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Earning a living in Folk

Kampervan 24 Jun 08 - 07:07 AM
greg stephens 24 Jun 08 - 07:09 AM
Surreysinger 24 Jun 08 - 07:13 AM
greg stephens 24 Jun 08 - 07:16 AM
Hamish 24 Jun 08 - 07:20 AM
Kampervan 24 Jun 08 - 07:20 AM
Spleen Cringe 24 Jun 08 - 07:28 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 24 Jun 08 - 07:41 AM
Kampervan 24 Jun 08 - 08:19 AM
Jess A 24 Jun 08 - 08:46 AM
Spleen Cringe 24 Jun 08 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 24 Jun 08 - 09:30 AM
Kampervan 24 Jun 08 - 10:16 AM
Peace 24 Jun 08 - 10:22 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Jun 08 - 10:25 AM
Spleen Cringe 24 Jun 08 - 10:50 AM
Teribus 24 Jun 08 - 12:10 PM
greg stephens 24 Jun 08 - 12:20 PM
Harmonium Hero 24 Jun 08 - 01:26 PM
Fidjit 24 Jun 08 - 01:38 PM
Acorn4 24 Jun 08 - 01:57 PM
Acorn4 24 Jun 08 - 03:21 PM
Mark Ross 24 Jun 08 - 05:10 PM
Peace 24 Jun 08 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Mad Jock 25 Jun 08 - 07:05 AM
Lowden Jameswright 25 Jun 08 - 08:14 AM
Acorn4 25 Jun 08 - 11:11 AM
Def Shepard 25 Jun 08 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 25 Jun 08 - 11:41 AM
Harmonium Hero 25 Jun 08 - 02:03 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 25 Jun 08 - 02:18 PM
Peace 25 Jun 08 - 02:30 PM
GUEST 25 Jun 08 - 02:34 PM
Betsy 25 Jun 08 - 02:41 PM
GUEST 25 Jun 08 - 02:48 PM
GUEST 25 Jun 08 - 02:51 PM
Harmonium Hero 25 Jun 08 - 03:09 PM
GUEST,no fixed abode 25 Jun 08 - 03:41 PM
Harmonium Hero 25 Jun 08 - 05:21 PM
Betsy 25 Jun 08 - 07:54 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 26 Jun 08 - 04:38 AM
Banjiman 26 Jun 08 - 05:15 AM
GUEST,No Fixed Abode 26 Jun 08 - 07:22 AM
Brakn 26 Jun 08 - 07:33 AM
Acorn4 26 Jun 08 - 07:42 AM
GUEST 26 Jun 08 - 08:06 AM
TheSnail 26 Jun 08 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 26 Jun 08 - 11:35 AM
TheSnail 26 Jun 08 - 12:23 PM
GUEST,wordy 26 Jun 08 - 02:43 PM
JedMarum 26 Jun 08 - 03:28 PM
GUEST,wordy 26 Jun 08 - 04:02 PM
Lowden Jameswright 26 Jun 08 - 05:58 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 26 Jun 08 - 07:00 PM
Betsy 26 Jun 08 - 07:29 PM
TheSnail 27 Jun 08 - 07:52 AM
GUEST,Blue 27 Jun 08 - 09:09 AM
Harmonium Hero 27 Jun 08 - 09:38 AM
GUEST 27 Jun 08 - 10:05 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Jun 08 - 10:19 AM
folktheatre 27 Jun 08 - 10:42 AM
Sooz 27 Jun 08 - 12:48 PM
Graham and Jo 27 Jun 08 - 01:28 PM
Lowden Jameswright 27 Jun 08 - 02:23 PM
Betsy 27 Jun 08 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,tom bliss 28 Jun 08 - 02:47 AM
TheSnail 28 Jun 08 - 01:14 PM
olddude 28 Jun 08 - 03:16 PM
oggie 28 Jun 08 - 05:34 PM
JedMarum 29 Jun 08 - 12:07 PM
JedMarum 29 Jun 08 - 12:14 PM
JedMarum 29 Jun 08 - 12:15 PM
Peter T. 29 Jun 08 - 12:16 PM
Harmonium Hero 29 Jun 08 - 01:54 PM
Andy, Port Erin, I-O-M 29 Jun 08 - 02:35 PM
oggie 29 Jun 08 - 05:11 PM
TheSnail 30 Jun 08 - 08:29 AM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jun 08 - 10:05 AM
TheSnail 30 Jun 08 - 10:33 AM
Folkiedave 30 Jun 08 - 10:36 AM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jun 08 - 10:50 AM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jun 08 - 10:51 AM
GUEST 30 Jun 08 - 11:04 AM
Folkiedave 30 Jun 08 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 30 Jun 08 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 30 Jun 08 - 12:10 PM
GUEST,Ewan Spawned a Monster 30 Jun 08 - 12:15 PM
Banjiman 30 Jun 08 - 12:48 PM
Stringsinger 30 Jun 08 - 01:04 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jun 08 - 01:07 PM
Banjiman 30 Jun 08 - 01:23 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jun 08 - 02:01 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jun 08 - 02:04 PM
TheSnail 30 Jun 08 - 02:11 PM
Banjiman 30 Jun 08 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,No Fixed Abode 30 Jun 08 - 02:45 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jun 08 - 02:47 PM
Folkiedave 30 Jun 08 - 03:06 PM
TheSnail 30 Jun 08 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 30 Jun 08 - 03:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jun 08 - 03:47 PM
TheSnail 30 Jun 08 - 03:52 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jun 08 - 04:00 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jun 08 - 04:11 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jun 08 - 04:18 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jun 08 - 04:23 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jun 08 - 04:54 PM
oggie 30 Jun 08 - 05:39 PM
Muswell Hillbilly 30 Jun 08 - 05:46 PM
Banjiman 30 Jun 08 - 05:51 PM
oggie 30 Jun 08 - 06:06 PM
TheSnail 30 Jun 08 - 07:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jun 08 - 08:17 PM
Folkiedave 30 Jun 08 - 08:45 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jun 08 - 11:11 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 02:29 AM
GUEST 01 Jul 08 - 02:32 AM
Spleen Cringe 01 Jul 08 - 02:43 AM
Valmai Goodyear 01 Jul 08 - 03:02 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Jul 08 - 03:09 AM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 08 - 03:13 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 03:31 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 04:26 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 04:26 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 04:34 AM
Folkiedave 01 Jul 08 - 04:48 AM
Spleen Cringe 01 Jul 08 - 04:49 AM
Spleen Cringe 01 Jul 08 - 05:09 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 05:47 AM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 05:53 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 06:08 AM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 08 - 07:33 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 07:46 AM
Spleen Cringe 01 Jul 08 - 07:52 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 08:09 AM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 08:48 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 08:53 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 09:00 AM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 09:01 AM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,Blue 01 Jul 08 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Jul 08 - 09:51 AM
Spleen Cringe 01 Jul 08 - 09:51 AM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 08 - 10:04 AM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 10:36 AM
Spleen Cringe 01 Jul 08 - 10:39 AM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 10:41 AM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 10:44 AM
Spleen Cringe 01 Jul 08 - 10:53 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 10:53 AM
GUEST,Blue 01 Jul 08 - 11:05 AM
M.Ted 01 Jul 08 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,No Fixed Abode 01 Jul 08 - 11:17 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 11:21 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 11:29 AM
Spleen Cringe 01 Jul 08 - 11:37 AM
Whistleworks 01 Jul 08 - 11:40 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 11:43 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Jul 08 - 12:03 PM
JedMarum 01 Jul 08 - 12:07 PM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Jul 08 - 01:02 PM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 01:05 PM
Harmonium Hero 01 Jul 08 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,No Fixed Abode 01 Jul 08 - 01:23 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 01:24 PM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 08 - 01:47 PM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 08 - 01:49 PM
Harmonium Hero 01 Jul 08 - 02:01 PM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 02:07 PM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 02:22 PM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 02:33 PM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 02:40 PM
Jeri 01 Jul 08 - 02:45 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Jul 08 - 02:50 PM
Spleen Cringe 01 Jul 08 - 02:59 PM
Banjiman 01 Jul 08 - 03:09 PM
M.Ted 01 Jul 08 - 03:38 PM
Kampervan 01 Jul 08 - 03:55 PM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 08 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Jul 08 - 04:08 PM
Jeri 01 Jul 08 - 04:24 PM
Betsy 01 Jul 08 - 04:29 PM
Harmonium Hero 01 Jul 08 - 04:45 PM
Kampervan 01 Jul 08 - 04:56 PM
oggie 01 Jul 08 - 05:01 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 05:03 PM
Harmonium Hero 01 Jul 08 - 05:11 PM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 08 - 05:30 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 06:18 PM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 08 - 06:26 PM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 08 - 06:38 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 07:43 PM
TheSnail 01 Jul 08 - 09:06 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jul 08 - 10:24 PM
Phil Edwards 02 Jul 08 - 03:24 AM
Richard Bridge 02 Jul 08 - 03:48 AM
Big Al Whittle 02 Jul 08 - 03:52 AM
Phil Edwards 02 Jul 08 - 06:10 AM
Richard Bridge 02 Jul 08 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,LJW 02 Jul 08 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,LJW 02 Jul 08 - 07:51 AM
Big Al Whittle 02 Jul 08 - 08:20 AM
TheSnail 02 Jul 08 - 08:30 AM
Phil Edwards 02 Jul 08 - 09:09 AM
Richard Bridge 02 Jul 08 - 09:43 AM
Harmonium Hero 02 Jul 08 - 09:51 AM
Phil Edwards 02 Jul 08 - 11:00 AM
M.Ted 02 Jul 08 - 11:47 AM
Banjiman 02 Jul 08 - 11:53 AM
Lowden Jameswright 02 Jul 08 - 11:54 AM
GUEST 02 Jul 08 - 12:05 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Jul 08 - 01:28 PM
Howard Jones 02 Jul 08 - 05:27 PM
TheSnail 02 Jul 08 - 06:01 PM
Phil Edwards 02 Jul 08 - 07:11 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Jul 08 - 07:59 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Jul 08 - 09:23 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jul 08 - 03:10 AM
Richard Bridge 03 Jul 08 - 03:32 AM
GUEST,Betsy at Work 03 Jul 08 - 05:12 AM
GUEST,LJW 03 Jul 08 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 03 Jul 08 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,Aoife Mac 03 Jul 08 - 07:58 AM
Richard Bridge 03 Jul 08 - 07:59 AM
GUEST,Betsy at work 03 Jul 08 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,Aoife Mac (again) 03 Jul 08 - 08:06 AM
Surreysinger 03 Jul 08 - 09:15 AM
Richard Bridge 03 Jul 08 - 09:17 AM
M.Ted 03 Jul 08 - 09:29 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jul 08 - 09:52 AM
Phil Edwards 03 Jul 08 - 12:38 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jul 08 - 01:21 PM
Tootler 03 Jul 08 - 06:44 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jul 08 - 07:24 PM
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Subject: Earning a living in Folk
From: Kampervan
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:07 AM

There have been a number of comments in varous threads about how difficult it is to earn a living as a folk performer in the U.K.

I just wondered if there were any figures anywhere to give an indication as to how many people list 'folk performer' as their primary source of income in the U.K.?

Is it in the census results, do the Inland Revenue list them?

No particular reason for asking, it's a very superficial question, just curious. It's not my intention to start a discussion as as to who is or isn't a 'folk' performer.

K/van


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:09 AM

Look out shipmates, the revenue cutter is coming round the point.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Surreysinger
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:13 AM

Thank heavens I am now retired from my previous existence as an HM Inspector of Taxes when it comes to threads like this!!! I hardly think the Revenue would list things like that as privacy and confidentiality is all ... but the census on the other hand ???


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:16 AM

See what I mean?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Hamish
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:20 AM

Keep your records of expenses and fees so that if HMRC should ask you can prove you don't make money at it. That was the official advice I got when I phoned my tax office. And you can put in all sorts of expenses: not just those directly involved with the fee-earning gigs, but "promotional" floor spots and the like.

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Kampervan
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:20 AM

Oh what a cynical age we live in. :-)

I'm not an undercover revenue man trying to uncover the black economy. I just wondered how many there were who actually admit to making a living out of performing folk music.


(P.S. Surreysinger - It's nice to know that the revenue protects our privacy though).

K/van


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:28 AM

It's not my intention to start a discussion as as to who is or isn't a 'folk' performer.

Have you noticed how many threads include this as a disclaimer?

NB, the answer to the original question is.... 42.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:41 AM

You could try National Statistics Office

Even assuming that people describe themselves in that much detail, I'd be surprised if either the Census or HMRC break down occupation information to that level of detail. They'll probably be lumped together as "musicians".


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Kampervan
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 08:19 AM

Well Ewan, as I'm sure you know, that's because it gets a bit boring when any simple posting gets hijacked by saddo's who want to analyse the meaning of every last word.

Sometimes superficial is fine. And it may be that no-one knows. Which is little disappointing, but I can accept that.

K/van


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Jess A
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 08:46 AM

well in my other life not as a folk performer I am a civil service statistician and have done a fair bit of work on stats to do with employment in my time, and have to agree with others here who suggest that nobody publishes occupational stats in that much detail I'm afraid. Sorry K/van!

Partly cos in the standard occupational classifications it might go as far as 'performing musician' or somesuch but won't specify type of music performed, and partly cos even if it did they can only publish down to a certain level of detail in order to protect the privacy of the individuals concerned, when small groups of people are involved.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 08:50 AM

"It gets a bit boring when any simple posting gets hijacked by saddo's who want to analyse the meaning of every last word"

Absolutely. Kind of the point I was making albeit in a slightly convoluted way...

I don't think it would be that easy to find the answer to your original question which is why I gave the meaning of life as my answer. A suprising number of people I assumed were first and formost folk singers/musicians actually have a day job of some sort or another.

PS: What sort of campervan, Kampervan? Mine's a Mazda Bongo.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 09:30 AM

My occupation has always just been just 'musician' (even, as far as HRMC were concerned, when i had a day job in TV - because that was my accountant's advice, to avoid any problems caused by income from gigs and records). So I don't think any stats from HRMC would help at all. The number of people in the uk who ONLY do folk (no teaching, even) is tiny. Miniscule. I'm one for now, but can't be for much longer, sadly, cos I'm slowly going broke! :-(

Tom

Mines a VWT4 turbo.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Kampervan
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 10:16 AM

Hi there Ewan-S.A.M.

I suppose that this is thread drift, but I guess there isn't an answer to my original posting, so what the heck.

The van is a VW type 2 late bay ('79). My daughter bought it about 14 years ago. I did some work on it while she was travelling abroad, and we've shared the use of it ever since.

If we go to festivals together then she gets the van and I get the tent. My friends keep saying that doesn't seem right, but I don't seem to be able to change it somehow!

Cheers
K/van


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Peace
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 10:22 AM

"I'm not an undercover revenue man trying to uncover the black economy."

As someone said: "The best way to make a million at folk is to start with two million."


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 10:25 AM

well let's see.....
there's Bob Dylan.......that's one definite!

There's Seth Lakeman....not sure about him though....


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 10:50 AM

Mines a VWT4 turbo

Mr Bliss! Are you showing off?

(If not you should be...)


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Teribus
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 12:10 PM

Only one I knew of was Charles Dwake, Ballad Singer, Weybwidge.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 12:20 PM

It's fairly easy to tell who's a pro. Look at people's gig lists.Professional performers will probably be doing gigs on weekdays, and some of those weekdays will not be in the school holidays.School teacher folkies are the biggest enemies of professional folk music, as they can earn a living working at schools in term time, and do gigs at a very low rate of pay in their extensive holidays(I come from a large family of teachers, I know what's going on!)


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 01:26 PM

Well, it's my occupation, but earning a living? - you're 'avin' a larf! I'm known to the tax man as a musician. They don't ask for specifics. They never challenge my figures either; I think they accept that most musicians in this society are wretchedly poor - unless they discover - as hinted at by Tom - that you are moonlighting as a musician, while telling them you're something else. I've always had the impression that teachers were the biggest group of moonlighters in folk music. As Tom suggests, the number of people doing nothing else is minuscule; but considering the size of the UK population, even after leaving out all the groups who wouldn't be interested, I still think there should be at least a few hundred thousand people who would pay to listen to folk music on a regular basis. I think that a lot of the problems are within the workings of the folk scene. Not that that answers KV's question.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Fidjit
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 01:38 PM

I like it better now I'm a pensioner.

Lots of time for afternoon gigs. Hospital wards. Libraries.
Gave up singing to drunks in pubs in the 70's.

Still not a living wage though.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Acorn4
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 01:57 PM

I think I might have a problem with doing gigs in unsuitable places.

The most inapprropriate one I ever did was a Christmas night out where the audience was, to put it in the most appropriate terms, "secretarial". They did not want to listen as they'd come out fot their Xmas meal and a good chat, and who could blame them -background music would have done fine!

The icing on the cake was that it was in a smoky cellar before the smoking ban and one of the clientele purned round and put out her cigarette in my tin I used for plectrums, capo thinking it was an ashtray.

You don't need too many experiences like that - the more you have to earn a living the more you might have to experience bad gigs.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Acorn4
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 03:21 PM

... but having said that, it is a source of annoyance that you can be a rubbish accountant and earn a fortune and a brilliant musician, singer, songwriter whatever and struggle to make a crust.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Mark Ross
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 05:10 PM

I've learned that after 40+ years of playing folk music for a living(you call this living?), there are literally tens of dollars to be made! By the way, the feller who said , "If you want to make a million dollars in folk music, start with TWO million.", was none other than U.Utah Phillips, the Golden Voice of the Great Southwest, may he Rest In Peace.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Peace
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 05:16 PM

Thanks, Mark. I'll know who to attribute it to next time.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Mad Jock
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 07:05 AM

Highly unlikely when you factor in all the neccsary costs particularly with travel. Probably due some money from the Tax Man!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 08:14 AM

Checked out the price of two artists this week - £450; they sure know how to make a living from it....


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Acorn4
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 11:11 AM

If that's a solo artist that's a lot, but if it's a band that's not that much when you take in everything.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Def Shepard
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 11:14 AM

now break down that amount into funds taken in and funds paid out, that'll be a far more realistic picture


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 11:41 AM

£450 is VERY top end for a solo club artist - less then a dozen will charge that much, because very few clubs can afford it (less than 50?). Average for most jobbing solo artists is between £1 and 300 (MU rate is £114 for less that 300 people, by the way). Lots of clubs can't even afford £100. And fuel costs may be more than £100 if there's a long drive involved - (and for arts centres and village halls, publicity and printing may come to more than £100 on top). Don't forget to allow for time spent administering the business, rehearsing, teching instruments, and other costs like insurance and websites.

Also it depends who is asking. Do you run a regular gig Lowden? If not you may be quoted high to allow for getting messed about. There are plenty of duos, even, who'll work for £150 or less, so please don't write off all 'artists' from just two quotes.

There are enough people around already who already have a completely erroneous idea of what 'folk' artists make - and think we're all shysters, crooks and thieving knaves without comments like that!

