I had a long conversation with some of my favorite musicians last night about taking gigs for crap money. I’m against it, some were for it, I’m curious what everyone thinks.
My position is that part of a bandleader’s job is to make sure you have money to pay your musicians what they deserve, regardless of expected turnout, and even when hiring your friends (I think ESPECIALLY when hiring your friends). There’s money out there to support music (How much did KEXP’s new building cost? How much did folks raise to save KNKX?), it just requires making the case to get it. Grants, fundraising, negotiating with venues, seeking out money gigs, merch, etc. It’s not easy and it takes effort and creativity, but it’s doable. Aside from making sure you have money to keep for your own effort, there are a ton of positive side-effects to having this attitude. Continue reading Bandleaders: Pay Your Musicians→
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. Continue reading Jukely: Another Tech Company Undermining Artists→
Many in Seattle and across the northwest have read, shared, and reacted with shock to last weekend’s New Yorker article concerning the large-scale seismic event brewing beneath our region. While skeptics and scientists may quibble over details, one thing remains clear: when the next Really Big One hits, however extensive the devastation, Phish will still be mediocre.
With all the spreading awareness of a living wage and the scuffles I’ve seen lately between musicians and venues, I thought I’d gently prod all you music lovers, musicians, and venues to do your best to communicate the true value of live music. The fact is that often there just isn’t enough money being generated to get everyone compensated fairly for the effort involved in putting on a good show, and it’s up to us to change that. Musicians in the 80’s were earning the same amount of money for a night’s work as today’s are, and I know venues are feeling the squeeze as well.Continue reading The Value of Live Music→
Back in March, I wrote a post about my experience with the business of live music in Seattle, outlining the frustrations many musicians deal with when working with local venues, the terms I think are fair when performing, and the clubs I support and avoid based on the relative fairness of their relationship with musicians. My goal was to let the live music audience in on the actual business of live music and urge them to support venues that give musicians a fair shake. My personal list was met with lots of feedback from other players, venue owners and staff, and people who go out to see music, many of whom agreed generally but had different experiences with the venues I listed.
With that in mind, I distributed a survey to Seattle’s working musicians asking them to list the clubs that do the best and worst job of compensating bands fairly and working with them to put on successful shows. The goal was to get beyond anecdotes and personal opinions to really uncover which venues are musician-friendly and which ones aren’t. The survey was shared on social media and emailed between musicians for about 6 weeks, resulting in 128 responses from what I feel is a group of players that represents accurately the average working musician. Here are the results of that survey: