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gareth

Playing for Nowt?

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There is thread trending on fb, a reply to a request for bands to play for nothing, here it is:-

"Hello there,
Contradicting the uncouth attitude of some of the other posters on this page, I would LOVE to come and perform at your event for free. I am after all, a worthless musician, ready, willing and able to load my car with expensive musical equipment, put expensive petrol in my car, drive to your event, unload expensive musical equipment, set up expensive musical equipment, play music to a professional standard, buy some food and drink, then load the expensive gear back into the car and transport it back home, where I'll unload it all again. I'm so grateful for your open call: without events like this, I would never get the exposure necessary to 'make it'. After all, as everybody knows, the only way to get exposure is to play for free. The thing about live music is that, unlike the other arts, and unlike any other skills at all really, it's not worth f*** all is it? So, please respond ASAP. I do hope there are slots available for my performance!"

My response is:-

"Stop playing for Nowt!

If you play for Nowt, people think it's worth Nowt!"

I sincerely believe this, people value things on what they cost so if something costs little or is free, they will often value it less than something that costs more.

An example would be two pairs of trainers, both made in the same Korean factory and having the same cost but one is priced at £120 and the other £20. Most people would convince themselves that the £120 pair is better than the £20 pair, whereas we know they are exactly the same.

I understand musicians want to gig.

Where I live there are so many open mic nights and low paying gigs or pass the that gigs.

Open mic nights are great for venues, they have nothing to lose, their is no economic risk - unless the musos are so bad that they empty the place.

Looking back to when all gigging musos were in the musicians Union this had the advantage of making sure that gigs were well paid with overtime rates, etc.

I guess it's like the general work place, there is a high correlation between diminishing Union power and membership and stagnant wages, clearly Bob Crowe did a fantastic job as union leader for tube drives ensuring that after 6 months training they earn £50000 plus pa.

Also I've been reading a lot of economic books recently dealing with the spread of AI and the development of a winner takes all environment.

You can see this everywhere.

Examples, sport, city traders, geeks that develop apps.

And maybe it applies to music

People only want to see and are prepared to pay for the best. £200 to watch the big acts but will expect to pay very little for lower division players.

So what's the answer to getting better paid gigs for us lower division musos?

Somehow we have got to restrict supply, to start refusing to do free or low paid work and to get back to the situation when the musicians Union was strong.

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Always two sides to a story.

So, you basically want to prevent other people playing for free, even though they are perfectly happy to do so?

What gives you any right to make such an imposition on others?

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ha... it's been a little while since we did this...

I happily play for free... Music is my hobby and I work to fund it.

If you want paying then offer something landlords / promoters want that they cannot get for nothing.

Music is fun and lots of people are prepared to gig for free :) I am paid for my job because it's god awful and no-one in their right mind would do it for nothing... :mellow:

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Here are some more replies or points made on the fb thread

Problem is as long as YOU are prepared to play for free, you will get gigs over other musicians who take a stand
Music is in a very dark place at the moment , it has too flippant an attitude and response /respect from its consumers who have no idea of the time
And years of effort that go into being a good musician

When you play in a bar or club the owner wants to make a profit, the bar staff get paid, etc none of them would work for free why should you
In my opinion much of the problem comes from recorded music which is
In essence is free even if the establishment pays prs,

You see literally hundreds of people plugged into iPhone everyday and you know probably little of what they listened to was paid for, it's a culture , they just don't see the value in paying live to see something that they can hear recorded in a pro studio and sounding good by a live band

Sorry, can't agree here. Pay the musicians - or at least offer payment. Then if they want to give to the charity they are free to do so - same as everyone else. Do the organisers expect electricians to come free, or the marquees, or anything else? I suspect not. In my opinion musicians should politely refuse, every time. After all, without them there is NO event! That is the only way organisers will learn and respect them.