Thank you.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:03 PM

Lowden: was that £450 each, or was that a package deal? Some while back, there was somebody signing in as 'Guest' on a thread - possibly the one on the collapse of the folk clubs, but I'm not sure - who was expecting to get that sort of dosh, and rated him/herself as 'on the next level below Martin Carthy/Watersons'   or something to that effect. He/she gave a break-down of the fee, which included a basic fee + a percentage of the door + expenses, VAT, accomodation, agent's fees and god knows what else. Bit of a jaw-dropper for me; I'm just trying to get established nationally, and my fees (which are negotiable) over the last 12 months, have ranged from £20 to £120, averaging out about £75-£80, I suppose. But then, I stay on campsites, in a tent, which is a hell of a lot cheaper than B&B (I'd do this even if I had a choice, by the way, and am almost certain to be living like this on a long-term basis, as I now face the choice of moving out of my house, or getting rid of the van and giving up on folk music). And I don't have an agent; I learned a long way back that agents are not interested in anyone who isn't already eastablished. They just want to relieve you of 15-20% of your fee for answering the phone. (Prepare for torrent of abuse from agents or their apologists but I am prepared to step on that particular hornets' nest!). If I've already got established by my own efforts - which is the hard part - then why do I need to reward somebody else for it? Bookings through an agent usually bring much higher fees than I, for one, would have the nerve to ask for; but I'm the one who then has to get up and face the paying audience. And I know that the folk clubs can't afford this sort of money, and it's probably one of the factors contributing to so many clubs giving up booking guests; perhaps some club organisers would like to comment on this.
It seems to me that some artists have made the choice of pricing themselves out of the folk clubs, and would rather do concerts, for higher fees. And what of the punters? would they rather spend, say £5-£10 to see somebody playing acoustically in a room with an audience of between 50 and 100, or pay - what?- £10-£15 to see the same guest playing to 300 people in a big hall, with a PA? I know which I'd prefer, and not just because it's cheaper.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:18 PM

Indeed John, but the reality is that a lot (even a majority if you include the small ones) of clubs are just 20-40 people (some are content with even less) often paying less than £5. Quite a few still only charge a couple of quid on the door, or just ask for donations. There may be 400-odd clubs in the land, but you can only expect to play a handful every year. Even the ones that love you to bits will only have you on a two, three or even four year cycle, because there are so many good artists out there. There are now nothing like enough gigs to support the number of people who want to play them on a 'decent' salary (16k). Some artists who have a day-job will charge well below the 'pro' rate, but most 'pro's who have day jobs (yes, I know - but most do!) charge the same as us full-timers - and anyway there's no rule saying anyone should get anything, so I have no problem with anyone working for anything - high or low. But £450 guarantee for a solo artist? I wish! Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Peace
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:30 PM

It's a matter of keeping two parties happy and viable. One answer is to request a minimum that will for sure cover expenses and a meal for the dog. Then split the balance of the take with the club. So:

50 people x 5 pounds = 250 pounds. Less the 100 pounds guarantee leaves 150. Split two ways that another 75 for the performe(s) and 75 for the club. The club also keeps any other cash it takes in via sales of coffee, tea, alcohol, etc.

I got screwed that way a few times, but sh#t happens. Chalk it to experience and let everyone you know about it. Clubs with a stirling reputation--The Yellow Door in Montreal was (is) such a place--will survive. Less trustworthy places will go down the tubes. There is some sort of Darwinian process at work.

Best of luck to you all.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:34 PM

OK - maybe the music world is different in the UK, so perhaps my comments are not appropriate to this discussion.

When I first decided to give up the day job and start working full-time as a musician (a FOLK musician) I jokingly told my wife that if I could only work 1,500 nights a year I would do alright!

As it turns out, I was only half joking. I work now all over the US and I still have to say yes to just about every gig that's offered. I work in town, when I'm home - at low paying jobs and private functions and I work on the road at every spot I can when I'm traveling from concert or festival to concert or festival. It never ends and I can never retire. BUT I can make a living; pay my mortgage and keep the lights on.

As for the taxman I list my occupation simply as musician. I have no income from any source other then performing. My chosen field of music is folk. I suspect there are quite a few of us in the US.

Tom Bliss - we have room for ya here. Come on over!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Betsy
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:41 PM

Hi John,
I wouldn't want to go away from home to do a job and live on a campsite.
Folk , whether you like it or not, i.e.professional Folk ,is a job in entertainment which relies on people paying to see you, and it follows that entertainment is a business.
When and if you do get up and running and I wish you well - as Tom Bliss said there's a load of other stuff which needs to be done.
Like any other job in entertainment or sport - if you're good or at least well known, the easier it becomes because people know your name and are quite prepared to pay money for a name ( or a brand ) with which they are familiar. Just an aside, I know of two "big" names in the British scene who do not drive, so, public transport and associated costs for them ,carry all your clothes, equipment + CD's, keep on top of the dirty clothes and that sort of stuff whilst away from home,report back to your ansaphone for enquiries that you missed ,Truro tonight and Carlisle tomorrow you arrive knackered and leave even more knackered, constant fast food instead of decent swag ,stay with the club organisers and find you have to leave the house at 8.10am cos they're both got to go to work so you are left walking round a strange big town or city feeling equally as strange because of people staring at this bastard with the guitar case who won't work.!!!
Nah, anyone who has made it / who is making it in Folk ,deserves every penny and good luck to them (and to you John) and whilst I'm at "it" the same goes to Tom. Incidentally I am purely a punter. Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:48 PM

... as for rates, mine vary dramatically. As I said I still work at every chance I can get. I still do some gigs for CD sales only, if they look promising and fit my schedule (and sometimes just for charity).

My current list of pub gigs pay from $150 to $350 - but tips and/or CD sales always bump that total up about $100. Festival and concerts (my mainstay) vary dramatically, small and mid-sized festivals have to promise me a reasonable base (as low $800 plus expenses - but typically $1,200 plus expenses). Big festivals can pay more, a lot more but may not have to because CD sales can exceed my base at other festivals. I need to earn over a grand at festivals and I almost always do. I aim to exceed two. Thank God for on-line CD and MP3 sales, because they have become an important part of my income.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:51 PM

pug gigs are what I use to backfill my schedule or to stay at home for a while.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 03:09 PM

Tom: My figures were rather hypothetical, but based on the way the clubs used to be. I know things have changed, but there are a lot of contributary factors, and the fees some people are charging is one factor. Many clubs charge according to the guest's fee, and I've seen door prices of £8 or £9. Most clubs seem to charge about £3 on guest nights, and maybe £1 on singers' nights; if there are 30 people in, and there's a raffle, then, assuming the club isn't being charged for the room (as I think is mostly the case; let's face it - most pubs are glad of that sort of custom on a weeknight these days), that's a decent fee for somebody like me, even without whatever they collected on the previous singers' night. And if I can shift three or four CDs as well, then I'm doing all right. I got £75 from a 'glass collection' plus raffle money recently, when there were only about 15 in the audience. If someone in my position can get that, then I think all is not lost. I have strong feelings about what's wrong with the clubs, which I have already spouted on other threads, but they seem to fall on deaf ears. I believe that there is still a reasonable audience for folk music; people are stil going to festivals - and there are many more of these than there were - and still going to concerts and buying CDs. There isn't a fortune to be made, and I think artists should have a reasonable and realistic idea of how much they really ought to expect to earn from folk music. Those who want more, and get themselves into growing concert circuit, are giving the club organisers a problem; clubs can't afford concert fees, unless they are the 'big names only' concert-type clubs. These clubs don't book unknown artists. The other clubs are then trying to compete, booking unknown or lesser-known guests and hoping they don't end up out of pocket. And this is one of the reasons - not the only reason - why clubs end up with between 10 and 20 in the audience, and eventually give up booking guests.
Discuss.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,no fixed abode
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 03:41 PM

Just to put our two penny's worth in......

         We like Tom have been trying to earn a living playing folk based music for the past few years. We have learnt that getting bookings in folk clubs is difficult if you are "unknown" however we have noticed a slight improvement in some club's booking policies thanks to youtube. Now instead of worrying if an artist would suit there club the organisers can "see" a performance and make there minds up from this. This has helped us get gigs we would not stand a chance of getting just sending a cd to the venue.
         Our music would probably be regarded as "common" folk but one thing that always seems to be missing from these conversations is that no one seems to be trying to take the music out of back room clubs and into the bars from where it came. We perform at a number of venues that people would regard as "non-folk " venues yet we believe that if folk is to survive it has to be taken back out to the people. The fact is we could not earn a living just playing at folk clubs and festivals so we have had to learn to adapt and in doing so we have found that "non-folkies" are not the ogres many think!
          Hope this makes some sense, I guess we are saying that there is a big world out there and it is possible to make a living but to do so in the UK you HAVE to be able to adapt and be BRAVE in the bookings you take on.

Tony


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 05:21 PM

Betsy: Nice to hear know there are some 'punters' following this. It would be nice to hear what some of you think about folk club guest lists, door charges, etc. Are you bored with predictable guest lists or a constant diet of 'big names' or would you be happy with a more mixed programme, including some unknowns, or even the odd 'frst booking'? Somebody, back in the mists of time, must have given Martin Carthy, Vin Garbutt et al their first dates. They wouldn't get a look in at some clubs now. Would you rather see people in the intimate setting of a club, or on the concert platform? Tell us - I think it's relevant to this thread, and would be helpful.
I know about doing the public transport thing - I've done all that in the old days (incidentally, I'm not new at this; it's what I did before marriage/family. I dropped out for a while, and have spent a number of years operating in a very limited capacity, but am now able to get on with it properly). I wasn't using the harmonium on solo stuff in those days, and had transport for group work. It would be out of the question to use it if I was on public transport. An advantage to staying on campsites is that I can cook, so avoiding the fast food diet you mention. I get the impression, staying on the more basic, open-all-year sites( which are cheaper!), that quite a lot of people are living like this, at least some of the time.
Tony: Playing folk music to Mr. & Mrs. J. Public is possible, up to a point; you will find some who really don't want to know, but many will listen, just as long as you don't expect them to listen to anything too 'deep'. I'm not being snooty; I have had some experience of this, and some of it really is a waste of time. It all rather depends on how close it is to what YOU are comfortable doing. If you feel compelled to do material you hate, then why do this job at all? You'll end up hating it.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Betsy
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 07:54 PM

Hi John,
If the harmonium doesn't go down too well one night - do a mind- reading act - as - Vin and Martin are the two people to whom I was referring who don't drive!!! Are you Psychic or was it too easy?
I think an "apprenticeship" might be involved here, for perfectly understandable reasons - and I suppose one's status comes into it – e.g. I don't think those two gentlemen after headlining some of the biggest Festivals will come out for a gig for a "glass collection" whereas some one who is starting out will do so for the "exposure".
I know Vin does his charity nights for nowt, and likes to occasionally visit his local clubs and do 2 songs like the rest of us and listen to who is doing what, plus having the craic, and, I wouldn't mind betting Martin is in the same boat.
When you are in demand as those two are, I think you need an agent, to keep you "right" and Vin certainly has one.
I personally couldn't, and still can't, bear singing in pubs where you are treated like background music but I don't mind a bit of a "sing-song". Conversely, I had a mate Bruce in Inverness who sang (roughly) the same type of Folks songs as me, but he couldn't bear singing in a Folk club in front of a quiet audience. Horses for courses, as is the question of door charges – a good club knows best.
When you're in the position like (say) Christy Moore able to demand that the bar is shut during his performance, don't forget , he, like the other two guys I mentioned have been through the mill via +/- 40 Year Apprenticeships and they won't, and they don't have to put up with (complete) drunks, hooray Henrys and other unwanted elements which they feel might distract them, or the audience, during their performances.
Consequently Vin insists on a minimum door charge to avoid arseholes and drunks gaining entry for a quid and disrupting proceedings.
All the aforementioned have seen loads of very very good performers come and go, but they are still "there", and importantly doing "it" well, so, I don't begrudge them a penny. A folksinger is no different to any other trade or craftsman - they will seek to be paid what they think they are worth - dare I say it – in this market place. Then we have to consider the product, and whether we would like to purchase, and so far, the "market" has dictated that these guys are worth their fees – playing to full houses isn't an accident – it's taken them years to build up the different following(s) which they all have.
John, let me wish you success and loads of good gigs.
      
Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 04:38 AM

Betsy: "Truro tonight and Carlisle tomorrow"

Yes - that happens far too often in spite of best endeavours to keep the mileage sensible. And the reason is that clubs operate not only on different nights of the week, but different weeks of the month. Extreme for example: If you've recently (in the past three years) played all the (remaining) Monday clubs between Truro (Sun) and Newcastle (Tue) - or have bookings in the future - you may indeed have to take Carlisle (Mon), when you'd have preferred Birmingham. Time was when this was just a pain (and a danger - because the more miles the more risk), and fuel was not much of an issue. But costs have doubled, along with concerns about carbon tyre-prints. I'm now having serious doubts about the very idea of trying to fill a diary with club dates.

John: "There isn't a fortune to be made, and I think artists should have a reasonable and realistic idea of how much they really ought to expect to earn from folk music."

Indeed, which is why I post so often on this subject. Many people think touring folkies make much more than we do - and resent it. That needs to be debunked. And there is much misunderstanding about how 'other' clubs operate, when sharing of good ideas might help (hence my efforts in that direction). Clubs come in many shapes and sizes with a variety of 'business models' (including none). But the economics are universal and it does no harm for people to understand the issues from both sides. When I started 6 years ago, a well known life-long pro told me 'you can make a living in the clubs - it's hard work, but it can be done." He was right then - just - but he'd not give me the same advice today. And I'd not say the same to a new starter now - unless they had some leg up from somewhere.

Tony: "No one seems to be trying to take the music out of back room clubs and into the bars from where it came."

Hi matey - actually I don't think that's quite true. There are quite a lot of 'folky' bar venues around, and bar-based open mic nights are flourishing. But note the 'mic' in that. The bars from which the music came were largely quiet. The bars into which you'd return are not. Now, you and Una have a robust style which works really well in a bar, which grabs most of the audience and can safely cope with any minority who don't get it. But that doesn't work for me. Even one person nattering at the back spoils the 'grip' and breaks the mood. My songs/stories often turn on a single word. Miss that, and the whole point is gone - and a lot of other artists, specially those who do trad unaccompanied are the same. I did a bar last week in Birmingham. They mostly shut up for the songs, but they yakked all through the stories - because they didn't realise they were as important as the songs, and were used to chatting between numbers. I don't think there's many people on the story side of the folk scene who are happy in free-entry bars. I've tried a good few times now and resolved Never Again, no matter how badly I need a gig that night. A decent door charge is the only reliable method I know of to get people to buy-in (literally) to the 'folk-song-story' listening/singing along experience.

Betsy: "A folksinger is no different to any other trade or craftsman"

This cannot be said often enough - along with a reminder that the tradition has been bolstered in diverse ways down the ages by trade activity of one kind or another, so the modern 'trade' musician does in fact spring from a decent, honest and important lineage. That said, the folk world is pro-am yin and yang, so you have to take what comes and make what you can of it. And if that's nothing - so be it.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 05:15 AM

Hi Betsy, John, Tom and others,

I don't know if I can add much to this discussion, but it won't stop me trying.

We both run a club (KFFC), and my other half is an aspiring act (sometimes hindered by my banjo!) so I at least get a view of both sides of the equation.

The club is a monthly "concert" type club but with a singaround beforehand. We don't really have a booking policy but it is easier to get bums on seats if booking an established artist (though we wouldn't be able to afford/ I'm not prepared to take the personal financial risk of booking some of the big names mentioned above, at least not for a club night). I have been prepared to take some risks and book people who aren't established because I like what they do and think the audience will as well. This has just become a whole lot harder as our pub venue has shut and we now need to find additional money to pay village hall rental. I will have to be more conservative in the future with main guests. I'm exploring several alternative money raising schemes at present (on-line folk club is one, B & B for traveling audience provided by club regulars with a donation to club funds is another).

I do book (and usually pay expenses/ small fee [£20-£50 to anyone who travels any distance] to) either 1 or 2 support acts each month as well, which hopefully gives a "ladder" which aspiring acts can climb. But this level of fee certainly does not provide a living income to anyone.... it seems to me that, unfortunately, you have to be prepared/ able to heavily subsidise your attempts to establish yourself. We will be re-booking as main guests a number of the acts who have initially appeared as supports, where the audience reaction has been really positive.

Main act fees have varied between £50 (a special from a very nice established artist who was helping us get the club off the ground) and £200 (also a special from an extremely well known artist who was also helping us build up club funds). Usual fees paid are between £80 and £130 often done as a minimum guarantee against a door percentage.

Which leads me to the other side of the discussion. My other half's attempts to establish herself really started early last year with a round of finding as many opportunities to play in front of people as possible. Floorspots, singarounds, open mics.......whatever, with a few paid pub gigs (which actually we enjoy, the banjo is a great weapon for cutting through background noise!) and others which began to offset the cost. This has led to around 40 paid gigs (half in folk clubs, half festivals/ pubs/ others) this year with fees varying between £20 (towards the beginning of the year and booked last) & £200+. The bookings are fairly regional, with the majority (not all though) being in the Yorks/ Northeast. CD sales top this up as well.

It is tough though, we find if people have seen her they will book her (clearly not all, the world never works like that!) but get a very poor return if just a CD is sent.... if you can persuade bookers to look at YouTube, the chance of a booking goes up many fold. We do at least have empathy with the bookers (see KFFC rant above!), though it can be frustrating to say the least! So outside the north of England we will continue to look for any performance opportunity, paid or not and have faith that this investment will pay off (and if not at least it is all good fun!). We couldn't do this though, if I did not have a reasonable day job so that we can afford the petrol and the babysitters.

There you go, my input for what it is worth!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,No Fixed Abode
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 07:22 AM

Hi Tom,
             I take the point you so eloquently make......I guess what I meant was if you are trying to earn a living from just performing folk in folk clubs and festivals then you really are going to have an uphill struggle to earn a living. I guess that is why we have found other ways of adapting our version of folk so that we can survive financially and the advice we would give anyone is if you are able to, look beyond just folk clubs and festivals

We understand John's comment about ending up "hating it" but for us part of the fun is going into the lions den and seeing if you can survive. Sometimes we lose but the rewards of someone coming up to us at the end of the night who had no interest in folk music before and then coming up to us and asking questions about the songs and buying a cd……… well there is no better feeling.

I guess we like missionary work!!

So please think of us this weekend when we are taking folk music into Haven Holiday caravan parks (We kid you not!)

Once more into the breach……………………………….

Una and Tony


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Brakn
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 07:33 AM

"Haven Holiday caravan parks"? Good for you! We're taking the kids to one in August.(Filey)

Sorry it's off topic.
Best of luck.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Acorn4
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 07:42 AM

To No Fixed Abode:-

Are you actually going to do all that :-

"Ag-a- doo-doo -doo , wave your knickers in the air" stuff.

Have plenty of Johnny Cash up your sleeve!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 08:06 AM

Yep Acorn4

Admittedly Una is Irish so the Whisky in the Jar and Wild rover will be deployed if needed....give and take.....we will do some of our original songs and some songs like ready for the storm (Dougie McLain) I know why it is she goes walking (Jack Hudson) Fiddlers green (John Connolly) as we did say we are at the common folk end the folk family! (Ops! having just read this no offence meant to any of the above great song writers!)


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 08:45 AM

Harmonium Hero

And I know that the folk clubs can't afford this sort of money, and it's probably one of the factors contributing to so many clubs giving up booking guests; perhaps some club organisers would like to comment on this.

Well, taking a deep breath, -

We pay our guests from the money we take on the door. That equation has to balance.

We have a duty to our audience (of which we are part) as well as to our booked guests. The criterion is the same for both of them; we need to offer a package that makes them one to come back.

We make no distinction between full time professionals or "moonlighters". What you do in the day is no concern of ours; we book you for what you do on the evening.

I have strong feelings about what's wrong with the clubs, which I have already spouted on other threads, but they seem to fall on deaf ears.

We are always open to constructive criticism and positive suggestions so please feel free to tell us what you think.

Bryan Creer Lewes Arms Folk Club


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 11:35 AM

"We pay our guests from the money we take on the door. That equation has to balance."

Of course. The danger is that a club can easily slide into a vicous circle. "We don't take much on the door so we can't afford to book the top performers. The audience won't pay much because we're not booking the top performers, so we don't take much on the door."


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 12:23 PM

GUEST,Howard Jones

The danger is that a club can easily slide into a vicous circle.

Generally speaking, each event is self-financing and we vary the door price according to the status (and expectations) of the guest. Seems to have worked so far.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 02:43 PM

I think Betsy's post above is very insightful and I would endorse her views. However, with someone on tonight's news saying petrol could hit £2.00 a litre by the end of the year I think all arguements will become academic. There will be no clubs left for pro artists to work as the audience won't travel any distance or be able to afford the entrance fee. All costs of living will rocket through the roof. Cds will become a luxury item.The one night stand gig 200 miles from home becomes impossibly expensive for all but the concert artists, and even they will have to try to arrange tours that use the least petrol between gigs. I fear the world we knew is ending and the new world is circumscribed, chilly and well nigh unaffordable.
Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: JedMarum
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 03:28 PM

I don't really believe the price of petrol will kill the music scene. It'll just raise the price ... I still drive long distances. It just costs me more, so I expect to earn more ...

I do see it as my responsibility, or at least my shared responsibility to get a crowd out to any club I am playing. So I am OK with setting fees based on he door. In the US most clubs have a guaranteed fee as a base, with a percentage over the minimum. That works for me. If the club earned at least that break even number, then the show is in the black and I feel like I've earned my keep - that means I'll likely be asked back too.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 04:02 PM

But your petrol costs a lot less than ours in the UK Jed. The predicted figure I quoted is about 18 dollars a gallon. Also, you might raise your price, but wallets are only able to stretch so far. Unfortunately music is not a necessity and already over here people are travelling less and cutting back on non essentials. I too work on a guarantee against a percentage but I'm sure fewer people will be coming to my gigs with fuel and food prices constantly increasing. Also cd sales are bound to fall. Hate to be a prophet of doom, but i've worked through economic cycles before and this is by far the worst one for travelling musicians since the folk revival began back in the 60's.
However, good luck over there!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 05:58 PM

"It would be nice to hear what some of you think about folk club guest lists, door charges, etc. Are you bored with predictable guest lists or a constant diet of 'big names' or would you be happy with a more mixed programme, including some unknowns, or even the odd 'frst booking'? Somebody, back in the mists of time, must have given Martin Carthy, Vin Garbutt et al their first dates. They wouldn't get a look in at some clubs now. Would you rather see people in the intimate setting of a club, or on the concert platform? Tell us - I think it's relevant to this thread, and would be helpful."

Are you bored with predictable guest lists? - Yes
Would you rather see people in the intimate setting of a club? - Yes
Would you be happy with a mixed program? - Yes
Martin Carthy, Vin Garbutt ... wouldn't get a look in at some clubs now - I wonder why


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 07:00 PM

Hi Lowden - can you provide any info about your venue which might put your £450 quotes in context? I'm not being nosey or point scoring - it's part of my job to know how these things work (specially wearing my folkWISE hat). Thanks.

And picking up on John's points that you've commented upon: I think the number of clubs that ONLY book safe big names is fairly few (less than 30? - though these perhaps do have a higher profile, for obvious reasons). I think a majority of those clubs who book do guests regularly (about 300) do go for a mixed programme, and do go out of their way to offer first bookings to new starters - sometimes using featured supports, or two-act guest nights to spread the risk and build up audience support before a first full booking. And thank goodness they do! Or none of us would ever have got off the ground. I owe my career to 201 clubs that have taken a flier on me, for which I'll remain eternally grateful, (and most of them invite me back regularly too - bless em/you all xx)!

Tom

(Incidentally, while I'm interrogating the database - of that 201, 33 have since closed - about a third of 101 clubs which I've recorded as closed since 2001, and there are about another 75 which did to book guests now but no longer do)*

*I've provided these figures in one form or another before, and it's somehow been interpreted as me demanding that clubs owe pros a living. So I'll just stress, for anyone who's determined to misunderstand my motives, that I'm merely quoting figures to help us all grope towards a sketchy understanding of the state of the UK folk nation in 2008.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Betsy
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 07:29 PM

Hi Lowden,
Martin Carthy, Vin Garbutt .??? check their gig lists - No problems there.
I think your list was a little bit "cosy", maybe you should have added,(bearing in mind the financial aspects which have been raised recently in this thread) would you pay a fiver entrance for someone you've never heard of before?.
Clubs are all different, different economic catchment areas, ideals , values etc.etc., and the ones who for example arrange a "special" at the Village Hall 'cos their club room is too small, usually manage to attract either of those two gentlemen or equivalent and also cater for other local clubs wishing to see the "bigger" names. Jeez when I first started to go our tiny folk club,we could see at least 2 times a year Barbara Dickson, Christy Moore, Maddy Prior/Tim Hart, any or all the High level Ranters, Carrott, Harding, Capstick, Finbar and Eddie Furey,Garbutt, Carthy,the Yetties,the Fettlers,Alex Campbell, Derek and Dorothy Elliot, Dave and Tony Arthur , the Matthews Brothers,Diz Dizley Martin Wyndham Read etc etc and lots of others readers will tell the same story about their formative years.
They were all fucking brilliant - not learning their skills , but honing them, and eventually a wider audience wanted to experience them.
Strangely THAT wider audience generally wouldn't be seen dead at a folk club but that's another story !.
Maybe a sad part is the highly talented young people of today /in recent years who only dipped their toes in the folk club scene, and were instantly whisked away to the Concert and Festival circuit without us truly seeing them in a folk club setting for any extended period. Our loss - their gain.what would you rather do ,(say) one £300
gig a week, or five gigs in five days x £60.
One of those obviously attracts at lot of expense of being away from home an dthe financial equation becomes in congruous.
Earning a living in Folk is in many ways the same as earning an living in any job.
It depends on how dedicated you are, family connections, how good you actually are,what lucky breaks you get,who you upset, a MUST is to be a good politician and diplomat, recognise lying bastards, ability to sell yourself, whether your face "fits" in certain circumstances but most of all , have you got that bit of "magic" which performers need - just to name but a few essential attributes.
It certainly isn't easy . If you think it's about doing 2 x 45 mins sets and picking up the money - think again - and forget it.
Must go and set my alarm clock for work tomorrow - TFIF !!!!
Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 07:52 AM

GUEST,Tom Bliss

(Incidentally, while I'm interrogating the database - of that 201, 33 have since closed - about a third of 101 clubs which I've recorded as closed since 2001, and there are about another 75 which did to book guests now but no longer do)

The bare facts aren't very informative without knowing the reasons behind them. Why did those clubs close? Loss of audience? Loss of venue? Loss of organisers? Inability to attract performers? Why did those clubs stop booking guests? Were the participants more interested in performing to each other or were the organisers scared of the financial risk of giving guarrantees to performers?

Lowden Jameswright

Are you bored with predictable guest lists? - Yes

Would you care to elaborate on that? Difficult without naming names, I know. Tom talks of long return times between bookings (we generally reckon 18 months to 2 years) so it doesn't sound as if clubs are just cycling through the same old safe names.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Blue
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 09:09 AM

Must have seen Vin Garbutt a hundred times always brilliant, never predictable.
Earns a living but never made it 'Big' except in our eyes


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 09:38 AM

Just been catching up on some good posts here; I haven't time to write much now, and I'll be out dancing all day tomrrow (Abram). So I'll pick up on a few points on Sunday. However, I'll just respond on Bryan's last comment: Lowden was responding to a question I posed a couple of posts back. There are quite a few clubs whose guest list is simply a rotation of the same 15 or so names - not necessarily all top names, but all established artists. I've heard the comment from people connected with some of these clubs, that "you don't need to know who's on - you just need to know the dates". Not just clubs either; the festival scene has been bedevilled by the same phenomenon for a long time. A lady punter I was talking to at Chester folk festival around 1980 made the comment: "we get fed up seeing the same half dozen big names all the time". When the punters get bored with it, the are likely to vote with their feet.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 10:05 AM

I know that the petrol prices are causing problems to even the 'big names', one I know leaves hours earlier to drive at the most economic speed. So I hate to think what it's doing to up and coming or less well paid acts. It's already causing big problems.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 10:19 AM

Is it out of the question that you have less guest nights and more residents ones?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: folktheatre
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 10:42 AM

Very interesting thread for a newbie interested in playing more. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Sooz
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 12:48 PM

I've been following this thread with interest and thought I'd put a club organiser's point of view.

Our folk club is primarily a singers club and we have a lot of performers amongst our regulars. Until quite recently, quite a few of these didn't come on guest nights, but we seem to have brought them round. We expect 25 - 40 in the audience for a guest night (can't fit any more in) and expect to make up the artists fee from other revenue. We keep our prices down, but pay the artist what they as for rather than a percentage. We can't book big names or bands (but we do run special nights in a different venue with these.) Our club guest nights are always with artists requested by our members and we hardly ever have the same artist twice. I would hate to see the same roster coming round year after year. I think we would lose our audience if we did that.
This way of working is hard on unknown performers - I think I've only taken a risk twice - but overall I think it is fair.
BTW as an occasionally paid performer, I admit to being one of those who only wants gigs in school holidays (but not for much longer as I retire in three weeks time!)


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Graham and Jo
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 01:28 PM

Behind an awful lot of 'professional' musicians is a boyfriend or girlfriend who has to work hard in a job to pay all the bills and who is constantly being nagged for money.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 02:23 PM

Hi Tom - the venue in question is one you've played - the George IV

Hi Betsy - I have no problems with Vin or any other top performer (I've paid to see him on many occasions, and been privileged to catch some of his unpaid impromptu spots in his local pubs). I have, over many years, also paid many times to see other top performers - and many, many repeats too. I'm well aware of the laws of supply and demand, and can accept that the likes of Vin and Martin can easily justify fees of around £450+. I was posting from a personal perspective only (and in response to a question posed by HH).

When I first started going to folk clubs I hadn't heard of any of the guest names, and didn't care. I was delighted and amazed by the quality and talent of these musicians. My record/CD collection is now dominated by names from the folk scene - I have spend God knows how much on this music I love. The "supply" of talent is growing fast, so the "demand" inevitably is affected. These top performers have inspired thousands of people to make their own music, and the demand for venues to play may have detracted from the demand for places to listen. I will never stop being a listener and a learner - but I do know there are many on the folk scene who only want to listen to themselves; I think they're sad, but I respect freedom of choice.

Some clubs do go for safety, and the endless repeats. I tend to avoid those now. Happily for me there are several places I can go and still be surprised and delighted by new names and great new talents. I'm pretty objective when it comes to assessing quality and entertainment. I'm a bit long in the tooth now to be too impressed with poise, polish and practice. It's tough out on the folk circuit and the top earners have my respect, but endless hours of practice on a limited number of songs and a well-rehearsed database of humorous and informative chat lines does bring it's rewards, both for them and their audiences.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Betsy
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 04:09 PM

To the last 6 or 7 replies James,Graham and Jo,and Sooz, Blue and H H, i have to agree with you all and would only possibly add "Mums and Dads " to G&J's reply. Blue and Lowden have said nice things about VG and Lowden bears out the human(ity) side in knowing that VG is always good for an impromptu spot in addition to the professional side of his art and I'm sure some other pro's are the same .
To all,it has been a good interesting thread ,sensitively thought out replies especially when we are giving our opinion on a subject which Tom and others are sticking the heads above there trench and giving it their best shot.
Best of luck to Tom and all travelling to their gigs , the one thing I hope which might be "driving" them is ,I don't want to get get to my old age and say to myself " I wish I had given "it" (full time performing) a go."
Good luck all.

Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,tom bliss
Date: 28 Jun 08 - 02:47 AM

ah, yes I'm at the George IV (Sheffield) this very wednesday! (and yes if I hadn't paid off my mortgage, leant myself some money, and had a supportive well-paid wife I'd never have given up the day job!) Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 28 Jun 08 - 01:14 PM

Harmonium Hero

There are quite a few clubs whose guest list is simply a rotation of the same 15 or so names - not necessarily all top names, but all established artists.

I must say that comes as something of a surprise. If you are talking about a weekly club, that's each guest appearing three times a year. Even for a monthly club that would be every year and a quarter. That's certainly not what we do nor does it fit Tom's experience.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: olddude
Date: 28 Jun 08 - 03:16 PM

Me I am working on my second million ... yup I have completely abandoned the hope of ever making my first million so why not just start at the second. And if I fail at that like I did the first ... well I am going to try for 3 million then.

sounds logical right


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: oggie
Date: 28 Jun 08 - 05:34 PM

As a perforner (in the UK), very few. As someone who has used their experience and knowledge to gain other work, a few more. Most full-time "folkies" I can think of play in several incarnations, do school's work, sessions work, produce or write music or act. Or in some cases now have a pension to provide backup (and good luck to them).

Making a living solely as a gigging musician, on their own? Vin, er?

Steve


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: JedMarum
Date: 29 Jun 08 - 12:07 PM

Sounds like I'm better off in the US. I am determined to make my entire living from performance, since that is my motivation for working in music. So I do work at playing anywhere I can, as often as I can and I hope to steadily improve the gigs over time.

I really can sing the music I love in any situation, though each situation has a different set requirements. I'd give up puns in a heartbeat, if I could - but they keep me honest, and humble! I do not make a living in only folk concert environments. And playing a mix of festival, pub and concert environments means I have to play 3 sort of separate "looks" at my music. They are not all that different to me - but I have to say, there are some songs I never play outside the pubs. I guess I try to make pub audiences hear and appreciate songs they are not expecting, and I use those times to learn about the basic qualities of a song's appeal, "how do I get this song across to a busy, packed pub?" is the sort of thing I look to learn. Because answering that helps me even more with the "listening" audiences.

Music is a tough way to make a living - but I love it and I'll find a way to keep it going. It does sound like things are easier for me here in the US, though from this thread.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: JedMarum
Date: 29 Jun 08 - 12:14 PM

oh - I chaffed a little at the comment about "folk musicians must be supported by a supportive spouse."

I have some advantages because of my wife's work - and she has some from mine. In a two income household, that is the norm. I earn about what she does and the household we support requires both incomes. If I wasn't married, and did have the second income of a spouse, I would have half the living costs too. Don't assume that because a musician has a working spouse that that means he/she is not pulling a fair share.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: JedMarum
Date: 29 Jun 08 - 12:15 PM

Damn those typos!!


I'd give up pubs in a heartbeat

is what I meant to say above ...


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Jun 08 - 12:16 PM

It also helps to be Jed Marum. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 29 Jun 08 - 01:54 PM

Well, there's a lot to comment on here, and it gets a bit complicated trying to respond to so many posts individually, so I'll keeep it more general.
Predictable guest lists: I have noticed this myself, and it is backed up by comments from others. Many clubs do book a varied list of guests, including some lesser-known performers, but there are certainly some who book only 'safe' acts. Look at a few club websites, and in quite a few cases, you will find that you know every name on the list, and in some, all of these will be in the top range. And I have been told by some clubs that they have their regular list of club favourites; you might think this fair enough, but how do they know who's likely to become a club favourite if that list is exclusive? And as for the frequency of return dates, many clubs are now only booking guests once a month, or even less frequently, so return dates are going to be at lest 15 months ahead. The frequency of return dates varies from club to club. Clubs run on many different models.
Floor singers: There have been a couple of comments about singers who don't come on guest nights, or who only want to listen to themselves. Floor singers were always an important part of the folk club, and it was always the way to get started. However, I have noticed a shift in the attitude of SOME singers in rscent times. There have, for many years, been those who would say "There should be no such thing as professional folk singers". Who says so, and on what authority? Some recent threads here have been about this attitude, and I don't wish to continue the argument here, but comments on such threads reveal a proprietorial attitude on the part of SOME amateurs, and an accusation that those involved in the professional side are 'money-driven'. They should try it. I wonder how many of these people do their jobs for washers. There is also a sneering attitude towards those who pay to listen. I have already mentioned that some clubs have stopped booking guests because they found that they were getting more people in on singers' nights, but what they don't seem to have noticed is that they were not getting more punters, just a room full of floor singers, who were not prepared to support the club on guest nights. These 'career floor singers' have thus taken over some clubs. I know from my own experience that some of them visit singarounds over a 15 -20 mile radius, and so are not faithful to any particular club.
Young Folk: One problem with the folk world in th UK (I don't know how this affects the US or elsewhere), is that we have a missing generation. So the much-needed young generation is not a direct continuation; they have come into a scene which has been changed for the worse by - amongst other things, no doubt - problems arising from this lack of continuity. Most of them didn't know the folk clubs as they were, and the performers among them are now arriving via the route of degree course~CD~'Young Folk Award' and expect to have a ready-made career in concerts and festivals, bypassing the taditional club apprenticeship. They do get bookings in the clubs, but I don't see them attending clubs in significant numbers as punters, and there don't seem to be too many running clubs themselves. So they are competing with us old 'uns for the work, but not making a significant contribution to keeping the clubs alive. Maybe - I hope! - this will improve.
Gawd! - I've just noticed the time. I've got to go and grab something to eat and then go somewhere. I'll be back!. This is a worthwhile thread, and so far has been civilised. I hold rather forthright views, and sometimes people can take me the wrong way; I hope nobody is offended by anything I've said here (as some have elsewhere!). I'm just trying to help a useful discussion along.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Andy, Port Erin, I-O-M
Date: 29 Jun 08 - 02:35 PM

It is possible to make a sort of living out of Folk music - but I doubt not from live gigs any more. Should be possible to earn from sales of CD's etc but probably best not to give up the day job! I can say for sure, be VERY careful before signing any record or publishing deal. If you do go that route take your own legal advice - do not rely on any goodwill from "inhouse" lawyers. Mudcat is littered with dire stories of a certain UK team - be warned.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: oggie
Date: 29 Jun 08 - 05:11 PM

"Most of them didn't know the folk clubs as they were, and the performers among them are now arriving via the route of degree course~CD~'Young Folk Award' and expect to have a ready-made career in concerts and festivals, bypassing the taditional club apprenticeship."

