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Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?

GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 05:16 AM
Joe Offer 08 May 14 - 05:25 AM
Stanron 08 May 14 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 05:51 AM
MGM·Lion 08 May 14 - 06:01 AM
johncharles 08 May 14 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 06:09 AM
johncharles 08 May 14 - 06:26 AM
Newport Boy 08 May 14 - 06:37 AM
Jack Campin 08 May 14 - 06:41 AM
Johnny J 08 May 14 - 06:43 AM
Richard Bridge 08 May 14 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,Folkiedave 08 May 14 - 06:50 AM
Paul Reade 08 May 14 - 06:55 AM
Johnny J 08 May 14 - 06:56 AM
Stanron 08 May 14 - 07:21 AM
Will Fly 08 May 14 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 07:25 AM
Will Fly 08 May 14 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,Working Boy 08 May 14 - 07:28 AM
johncharles 08 May 14 - 07:38 AM
Johnny J 08 May 14 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 07:44 AM
Big Al Whittle 08 May 14 - 07:45 AM
johncharles 08 May 14 - 07:49 AM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 07:50 AM
Newport Boy 08 May 14 - 07:53 AM
Jack Campin 08 May 14 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,on the piste 08 May 14 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 08:02 AM
Johnny J 08 May 14 - 08:03 AM
Johnny J 08 May 14 - 08:09 AM
johncharles 08 May 14 - 08:11 AM
johncharles 08 May 14 - 08:13 AM
GUEST,on the piste 08 May 14 - 08:14 AM
Phil Cooper 08 May 14 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 08:17 AM
Jack Campin 08 May 14 - 08:18 AM
Jack Campin 08 May 14 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 08:23 AM
johncharles 08 May 14 - 08:33 AM
GUEST,Derrick 08 May 14 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,on the piste 08 May 14 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,Derrick 08 May 14 - 08:59 AM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 08 May 14 - 09:01 AM
Will Fly 08 May 14 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,McMusket 08 May 14 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 09:26 AM
Brian Peters 08 May 14 - 09:36 AM
GUEST,on the piste 08 May 14 - 09:37 AM
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Subject: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 05:16 AM

Following on from an earlier thread about a 'free' festival not paying any of the musicians who turned up, could I ask why so many musicians seem to undervalue themselves and their skills/talent?

I'm sure ALL festivals have people selling food/beer there, so WHY are musicians content to bring in the crowds to make those people profits, whilst not being paid a penny themselves.

Do you have less value than a Burger or a Beer?

Personally, I don't think you have..and a festival should darn well get itself funded first before expecting musicians to turn up and do their job for nothing..

Someone said on the CindMusicFest page that ALL musicians have 'day jobs', but surely, this is because we've created a siutation where being a musician is NOT regarded as having a *proper* job in the first place.

So how has this come about and why are so many musicians compounding this by telling festivals they'll play for free?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 May 14 - 05:25 AM

I think, Lizzie, that your previous posts indicate that you are closely tied to the "commercial" aspect of music. You seem to be a "fan," not a musician. Many of us here are musicians, and good musicians - who make music for the love of it and rarely for pay. We want to share music with others, and we want others to share musics with us - and most of all, we want to make music together.

"Free" festivals are something wonderful - musicians gather together to give their community a day or a weekend of music that people don't have to pay for. These are people who truly believe that the best things in life should be free.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Stanron
Date: 08 May 14 - 05:32 AM

You seem to be forgetting that musicians play music for the same reason that people got to festivals to hear music, for pleasure. The relatively small number of people who get paid to play are the exception rather than the rule. If we make a sort of intellectual leap of guesswork to the origins of music I imagine that it was a social activity where everybody found some part to play and they all did it together. Pretty much like session fringes today.

Some people can't get their heads around 'free'. It doesn't mean 'free' should be forbidden.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 05:51 AM

No, Joe, I DO get it, but I also get that this very outlook is, to me, being exploited in today's world.

You see, because of this fact, very FEW musicians are able to make a living from their natural talents, and that's wrong, surely?

What IS a 'FREE' festival, exactly, Stanron? It seems to me that if you want to live up to that word, then no-one at that festival should be making ANY money out of it in any way.

Yet, people will tell me that food/drink HAS to be paid for, as do tents/marquees, chairs etc. etc...