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I'm not bothered about people playing for free I'd they want to, doesn't mean I will though and if I miss out on a gig that someone else played for free so be it. Charity starts at home :-D

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Guest bassman7755

[quote name='gareth' timestamp='1464703149' post='3061570']
Problem is as long as YOU are prepared to play for free, you will get gigs over other musicians who take a stand
Music is in a very dark place at the moment ,
[/quote]

Not that I have played for free very often but ... but if the opportunity arose and I was up for it then I honestly wouldn't give a monkeys about "devaluing" other peoples efforts or whatever.

Personally I abhor closed-shop union tactics in any industry be it bands or tube drivers. It would be a bit like me, as a professional programmer, trying to stop people from doing it for free, and believe me there is a hell of a lot of people writing programs for no money - its called "open source".

Bottom line is that if you doing something that is fun and accessible to the masses, then you are always going to be competing with people doing it for little or no money, the onus is on you to add value if you want to be paid more.

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[quote name='gareth' timestamp='1464703149' post='3061570']
Here are some more replies or points made on the fb thread . . .
[/quote]

What is this? Discussion by proxy. What do YOU think? Why do YOU think its fair to tell other people what to do?

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It's partly about the value placed on things but also obviously if you need the extra income or not. If it's a hobby then you are lucky to have one that gives anything back. People spend lots of money on fishing equipment and spend time honing their skills but apart from the occasional possible competition they won't get a bean back, no one is going to pay them to go sit by the canal for hours. If we look at a closer entertainment analogy then there are loads of folks doing am-dram at the weekend for no money but put hours in getting the performance right.

Edited by KevB

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What I'm reading into this, is.... If you have the cash and can afford to play for free you should be able to, regardless if it does those needing the cash out of a paying gig? I've almost gone all political!

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[quote name='gareth' timestamp='1464701331' post='3061550']
Somehow we have got to restrict supply...
[/quote]

Well, here's a thought. If we want to ensure that live music is valued, and stop people giving it away, then the flip side of that is that we make certain that those who do get paid to play are worthy of their hire. Maybe the public will be more willing to pay to see live music if they can be guaranteed a certain level of professionalism from those playing it. So why don't we create a law that says that only licensed performers can perform in public. To get a licence, a performer would have to pass a stringent set of exams, demonstrating the ability to sight-read fluently, show a good level of understanding of harmonic theory, counterpoint, arrangement and history of music, and perform examination pieces on their chosen instrument in a range of genres (including jazz, classical and traditional music as well as rock and pop). Those found guilty of operating a musical instrument in a public place without the proper license would have all their gear confiscated and destroyed. Serial offenders would be forced to attend a series of lectures on the importance of the Beatles in the history of popular music, and the importance of "having been there" before offering an opinion on any band or musical genre.

Any venue found guilty of permitting unlicensed performances will be bulldozed to the ground and replaced by a public garden.
Any venue with more than one noise complaint upheld against it within a five year period will be bulldozed to the ground and the owners forced to attend a series of lectures on the importance of the Beatles in the history of popular music, and the importance of "having been there" before offering an opinion on any band or musical genre.

One beneficial side-effect would be the effective elimination of all rap-"music".


There, problem solved.

Don't mention it. :D

Edited by Earbrass

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group A - we will play for free as music to us is a hobby and we do it for fun and not money.
group B - we will only play for a fee, that fee or the number of fee paying venues are decreasing because people like group A, are devaluing music....

that's where this thread is going...

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Earbrass, there are top pro's that people pay good money to see in droves and keep the industry ticking over that wouldn't pass all your criteria.

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[quote name='RockfordStone' timestamp='1464706327' post='3061625']
group A - we will play for free as music to us is a hobby and we do it for fun and not money.
group B - we will only play for a fee, that fee or the number of fee paying venues are decreasing because people like group A, are devaluing music....

that's where this thread is going...
[/quote]

Inevitably, since the other ten plus times this thread has come up in the past it has done exactly that. :lol:

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I think most of the ire on FB was because of who put up the ad wanting unpaid musicians to play for the dreaded exposure.

I believe the people asking were a rather upmarket art gallery with branches in the states etc. Fallout on their FB page.