They don't know the Folk Clubs as they were because those clubs don't exist anymore. You can't do an apprenticeship in something that isn't there. Given the comments made elsewhere about the problems of getting FC gigs why go down that route?

The graduates from a degree course can expect to have £20,000 of student debt (as can any graduate). I wouldn't want to try and pay that off on folk club fees.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 08:29 AM

Harmonium Hero

Hi John. I hope you had a good weekend.

Predictable guest lists:... Many clubs do book a varied list of guests, including some lesser-known performers, but there are certainly some who book only 'safe' acts. Look at a few club websites, and in quite a few cases, you will find that you know every name on the list, and in some, all of these will be in the top range.

"some", "quite a few" yet you are putting this across as a major problem. I've had a browse and can't find any. Have a look through this - Brighton Listings for instance and from another Mudcat thread - Midway Folk Club. Scroll down for their Past Performers. There's at least one name you can't complain about.

That strikes me as more typical. Over to you to produce your evidence.

I'll come back to the difficult paragraph later.

Young Folk:

Here, I agree with you. The new wave are in their twenties and getting into their thirties with some very talented teenagers hard on their heels. A lot of us are fifty and upwards but there is a void around forty. It's probably due to the doldrums on the scene in the eighties and nineties (decades, not ages). I blame Maggie Thatcher (for most things). Not sure what there is to be done about that.

OK. Now for the difficult one.

Floor singers: .... There have, for many years, been those who would say "There should be no such thing as professional folk singers". Who says so, and on what authority?

"Who says so?" I've no idea. In 35+ years on the folk scene and around 12 on a folk club committee, I've never heard anyone say it. "On what authority?" Assuming these people do exist and they are running a folk club then, in that club, their own authority. If they are prepared to put in the work, then they have the absolute right to make whatever policy decisions they wish. Outside their club, no-one is under any obligation to take the slightest notice.

There is also a sneering attitude towards those who pay to listen.

Never in my hearing.

I have already mentioned that some clubs have stopped booking guests because they found that they were getting more people in on singers' nights, but what they don't seem to have noticed is that they were not getting more punters, just a room full of floor singers, who were not prepared to support the club on guest nights.

I'm not sure in what sense floor singers aren't punters but if people get more enjoyment from singing than from sitting in polite rows listening to someone else I don't see how you can force them. Surely it is the job of folk clubs to fulfill the perceived demand.

These 'career floor singers' have thus taken over some clubs.

Who do you see the clubs belonging to in the first place apart from those who run them and those who pay on the door?

I know from my own experience that some of them visit singarounds over a 15 -20 mile radius, and so are not faithful to any particular club.

Are you complaining that some people go to more than one club?

I'm sorry if all that comes over a bit aggressive but you have chosen to try and earn a living in an environment that you seem to consider to be totally hostile. It is not the folk scene that I know. You may well have encountered all the things you describe and your own situation may make you a little sensitive to them but do they really represent the mainstream?

Sorry I missed you at Seaford; band practice night. I've heard good reports. A pity that the Lewes Arms had a Music Hall night with no unbooked floor spots or we could have got you on. Get in touch next time you're down this way.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 10:05 AM

I wish the whole of folk club world was like the one you describe, the Snail. No-one would ever have any cause to complain about anything if it was.

As things stand, as soon as someone starts raising concerned based on their perception of how things are, you come down of them like a ton of bricks, as you have done with John Kelly. You've been similarly harsh with Tom Bliss in the past, I recall. I suspect for all your protestations to the contrary, you really don't like professional folk singers very much. Or if you do, you don't exactly advertise the fact.

I'm really glad all your experiences of the folk world have been so positive for you (having to deal sternly with whinging folksingers notwithstanding). In fact it makes me quite jealous.

Howevah, your seeming belief that your version of reality is the only tolerable one is starting to smell suspiciously like, shall we say, folk club Stalinism.

Sorry and all that.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 10:33 AM

Ewan, anyone who knows me, including the many professional folk singers I have had the honour of working with over the years will find you suspicions preposterous.

Please excuse me for speaking up for the folk scene that I commit a great deal of my time to.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Folkiedave
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 10:36 AM

Sorry I have joined this a little late and it is a subject about which I (naturally enough) have opinions.

A lady punter I was talking to at Chester folk festival around 1980 made the comment: "we get fed up seeing the same half dozen big names all the time". When the punters get bored with it, the are likely to vote with their feet.

Unfortunately this does not seem to have happened in that people have not voted with their feet. If that were true then festivals would have shrunk since the 1980's. Instead they have expanded and are expanding. Though some have closed like Cleethorpes, others have expanded and many new festival started since then. In other words she was wrong.

Dent where I was last weekend, was a total sell out with a variety of guests. Gate to Southwell - a few weeks ago massive increase in ticket sales. Shepley - a week or two before that - the same. Moniaive a week earlier total sellout. The piping competition had an entry of 72 there. Loughborough a few weeks earlier - the same. And three of them started in the last two years and the other two are five years old. And these are all different types of festivals.

Looking over the guests lists quickly the only constants seem to be Bellowhead (who appeared at two of those festivals). Bellowhead are clearly not a folk club band - but their charges reflect that they have to divide the money by 11 and their fuel costs have rocketed as well.

I have been talking to a couple of artists this past week or so and all of them have commented upon the fact that fuel costs have rocketed.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 10:50 AM

I don't doubt you're right. I certainly don't doubt your love of this music. I love it too. Just that I'm not so enamoured with the trappings.

Then again, as I don't know you, I can only respond to i) what I read of your opinions on Mudcat and ii) the manner in which you express them. It works the same the other way, too.

Please consider my opinions as an observation not an attack. And please take account of the fact that I am of the generation that didn't want your folk clubs and apparently, judging fom what you all seem to be saying about folk music skipping a generation, still, on the whole, doesn't.

Finally, to paraphrase Alex Petridis in Friday's Guardian, and I do so because I think he hits the nail right on the head: "Has there ever been a musical genre as prickly and suspicious ... as English folk? Battered by decades of public mockery, folkies ... pulled up the drawbridge and developed a fiercely protective siege mentality long ago."


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 10:51 AM

Last post a response to Snail not Folkie Dave, btw.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 11:04 AM

So the discussion is not "Earning a living in Folk" as it Earning a living in UK Folk Clubs?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Folkiedave
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 11:28 AM

ALex Petridis talks round spherical objects.

This is the genre that absorbed the diverse sounds of the Watersons, Louis Killen, Anne Briggs, Peter Bellamy, Dave Burland, Copper Family, Sam Larner, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, Seth Lakeman, Steeleye Span, Bert Jansch, Davey Graham, Gordon Hall, Shirley Collins, Christy Moore, Kate Rusby, Duncan McFarlane and Craig Morgan Robson, Boys of the Lough, Dick Miles, Bella HArdy, Mawkin, Altan, Mike McGoldrick, Last Night's Fun, Bellevue Rendezvous, Simon Mayor and Hillary James, Salsa Celtica, Lau, Bellowhead, Chumbawamba, Tim Edey, Mike Harding, Eddie and Finbar Fury, Vin Garbutt, etc. etc. etc.

Clearly a load of closed minds and only liking the same thing.

What a shame people can't get rid of the stereotypes they have, and get out more.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 11:36 AM

I list what I call 'Big Name' folk clubs separately in my database. These are the people who have explained that they only book acts who are 100% guaranteed to fill their venue (how many acts would that be, I wonder)? I only trouble these 'clubs' (actually these are more like promoters than clubs, though they still have some elements of clubbery, such as a a committee maybe and perhaps a raffle) once in a while, to check that I'm still not big enough yet :-) There are - as I said earlier - fewer then 30 in this category in my personal database. As to the charge that some clubs stick with guests they know and like - well, it's their club and that's their very reasonable choice - so I don't complain about it. Sometimes it works in my favour if they like me, sometimes not if they haven't tried me yet, but when not there are usually ways in via the back door if you try hard enough. I have heard people suggest that in a small and shrinking 'market,' clubs effectively 'occupy' their territory, because if a rival club starts nearby they might both fail through splitting the available audience. The thinking goes that therefore clubs could be said to have a responsibility to try to represent the tastes of the wider 'folk market' in their patch, rather than just the preferences of the committee or members. But I'm not convinced this is sound thinking in business terms. That said, many clubs do tell me they feel they do have some responsibility in terms of bringing on new acts, offering a spread of styles, trying to interest younger punters etc - and many work INCREDIBLY hard at this aspect - and often loose money as a result. So fair play to them as well.

As for John's suggestion that there are people who resent there being such an animal as a professional folk musician - he is undoubtedly right. There have been dozens of threads on this very forum (no, I'm not going to go looking for them, I'm supposed to be writing a song about a lady from Bristol) where that view has been expressed at length and with some vehemence, and there is a strong undercurrent that is easily discernible in many, many posts - on all manner of topics.

This has caused me more disappointment than anything else I've encountered in the folk world over the past 10 years, and I'm at a loss to explain it. It's all too easy to write it off as inverse snobbery or sour grapes, but it seems to go much deeper than that - into what people believe folk music actually IS. But if so, then that belief is at odds with my own best understanding of where it all came from, and how it got to be where it is today. I feel passionately - though instinctively - that somehow some massive misunderstadings have arrisen about the tradition and its relationship with the rest of society.

If this was cleared up, I think a lot of other things which are currently dysfunctional would start to work much better.

Apologies if I'm rambling. I played in Leigh on Sea AND Derbyshire, yesterday and was up before 6 this morning.

Now...

"In Bristol lived a Lady, long past seventeen
Courted she was by many but no wedding had she seen
For with her famous fortune, no lover would she trust
To covet her just for beauty and all suitors she rebuffed..."

(Yes it's a new variant on the Discharged Drummer - but with an actual STORY)!

So shoot me :-)

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 12:10 PM

Bother

Before I'm jumped on again I'll stress (golly it's tedious having to second guess everything you write here!)...

In confirming that there are a lot of people who think there should be no such thing an PFMs I'm not saying they should not do so. They can think what they like, and if every one did and we died out as a breed so be it. We are all entitled to our opinions and to act accordingly. I have no beef with people who would like us to quietly disappear, but are nice about it, and who's opinions are based on solid facts. The two strands that I would like to unravel, if possible, are a) the underlying resentment we witness over this topic, (and the damaging unpleasantness which occasionally seeps out onto the public face of folk music as a result), together with b) a steady correction of any misconceptions that may have arisen in the past about the tradition and the revival - for example, about the actual role and influence of trade players and writers etc. from the distant past to just yesterday.

Now, hmm

If I my hero is a 'tyro proud and gay' will people get the wrong idea, and misconstrue his motives re courting the rich lady from Bristol, I wonder?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Ewan Spawned a Monster
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 12:15 PM

Fair point, Folkie Dave - in a way.

Although it's actually quite a narrow list: traditional singers; singers of traditional songs, a few "folk club approved" singer songwriters and a couple of folk rock bands. Not entirely complaining, though: I'm hugely enthusiastic about some of the names you've listed.

The festival and concert scene side of the folk world is indeed far more open minded than the UK folk world as manifested, for example, on Mudcat could ever be. It also doesn't bear much resemblence to the folk clubs I've had the misfortune to attend, but that's probably another discussion (though not entirely unrelated to the one that John Kelly was trying to initiate before the Snail put him in detention).

Here's another list: Jackie Oates, Jim Causley, Jon Loomes, Spiers and Boden, the Askew Sisters, Bella Hardy, James Raynard, Mawkin, Ruth Notman, John Dipper. Off the top of my head. All excellent singers and players from the younger generations of folk performers. Not a one of them has played at any of the folk clubs in the major city where I live, as far as I know.

We've had Rachel Unthank and we've had Bellowhead and we've had 'em at non-folk venues. This, I think, is on reflection probably for the best. Non folk club types like me are more likely to attend.

It could be argued that the answer is for me to start a better club than those around me. This is the standard answer, after all. I can't due to not having time, what with the full time job, the young kids and the pre-existing extra-curricular commitments. This doesn't mean I shouldn't have an opinion though, nor does the fact that I'm one of those 40somethings who allegedly destroyed folk by not going to folk clubs in the 80s. Well, I did go to one...

But that's another story.

In summary, Alex Petradis's comments do reflect how it often feels to those of us who are on the outside, faces squashed against the glass, looking in. A bit like interlopers in a world that isn't theirs. And maybe that's one of the reasons why there's not enough guest-based clubs to sustain the careers of more than just a few professional folk singers, and to go back to the point of the thread, its so hard for them to earn a living. As Tom Bliss has said, nationally, there simply aren't enough decent guest nights to go around. And we can't keep citing the same handful of examples that buck the trend in an attempt to keep our heads valiantly buried in the sand.

Certainly, if there was a club locally regularly booking quality guests I would make a point of attending. As things stand, I've all; but given up, because those of us who "just want to listen" are second class citizens compared with those who enjoy the celebratory love-in that is participatory folk. And whilst there's nothing wrong with that, per se, can you see why us "punters" wouldn't want to stand on the periphery watching your private party?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 12:48 PM

ESAM....where are you based?

By the way, not all 40 somethings hate folk clubs.....I run one, very much concert based. We have had on in the last year:

Duncan McFarlane Electric Band
Rod Baxter
Wendy Arrowsmith
Brother crow
Anna Shannon
Keepers Fold
2 Black Sheep & A Stallion
Jez Lowe
Stan Graham
Pillowfish
Zoox
Zeke Deighton
Diad
Acoustica
Chris Milner
Hamish Currie
Tony Levy
Hall Bros
Hut People
Young uns
Tom Bliss + Robin Bailey + Franana
Gerry McNiece + Bill Lloyd
Jeff Warner + Kathryn Davidson & Dan Walsh + Tinkercuss
John Conolly + Doghouse Roses
Richard Grainger + Nick Brooker + Joolz Cavell
Kim Guy
Ian McKone
Bill Evans & Megan Lloyd (American Bluegrass legends)

+ a couple I've forgotten!

Booked:
Roger Davies + Blind Summat
Dave Gibb + Sue & Dave Swales + Pearson Clan
Brother Crow
Vicky Swan & Johnny Dyer

.........and I have 2 w/e events on hold (due to venue challenges) with a host of other well known and not so well known acts.

I also have 2 young children, a full time job and lots of other stuff going on. But some things are too important not to do!

Having said that, I think you are quite right to state your opinion about what you want from a venue.....someone might pick up on it and make it a reality.

Looking at your list of "youngsters" you would like to see booked in your town.....I would have trouble booking most of them as their fee expectations would probably outstrip their "pull" with the local folk community. I don't mean to slag them off by saying this (good luck to them, honestly) it's just a reality I have to face. They are really in the "festival" price bracket as far as I can see.

Cheers

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 01:04 PM

it is interesting to read about earning a living in music in the UK.

What i want to know is:

1) Is smoking allowed in folk clubs?
2) Are the people making a living connected to the popular music field?
3) Are audiences sophisticated enough to amass a support?
4) Is there any educational conduit through which the uninitiated public can
learn to appreciate folk music?

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 01:07 PM

I would have trouble booking most of them as their fee expectations would probably outstrip their "pull" with the local folk community

Please, please, please let me get what I want... to quote, erm, Morrissey (sorry!). Maybe I just have unrealistic expectations.

I also know that I've (from a distance) followed the progress of your club and if I lived closer would be there like a shot. You've certainly put on enough stuff that interests me! However, what with keepin' it local, sustainable livin' and all that, you're a bit far for me unless it can be combined with a couple of days away in the old campervan and sold to la famile as a bit of an 'oliday...

I also know that there aren't any folk clubs to compare with yours (or Subcomandante Snail's for that matter) in my locality. Gawd knows I've looked.

I also suspect you might be a man of superhuman energy levels. Or conversely (and apologies here to Brian) I might be merely half-man half-slug.

Anyway it must be true: our generation really did ruin folk for everyone. We went off inventing punk and listening to reggae and so on, finally limping sheepishly back to the folk fold in later life, only to find a bunch of the true believers blocking the door, merschaum pipes gritted, tankards in full throttle 'fight' mode, beards all wet with slobber and a-jut, saying "don't you think you're getting in here now..."

Note to the concerned: that last paragraph deeply exaggerates my position for 'comic' effect.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 01:23 PM

ESAM.........I'm working on ways to get some Punk & Reggae on at the club without anyone noticing........We also demand that beards are shaved and tankards left at the door prior to entry. We have also recently begun searching anyone wanting to get in for copies of the "1954" definition, as we find it upsets normal people who thought they knew what "folk" was. We also have a sense of humour..........

I think I might have worked out who you are now..... I thought you were leaving this mad Mudcat world? No? I must be mistaken.

It is very pretty around here.......I'm sure you could find enough going on to keep the rest of the family happy for a weekend........ still nothing happening now until September clubwise.


"superhuman energy levels" ......hardly, I do have a low boredom threshold though!

Meanwhile, making a living in folk music.......tough to do in the clubs, you really need to make it up to the next rung of the ladder (see ESAM's "youngsters" list) i.e. main stages at festivals and arts centres, discuss!


Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 02:01 PM

"To No Fixed Abode:-

Are you actually going to do all that :-

"Ag-a- doo-doo -doo , wave your knickers in the air" stuff.

Have plenty of Johnny Cash up your sleeve!"


What a world of contempt some people live in! For Black Lace, on whose sessions the cream of Yorkshire's musicians played - folk and otherwise. Some of the people regularly genuflected to, on Mudcat.

And Johnny Cash. snce his death, known to aficionados as John Cash. Money for the toilet, rather than contraceptives. Easy to remember.

Try and remember though before sneering your way to an early slip jig - more English people related way with a song - songwriting and performing than man Martin, Vin, etc.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 02:04 PM

Should read:-

Try and remember though before sneering your way to an early slip jig - more English people related way his way with a song - songwriting and performing than Martin, Vin, etc.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 02:11 PM

If we're going into a Supporting Yoof competition, can I boast that we gave Jon Boden, The Askew Sisters and Lisa Knapp their first ever bookings. We had Carly Blain just after Christmas as part of her award as a New Roots competition winner and The Park Bench Social Club, with Peter Tickell substituting for Ross Couper, earlier this year. We've got Sam Lee sometime next year.

As for Ewan's city not being able to support any decent folk clubs, Lewes (pop. 16,000) has the Lewes Arms Folk Club and the Royal Oak about 100yds apart, both thriving as weekly clubs. When Bellowhead played the Town Hall on the same night as we had Martin Carthy in April, both shows sold out.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 02:24 PM

It's not about the size of the conurbation but the will to make something happen, publicity and a group of like minded people. Oh, and finding a viable venue and a big slice of luck.

............Kirkby Fleetham has a population of 250!

We specialise in importing audiences from elsewhere though.....B & B with the the club regulars anyone? Plenty of van space too.