But the musicians? Nope, they don't count for much, really, so 'we'll just get them to turn up, paying for their own petrol, etc., giving their time, skills and talents, which they've put many years of hard work into refining, for absoluely nothing"

You're worth more, Joe...
ALL of you should be able to make a living from playing music..and it would also make those who listen appreciate it more, perhaps...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:01 AM

Do you object to floor singers in clubs, then, Lizzie? They do it because, having learnt their songs, they crave an audience to sing them to, and to feel they are bringing some pleasure to as they do so. Think of this as a sort of Festival of Floor Singers. And no doubt there will be club organisers in the audience, looking for acts to book for payment later on. So think of it as a sort of open audition, likewise.

The food & drink &c argument is not really comparing like with like, you know.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:03 AM

If we are talking about folk festivals the performers are often a mix of big name acts who certainly get paid, and talented amateurs who may or may not get paid. I guess we amateurs do it because we enjoy performing the music, not trying to earn a living from it.
If all performers were demanding payment I think market forces would lead to higher costs for the audience and a reduction in the number of performers, both to be regretted in my mind.
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:09 AM

Folks clubs are different, M, and you know it. The audience is often made up of fellow musicians and the money raised from the refreshments often go towards keeping the folk club going.

Festivals are wholly different. They attract many more people and those selling the food/drink, or hiring out the marquees, etc., are often privately hired and make a lot of money for what they do.

I find it very wrong that the very people who are bringing that audience IN, in the first place, receive NO payment at all...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:26 AM

The people who sell food, provide venues etc often pay for the privilege and thus provide financial support for the festival. Admittedly they will hope to recoup that and more through their sales, that is business.
Unless you are earning your living through performing getting paid relatively small sums is often more hassle than it is worth when it involves contracts, tax etc. It takes the enjoyment out of the singing and playing.
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:37 AM

Lizzie - your views are typical of those held by our present (and recent past) governments, in that everything is judged by monetary value, or rather the potential for profit. I have little sympathy with this view of life. I've been singing alone and in various groups for nearly 60 years and have never received or wanted any form of payment. I have also been in the fortunate position of not needing to ask for travel expenses.

Go back 300 years, and only a minority of musicians and singers were paid anything. These were musicians engaged by the upper classes. The majority sang or played for the community of which they were part and didn't expect any payment. There are still a good few of us around.

I also have a good example from the classical field. I help with the running of a Music Group, mainly non-performers, who meet monthly for a performance or talk. Funds are limited and we only pay performers in rare cases. We have just booked for next year a wind quintet - this will be their fourth visit. When they first came, they were final year students at a premier music college. One of them is now a postgraduate student and the other four are starting on professional careers. We pay their travel expenses - more now that they are divided between London & Cardiff. They are keen to come and play for us - we provide an appreciative audience of about 80 in a very good acoustic. We know that they usually try out new repertoire on us, which benefits both parties. It's not often I get to hear a world premiere of a 20-minute piece in an intimate setting. Their only payment is a small gift - a bottle of wine or box of chocolates. They are just one example of many professional and semi-professional performers who willingly perform without payment.

I'm giving an illustrated talk to the group tomorrow on English Folk Song - I'm looking forward to my bottle of wine - but that's not my motivation. I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for music.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:41 AM

I imagine that a lot of the musicians who play at events like that are doing it in the hope that the exposure will someday get them more work or start their career.

It's common practice in politics and the legal profession, where graduates can work for as long as two years with no pay to get on the bottom rung of a gold-plated ladder. The result is that those professions are only open to people with wealthy parents.

Mumford and Sons doubtless don't see a problem.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Johnny J
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:43 AM

"The people who sell food, provide venues etc often pay for the privilege and thus provide financial support for the festival."

Also, many companies will also sponsor festivals or provide services at reduced rates. Yes, even free on some occasions e.g. PA equipment, perhaps?
What about volunteer stewards, organisers etc? According to Lizzie's argument, then they should be paid too?

Of course, not all festivals necessarily engage the services of outside catering either. Many do it for themselves with volunteers etc. So, it's just a case of breaking even.

As as been stated, nobody is forcing the acts to take part and I'm sure most of them enjoy the experience. It's also an ideal environment, I'd imagine, to collaborate with other musicians, try out new line ups, or even form "scratch bands" for the occasions. This would be less feasible in an organised commercial festival.

