We’ve been reading ads for musicians and bands seeking each other for years.  Ads first appeared in newspapers, bulletin boards, and magazines, but now they’re strictly online. But one word has always stayed the same, and been confusing – the term “pro”.  We always read “must be pro” or “no pros please”. Just exactly what is considered a PRO?

Or more confusing, what is the opposite of a pro? An amateur? A part-timer? Does a player need to be working full time in music to be considered a pro? Years ago it may have meant this, when many bands gigged 5 nights a week. It was simple to use the term “pro” to mean a musician who paid all his bills by working full time, or teaching, or a combination.

But today, with many more part time situations, does this definition still apply? If a carpenter works 5 days a week for 25 years but then elects to work only 2 days a week for the next 10 years, does this make him any less of a professional? No, his work standards are still the same, he just works less days a week.

The same should apply to musicians. Most people will agree that a part time wedding band would certainly be considered professional even if they are only playing two well paid jobs a month, because they wouldn’t be continually getting those gigs if they were not “professional”.

Others say if you’re simply getting PAID, then you qualify as being a professional.  But if a garage group plays a backyard party and receives a total of $40, are they professional?  Or if a well known concert group plays a benefit show for no charge, then they are not considered professional?

Maybe the answer should depend on the GOALS of the band.  Perhaps the terms “pro-minded” or “serious” then come into play, which makes it even more challenging. So the next time you see “must be pro” or “no pros please” in an ad, it means……..I don’t know –  now I’m even more confused!