Snail, I salute your promotion of youth.....do you have many youngsters (under 45 (well I am 43!)) as audience? We are starting to get a few but I'm looking for tips to attract more.

Top "youngster" tip for today.....Kathryn Davidson & Dan Walsh, stunning singing from Kat and virtuoso banjo and guitar playing from Dan......they are on at Broadstairs Folk Week if you are going, definitely worth catching. Still on KFFC Myspace as well if you want a listen.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,No Fixed Abode
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 02:45 PM

Having now "done" the two caravan parks I can report that we did not need to resort to "ag a do" in fact the reception we got to our songs surprised and has inspired us.
We have two more caravan parks to perform at this coming weekend and if they go as well as last weekends gigs we will be more than happy.
Why do we feel like the kid who has been told nasty stories about the big bad world outside the safe folk house only to find that mommy and daddy were telling us lies?

WLD thanks for the support……those nasty people who go to caravan parks actually turned out to be receptive, fun and they even bought cd's by the 10's

We are sorry to disappoint but all we can say is normal people love folk music…perhaps we are doing it wrong?

Una and Tony


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 02:47 PM

The situation in Lewes is all very well, Snail, and if I lived there I'd doubtless be stuck to the Lewes Arms like a limpet, but the fact is I don't live there.

I have to contend with the reality of my own neck of the woods. Can you not accept at least that my reality is as valid as yours? I know we should all constantly be painting a rosy picture to persuade the outside world into believing that all is well on the chance that some of them may venture in, but to be honest, I think we'd be better off painting some of those grimy back rooms.

(Incidently, my partner did get offered a job in Brighton a few years ago, but as we were just back from a year and a half blowing our savings on a round the world trip, we couldn't afford the deposit for a flat - bloomin' extortionate, it was - and had to limp back to the relatively affordable north, tails bitwixt our legs. Not strictly relevant...).


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Folkiedave
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 03:06 PM

Fair point, Folkie Dave - in a way.

Although it's actually quite a narrow list: traditional singers; singers of traditional songs, a few "folk club approved" singer songwriters and a couple of folk rock bands. Not entirely complaining, though: I'm hugely enthusiastic about some of the names you've listed.

So how much broader could it have been? Who in the broad genre of folk is an example which I have not listed?

It was not my intention to do a list of folk singers you and I might like - but to point out that those names have hugely different styles and repertoires. So to accuse "folk" of having a narrow viewpoint is simply round spherical objects. It isn't the first time Alex Petridis has propagated this view in the Guardian - though it looks as if he hasn't been out since the last time he wrote it.

The festival and concert scene side of the folk world is indeed far more open minded than the UK folk world as manifested, for example, on Mudcat could ever be.

Hang on a bit - I belong to both (and folk clubs as well) - where the hell do I and many like me fit in? At Warwick Festival a couple of years ago I compiled a mudcat attenders list that was about two pages long. This weekend at Dent it was a page long - though that did inlcude three from one family!! Most people do at least two out of three as far as I can see.

Here's another list: Jackie Oates, Jim Causley, Jon Loomes, Spiers and Boden, the Askew Sisters, Bella Hardy, James Raynard, Mawkin, Ruth Notman, John Dipper. Off the top of my head. All excellent singers and players from the younger generations of folk performers. Not a one of them has played at any of the folk clubs in the major city where I live, as far as I know.

I live in Sheffield which is a hot bed of folk though not folk clubs, most of which apart from one tend to be on the lesser or greater outskirts. But in the last week I have seen Craig Morgan Robson - this week I shall see Tom Bliss and Martyn Wyndham-Read. I was at Dent Festival this weekend. Both Jackie Oates and the Askew Sisters have been to a local pub to play - the idea that their fees were high for the Rivelin which is really a singaround club with occasional guests is ludicrous.

Mawkin now appear as a five piece with Jim Causely,how much do you think they should be paid? James Raynard no longer sings, Jon Boden is on at the singaround club in Sheffield Town Centre with his partner Fay Hield next week. I doubt Ruth Notman has done much in the way of folk clubs much anway but she seems to have a full gig list. John Dipper spends more time teaching and doing things "violin" than anything - he also plays with the Methera String Quartet. Unlikely to come cheap at a club.

It could be argued that the answer is for me to start a better club than those around me.

That depends whether you have a load of money to start one up. I have been to some really poorly run clubs run by enthusiasts and have been to some great ones run by people who know little about folk. I know people who do similar things to you full time and run large scale festivals.

A better idea is not to go down that road.

In summary, Alex Petradis's comments do reflect how it often feels to those of us who are on the outside, faces squashed against the glass, looking in.

In summary Alex Petradis has a view point of folk music which in no way relects the reality as I see it. Whether you want to agree with him is up to you. I happen to believe the future of the folk club is with either small sing-around clubs into which people build up a fund to pay an artist - or concert style clubs.

When I go to festivals I see lots of good quality artists, and there are a variety of festivals to suit all tastes and pockets. I see loads of young people of all ages at most and even more at some festivals (last weekend in Dent was virtually all families as far as I could see!)

A bit like interlopers in a world that isn't theirs.

That applies to all things - golf clubs - classical music etc etc.....

And maybe that's one of the reasons why there's not enough guest-based clubs to sustain the careers of more than just a few professional folk singers, and to go back to the point of the thread, its so hard for them to earn a living.

As Tom Bliss has said, nationally, there simply aren't enough decent guest nights to go around. And we can't keep citing the same handful of examples that buck the trend in an attempt to keep our heads valiantly buried in the sand.

The folk scene is as it is - not how you or I would like it to be.

And whilst there's nothing wrong with that, per se, can you see why us "punters" wouldn't want to stand on the periphery watching your private party?The festival and concert scene side of the folk world is indeed far more open minded than the UK folk world as manifested, for example, on Mudcat could ever be.

I see them much as the same people.

One thing for certain it would be interesting to see how much folk music Alex Petradis actually goes to. Very little as far as I can see.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 03:17 PM

Banjiman

It's not about the size of the conurbation but the will to make something happen, publicity and a group of like minded people. Oh, and finding a viable venue and a big slice of luck.

Indeed it is, but there are some people who don't seem to realise that. I'm surprised that, let's call it Mudcaster, can't come up with the necessary.

...do you have many youngsters (under 45 (well I am 43!)) as audience? We are starting to get a few but I'm looking for tips to attract more.

Alas, no. I forgot to mention local heroes Too Many Strings (booked twice) who brought in a younger following but they did not return.

It could be that the days of folk clubs are passing. After all, they are a product of the revival not of ancient tradition. Perhaps today's yoof will find their own way. For me, the intimacy and immediacy of a small venue offers a magic that the concert (which has its own appeal) can't match. Maybe it's something that only appeals to the middle-aged. Of course, the yoof will be middle-aged one day. I hope I'm still around to see what happens.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 03:26 PM

For the sake of accuracy and understanding, I think it's important that everyone should be aware that the Lewes Arms is actually an extremely unusual club - of a type of which there are only a handful in England, and with a number of other unique features too. The majority of artists who play there (for no guarantee, just door take) also conduct a well-paid workshop on the same day, which does have a significant impact on the whole deal. The workshops are very well established and very well respected and attended, and although there are other clubs in England who do this, I suspect the Lewes Arms is at the forefront in terms of numbers, and perhaps reputation. This makes it something of a UK hub - and sets it well apart from the other 95% of clubs in England. Also, there are TWO very successful clubs in Lewes, making the town something of a local hot-spot as well. That puts the Lewes Arms into a unique position - or very rare anyway. I understand that both clubs have been going for a long time - since the days when having two clubs in one town was quite common. This survival is down to the skill, hard work and dedication of both club teams (specially Vic and Valmai, who make the key decisions), both of whom know exactly what they are doing.

They also benefit each other with a synergy in marketing and promotion - which is again not unique, but unusual.

There IS a lot that other clubs can learn from the Lewes situation, but only if the full story is understood and taken into consideration - because without that understanding we could get a lopsided view of what might work or not in a 21st Century club. For example it's probably unlikely that setting up a new club today, next to an existing long-standing club, would produce a similar result, though I guess it might work (and even work very well) if there was co-operation between the teams, and a clearly defined strategy - going for different markets and/or putting on different types of event, for example.

Certainly many clubs promote their friend/rival clubs in their newsletters (Roland Walls' York club is a superb example) and ideas for twinning clubs in various ways have been raised in various places too.

By the way - if you run a club and would like to join the closed Folk Club Organisers forum, please mail:

folkclubs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

but you MUST say who you are, which club or venue you're involved with, and why you'd like to join up. I can't go letting any old riff-raff in, now can I! :-)

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 03:47 PM

Ruth and Amy Notman and their mother have been stalwart supporters of the folkscene, like for ages round here. Yes they have been in folk clubs! Grrrr! be nice to people!

Tony - you disappoint me. No Agadoo! Like the rest of the folkscene you are going to leave these old folksongs just to the ordinary folk. That can't be right.

That is no way for qualify for an honorary degree in Folk Music and Moral Superiority.

The reason of course that the combined might of the middle classes can't get the folkscene out of the shit is that no one is capable of producing a song a tenth as catchy as Agadoo. The last time I saw people literally queuing round the block to get in a folk club was when Jasper Carrot was doing a gig the week Funky Moped was at number One.

Part of the reason folkclubs in the 1960's were so popular was that there were people like Dylan, Jansch, Donovan, the Spinners, the Corries etc. were producing memorable and commercially successful music. Joe Public felt that they were in touch with folkmusic. If you could get your collective heads above the idea that the tradition (good or bad) has to be protected and concentrate on finding the talent that would entertain your audiences - perhaps there would be interstices for more esoteric artists to work in.

A great starting place would be Una Walsh's voice in No Fixed Abode. Possibly technically the best voice on the folkscene. I've seen that voice unaccompanied stop a noisy pub full of drinkers dead in their tracks. And then get a standing ovation. No need for Agadoo - or any pandering to public foolishness. Carthy or Garbutt couldn't do that.

Why ain't they playing your club? Could it be your guestlist is a bit well....predictable!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 03:52 PM

Ewan Spawned a Monster

Can you not accept at least that my reality is as valid as yours?

Certainly as long as you can return the favour without accusing me of "folk Stalinism" simply for relating my own experience. It would help if you didn't condemn the entire "UK folk world" on the basis of your dismal experiences in Mudcaster.

As a matter of interest, are you saying that there are no folk clubs in Mudcaster or that the ones that there are are crap? If it's the latter, it's not surprising that you don't want to identify it.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 04:00 PM

Erm, I'm not Alex Petradis, Dave. Merely quoting him.

His words struck a recognisable chord with me that yours, for example, don't particularly. Instead I see the same old knee jerk defensiveness that Petradis points out. Which is a shame, because I suspect we agree on far more than we disagree on.

In any case, I don't think folk has a narrow viewpoint in terms of styles that can be taken on board by the folk club scene: in fact there's an argument that any old bollocks can be accepted as long as it has come up through the folk clubs (and some stuff that hasn't will sometimes get grudgingly accepted when people have no choice but to acknowledge that it is after all very good - like some of those young Newcastle graduates who some UK Mudcatters seem to think haven't paid their dues because they haven't spent four decades touting their wares round the backrooms of grimy pubs). I think - and this was the point Petradis was making - that the rot sets in when the wider world starts to take notice - hence the virulant attacks on forums like Mudcat that people like Kate Rusby, Rachel Unthank and Seth Lakeman have been subject to, that you yourself have rightly condemned: often these attacks are not about the pros and cons of the music but a simple case of shooting anyone with the audacity to stick their head over the parapet. But with the folk club world being as it is, these people need to stick their necks out because it seems there's not enough in folk world to sustain them. I suspect that's equally true for a lot of musicians who have yet to scale the dizzy (and in some quarters apparently unforgivable) heights of having names some members of the general public might recognise.

My generation largely turned its back on folk music and particularly folk clubs. Some of us have come back to folk music but much fewer to folk clubs. Why is that? Do you think its inevitably because there's something wrong with us? Or do you think it's largely because that's not where we find what we want? That we might actually prefer festivals, concerts and sometimes (as long as its a spade calling itself a spade) informal singarounds? And how come so many of the performers in the generation down from mine are happy to play festivals and concerts, but at best and with a few clubs as notable exceptions, largely ambivalent about folk clubs? That was the point I was making with my list... if there was a healthy club scene surely a fair few of the people on my list would be gigging at these clubs several nights a week? Its all very well to tell me that that you can have a better time than me over in Sheffield (I'm happy for you, I really am) but that still doesn't alter the reality of what its like where I live. Fancy a house swap for a month? Didn't think so...

Finally, I'm a bit disappointed that you take such a "whatever" attitude to the fact that some of us who love and support this music feel like outsiders to the folk club world. If the folk club world is analogeous to golf clubs, we have gone a very long way down a wrong turning, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not happy with the idea of it being ok that this music remains the preserve of cosy, inward looking elites. At best it's far, far too good for that.

I'd like to be able to persuade my friends to listen to folk music without them dismissing it out of hand before they've even heard it because of what they believe about its image. My contention is that though the media may have given that image a helping hand, the folk scene created it and perpetuates it for themselves.

At least you, Dave, are disc jockeying folk to an audience that might sometimes contain non-folkies. That's a good thing.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 04:11 PM

The problem is of course that this music comes from grimey pubs.

Extract the grime, or try and bypass it in some phoney way - and something is quite identifiably missing.

You will have your supporters in the music industry. But I warn you - from thirty years experience - they aren't really very nice people in the music industry. Martin Carthy in a recent interview accused them of 'acting like pack animals' - and for once I agree with the great man.

The only nice thing about the music business is the music.

still I bet you look good on the dancefloor.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 04:18 PM

Erm... Where's Mudcaster?

Snail, I'm not identifying the town I'm from or the clubs I'm talking about on a public forum, because the people I've met who run them are decent enough people and I wouldn't want to publically humilate them. Let's just say what they believe is a good thing is to my way of thinking a pretty miserable, dismal thing. I believe I could travel to other towns in the region for slightly better clubs, but lets face it, I wouldn't do that for rock or jazz or cinema or theatre, so why for folk? Are we saying it's such a specialist genre that I have to drive twenty to forty miles to listen to it in a halfway decent club? The last truly decent club I went to (though the venue that housed it was a bit bobbins) was an hour and a quarter's drive away. Now there may be something else ok that's closer, but an hour and a quarter's drive there and an hour and a quarter's drive back really is too much. On a school night too.

Meanwhile, Snail I absolutely accept your version of reality being right for you. What I don't accept is that you seem to think we're all bonkers for saying "It's not like that where we come from".

Having said that, "Folk Stalinism" was a little harsh. So I will withdraw the term with a small but perfectly formed apology and retire to my withdrawing room to come up with a more apt turn of phrase.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 04:23 PM

Hmmm. WLD. There's grimy pubs and then there's grimy pubs though, aren't there?

For the record, as far as I know I have no friends in the music industry.

Unless you count musicians who also have to do waitering and bum wiping and guitar lessons and so forth to pay the rent.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 04:54 PM

Its a personal choice if you wipe bums rather than set to work finding out some place you can play music for a living. For some people that's the right choice.

But you don't become a folksinger in a vacuum. Even people who seem artless and ethnic generally have some sort of feel for the audience. And you develop that in front of sentient beings. Call it performance skills, or what you will.

But these songs gain their power from an audiece following the story or identifying with the feeling in the lyric. One of the most overlooked skills is the way a good folksinger will punctuate the lyric thoughtfully.

you can learn some of these sklll singing Engelbert Humperdink songs in a pub. you won't learn them at home wiping bums.

Similarly - folksingers frequently dismay me with the dumbass things they say about recording and PA settings. Then you see these same people whingeing and making faces as though the PA man is a fool when they don't realise they are standing half a mile from a unidirectional microphone - the sound man turns the volume up trying to get some of their offering to the audience and the whole system starts feeding back. Instead of gettting out and finding out practical knowledge for themselves, they read some trash in a magazine about the way Martin or Ry Cooder sets up his guitar.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: oggie
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 05:39 PM

In my non-folkie life I am a craftworker, I cut wood into shapes. I am also (like the folk world) one of a small number who does it full time and earn my living from it. I do it the same way as full-time folk professionals do it, I follow the money. I have a permanent pitch in York where I cut kid's names. I can do a lot more than that, in fact I get offered lots of other work. Bottom line is I do that because I can earn a living doing it.

Now I would love to take my high value stuff round festivals and boutique craft fairs, I don't baecause I can't earn a living that way, cutting names ona street in York I can.

I am also (like professional folk musicians) good at what I do, I have a fund of stories to keep my queue happy and I have my public persona (which has taken a lot of years to perfect).

How does this apply to making a living out of folk? It's the same set of skills and the same hard headed realism. The money's in Haven Holiday Camps? Good luck to you and well done for finding an opening! Old Peoples Homes, school's workshops? Ditto. No one is owed a living and being a freelance anything is hard work and those who make it succeed deserve their wages.

If the clubs can't afford what they need to make a wage then either they have to find other venues or they cease to make their living from the clubs. If they can do that, then again I say good luck to them. They'll have done the work and found a way that works for them but please don't whinge and say "our club can't afford them" the truth is also that they may not be able to afford your club! (Any club organisers here make a living out of their club? Of course not, you don't have to, it's not your living)

Steve


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Muswell Hillbilly
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 05:46 PM

Does't Nigel 'hurdy-gurdy' Eaton have a Daytime Job ?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 05:51 PM

Oggie,

I'm certainly not complaining that we can't afford certain acts....as I say above, good luck to them. If they have found a way to make it pay then all due respect. I'm merely facing a reality that we can't put on everyone that people would like to see.....the maths don't add up.

If folk club organisers tried to make a living out of their folk clubs, there would be no money for the acts!

Cheers

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: oggie
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 06:06 PM

Paul

I wasn't having a go at you or any other organiser (been there, done that, got the T-shirt). As you say "the maths don't add up", it cuts both ways.

Be well and good luck

Steve


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 07:50 PM

Ewan Spawned a Monster

Erm... Where's Mudcaster?

Mudcaster is a fictional conurbation of my own invention intended to stand in as a humorous substitute for your own anonymous home metropolis.
Mudcaster - Mudcaters. Geddit?

If the folk club organisers in Mudcaster are decent folk, why not approach them with some useful suggestions? Recommendations of people you'd like them to book could hardly cause offence. I'm sure they'd be grateful for the benefit of your wisdom. On the other hand, they might say "Are you that Ewan Spawned a Monster wot's been slagging us off on Mudcat? Get stuffed."

If they are still in business, it suggests that they are attracting audiences. Everyone's out of step except you?

What I don't accept is that you seem to think we're all bonkers for saying "It's not like that where we come from".

Since you know perfectly well I've never said anything of the sort, you don't need to accept it. Unlike you, John Kelly and Tom Bliss do get out and about in the country. They have both made some sweeping, damning and unsupported statements about the folk scene that I felt obliged to challenge. From what I have heard, both are excellent performers but I can't help feeling that some of the opinions they express are damaging to their own interests. Fortunately, I know of no other professional performers (and in my time, I have met a great many) who have expressed similar views.