I have no knowledge of this festival personally but there is one held in Lossiemouth, Scotland every year which operates on a similar basis although there isn't an official bill as such. However, many many musicians and bands have just turned up to perform over the years. It's held within The Beach Bar and, yes, they make money but the are also providing the venue for free while supporting music throughout the years.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:50 AM

I expect bands sell CDs


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Folkiedave
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:50 AM

I rarely write on Mudcat these days. But Lizzie needs to understand the vagaries of the the festival world.

The organisers will have been inundated with performers wanting to play for nothing. That's the way things are.

When there was no festival scene people went as floor singers to a folk club to do a spot, and once they had been seen, asked the organisers if they could have a booking. This is no different really.

Some do it for exposure. Some do it because they are trying to get a foot on the ladder. But if you are unknown then this is what people do. Organisers do not book non-established artists and pay them.

However if you think they should - organise your own festival Lizzie. Just like you wanted to organise your own radio station to play the singer-songwriters you felt were neglected by other people who did have radio shows. Whatever became of that idea?

I genuinely offered to help you then - I am happy to offer to point you in the direction of organising a festival.

Start off by listening to the Archers. They are doing one on there.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Paul Reade
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:55 AM

A number of singers I've talked to report that they've been offered bookings at various venues (not folk clubs I hasten to add) for no fee. These seem to be small pubs or restaurants; some may provide performers with free drinks or food, which may not be much of an incentive as a lot of singers would rather not eat or drink before or during a performance. Others have merely said it would provide an opportunity to sell some CDs. My first reaction, which is probably shared by a lot of singers, especially those involved in Folk21, is that they must be joking! It's one thing doing a couple of songs at a local session or singers' night, where no-one gets paid, but being expected to be on stage for over an hour for no remuneration? You wouldn't expect a plumber to work for a couple of hours for nothing, so why should a singer or musician?

I remember a discussion some years ago with Lancashire singer Harry Boardman, a lifelong trade unionist, whose attitude was that a booked performer should always be paid – the only exception being for a bona fide charity performance. Which raises an interesting point: many of the venues offering unpaid gigs are remote village pubs that are feeling the pinch and trying to avoid joining the increasing number of closed pubs. It would be a great loss to the community if they were to close, as has happened in other villages. In other words, you could regard the gig as a charity performance.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Johnny J
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:56 AM

Ref my previous post, I should make it clear that The Beach Bar do NOT organise the festival.
It's actually Lossiemouth Folk Club who do this but this is their regular weekly venue.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Stanron
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:21 AM

Lizzie, the free festival I went to last was in Bull Bay Anglesey over Easter weekend. To call it a festival is, perhaps, a bit grandiose. The venue is a large Pub, there are four or five separate rooms for sessions and a field for free camping. The landlord no doubt sells a lot more beer and food than normal, does more than normal bed and breakfast and in exchange allows his pub to be taken over for a long weekend. He also makes a field available for campers. Every one wins, no one looses, what's the problem?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:22 AM

Whenever I play for free, it's because I want to:

a. Share my music with other people
b. Listen to music from other people
c. Play with other people
d. Learn from other people
e. Teach other people
f. Have FUN!

I've also made good money from playing music - and still do so - in bands. As long as people get married, have parties, put on functions and want music for all these activities and others, then there's money to be made for those who actively want it and can actively do it.

So I get the best of both worlds. Others perhaps choose to stay in world or the other.

One of the things I used to do when I was playing more full-time than I do now - and not in the folk world either - was to go to what are known as "showcases" in the entertainment world. If you're not familiar with the showcase concept, it goes thus:

Various acts, at the behest of their respective agents, turn up to a roomful of potential bookers who have been wined and dined by a roomful of agents. Therefore people potentially "buying" and other people hoping to "sell" their product. These were the most boring musical days - and you have to be there for a day - I ever encountered when working professionally. All the agents jockeyed to get their particular act on at a favourable time of the day; endless hanging around; prima donnas by the dozen; backbiting, nagging. All for 15 minutes of self-advertising.

Believe me, compared with that, turning up to play for nowt at an open mic or a folk club or at a session - or even a festival - is great fun!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:25 AM

>>>Lizzie - your views are typical of those held by our present (and recent past) governments, in that everything is judged by monetary value, or rather the potential for profit.<<<

CRAP!

Sorry, but if you have a deep talent and you spend your lives working with that talent, then you DESERVE to be able to make a LIVING from that talent.

