Here are some comments representative of sentiments I've heard expressed on the bandstand with regard to playing for private clients.
1) "No one is owed anything!"
2) "They owe me the job! I played their last affair(s) and they've always been happy!"
3) "So what if "X" played their last affair and they intend to use him again; as long as they haven't signed the contract, anything goes!"
4) "They should use me because I am a relative!"
5) "They have to use me because my relative was their shadchan."
Jordan comments on "Part I":
I agree that as a rule, nobody is owed anything. On the other hand, that does not mean that organizations shouldn't extend courtesies to those that support them. I booked my shul dinner for years. When another bandleader moved in, he lobbied aggressively to be used for the dinner, with the sentiment that he is as much a member of the shul as I am, and deserves the right to book the job. At the time, he had done very little for the shul, whereas I had served on the board, been a gabbai, and blew shofar on Rosh Hashanah. He wouldn't even daven on Yomim Noraim, as he took a paying job elsewhere, while we all davened, lained, and performed other Yomim Noraim tasks for free.
Based on service, he did not deserve the job as much as I did. But the shul wasn't hiring me based on service. They were hiring me as a courtesy to give business to a member. As such, he did have as much right to do the job as I did, even though, to this day, our level of involvement in the shul is not the same. It sticks in my craw a little, but I am not being treated unethically or unfairly. So we switch off each year.
The key thing is that if we don't use our connections and inside tracks to book jobs, we are not serving ourselves well. But if we place an overabundance of attention on our rights, whether real or imagined, we miss the big picture. We will not book any more jobs, really. We will turn off clients. And we will just give ourselves heartache, in a business that's supposed to be fun.
I did not always think this way, but we all have to grow up one day.