[url="https://www.facebook.com/events/598365416985997/permalink/603737353115470/?notif_t=event_mall_reply&notif_id=1464690010844109"]https://www.facebook...464690010844109[/url]

I think the thought was you guys get paid, your artists get paid, the muso's get exposure.

Disgraceful really, from so called "artists/creatives".

Edited by karlfer

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[quote name='KevB' timestamp='1464706537' post='3061628']
Earbrass, there are top pro's that people pay good money to see in droves and keep the industry ticking over that wouldn't pass all your criteria.
[/quote]

Surely not!?!? :o :o It's an outrage ( etc.) :o :o :o

;) :P

Edited by Earbrass

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[quote name='KevB' timestamp='1464706649' post='3061632']
Inevitably, since the other ten plus times this thread has come up in the past it has done exactly that. :lol:
[/quote]
this is one of the forum greatest hits collection. up there with such favourites as "justify the amount of gear you own" and "this drummer is at the wrong gig"

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OK I'll bite.

I WILL play for free, because music isn't my job and I will f*** up a few times per gig, it happens. I have another job which pays my wages and my hobbies. The kind of gigs I will play are probably not worth paying the band much for, I accept that. But I am not the standard by which all other musicians should be measured, very far from it. If I only wanted paid gigs I probably wouldn't play many, and even then it may only just cover my travel but not my cost of gear and rehearsal space - I know and accept this. I don't think I am devaluing what a pro bassist or band does by taking this view.

If a band wants to be paid, they had better be good. Really good. And they should be either a polished and professional act that can keep punters who have paid their money dancing until close (think a dinner dance scenario) or a band that has a following that will get people to buy tickets to the gig/ pack out the venue and return as a sure thing.

I used to work in a pub as a student and I hired acts for an acoustic night. With £100 per week budget maximum I doubt we ever made money. It didn't matter if they were good, it was whether they had a following. Some of the best acts played to a handful of people, or had friends who were all on the dole crowded round ten to a half of lemonade. We had bands come in telling us how great they were - they supported The Who in the 60's or they're "massive on the biker circuit" - and they expected £1,000 upwards to play in a town centre pub, and baulked at being asked to do some promo themselves (before twitter etc. we asked bands if they could bring their posters in and whack up a couple round town/ where their following usually are, etc.) or when we said you can have the downstairs bar fully staffed for free and if you want money you can take entry fee on the door - if you're good and confident people will come (but nobody has heard of you in the area) then why wouldn't you do this? Or if you really are a pro band worth paying, why were you knocking on my door asking for a gig in the first place?? [Rhetorical]

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[quote name='RockfordStone' timestamp='1464706726' post='3061636']
this is one of the forum greatest hits collection. up there with such favourites as "justify the amount of gear you own" and "this drummer is at the wrong gig"
[/quote]

Don't forget kit share....

Edited by ahpook

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For some types of music there isn't a ready market, and if you want to play music that is not in popular demand from paying venues, then a hard line of 'pay me or f**k you I'm not playing' just isn't possible unless you never want to perform.

There are (and have always been) plenty of opportunites to pay to play or play for nowt that cater to those desperate for exposure.

sh*t/mediocre bands are just as responsible for killing the market for live music as any other market force IMHO.

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Music has been devalued by a lot more than bands playing for free.

Another way to look at all this is that 'the digital revolution' has broken down the monopoly of the capitalist music 'business' and has democratised music. People are now free to play their own music, create their own albums, distribute their own music around the world and the public now have free access to a vast array of musical genres.

Of course the money-orientated record companies don't like this. Their gravy train has been derailed. Future generations will no longer have to re-purchase all their expensive recordings just because of media changes, like vinyl, to CDs, to MP3s.

I don't see the present situation as a bad thing, more that it marks the end of a bad thing - the monopolistic control of something that should be innately within the control of the people, including those musicians who choose to give away their music and their performances as a gift to those who wish to hear it.

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[quote name='Earbrass' timestamp='1464706241' post='3061623']

One beneficial side-effect would be the effective elimination of all rap-"Music"
[/quote]

. . . As well as the so-called Punk revolution :)

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