If you regard music as of so little importance that it is merely a HOBBY, fair enough, but if it runs through your soul and you understand the IMPORTANCE of MUSIC to the world, which is ONLY there BECAUSE of musicians, then you have EVERY right to be DEEPLY RESPECTED for *YOUR* profession, as much as ANY OTHER profession in our society.

Do not DARE say to me that I am of the same outlook as any poxy government, thanks, for I fight against all that they do, but it saddens me deeply to see so many incredibly talented people doing jobs they hate because they cannot afford to make a living, even just a 'ticking by' living, from the very thing they were BORN to do....

The way so many of you see ME as The Enemy is staggering, for I have championed music and musicians for YEARS, but it seems desperately wrong that many others make money out of festivals, whilst the very people around which the festivals are built, receive nothing purely because they're happy not to.

That does NOT make NOT paying musicians morally right, in my mind.

I'd like to see EVERYTHING 'free', if you must know, everything in life, that is...but it ain't going to be that way for a very long time, and meantime, some of the most talented people on the planet are NOT receiving ANY payment for what they could make a living from.

Do NOT undervalue yourselves so much.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:25 AM

I'll just add one more comment:

When you're playing full-time for money - it's a JOB. It may be different from other jobs; it may pay more or less than other jobs; but it's still a job.

Playing full-time nearly - nearly - killed my love of playing music. So I determined only ever to play from love of the music - paid or not - rather than from necessity.

Many feel like me.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Working Boy
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:28 AM

"Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?" ?

Ok, similar question...

So.. Why shouldn't everybody charge money for sex !!!!???



Hey why not, let's all turn 'pro'........


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:38 AM

Mr Fly hit the nail on the head with his "job" comment.
By the way Lizzie you seem to have an intermittent capsLOCK probLEM.
JOHN.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Johnny J
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:41 AM

Lizzie
"If you regard music as of so little importance that it is merely a HOBBY, fair enough"

For me, it is my life in many ways. It takes up almost all of my spare time. Even when I'm posting on daft forums such as this, I'm still either listening to CDs or music on line, or practising/learning new stuff.   (Just popping out for a quick swim though but I'll be singing in the pool).

I don't think of it as a hobby as such although, if you want to suggest that it is because it's not my "living" then fair enough.

However, I believe that music is also something which is much more important than a mere commodity which can be bought and sold. If people choose to make a living from music and are able to do so, that's fine, but don't blame others who might wish to enjoy this wonderful entity in their own way.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:44 AM

Folkiedave, I care for Vi, who, this year will be 100 years old. Much as I'd love to run a folk festival I cannot do that, as I am not at a stage in my life where I have much freedom at all. I can't even GET to a festival easily these days, let alone RUN one. I made a rare visit to Sidmouth last year, because circumstances were such that I could, for once.

As to the radio show, I don't have the brain pattern for that, as I can't even remember which bands have made which CDs, nor what the names of the songs are on them. I've said this many times, rarely even get to the end of a CD 'memory-wise' as my mind has gone off into a thousand other thoughts...

YOU have the right kind of mind to do a radio show, which is why you do it. I can't even operate a normal cash till these days, such is the repetition-memory needed for them...


What I USED to do, was WRITE about the music, drawing others in, that was my contribution, because The Music caused my brain to Sparkle and Fizz all over the place, and the words simply spilled forth, but YOU did everything you could to shut that part of me down...as did some of your pals, who have since passed on now...And so, I STOPPED writing about The Music completely.

I'm sure this made you very happy.

And yet, you SERIOUSLY think I'd want to learn ANYTHING from you, after how you have behaved towards me over the years?

This thread is about why musicians are happy to let themselves be exploited at times, not about me...If you want to get back into the usual 'Lizzie Bashing' then PM me, not that I'll respond, but at least it gets you out of this thread..which is starting to depress me, as it seems most folks here feel it's absolutely right they don't get paid a penny for their contribution to a Festival of Music....


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:45 AM

I agree with Lizzie. the number of artists anyone is willing to pay for is dwindling as we get further and further away from an age when there were enough folk venues to give an incentive to develop an act with edge , skill and entertainment value.

instead we have the ruins that that the semi pro traddies have left us. endless dreary sessions - everyone with an expensive guitar/melodeon/banjo/ and a bloody great ringbinder full of dreary uninspiring tripe that even the performer can't commit to enough to learn the words and the tune to.

you get to the point where you're grateful if they've learned to tune the bloody guitar.
why do they do it for free....because being a folksinger/singer songwriter is a neurotic alternative to being an ordinary human being. I blame it on the fluorine in the water.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:49 AM

No doubt we should all extract maximum financial rewards by fair means or foul. Soon musicians will be up there with the bankers and we know how well respected they are for their art.
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:50 AM

If a landlord, restaurant, cafe owner, asks performers to perform, normally he/she will have a FULL house and make a very nice profit from that evening.

