fame
  • Contributing art into the world
  • Friendship
  • Taking a challenge
  • Laughs
  • Brand building
  • Groupies
  • Honing skills
  • Residuals 
  • Thanks
  • Self satisfaction 
  • Recognition
  • Experimentation 
  • Personal growth
  • Opportunity
  • Creativity
  • Expression of passion
  • Connection with others
  • Appreciation
  • Joy of risk-taking
  • Playfulness
  • Artistic expression

NO ONE ELSE NEEDS TO AGREE

The beauty of free choice is that no one else needs to agree on how you define things and how you act upon them.  No consensus is needed.  Each person gets to define “compensation”  for themselves.   And each person gets to determine for themselves the value they assign to each of these forms of compensation.  And they get to do so on a case-by-case basis. 

Every person gets to view “working for free” based on their own definitions and can elect to do so or not based upon that.

THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS. ONLY WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.