Recently I’ve become acquainted with Jukely, a subscription-based web service that, for a $25 monthly fee, gives music-goers the ability to attend “unlimited” shows without paying a cover charge. There are limitations to the service in that not all venues/concerts are available through their site, each concert has a limited number of passes, and, from what I understand, subscribers can only reserve a spot for one concert at a time. On the back end the service will pay the venue less than 50% of the ticket price for each member who attends a show.
Even with these limitations, as someone trying to figure out a sustainable (read: non-punishing-debt-accruing) way to perform quality music with professional musicians, this seems like a way for people who are entirely removed from the creative process to insert themselves between musicians and their audience while A) extracting money from that interaction, B) adding nothing of value to it, and, most importantly, C) driving down the perceived cost of live music. I could be wrong, but if I’m being reactive it’s because that is exactly what iTunes and streaming services have done to recorded music (here’s a fun chart!). The expectation now is that a person should be able to have anytime, anywhere access to everything ever recorded for $10/month or, if a person wants to own a song outright, should be able to do that for $1. For emphasis, let me repeat that in bold, italicized, all-caps: ONE DOLLAR.
Think about what that means for the average working musician, that the product of years of practice, writing, rehearsing, recording, and all the costs involved with those things is only worth one dollar. Or that a person having access to that product is worth a fraction of one penny. Where did that expectation come from, is it reasonable, who does it benefit the most, and does it fairly support the people creating the music? I have my own answers to those questions (Apple, no, Apple, no), but what’s more important is that everyone who loves music ask those questions of themselves.
Let’s take Jukely. Where does the expectation that $25/month should get a person into “unlimited” shows for a less-than-50% return for the venue/artist come from? Is it reasonable? Who does it benefit the most? Does it fairly support the human beings who work hard to produce those shows? Think about those questions and make your own decision as to whether or not Jukely is a company worth supporting.
The bottom line is that it takes time and money to make the things we all love. If you’re a thing-maker, be transparent about what it takes to make the thing, give people a direct route to support you, and be smart and deliberate about who else can use your thing to make money. If you’re a thing-consumer, find out what it takes to make the thing, support the thing-maker as directly as possible, and be wary of third parties who make the thing cheaper to access.
Of course, I’m a hypocrite in many ways but I’m trying. Hopefully this reminder to think about these things is helpful for everyone else who’s trying too. Comments are open, thanks!
*Images by Bitmoji. Download onto phone and annoy your friends.