Yes, the musician/s may well sell CDs, but it's about respect, to me at least, respect being shown towards the artist/s in the first place...and I agree with Paul Reade, above, (who has given me some hope)....

Music has become Undervalued because of the very fact that many musicians have let it become so.

Yes, I understand Will's comments too, but the point is, you should be valued more in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:53 AM

Bye, Lizzie

Phil


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:54 AM

Festival organizers are not invariably lovable philanthropists doing it out of altruistic enthusiasm for the music.

I don't know anything about the festival that got Lizzie going on this, but the default assumption has to be that they're greedy scum lining their pockets at the expense of young and skint musicians desperate to do anything that might lead to a paid gig someday.

If they aren't in fact exploitative pigs, I'm sure they'll find this thread eventually and can tell us so, with some supporting evidence.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,on the piste
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:55 AM

Remember all those poor, neglected bands you used to tell us about, Lizzie? The Seth Lakemans, the Kate Rusbys, the Show of Hands? They get paid massive fees to do festivals, because they won't play otherwise. Once a festival has paid maybe 25% of its budget to the headline act, they have a lot less money to pay those poor struggling musicians down at the bottom. If some of those big acts halved their fee so that more of the artist budget could be spent on acts further down the bill, maybe that would be fairer than suggesting that festival organisers (many of whom work all year to bring you events to enjoy without getting paid a penny)should pull more money out of thin air to pay more people.

A few years ago one festival lost some funding at the last minute and wrote to all its artists asking them to take a 50% cut in their fee. A lot of the artists down the bill did so, but I was told that the headliner (one of the very acts you have told us is so hard done by over the years) took every penny of the contracted fee. A bit of wealth redistribution in the folk world is maybe what's needed.

Musicians here have told you why they do what they do. You are not a musician. Have the good sense to respect the point of view of people who do what they do because they are passionate and it gives them joy.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:02 AM

So, it's OK for you to moan that some DO get paid, but it's NOT ok for me to moan about those who don't get paid?

Well then, carry on doing what you do, play for nothing..obviously I was wrong to even raise the subject..

And if we're back to the usual Show of Hands/Seth Lakeman bashing, perhaps if more of you were like them, you'd have been being paid for many years gone by, recognizing your worth and refusing to allow yourselves to be exploited....

Just sayin'.......

But heck, you're right, what the fuck do I know, being one of those filthy scum who only LIKE the music and don't actually play it, despite also being one of the scum who has the audacity to suggest that you should be paid for what you do...

SHEESH!!!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Johnny J
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:03 AM

"If a landlord, restaurant, cafe owner, asks performers to perform, normally he/she will have a FULL house and make a very nice profit from that evening. "

I agree with that and, of course, it would be unfair of him or her exploiting performers in such circumstances. However, was the festival in question and similar such events not organised independently of such such venues? i.e. by a festival committee or similar. Of course, if some of the organisers had vested interests, they could be open to criticisms but that wouldn't necessarily be the case. If it's music enthusiasts who wish to use a pub(s) or other venues and the owbners are letting them in free, that's surely a different matter?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Johnny J
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:09 AM

" the default assumption has to be that they're greedy scum lining their pockets at the expense of young and skint musicians desperate to do anything that might lead to a paid gig someday."

Jack, this certainly isn't true of most Scottish festivals whereby the majority are run by volunteers. Any surplus gets held in reserve for the following year but this is rare as most depend on sponsorship even to break even. Yes, there are some big commercial companies profiting out of running such events but most "folkie" festivals are small affairs run by enthusiastic volunteers.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:11 AM

The trio I am in play because we enjoy making music and entertaining people. We play music that we like and are not chasing the market.
We did a gig recently and several of the audience said they had specifically come to seen us having seen us play a year or so earlier.
We had some CDs and they wanted to buy some. We gave them a couple; they only cost a matter of pence to produce. For us it has never been about the money but the enjoyment and being appreciated.
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:13 AM

p.s. having a beer or two bought is always appreciated.
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,on the piste
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:14 AM

I live in a town with a busy music scene, and putting a band on is NOT a guarantee of a full house. There are lots of other much cheaper ways of entertaining an audience, like drinks promotions, televised sport and karaoke. There are more bands who want to play than there are slots to give them. I expect this is the case in most towns. Pubs usually have a monthly band budget, so people willing to play for nowt will get gigs, because the landlord can then maybe book more expensive band the following week. There is no minimum wage in the music industry so market forces prevail.