Thank you for your "small but perfectly formed apology". Would you like to acknowledge my right to reply to attacks made on the whole folk club scene made on an open forum?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 08:17 PM

" From what I have heard, both are excellent performers but I can't help feeling that some of the opinions they express are damaging to their own interests."

Both men offer sincere and coherent opinions about a subject they care deeply about, have given a large part of their lives to, and have earned the right by dint of sheer creative effort to speak their mind.

If you dismiss what people like this have to say on the grounds that it is tactless. You are missing a trick. In fact the bloody movement has missed so many tricks - its a wonder it exists at all!

At what point can they speak their mind - there won't be any point after they've retired. To refuse to book Tom or John because they've had the temerity to mention on mudcat that they need and deserve a few breaks - well its like not playing having Georgie Best in your team cos he had long hair. Its that stupid.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Folkiedave
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 08:45 PM

I lost the first part of my reply and it is getting late - I'll come back to that tomorrow.

I'm not happy with the idea of it being ok that this music remains the preserve of cosy, inward looking elites. At best it's far, far too good for that.

Neither am I - my point is that it isn't the preserve of a cosy inward looking elite. If it was then the numbers of festivals would not have grown over the last ten years and the number of people attending them would not have grown either. If it was the preserve etc.....then there would not be loads of people buying melodeons (rarely seen in the sixties); more fiddle players than you can shake a stick at; two brass players in a sesssion this weekend and a large mix of other instruments. Bass clarinet x two at one festival I was at. Anyone see this in the sixties? I doubt it.

How come the number of festivals keeps growing - and that many of them have large percentage rises in numbers - where are these people coming from? Clearly this cosy inward looking elite are not being very succesful at keeping things to themselves.

I'd like to be able to persuade my friends to listen to folk music without them dismissing it out of hand before they've even heard it because of what they believe about its image. My contention is that though the media may have given that image a helping hand, the folk scene created it and perpetuates it for themselves.

You do actually say it all there. They dismiss it even though they have never heard it. The folk scene does not give out this message the media do - they are wrong generally since so few of them know what they are talking about. And it is why I spend so long contradicting them whenever I get the chance.

At least you, Dave, are disc jockeying folk to an audience that might sometimes contain non-folkies. That's a good thing.

Thank you and that is true in part. But I am lucky someone gives me two hours a week to play music I love. Occasionally others seem to like it too. And for that I am grateful. This coming Friday I shall be looking at the Anniversary of the Radio Ballads.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jun 08 - 11:11 PM

yeh, really sets your mind on fire......


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:29 AM

So to recapitulate:-

1) no we aren't a cosy inward looking gang of bores

2) there are unfortunately no positions vacant at the moment. The jobs where audiences fall about at your quaint Geordie accent, and the other one where audiences listen patiently to your long convoluted and odd sounding folk ballads are filled quite competently already. No we arn't looking for a replacement.

3)As you find non folk audiences a bit stupid (Agado-do-do!) and the places they congregate rather grimy - looks like its back to the arse wiping!

PS the slots on the radio station are filled this year - its forty years since the Radio Ballads, and frankly you're probably some hairy arsed meember of the lower classes - you wouldn't know about these things, and anyway you wouldn't be comfortable amongst people who so obviously are your superior - mentally, spiritually, aesthetically and intellectually.

Real ale anyone.....


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:32 AM

"They have both made some sweeping, damning and unsupported statements about the folk scene that I felt obliged to challenge. From what I have heard, both are excellent performers but I can't help feeling that some of the opinions they express are damaging to their own interests. Fortunately, I know of no other professional performers (and in my time, I have met a great many) who have expressed similar views."

My views are indeed sweeping - because I've been actively trying to get a handle on the national situation in folk clubs, as part of a larger effort which, if successful, might eventually provide some benefits to the whole movement. My comments have not been damning, though (perhaps they might feel so to a few if they touched a raw nerve, in which case my apologies, but maybe it needed saying). They have been balanced, I hope - but forthright. And they are not unsupported - they are based on observations and discussions with club organisers and other touring artists over a number of years (many of whom, in both camps, have been desperately worried for the future of the club scene). I'm not sure who is a stronger position to do this. There are those who've been on the scene longer, but I'm hoping that my fresh eyes are helping me to see the actual situation today more clearly - and that my years in corporate communications and consultancy may bring a few insights as well.

That said, at the end of the day they are just my opinions, though I do try to express them tactfully and a non-confrontational manner.

I have only occasionally encountered serious 'silo mentality' among organisers. Most people are keen (even desperate if they have problems) to share and learn and build. The vast majority are brilliant at what they do - fantastic people who I really admire and who I'm proud to call friends. The only real problems occur when people believe that what happens in their patch is universal, and so judge other situations from a flawed standpoint. This can be very damaging - specially if they have closed minds, and/or are uncomfortable about 'constructive feedback.'

I am aware that it looks like I'm biting the hand that feeds me - but I'm not getting lots of stick from my club-running chums. I don't see my bookings going down, and if they do - well, unlike some, I'm not intending to tour for the rest of my life, so I can probably take the hit better than some of my mates, who are very reasonably nervous about upsetting ANY potential booker. Many have also got used to things which if they encountered them fresh might give them pause for thought.

I'm also aware that there is sometimes a big gap between what touring artists think privately, and what they're prepared to say at the supper table after the gig. We are house guests as well as club guests, and I realised early on in my career that not only was the folk scene a silo, but that there were silos within it - and there was little going on to break down those walls.

Honest, open talking is a good thing. Criticism (tactfully put, hopefully) is to be welcomed (that goes for artists too - I wish I had more feedback from those who DON'T like what I do)! Change is not to be feared, and we can all learn from each other.

I think we should all listen to Ewan. It may be too late for his generation (sorry Ewan), but his views are honestly put, and though he presents the club movement with a big challenge his speaks for a large groups of potential audients and participators (and organisers) out there. If there's any way to bring him inside the glass, or better still take out the pane, well - it's worth a go.

Isn't it?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:43 AM

Thanks Tom. I really appreciate what you've just written.

ESAM


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 03:02 AM

Some brief factual corrections to statements made a few posts above: the majority of guests at the Lewes Arms do not do a workshop.

We run every Saturday night as a folk club with a guest almost every week and put on an average of fifteen all-day workshops a year. With very few exceptions, such as New Roots finalists travelling from a long way away, we book people for the amount taken on the door. Our room is licensed for a maxiumum of fifty people. Advertising costs are covered by a raffle.

We have a committee of ten and decisions are made by a majority, not an individual. Organising work is shared between members of the committee.

Valmai (Lewes)

P.S. Will Duke's workshop on the tunes of Scan Tester for any instrument next Saturday (5th. July) is sold out, but we are keeping a waiting list in case of cancellations. Will is donating all workshop fees after expenses to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House. He performs at the club in the evening.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 03:09 AM

My apologies Valmai - thank you for your correction. Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 03:13 AM

"odd sounding folk ballads"....

There goes that double standard again. The ones who don't do or like folk expect, nay demand, that those who do do and like folk should accept the sound and presentation of non-folk material (for example Agadoo) while the non-folkies are justified (they say) in rejecting folk because it sounds "odd".


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 03:31 AM

lighten up Richard, the sun is shining....

I admit I prefer the way Joan Baez used to sing Geordie over the way Martin does it. Martin has his reasons and his perspective and a brilliant work rate, and he's a superlative musician.

But yeh, it sounds a bit odd to most people.

Would that be the original version of Agadoo that you don't think belongs in the tradition, or the 10 inch re-mix?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:26 AM

As club organisers I do think we should listen to the constructive points that Tom and Ewan are trying to make. There are certainly things I can learn from their opinions.......anyone else?

WLD, I understand the point you are making, but let's face it Agadoo is crap (and so are SOME presentations of long traditional ballads)!

Beautiful day here in North Yorks!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:26 AM

We're souding like an old married couple Richard. I'm expecting, nay demanding unreasonable things of you.....

People will say we're in love.......


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:34 AM

I'm going back to mother.....!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Folkiedave
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:48 AM

Hi Tom

And we can talk about this more tomorrow evening - I'll get there early!!

It seems that Ewan is saying there are no decent folk clubs where he lives, so he has stopped going to folk clubs where he lives.

He and others seem happy to conflate folk music and folk clubs.

They assume that because one aspect of folk music is struggling - moribund even - the other sections are similar.

And please take account of the fact that I am of the generation that didn't want your folk clubs and apparently, judging fom what you all seem to be saying about folk music skipping a generation, still, on the whole, doesn't.


Ewan seems to be able to speak for a whole generation (!!) who didn't like the folk clubs and because they don't like them don't go to them. The conclusion he seems to draw is that his generation has missed out on folk music. Ewan - they go to sessions if they play and they go to festivals and often they do both. I was at a festival this last weekend - anyone who was there will tell you there was a huge age range including plenty of 40 somethings as far as I could gather. And that applies to all the festivals I have been to this year.

When I go to a folk club I do see (mostly) an older generation. I don't see anyone stopping people coming in - in fact as far as I can see most folk clubs seem to welcome visitors. But that doesn't apply to all of them. But those who don't go to folk clubs get their folk music in other ways, so it isn't the music that is dying.

As for people being shot at when they poke their noses over the parapet, let's examine these. The criticism of Rachel UnthankATW that provoked rows was (as I remember) was along the lines that they were a manufactured group based on floaty dresses and looks, a created band been made up by a folk svengali. And sold out to EMI.

It was nonsense so when people who feel it is nonsense reply - a row ensues and Alex Petridis (it is "Petridis") and his ilk write "Row over new folk stars who have broken the mould of beer -willing tankard-carrying sandal-wearing bearded folkies".

The row over Seth Lakeman was NEVER about his music but about the fact that one of his self-penned songs was entered in the "traditional" category of the BBC Folk Awards. I know this because I appeared on Radio 4's Feedback about it and started off by saying precisely that it was not about his music.

Again this became ""Row over new folk stars who have broken the mould of beer -willing tankard-carrying sandal-wearing bearded folkies".

The row about Kate Rusby (as far as I know) once again was never about her music but about the amount of publicity Mike Harding gave her.

And have you noticed how they are invariably described as "young folk stars". Seems like no-one can be bothered to check their ages.

Alex Petridis as far as I can see is saying "Every time I go the the video store there are fewer and fewer videos and nobody is watching them. I can't buy a video machine anymore. There is a row about the quality of programmes on TV. The conclusion I draw is that no-one is watching TV and no-one is watching recorded TV".

And when someone points out people are watching on-line TV, satellite TV and DVD's, the headline is written "Row over TV watching".

And by the way I did a house swap in 2002 for a month.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:49 AM

Re Tom Bliss's post of 2.32 above.

I really believe that "removing the pane" is a far better solution than heaving me, as one individual, in through the window. In the second scenario the rest of the "potential audients and participators (and organisers)" remain outside. In truth, though I might sometimes come across like a whinger with nothing good to say about folk clubs, I'd much rather be part of the solution than part of the problem. If I just accepted what I'm currently offered locally unconditionally, I'd merely be contributing to the perpetuation of the current situation. Maybe that's what I should do, some of you? Just shut up and put up? Would that be better? Respect the status quo, don't rock the boat?

Folkie Dave makes a good point about the festival scene being proof that the folk world has the potential to be more inclusive and outward looking than its danker corners would lead you to believe was possible. However, I don't necessarily think that the younger people attending these festivals are largely folk club stalwarts - they simply like folk festivals (and in some cases maybe concerts and singarounds and sessions). I also suspect that the festival circuit would not be enough for most performers to earn them a living (to briefly return to the original post).

However, if there is a range of folk clubs scattered across the country that consistently attract, say, 50% of their audiences from the under 40s, I'd genuinely love to hear about them. In fact, it would be the best (folk related) news I'd have heard in a long time. I think our differing perspectives on this probably stem from our differing starting points - the posters here are largely on the inside (although unlike some in that position, at least Dave and Tom appear to understand and appreciate the value of looking out of the window whilst beckoning in a comely manner) whilst I'm not part of the folk scene (as far as I know), I'm just a "paying customer" who came to folk via recorded music and hoped to follow this up by attending live performances at folk clubs and have found the experience unsatisfactory on many levels due largely, it would appear, to an accident of geography.

Finally, Snail, my comments are not meant as an attack on "the whole folk club scene" and to continue to misrepresent them as such comes across as essentially an attempt to stifle what to my mind is a perfectly valid discussion. Why would you want to do that? My words on this forum are not exactly going to cause - say - the Lewes Arms to implode. What they might do, and what I hope they do, is to contribute to a longer term process of opening out the folk club scene to a newer audience who may carry it on in some form. After all none of us would like them to die out with the generation that currently dominates them, would we? Snail, you have two great clubs in your small town. You can afford to be complacent. Some of us aren't so lucky. Please don't piss on our fireworks when all we want to do is make things as good for ourselves as they are for you. Is that not a reasonable and decent thing to hope for?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 05:09 AM

Dave, you seem to be conflating my comments about folk clubs with my beliefs about folk music. I think folk music and the festivals and to some extent the singarounds and sessions are in a pretty healthy state. As with anything, there's always room for improvement - there has to be, in order to avoid atrophy... and there's really no point arguing with Alex P, because he isn't contributing to this thread. I quoted ONE SENTENCE from an article he wrote to illustrate a point I was making about something Snail had said... phew!

I really don't claim to 'speak for a generation' - my initial thoughts on this were semi-facitious responses to earlier comments about my generation 'abandoning' folk music in general and clubs in particular. I'm not really grandiose enough to speak for anyone but myself, honest! Although I do know I'm far from alone in my opinions...


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 05:47 AM

Folkiedave,

Just to pick up on one or two points that you have made. I don't think all of the criticisms leveled at RU & TW are about how they have become popular, it is to do with the music as well. They have piano for goodness sake ...... they didn't set me alight at Dent. I'm not saying they are not good, just not my cup of tea. KR and SL I do really enjoy. (just thought it is worth saying that as context for my RU & TW comment i.e. I have no problem with people being succesful.)

I don't think Ewan is trying to speak for the whole of his (my) generation....... he does very eloquently make some useful contributions that all folk club organisers who are concerned with bringing in new blood (both artists and audience) should pay heed to. We should be trying to provide an offering that folk friendly folk like Ewan can buy into...... he is the potential audience that we currently miss.

I have to agree with your point about the age range at Dent Folk Festival. It is very well organised to appeal right across the spectrum. Both baby Banjimen (aged 7 & 8) had a really great time, they met a lot of friends both from previous years and new .... and there are a lot of organised activities for kids..... which meant that Mr & Mrs Banjiman were able to really enjoy both the informal music making and the acts on both stages. Baby Banjiman 1 also really enjoyed singing on the Black Sheep stage as part of Mrs Banjiman's set. Lots & lots of families present and no one turning up their noses at kids "spoiling" their sessions. There were also lots of teenagers present who seemed to be really getting into the music, there was a real mosh pit for Shooglenifty on Saturday night.

With the main festival site being level (if soggy), I also noticed that wheelchair access was pretty good to all of the events.

Something for everyone really.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 05:53 AM

weelittledrummer

Real ale anyone.....

Thanks very much WLD. Pint of Harvey's Best please. I think I'm going to need it.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 06:08 AM

I was in HMV store last week and they previewing SL's new album.

I thought he seems like a decent young man. He's no Engelbert and he hasn't come the 'Agadoo' moment in his career yet, but I think he shows definite promise.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 07:33 AM

Sorry to start on a partly negative note, but the thread has got a bit towards treating Seth Lakeman as a watershed, and liking for him as a litmus test, and I don't think that that is wholly appropriate. Personally, I don't much like Seth Lakeman's take on the folk music he plays - I don't mind the bass heavy arrangements in fact I quite like them, what I don't like is that I simply don't recognise the tunes of folk songs he does (for example "The Setting of the Sun") and I don't see them put forward as new tunes to old songs. I would accept that if it were stated (like John Loomes version of "All for me Grog") - and then it would be a matter simply of whether that would become an accepted new (or alternative) tune for the song (as happened, I think to "Willie of Windsbury" by accident, or maybe it was the tune for that used for something else or like John Barden's tune for "The trees they do grow high"), but I will support his absolute right to do r-arrange (and re-melody, and re-word) folk songs and he does what he does very well. I'd prefer more "rock" timing than "disco", but that is a matter of personal preference. He seems a nice chap and once even nodded to me in a corridor in passing. Good luck to him, so long as he does not pretend that stuff that is not folk is folk.


I don't however see "constructive criticism" in Mr Monster. I don't read all his posts but what I perceive is him saying that the problem with folk clubs is folk music and they should get rid of it and put in modern "folkalike" music. A severe case of baby and bathwater.

Al, of course, is a big wind-up merchant, determined to exclude the middle classes and richer from true proletarian folk (as he defines it) and I am amused by the parallel with Lloyd's concept of "industrial folk" but the fact of the matter in the places I go to is that there are a range of people all happily folking away, from senior career diplomats, HNW persons, others making their fortunes in IT, lawyers, accountants etc, through teachers, social workers, various types of clerical and manual workers, transport workers, stress victims in early retirement, persons with mental health and psychological issues, quite a lot on minimum wage, and a range of claimants and "black economy" workers. Some even drink lager, and are only mildly ribbed for it. A middle class ghetto? I don't think so.

Incidentally, a lot of classical and rock musicians too struggle to live off their music, which is why the MU strives to restrict the entry of non-union labour wherever possible - so that those once in can earn more.

I'm more worried, I think, about the lack of strong singers amongst the young, particularly the women, although there have been some great ones at the late lamented Miskin festival, perhaps drawing on the Welsh habit of song, than I am about the difficulty musicians find in earning. There is a long tail in sports, too: a few high earners and many less well off and then the amateurs and semi-pros.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 07:46 AM

" Jackie Oates, Jim Causley, Jon Loomes, Spiers and Boden, the Askew Sisters, Bella Hardy, James Raynard, Mawkin, Ruth Notman, John Dipper "

........Richard, this was Ewan's list of wants for a folk club, unless you are getting all 1954 on us I'd hardly call them all "modern "folkalike" music", would you?

Must be a southern thing, lots of very good (and some brilliant) female singers in the north.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 07:52 AM

"what I perceive is him saying that the problem with folk clubs is folk music and they should get rid of it and put in modern "folkalike" music"

Wrong, wrong and so deeply wrong, it's almost beyond wrong!

In fact, wrong!

The folk music is often, and sometimes by the skin of its teeth and the seat of its pants, the the only good thing about folk clubs.

If I wanted to listen to non-traditional acoustic music, let's call it (which I often do), the last place I'd look for it is a folk club. Plurality of taste (if that's okay with you, sir) leads to plurality of venues.

There are plenty of venues catering to this sort of non-traditional acoustic music in my area. And in some cases doing a fine job of it, too, I might add.

I don't read all his posts

I'm deeply hurt.

No, not really, but it does allow me to take your comments with a pinch of salt...


