There are a kajamillion people on this earth. But only four of them play early music.
That's what it seems like, anyhow, from my POV inside the bubble. Gather a bunch of early musicians together in one place, and even though they flew in from hither and yon, I'm guarranteed to know them, know someone who slept with them, or have fifteen mutual Facebook "friends."
It's both constricting and comforting, in the way small things often are. Small town, small time, small beer.
OK, that last one is just low alcohol beer. Which is neither comforting or constricting, but you get my drift, probably because you are a savvy consumer of large beer.
When things are small, too, they're automatically more personal. In early music, this means you hire and get hired pretty much entirely on the basis of who you know and how you are known. It's a baroque process, no pun intended, smacking of nothing so much as the machinations of the Chicago mob. You know a guy who knows a guy, etc.
Furthermore, it's not just your ability people are hiring: it's you. Your personality, the complete package of who you are, plays a significant role in what and how much work you get. Are you a squealer? Do you take direction? Do you liven up stakeouts and drive-by shootings? Do you own a van big enough to schlep a harpsichord?
This is in stark contrast to my other career field, in which you could be a dead body with a license and that license would get you hired. It's also in fairly stark contrast to the classical music world at large, in which, to audition for an orchestra, you play hidden behind a screen.
I'm not sure, all in all, which is more sane. Is work just work? Or should work encompass the whole of you, every smallest part?