Festivals are completely different. My partner is a professional musician who plays in about 8 different bands to keep his head above, but he will do solo festival gigs for nothing as they expose his music to new audiences/bookers and can lead to solo bookings at clubs which pay better than his band work. This is a business and it's not one you are in, Lizzie. It's also obviously not one you understand.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:15 AM

Interesting thread. On one hand music is a service, on the other it's also a calling. But you can't equate music with a service like an electrician or plumber. You call those people when you need them, and of course you're expected to pay them. No one "needs" music in that respect. It's an added nicety. I think music and other arts are necessary for the good of humanity (to speak in grandiose terms), but it's not valued as it should be in this culture.

I, and the couple of bands I've played in, have played for some decent money, and also for free. When offered a free gig I looked for an exchange of some sort of value. It could be a very appreciative audience, a good cause, but never to be treated like musical wall paper. When we've been offered wall paper gigs, we made sure we got paid very well. I did the low level day job for years to keep steady money coming in and maintained a good musical profile at the same time. I always found with music income that I either had a lot of money all coming in at once, or no money coming in at all. The joys of freelancing, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:17 AM

But John, why do you simply accept that you should NOT be paid in the first place? NOT be able to make a living from the natural talent you were born with?

A doctor may, from his natural talent?   A lawyer too.

So why NOT a musician?

I'm talking about a LIVING, not a 'celebrity' life-style and fame here, just a living...and...it's about Respect too, of people recognizing your talent and the hard work that is put in to create what you all do.


And no, in answer to your earlier statement, I don't have a problem with my 'caps', I just type the way I do, write the way I do...as that's me, folks.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:18 AM

True enough for Keith or Newcastleton, but the Facebook page for Cinderford didn't give that impression.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:21 AM

...ninja'ed. that last comment of mine was in reply to Johnny J.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:23 AM

>>>"On one hand music is a service, on the other it's also a calling. But you can't equate music with a service like an electrician or plumber. You call those people when you need them, and of course you're expected to pay them. No one "needs" music in that respect. It's an added nicety. I think music and other arts are necessary for the good of humanity (to speak in grandiose terms), but it's not valued as it should be in this culture...."<<<

Ah, but therein lies the problem. IF Music had always been valued, then this thread would not even be here. For far too long we have valued the wrong things. That won't ever change whilst the musicians themselves choose to go along with feeling 'grateful' for any chance to play.

Those who make money OUT of you, know that you LOVE to play, anywhere, anytime, to share your music and thus, you have been exploited, for centuries, really.

Seems to me that I value Music more than some of you do yourselves, perhaps?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:33 AM

Lizzie you equate valuing with monetary worth. I value folk music but know given its limited appeal its monetary worth is by and large low. If it was money I valued I would do what a friend of mine does which is join a four piece covers, band play the same "pop"songs night after night in clubs up and down the country, and get between £1000 - £ 1500 a night. No thanks I have different values which do not demand money to be satisfied.
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:49 AM


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,on the piste
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:54 AM

"Seems to me that I value Music more than some of you do yourselves, perhaps?"

Hilarious. Your self regard is a hoot as always, Lizzie.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:59 AM

what I intended to say before I pressed the wrong key is, Ithink it insulting to the very musicians you claim to value so much that   you call them fools when their answers contradict your opinion.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 08 May 14 - 09:01 AM

Not all musicians work for nothing. And those that do, don't necessarily do so all the time.

Sometimes a gig is fun enough that money becomes a secondary concern. Sometimes a gig can further a professional career. Sometimes it's a community or fundraising event. And sometimes it's just because people know they can get away with exploiting musicians.

Some interesting thoughts about this here:
http://livemusicexchange.org/blog/playing-for-nothing-simon-frith/


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 May 14 - 09:09 AM

Those who make money OUT of you, know that you LOVE to play, anywhere, anytime, to share your music and thus, you have been exploited, for centuries, really.

