I admit that I do aspire to one day be able make my living as a musician. So this interaction got me thinking about what it means to be a "pro." There are a lot positive things that come to mind when thinking about what makes a professional. Punctuality, reliability, competency and getting paid. I love all those things. But lately I’ve found myself thinking of traits that I don’t love. I’ve observed some undesirable character traits in professional musicians as well.
Professionals don’t like rehearsals.
Pros are always looking for the smallest amount of time commitment per paying gig. This makes perfect economic sense. Unfortunately this isn't how good music gets made. Good music requires preparation. A lot of it. If someone is looking to just show up at the gig, play some standards they already know, and promptly leave with their money, odds are that show deserves no better than to be talked over while people eat dinner.
Professionals don’t bring anyone to the show.
Pros play a lot of gigs. This is a good thing and makes perfect economic sense. Unfortunately, that generally dilutes their name value. Be wary of playing with people who don't have a least a couple friends come out to see them. This indicates that this is just a gig for them and they really don't give a shit. Which leads me to my next ...
Professionals aren’t emotionally invested.
Pros are working. They're generally content to display their competency for ego's sake. But the music doesn't really mean anything to them. They risk nothing if the music sucks. It’s not their gig. Again, this is not how good music gets made. People in the audience pick up on this.
Professionals are too comfortable.
Pros know exactly how good they need to be to get work. Once they've achieved this level, many stay there for years. Again, this makes perfect economic sense. Doing the dificult work to continue to take yourself to the next level brings no guaranteed increased earning power. Unfortunately this puts many pros in the position of trying to preserve the status quo, despite what many of them may say.