Took a few weeks off to recover from minor surgery but I’m back…with no further ado here’s my latest edition of #MondayMusingsBefore I became a regular music writer I briefly worked in the music industry doing some artist management, booking and promotion. Nothing ticks me off more than a venue that doesn’t feel the need to properly compensate artists for their time.
What shocks me even more is the fact that we are still having this discussion and I haven’t done any booking in about 5 or 6 years. I once had a venue out of town inquire about one of my artists and offer them a spot on their stage, they were offering to compensate the artist with the proceeds from the admission…oh and we would be responsible for all advertising and promotion of the show as they venue wouldn’t be putting up any money for advertising. To me this was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard…I want my band to reach a new audience but yet I’m responsible for bringing the audience to the venue if I want the band to make any money…in that case why should we spend the money to drive to a different city with all the band members and their gear when we can play to our fans at home? In one case one of the bands I was working with was not only booked to play one of these venues but was also expected to pay a fee to the sound guy (who rightfully deserves to be paid just like everyone else, that’s not my argument here). In the end the gig ended up costing the band more than they earned, and that’s not even including any expenses they had on their way to the show.
I recently had the pleasure of covering a local band’s CD Release party, they had the venue packed…however the venue was unwilling to provide staff to cover the door and didn’t want the band requiring their regular guests to pay the admission (which was only $5 and the only money, aside from CD sales, that the band was going to earn from the night). Seriously? This is absurd! How are musicians expected to make a living these days? I’m sorry but there is absolutely no argument that can justify this to me. I don’t care how big, or how small the artist is. I don’t care if they are a cover band or a band with a hit single on the radio if they are coming to your venue to perform for you and your guest then they deserve to be paid a decent wage. Sure the band should help promote their own show but it shouldn’t be their responsibility to bring people to YOUR venue, it’s your party so you look after the advertising and all expenses that go with it.
How about this…next time your kid has a birthday party, tell the magician that you hired that they have to work for free and see how well that goes over. Or how about that wedding photographer, maybe they can come and shoot your wedding for free…oh but you wouldn’t do that because that’s their job…well news flash people just because musicians love what they do, and sometimes have day jobs to help pay the bills, doesn’t mean that they aren’t in it to make money. Instruments are expensive to purchase and maintain, not to mention the gas expenses they have to get from one gig to another.
So please to all you “live music venues” stop hiring bands to entertain your guests if you aren’t willing to pay them to do so. I’m telling you, if this continues the music will eventually DIE! We’re in a time where no one wants to pay for music anymore, whether through pirating or streaming legally online album and singles sales are at record lows. This is simply NOT acceptable and needs to change sooner than later!
Maybe it’s time we start a Canadian Honky-Tonk Bar Association that will represent this crowd…you know the crowd I’m talkin’ about: the mud flaps, 6 pack, beer crack, over taxed, flag-wavin, fun-lovin crowd. They’re heart is in the music they love playin it loud! The CHBA could fight for the rights of Canadian musicians and their fans! Hmm might be onto something here…
Music isn’t free to make and if you aren’t willing to pay…soon no one is going to be willing to play. I hope I don’t live to see that day because it’s going to be a very sad, quiet day.
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