In all seriousness, the only times I've ever felt I was being exploited was when I was playing for money and getting bookings through an agent. If you really want to put your finger on the people with real for-profit motives, then take a long, hard look at agents. I'm certainly not saying that all agents are the same, but many of the ones I've had the displeasure of working with over the years have been either useless or callous. I played for a 1950s-style rock'n roll band for many years and, for much of the time, that stuff was in fashion. Work was plentiful - British Legions, Working Men's Clubs, Trades & Labour, etc. When it went out of fashion, our agent kept booking us into functions looking for '60s bands - Beatles covers, Stones covers, etc. - which we didn't do. So we started turning up at these gigs, not realising that we'd booked in for something that wasn't our style, and felt the fury of the punters who were paying good money but not getting what they'd paid for.

The other useless agents are those who call you up - I had one only recently - saying they'd like to give a quotation, urgently (naturally) for a prospective client, demanding photographs, repertoire, etc., instantly. Of course, they've also emailed half the similar bands in the area and, if you ask them for an outcome to their "urgent" request, they can't be arsed to reply. I tell 'em to shove off these days - politely, of course.

We get our current work from our website and - most importantly - by word of mouth. And, yes, we do the occasional gig for charities and friends - at a special "mates' rate".

And, once a month, we host a session in a local pub and invite all and everyone to play with us.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,McMusket
Date: 08 May 14 - 09:10 AM

Wot Will said.

With a few additions. I enjoy playing and there are number of bands I would lay loose claim to be a member of. Occasionally they get main stage bookings and then, yes, I play for money.

I also get asked to do folk club bookings. I have mixed views there. I certainly don't need the money and there are people looking for club bookings who rely on the income so whether I do them for free or pay, I am denying someone. Frankly I'd rather pay to see them and do a floor turn before them.

When I had the chance to go professional many years ago, I turned it down and left the band I was in. The rest of them? 35 years on, playing is a necessary chore. To me, playing is something I do for fun and enjoy it. Whether it be getting up in my local clubs in turn or in a marquee with the cameras rolling, it's sharing my love of music.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 09:26 AM

"Lizzie you equate valuing with monetary worth."

You could NOT have got me MORE wrong in a thousand years.

What I do not like is some people at festivals making a very nice profit, thanks, from whatever they may be involved in, from food/drink/marquees/electronics/chairs/whatever, whilst the very people who bring in the crowds sometimes get paid nothing at all.

I hate the way this world revolves around money, but why should a musician have to do a job he loathes all his life, just to pay the bills, when the very talent he was born with SHOULD give him enough money to earn a decent living wage from?

We do not value Music, basically, as we do not value so much of the Creative Side of the Human Species.

If folks are content to play for nothing, ad infinitum, then so be it, I guess. Makes me sad...but it doesn't bother most of the folks in here...

Strange though, that so many I've spoken with in here over the years LOATHE those who DO get paid, almost holding that against them...

There seems, to me at least, to be a REAL hang-up about 'money' and 'music' though, despite us all struggling to make ends meet. Personally, I think good musicians should get respect from society for their contribution towards it...and that should come in recognizing that they are equally as important as many other professions....


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 May 14 - 09:36 AM

Not the main point of the thread, but I was interested that Newport Boy wrote:

"Go back 300 years, and only a minority of musicians and singers were paid anything. These were musicians engaged by the upper classes. The majority sang or played for the community of which they were part and didn't expect any payment."

Going back 300 years would put you in the heyday of the broadside sellers, who would sing their ballads on the street in the hope of pulling a crowd and selling their wares at a penny a time. Best guess is that there were many hundreds of these making a living by plying their trade to the lower classes, and they were a very important means of disseminating what later became folk songs.

Back on topic, folk musicians have always accepted unpaid appearances at festivals etc as a means to promote themselves (which isn't as bad as bands in the pop world having to pay to get support slots!). What a given musican chooses to accept or not is a matter for them, although there are definitely cases where you get asked to 'do someone a favour' and choose to decline politely if there's a whiff of exploitation about it. I've also come across certain pro musicians who regard semi-pros playing for little or nothing as a danger to their own fee structure, though I'm pretty laid-back about it myself.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,on the piste
Date: 08 May 14 - 09:37 AM

Here's a musician whose work ethic Lizzie will approve


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