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 08:09 AM

'there are a range of people all happily folking away, from senior career diplomats, HNW persons, others making their fortunes in IT, lawyers, accountants etc, through teachers, social workers, various types of clerical and manual workers, transport workers, stress victims in early retirement, persons with mental health and psychological issues, quite a lot on minimum wage, and a range of claimants and "black economy" workers'.

y'see, this is the problem - none of yer actual musicians.

Oh folkmusic, that's something I do between being brilliant at social security fraud and getting Kirsty and Phil to help with the old property portfolio........

You know i was playing The Dorset four Hand reel on my trumpet when everyone else was segueing into Harvest Home and drops o Brandy. Lucky its all in D and no one noticed! what larks!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 08:48 AM

Ooh dear, where do I start?

Tom Bliss

My comments have not been damning, though (perhaps they might feel so to a few if they touched a raw nerve, in which case my apologies, but maybe it needed saying).

Was the comment in parantheses aimed at me? If you've got anything specific you wish to accuse me of, please do so rather than resorting to innuendo.

From previous threads -

I just get so weary of reading posts here which not only fail to recognise, or seek to minimise, or deny, the influence of 'trade' music on the stuff we all enjoy hearing and doing, but worse, seek to present hard-working low-earning artists as harlots - often in terms can can wind up making folk enthusiasts, as a tribe, seem mean-spirited, 'hsibbons' (that's snobbish inverted, by the way), and frankly just ill-informed about what it takes - and means - to be 'successful.'

There are however a significant number of people (a group well-represented on internet forums) who delight in a 'hsibbons' view of trade music. They suggest, for example, that the influence of commerce is damaging to the tradition, that professionalism is a kind of prostitution, that the registration of arrangements is a kind of theft, that anyone wanting to make a living at music is only in it for the money (rather than a committed artist), that doing it well is bad, that being innovative is bad, that concerts are a betrayal of the song-handing ethos, and so on and on and on.

Sounds pretty damning to me.

I am aware that it looks like I'm biting the hand that feeds me - but I'm not getting lots of stick from my club-running chums.

So how do they respond to your accusations? Do they nod sagely and say "Oh yes. Not us of course, it's all those other clubs."

You have said elsewhere that there are (or possibly were) 400 clubs in the country. You have played 201 of them, there are another 30 that only book big names and 75 that used to book guests but no longer do for whatever reason but I doubt if they suddenly developed a deep loathing for paid performers; it was probably more a matter of finacial risk.

That's 306 leaving 94 some of which probably do book guests but just haven't booked you yet and some of which have never booked guests, perhaps because they are really glorified singarounds or, just maybe, because they think that anyone who wants to be paid for singing is scum.

I'm finding it hard to see any evidence for a widespread negative attitude to professional performers and yet "This has caused me more disappointment than anything else I've encountered in the folk world over the past 10 years".

I'm also aware that there is sometimes a big gap between what touring artists think privately, and what they're prepared to say at the supper table after the gig.

Are you saying that you know that other artists agree with you but are just too polite/scared to say so? That's quite a claim.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 08:53 AM

Snail,

Do you not think that there is even a grain of reality in what Tom is saying?

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 09:00 AM

'Are you saying that you know that other artists agree with you but are just too polite/scared to say so? That's quite a claim.'

yep, and its true! but surely that's true about any business. You don't tell your clients what you think about them. Well you think so, but when you get some particularly cavalier treatment from a tradesman - you can't help thinking I wish I had that sort of business where you could just afford to tell people to get stuffed.

But Tom has natural good manners, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't say anything anyway however atrociously he was being treated. Most folksingers are used to accepting graciously hospitality(in whatever form it comes).


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 09:01 AM

Banjiman

As club organisers I do think we should listen to the constructive points that Tom and Ewan are trying to make. There are certainly things I can learn from their opinions.......anyone else?

Apart from what I've covered above, Tom also says -

Some even argue that all the non-trade system has done is encourage songs to fall into disrepair, and that it was always the working chaps (or those with a 'trade' attitude) who did the making, the mending and the significant disseminating.

I love that "Some even argue". Who does? It seems we are required to abandon the idea that the "folk process" is a creative one and that all "song makers" are, by definition, trade. I can't see that going down too well in the traditional clubs.

As far as I can see, Ewan's objection to folk clubs is that they aren't concerts -

As things stand, I've all; but given up, because those of us who "just want to listen" are second class citizens compared with those who enjoy the celebratory love-in that is participatory folk.

It's not so much clubs or even club organisers that he objects to but their current audiences who probably do annoying things like tapping their feet and joining in the choruses.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 09:09 AM

Banjiman

Do you not think that there is even a grain of reality in what Tom is saying?

Quite possibly but Tom is not talking about "a grain of reality", he is claiming that it is an all pervading malaise that needs urgent action to fix it.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Blue
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 09:47 AM

Oh, I'm so glad nobody but folkies read this, when you have finished tearing chunks out of each other maybe you can make it to the real world occasionally.

Tom Bliss - you are amazing please keep singing and though it will never make you a million you will always make many, many people happy.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 09:51 AM

I shall not be responding to Bryan's posts. I have explained to him privately that I find it impossible to debate with him because he interprets my words in ways that I never intended, and then does the same to my clarifications, and to my further explanations, until communication becomes impossible.

I will assure him, however, that I have not been addressing any of my very general comments to him personally.

I see no malaise, only some general confusions and misunderstandings, that might benefit from more open and honest debate, and the sharing of ideas an experiences.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 09:51 AM

It's not so much clubs or even club organisers that he objects to but their current audiences who probably do annoying things like tapping their feet and joining in the choruses

Oooh, snidey Snail! Is that really the best you can do?

Come on, man! You're losing your touch...


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 10:04 AM

Jackie Oates - lovely material, delivery a bit fey.
Jim Causley - some lovely material, some lovely sounding material, alas sadly affected by the tendency to sneer at "folk" (according to the words out of his own mouth on the wireless)
Jon Loomes - quite simply, great (although friends told me he forgot the words four or five times at a folk club the othe week).
Spiers and Boden - not to my personal taste but I recognise their ability. Very un-folk arrangements to my ear.
Mawkin - I like the sound of what I've heard.
Bella Hardy - I bought the CD on spec, having been told she was a new powerful female singer and I find every time it comes on the CD changer in the car I turn it off
Mawkin -I've liked the sound of the few bits I've heard

The rest, my jury is still out - but surely with the exception of Spiers and Boden who I think go as superstars these days all of that list can be seen in many concert clubs and the only hardcore traddy is Jackie Oates would you not agree?

Bellowhead through size are a special case and suited for big stage big rig (and I don't like all that brass), and I don't think Mr Monster wants them in his local club does he? Rachel Unthank I have listened to a bit and do not dislike - but for whatever reason they are now big time and surely beyond the budget of small venues.

But if it isn't the music (and surely that is the most important thing although bad ambience and bad beer can make it harder to appreciate) now I am lost what it is that Mr Monster doesn't want. I can see he is very annoyed about something maybe just the prescence and continued survival of people older than him, but if not that what then is it?

Moreover, even if I can get a handle on what he doesn't like - what is it he actually wants? Is it that he wants only concerts, and no floor singers? If it cannot be understood, how is his criticism constructive?



Al, you are still a wind-up! All or almost all of them were musicians. You don't have to be a full-time pro to be a musician, and if you say you do then two things follow: -

1. You are the one putting yourself in a ghetto, and
2. You'd better live up to the billing you give yourself. I'm sure you personally do, but it is the load you shouldered.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 10:36 AM

It seems that attempting to stand up for the folk scene that I love against attacks by people who ought to know better doesn't go down too well.

I'm sorry that Tom feels unable to debate the points he raises. It seems that even quoting him directly constitutes interpreting his words in a way he never intended.

I shall simply settle back into helping out with a successful and enjoyable folk club which gives me access to a great many talented and delightful performers, professional, semi-professional and downright amateur all of whom are united by a love of the music.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 10:39 AM

Look Richard, you suggested I didn't want 'proper folk music' in clubs. I've disagreed with you. You've tried and failed to pick apart my 'off the top of my head' list and now you're moving the goalposts. I said that if there was a folk club locally putting on these sorts of acts I would happily go. In fact I would go even if the place was a flea pit with rubbish beer and all the charm of a pubic toilet.

I don't have a problem with old people. My dad's one. So are some of my friends.

Of course I don't expect Bellowhead to play folk clubs. Erm, I may be a few things but I'm not stupid.

I'm even prepared to concede that every single club in the country is a guaranteed brilliant night out (except the ones I've been to that weren't) and I've just been incredibly unlucky. Except I know from what others have said to me that this simply isn't true.

Maybe after years of going to see non folk music, often in small venues where the gigs have been organised by enthusiastic amateur promoters, by comparison the folk clubs I've been to seem a bit shoddy, tawdry, dreary. I don't usually measure the pleasure I'm experiencing by the number of times I look at my watch, for example.

I think I'll just have to admit that I've not really enjoyed my local folk clubs, put it down to experience and leave it at that. If the people who go there all like things exactly as they are, good luck to them. I'll just have to stick to CDs and the odd festival and concert and get my initimate, small scale, live music experiences outside of the confines of the folk world. It's a shame, but I haven't got enough spare time to sit through not very good nights out on the off chance that one day I might not be disappointed. I don't think that's unreasonable.

And like the atheist jealous of the believer, I want to like folk clubs.

I liked The Bothy in Southport when I visited. Bit far away to be my 'local', though...


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 10:41 AM

Ewan Spawned a Monster

Oooh, snidey Snail! Is that really the best you can do?

Come on, man! You're losing your touch...


OK, Ewan, I'll take you as a role model from now on.

But watch your step or I'll tell the good people of Mudcaster who you really are and the folk vigilantes will be after you.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 10:44 AM

Ewan Spawned a Monster

I liked The Bothy in Southport when I visited. Bit far away to be my 'local', though...

...unless you give yourself away first.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 10:53 AM

"But watch your step or I'll tell the good people of Mudcaster who you really are and the folk vigilantes will be after you."

Not entirely sure how to take this. I'm hoping it's humour...


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 10:53 AM

Snail....

That's Tom Bliss and John Kelly you've issued veiled "you'll never work again (or not in my club)" threats too and now you're threatening ESAM with the folk vigilantes (and I understand the serious intent behind that veiled threat too).

This is a "discussion" board where people throw around ideas & opinions ....... you really need to lighten up and let others express an opinion, even if it differs from your own. You are in danger of appearing to be a bully.

The folk "scene" is not above criticism, there are some good points being made here (and some not such good ones) that we should consider carefully before dismissing out of hand.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Blue
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 11:05 AM

Thank you Paul, the man speaks sense boys.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 11:10 AM

Following up Stringsinger's comments, I am rather surprised that UK folk performers haven't mentioned what for many American folk performers are the bread and butter jobs--schools, museums, historical sites, city parks, summer recreation programs, and such things. In addition to being remunerative, these are great opportunities to teach mostly young people about culture, history, and life in general.

These opportunities generally are excellent vehicles for performers who specialize in traditional and regional music, songs, and styles, and often allow people to support themselves without touring or travelling--


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,No Fixed Abode
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 11:17 AM

Sadly we do not contribute that often to the threads here on Mudcat as they have a tendency to become slaging matches…..guess what…I said this……… you said that I am right…. you are wrong……. I will listen…… I will ignore. The question and origin of this thread was "it possible to make a living as a folk performer"…as that is what we do, we feel we have something to contribute to this thread.

It is interesting that there seems to be an assumption that the question refers to folk clubs and folk festivals. If there is anyone considering trying to earn a living playing folk music reading this thread I wish them well and again repeat….There is a far bigger world out there that just folk clubs and festivals, by all means include folk festivals and clubs in your thinking but please keep an open mind as to the other possibilities where folk music can be performed and appreciated. We perform folk music in Pubs, Caravan parks, Nursing homes (strangely there are a number of well know traditional folk singers who earn a lot of their income in Nursing homes but never seem to tell anyone about it….why?) Camra real ale festivals, folk clubs, folk festivals, village festivals, Acoustic clubs, Private parties, Weddings, funerals and corporate events. Hope this information helps any potential folk performers.

Una and Tony


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 11:21 AM

Hurray for that!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 11:29 AM

Richard - the pair of us are simply too good to be trading snotty remarks with this scurvy lot.

Of course we're musicians.

Personally, I'm a bit like that bloke in Chariots of Fire - I feel the breath of God in my lughole every time I sing The Wild Rover.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 11:37 AM

"...that we should consider carefully before dismissing out of hand."

Paul, is that exactly what you meant to say?!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Whistleworks
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 11:40 AM

Reminds me of the joke about how to make a million dollars in folk music. Start with 2 million dollars.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 11:43 AM

ESAM......well, er maybe not exactly, erm, ahem......... embarrassed silence


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 12:03 PM

"It is interesting that there seems to be an assumption that the question refers to folk clubs and folk festivals."

Hi Unantony

I think there's a reason for that. I personally took 'Earning a living _in_ Folk' to mean in the folk environment, i.e. specifically in folk clubs and folk festivals. If I was taking 'folk' music to other places (village halls and theatres in my case, usually) I'd probably call it making a living _from_ Folk. So I was assuming the discussion was about folk places and how to make a living in them, rather than material perhaps presented in non-folk venues. In the paces you and M Ted mention you can of course do any kind of music and succeed, so the challenges and rewards are different.

That said, now I look again, Kampervan's OP was about making a living as a 'folk performer' which would cover anything and anywhere that performer decided could be called 'folk!'

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: JedMarum
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 12:07 PM

No Fixed Abode - I'm right with you.

You certainly can make a living at performing folk music, if you work at it and if you constantly look for new ways to do it. I play some "big time" events and some "small time" events - and of course everything in between. I enjoy every one of them, and I'm happy I have the work.

I too would encourage those thinking of trying to do so - and be ready to work hard and keep an open mind.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 12:30 PM

Banjiman

That's Tom Bliss and John Kelly you've issued veiled "you'll never work again (or not in my club)" threats too

I have done no such thing. Apart from anything else, I do not do the club bookings. I do have input, of course, but we are a committee of ten, all with strong opinions of their own.

For reasons that go beyond this thread, Tom is unlikely to ask us for a booking. I would quite like to book John Kelly from what I've heard about him. He does occasionally say things about the folk club scene which I genuinely think are unnecessary, unjustified and unwise and I think I have a right to say so.

This is a "discussion" board where people throw around ideas & opinions ....... you really need to lighten up and let others express an opinion, even if it differs from your own.

But aren't I allowed to respond? In the post that apparently makes me impossible to debate with, I quoted some of Tom's words directly and used some of his own statistics to demonstrate that the people he says "resent there being such an animal as a professional folk musician" must be a very small and unimportant minority.

Where is the bullying in that?

I have said that he has made sweeping, damning and unsupported statements about the folk scene and I stand by that. Is it too much to ask him to justify those statements?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 01:02 PM

Sorry everyone - it's happening again and though I care not one jot what Mr Creer thinks of me or my opinions, I feel I have a duty to explain that it was not this one post which made me unwilling to debate with him. I simply cannot follow his train of thought nor he mine.

As an example, you may note the way my views about some (often anonymous) posters who tend to be nasty about trade musicians (none of whom are club organisers - at least I doubt it VERY much!) and none of whom are probably even reading this thread, have somehow been entangled with some general statistics I've offered concerning the number of gigs available for working musicians.

Obviously trying to unpick that sort of argument is only going to lead to tears, and I do need to go and chop some onions anyway.

Great shame, because I usually enjoy a good debate, and there's been some useful stuff in this thread.

I do hope everyone else understands what I've been on about. And I think you do :-)

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 01:05 PM

Quote from TheSnail:

"but I can't help feeling that some of the opinions they (TB & JK)express are damaging to their own interests"

So what are you saying here? Sorry you won't be booking Tom (we had him, he's pretty good for a beginner..........hee, hee, hee), glad you would book John.


Quote from ESAM quoting you:

""But watch your step or I'll tell the good people of Mudcaster who you really are and the folk vigilantes will be after you."

Not entirely sure how to take this. I'm hoping it's humour..."

You and I both know that there is more to this, I'm pretty sure that ESAM feels pretty nervous as a result of your threat.

You have the perfect right to respond however you want.....as do I, as do you.....oh no, we're going round in circles again!

I do apologise for accusing you of "being in danger of appearing to be a bully" if your intent was not to shut people up who disagree with you. It did appear that way to me though, which I found surprising having shared many threads with you in the past.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 01:22 PM

Blimey! you lot have been busy since I last posted. Can't hope to make many specific replies, but.....
Snail: I have tried to pont out that I'm not tarring all clubs with the same brush. Like others here, I am reluctant to name specific clubs, not because I'm just making this stuff up to cause controversy, but because this is a public forum, and some of the people concerned may not be Mudcatters, and so are not in a position to respond. Also, there's enough blood drawn hereabouts without that!
If you really insist, I might PM you with some evidence, which, of course I wouldn't like you to broadcast, but at least you might care to admit that you've seen it. And yes, there are those enlightened clubs that have booked - sometimes more than once - that boring old git with the harmonium. Gawd - he's even on that Gainsborough Folk Festival! But that doesn't negate what I've said. I will admit that some of this may be a regional phenomenon; I, for one, can't get arrested around here, but can get work in other parts of the UK, as you've seen. But every time I open the local folk mag, I see the same names over and over. I can't believe that the audiences in these parts will only listen to those people. Regarding the comment about the rights of professional folksingers to exist at all: you might not have heard it, but I certainly have. Recently by a dancer I know well, who isn't a Mudcatter, so, again, I won't name him; and comments on some threads here have amounted to the same thing, if not in the same words. Again, I'll try and trace the threads and post the links (which might not work). I have heard the comment as far back as the early 70s, but can't remember who said it - actually, I think I know, but am too vague, and the anonimity rule applies again. And I've heard it elsewhere along the way. The comments about the 'sneering attitude' of some -SOME - NOT ALL amateurs can also be checked out on these threads. And no, I'm certainly not complaining about people attending more than one club; you've taken that rather out of context with the previous comments.
Fokiedave: The comment about punters voting with their feet was mine;
I don't know whether the lady punter concerned is still around, or has voted with her feet. I don't know who she was; she just got talking about the group I'd been playing with, and the folk scene in general. Yes, there are lots of festivals, as I said much earlier in the thread. And it supports my contention that there is still an audience. So why are they not in evidence in the clubs? This is what we are trying to determine (for the sake of the clubs, the punters and pro and amateur singers), but things seem to be going the way of all good threads. Can we read each others' posts more carefully, and think before we start firing off angry responses?
Someone asked - can't find it now - "are floor singers not punters?" Well, yes, if they go to clubs to be entertained, and like to get up some weeks and do their two songs. No, if they desert your club en masse every time you book a guest, and are only prepared to show up when they know they can sing. There is, of course nothing to prevent them finding their own venue, as, indeed some do.
Tony: yes, as you say, there are other possible outlets, and we should be discussing such possibilities. I've been thinkig about one or two myself, but I think it's a shame that the years of dedication and development of the folk clubs into what was a good night out - for all, regardless of age, etc., should simply be forgotten and cast aside as irrelevant, without some effort on our part to do something positive about it.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,No Fixed Abode
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 01:23 PM

Sorry to read the above Tom, We have always found you one of the most sincere and approachable people we have found on the folk scene. Your points are always well made and expressed with knowledge and a nice vein of humour.

See you somewhere down the road

Una and Tony


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 01:24 PM

leave 'im, Sharon! he's not wurfit!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 01:47 PM

My impression is that the Snail is joking.

But despite the Monster "clarifying" his views, I still don't know what it is he does and doesn't want. Indeed I'm even less clear. Rock venues it's too dark to see the floor, which is probably good as you don't want to see what you're walking in, the beer is usually sour (Tap and Tin, Chatham, excluded) rip off prices to get in and rip off prices again to get into the music part, crap sound systems (possibly the worst I've heard in my life in the prestigious Rock City in Nottingham's metal room) urinals where you paddle in piddle, no seats, those that have seats the seats sticky with spilled beer and carved up with holes in, hell most folk venues are utopian in comparison, and you often (well, sometimes) get sandwiches too! So what's the "dreary" bit?

Many people like some amateur support slots (I certainly do) - and they are the potential crossover point to go semipro, so what's wrong with them?

Or is it something else? You certainly don't like something, and you never tire of saying how crap everything is.

C'mon, how can the pros who are that bit better than the rest make a fair living playing folk or nearly folk music? The people you say you want and expect to see all seem to be playing folk clubs, so that can't be the problem can it?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 01:49 PM

PS, Al, you're still a wind up, yo know I'm crap, but how many "folk" songs (my definition) do you really do? Go on, confess. You have said elsewhere you do do some, and if you're talking about "the Wild Rover" that's not God's breath you're feeling but the devil's wind!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:01 PM

I sincerely hope Tom hasn't been driven away; I thought we might start to get somewhere with this, if we could avoid the tendency to start clawing each others' eyes....
JK.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:07 PM

"My impression is that the Snail is joking."

Richard, I wouldn't necessarily assume this ....... there have been some very unpleasant things happening to ESAM that you probably wouldn't know about. Hence my hypersensitivity.

Though let me make it clear that I don't know if TheSnail is involved in this.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:22 PM

Banjiman

So what are you saying here?

That slagging off your customer base doesn't seem to me to be good business practice.

You and I both know that there is more to this, I'm pretty sure that ESAM feels pretty nervous as a result of your threat.

The idea of ESAM being nervous about anything strikes me as pretty unlikely. I never had the slightest intention of exposing who I think he is; it's only a guess after all, but if you and I have our ideas about who he is, surely anyone who actually knows him will have sussed him out long ago. If I meant any more than that it was simply to let him know that I had guessed who he is and to take a little revenge for his remark that "you really don't like professional folk singers very much" which is completely unjustified and potentially damagaing to my reputation and, by association, the reputation of the Lewes Arms.

if your intent was not to shut people up who disagree with you.

No of course it wasn't. I was explicitly asking for a response. I wanted them to give the grounds for their allegations. It seems Tom is not prepared to respond to my questions regardless of what I say which is a pity because I would like to ask him to give a reference to the threads he is talking about above and to explain why, if none of those who tend to be nasty about trade musicians are club organisers, it is necessary for touring artists to be careful about what they're prepared to say at the supper table after the gig.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:33 PM

Good grief. My last posting was sent before I had seen Banjiman's. I very sorry to hear that ESAM has troubles but I am horrified to think that anybody could begin to imagine I had anything to do with it. I have always regarded him as little more than an irritating but fairly amusing wind-up merchant.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:40 PM

Mr Snail,

I'm certainly prepared to accept that (your last post).....if you didn't know it certainly makes your posts a lot less scary & ominous. I assumed you did, hence my bullying accusation.

Largely a misunderstanding then....... you could be nicer to Tom though!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:45 PM

If all this thread is to the most prolific of you is a personal slagging match, then maybe it should be closed and you guys can insult each other silly in PMs.

You really don't need an international audience for this.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:50 PM

Hello everyone

As I'm sure you're all quite aware there is absolutely no connection whatsoever between a handful of noisy (but image-damaging) rascals who make unkind comments about artists on web forums (not just this one), and the fact that it can be awkward to raise with your hosts a topic like, for example, donating a CD for the raffle when you know it will mean you'll sell none, or spotting all the posters you sent in a pile by the door, or only getting a 20 minute second set because the floor singers faffed about so much, or there being a horrible smell from the gents (all issues raised to me by professional chums who said they didn't feel able to mention them to their host - along with many more).

As I have explained - it's probably my lack of brain, but I can find no logic to Bryan's questions/demands, and don't recognise any opinion I've ever expressed in the conflation and confusion of all these different opinions on different topics from different discussions.   So I don't see how I can respond except to make the situation even more muddled.

Yes, Richard, you're probably right. TheSnail amusing himself is probably just what it is.

I'm doing my best to laugh along.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 02:59 PM

Guys, guys, please don't fight over me... (blushes) I'm not worth it!

Snail:
i) An irritating but fairly amusing wind-up merchant... Now that I can live with.
ii) The last thing I would want to do is damage your (or anyone else's) reputation or that of the Lewes Arms - I was merely semi-flippantly responding to your earlier comments. Maybe your writing style comes over as more pugilistic than you intend and mine comes over as less frivolous than I intend.

Banjiman:
Thanks for the support but, erm, please check your PMs is a bit...

Jeri:
We all love each other really... or would if we could. This would be quicker, livelier and funnier in the pub. We all drink in different pubs though.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 03:09 PM

erm.....I'll get me banjo and leave by the back door then.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 03:38 PM

Mr. Bliss has me confused, as he seems to say that "folk" is not what you play, it's where you play, my thought being that anywhere you play traditional music becomes a traditional music venue --

At any rate, do UK folk performers include educational venues in their breadwinning mix, or are they resolute about playing clubs and festivals?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Kampervan
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 03:55 PM

Well, I didn't realise what a wide-ranging, in depth, analytical discussion I was starting when I posted the original question.

Which was simply me wondering aloud roughly how many people in the UK, within the broad collective of 'folk performer' earned their living at it.

I actively didn't want to begin another "what is folk" thread. I just wondered whether it was a few hundred,a few thousand or more.

Having said that, lots of good postings and it's made interesting reading!

K/van


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 03:55 PM

Someone asked - can't find it now - "are floor singers not punters?" Well, yes, if they go to clubs to be entertained, and like to get up some weeks and do their two songs. No, if they desert your club en masse every time you book a guest, and are only prepared to show up when they know they can sing.

Hmmm. When I started going to my local folk club (which was about six months old at the time) it was all floor singers every week; there wasn't even a regular slot from the MC (I've never known why, he's a fine performer).

It was some time before we had an act of any description. When we did start getting acts in, though, I noticed two things: the door tax doubled (to an extortionate £2) and the time for floor singers halved. I don't go out every week - and I haven't been performing very long - so it seemed like pretty reasonable behaviour for me to give the artist nights a miss unless I thought we were in for a particularly good night. (You may have noticed my comments on the thread "John Kelly - book him now!".) I must say I never thought I was treacherously undermining the club; I rather thought I was one of the ones keeping it going.

More on this later, perhaps.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:08 PM

'Folk' in the UK is used to describe both an activity and a repertoire (and also a style and also a genre and also a type of venue, and a community etc. etc). I don't think we'd call a theatre a traditional venue just because someone was performing some traditional material there. But there ARE lots of views on this - so don't take my word for it!

There is work in all the paces you mentioned - but it's not easy to get at. In a lot of places (like museums) you can wind up with a floating audience. It may pay the bills, but it can be disheartening for any song-weaver - though probably fine if you're happy busking tunes etc.

I find school work draining (which is why I'm so in awe of teachers) but VERY rewarding - so I would like to do more, but having tried to fill in the form for my local education authority I realise it's unlikely to happen. You have to fit right in with the National Curriculum plus there's other issues like getting a criminal record check, and have teaching experience or even qualifications. They don't make it easy. I do have chums who do hospitals etc, but I have enough of that visiting relatives. I'm currently at the 'magic story' end of the 'folk' world. My stuff works best in places where I can cast a bit of a spell (you, know - hypnotising the audience so they think I sang in tune and played some fancy licks up the dusty end) - which rules out most of the other places that people have suggested on this thread. To be honest, after a life of rock grift, I've had enough of 'difficult' audiences, and now prefer to play for people who've come along knowing what I do, and wanting to hear it. But fair play to those that have the stamina for the good fight!

Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:24 PM

OK, I get it. This is like everyone going out back of the pub and beating the crap out of each other, then coming in for a pint.

Much like performing, I'd guess. You have to have the ability to 'get over it', move on and not dwell on the negative. If you have a tissue-paper ego, you won't last long.

My bad. Carry on.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Betsy
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:29 PM

Thank you Kampervan for getting back to the spirit and the intent of what I thought was behind your original Thread.
It is very sad for me , to see the thread getting hijacked, and as a consequence having Tom and John to defend themselves, when they, in addition to Banjimans "connection" are surely, the current practicing individuals most able to provide a good insight to your proposition.
It really is a difficult task, and as I said in a earlier posting " If you think it's about doing 2 x 45 mins sets and picking up the money - think again - and forget it". What I maybe should have said on a positive note ( rather than "forget it" )is - give it a go!!
It is not an easy way to earn a living, but I am full of admiration for those who try.
Cheers Betsy.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:45 PM

While you're all licking your wounds....
Here's my theory about what's gone wrong - with the UK clubs at least; I'm not in a position to comment on the US or elsewhere, although I suspect that things were/are run on a different principle. Our folk clubs, as I've already commented, used to be a good night out, for people of all age groups and backgrounds, and for a modest outlay. They were informal, friendly, and intimate, and the audience were very much a part of the proceedings. There was a formula which worked: residents+guests/floorsingers+a raffle, and an AUDIENCE.
The residents: Usually a semi-pro group, but sometimes full time. They were the basis of the club; people who didn't like the residents didn't come unless there was a guest they wanted to see. People who did like the residents would come regularly, and get to know the group and their songs and choruses. They would support the club most nights, regardless of who the guest was, or if it was a singers' night.
Guests: Typically, two or three guests a month, and a mixture of local and national guests, pro and semi-pro, and maybe the odd guest from outside the UK. And a mixture, usually of trad, contemporary and blues, with the odd bit of poetry and maybe a sprinkling of jazz, country, or even Early Music.
Floor singers: These could be regular punters who liked to get up and do a couple of songs sometimes - not necessarily every week; or they might be visiting pros doing promo stuff on spare nights on a tour; I've seen The McCalmans, Roy Bailey, Christy Moore, Dave Burland (I think) and Vera Johnson doing floor spots back in the 70s - and they weren't unknowns at the time.
The Audience: As much a part of the club as the singers. In those days, folk audiences confidently joined in with choruses, and there was always some banter between audience and singers; it was all part of the inclusiveness and informality. They paid to come in; otherwise, there would obviously be no paid guests.
The residents would do a spot at the beginning of the night, which might be 30 minutes on a singers' night, maybe less on a guest night. Then there would be the guest spot or some floor singers. After the interval, the residents might do one or two songs and then put the remaining floor singers on, often finishing the night with a regular 'goodnight' song; on guest nights, there might or might not be some floor spots.
So far, this is stating the bleedin' obvious to most of you, but bear with me. Something seems to have gone wrong with this during the 80s. There are still some clubs using this formula, but many are not. It now seems to be more usual to have a list of 'residents', who are really regular floor singers, each doing, at best a couple of songs on a guest night, and as often as not the singers' night is a singaround. In my recent experience, the old-style resident group has largely vanished. So there is no longer the focus and continuity. There is also no longer the same faithful support from paying punters. I see a connection. Doubtless some of you won't; so what's your theory? And if I'm on the right lines, what can we do to restore the magic. What happened to the old groups. I suspect that many of them packed it in for any of the usual reasons, and - it being the period when there was no fresh influx, weren't replaced. Now there are plenty of new, young groups, but many of them are not in a position to remember how the clubs used to work. Maybe if they could be persuaded to do club residencies, things would improve.
Sorry for rambling, but I believe this is the root of the problem, and would be interested to hear the views of the punters in particular.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Kampervan
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 04:56 PM

I'm with you Betsy.

But there seems to be a lot of people out there who just want to get a point of view across irrespective of the thread to which they're contributing.

Interesting and relevant as the points are they're nothing to do with the spirit of the thread. But I guess that's the way of the world :-)

Here's to folk in all of its forms.

K/van


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: oggie
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 05:01 PM

To return to Kampervan's initial question...

In the UK I would guess at under 1,000 if you include all those who do add-ons like schools etc and perform "non-folk" gigs. It might be a lot less than that, even into the mid-hundreds mark if you discount those who have a second income or additional support.

There does become a question of definitions (how do you classify someone like Simon Mayor).

I would like to be proved wrong and that there are lots of folkies out there earning a living but....

Steve


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 05:03 PM

absolutely John.

the Travelling People at The Priesthouse in Castle Donnington had one of the best clubs in the country. I met a lady who was in The Travelling People down at Weymouth Festival this year, and she was a bit down in the mouth about things.

I wished I had a dvd of that club to remind her of the magic her band made possible.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 05:11 PM

Hi Phil. I can see your point; if the club started out as a singers' club, you may well feel that guest nights are not what you were letting yourself in for. Fair enough. But I think it more often works the other way round. And £2 is still modest; I think it's probably roughly equivalent to the 2/6 ~ 3/- we were paying 40 years ago.
KV: sorry if this seems like a hijack; I thought your question was answered early on - we don't think there is a known statistic, but we're guessing that there aren't many of us. That could have been the end of it, but we've taken a slight side-step into trying to determine why that is. But then, have you ever known a thread - or for that matter a discussion or argument that didn't wander round in circles?
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 05:30 PM

In my recent experience, the old-style resident group has largely vanished. So there is no longer the focus and continuity. There is also no longer the same faithful support from paying punters. I see a connection.

Again, I've only got in-depth experience of one club, but I think this is wide of the mark. The club I go to works on very much this basis - a roster of regular floor singers, who can expect to do two songs any night they turn up on time, or one if there's an act on. But the audience divides pretty evenly between performers, performers' partners and friends, and listeners - and some of the non-performing listeners are there week in, week out. It's not either/or, in other words - having a lot of floor singers doesn't mean you don't have a lot of non-performing punters. I'm more concerned about the low number of performers who use their spot to do traditional material, but that's another discussion.

To some extent I think there's also a difference between what gets the punters in and what appeals to performers (apart from 'the chance to hear the sound of their own voice', obviously). I remember one guest night I went to where it looked as if the club had had an audience transplant - I was just about the only regular floor singer there. The act was this highly professional band who played contemporary material in a tasteful pseudo-Irish style - they were highly polished and professional, but (at least to my ear) they were bland and they were dull. On the average singers' night you don't see very much that's polished and professional, but you don't see anything dull. I can understand the non-performing punter occasionally wanting something that slips down a bit easier, but I don't think the rest of us can really be blamed for giving this kind of thing a miss.

There are, of course, performers who can do a skilled and professional set without lapsing into blandness - but in my experience they're pretty thin on the ground. I think this is another effect of the decline of the old folk clubs - anyone who's tried to make a living out of this stuff in the 80s and 90s will have had to pitch to audiences well outside the folk circuit, so it's not surprising if some acts end up sounding a bit Radio 2.

I guess John's strictures on floor singers aren't entirely unfounded. I remember our MC talking about one of the first acts we had at the folk club in very excited tones - It'll be a bit different, it'll be £3 in and we'll give him the whole evening, it'll be brilliant! Three quid in and I don't get to sing? Sod that for a game of soldiers, I thought.

Which is how I missed seeing Tom Paley.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 06:18 PM

on a singers night you don't see anything that's dull, Phil. they must sell bloody strong beer round that way.

I look on singers night - more as a sort of dialogue with the community. I get to say a bit. And they get to say a bit. And the village bore wangles it, so he gets to say a lot. I mean, that's only human nature.

I tell you one thing though. I've been struggling all night trying to get a load of stuff on my website and Youtube, and I missed my local singers night.

People are a lot more fun than computers - even the psychotic bores who do that traditional stuff.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 06:26 PM

The psychotic ones with traditional songs - now that sounds like fun: "Folk Club Chainsaw Massacre".


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 06:38 PM

PS, if I had to guess at a number of people actually earning the whole of their living from folk and similar music (so excluding those with part early pensions etc - which I think takes out even Ian Bruce as he got some sort of payoff when he was removed from conventional economic activity, as his song "Blue Denim Days" relates (if my memory serves)) I'd put it at more like 100 than 1,000 in England. I must know to nod to even if not to be bosom buddies with probably half of the regular folkers in Kent and environs and I can only think of one who AFAIK makes an entire living (no pension, no benefits, no other income) from folking, and he is definitely on the singer-songwriter side.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 07:43 PM

ah but you live in the affluent south Richard. us lot. we never had sod all to start with. so being an unemployed musician was quite a career opportunity for us northern lads.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 09:06 PM

Had a delightful evening at a well attended tune session organised by Valmai and MCed by Dan Quinn (a professional musician) and his son Matt (probably on his way to being a professional musician). Looking forward to Thursday at the Royal Oak with Pete Cooper, a wonderful professional musician and fiddle teacher I've had the good fortune to have a couple of workshops with, and Richard Bolton on cello who I've never heard but I'm sure will be excellent. Looking further forward to Saturday when Will Duke will be doing a workshop on the tunes of Scan Tester (sorry folks, sold out) and then performing in the evening. Will is a retired librarian and one of the best English style Anglo-concertina players you'll ever coma across with a lovely tenor voice. He is donating the proceeds of the workshop to the Vaughan-Williams Library. He'll be keeping the evening fee though (tickets still available but hurry.)

It is being able to spend time with such wonderful people, pro and am alike, almost as much as the music that makes me love the folk scene so much.

And I never have to worry about the smell from the gents.

Night, night.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jul 08 - 10:24 PM

as you have asked Richard, coincidence is that I have bee putting a couple of trad songs on my site. I play a lot of trad songs for MY pleasure but I've seen guys like Martin Carthy and Brian Peters and the late Tony Rose - and I know the difference between a someone who can get money for singing traditional music and someone (like myself) for whom its just a way pf keeping the chops together (as jazzmen say).

These are a couple that people have asked me about what the chords are, and it seems an easier way of amswering.

http://bigalwhittle.co.uk/id30.html

Trad music isn't what I do.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 03:24 AM

Al - I didn't say it was all good! I've squirmed, I've cringed, I've made unscheduled trips to the bar and/or the gents. But it's very rarely dull.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 03:48 AM

Interesting, Al. Very different timings to the versions I have most heard of both, and in both cases therefore an answer to the argument that playing traditional songs (or even "folk songs") leads to stultification. Both Irish.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 03:52 AM

I'd give you an argument about the Irish thing, but lifes too short. Anyway Irelands not the other side of the moon from us, is it?


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 06:10 AM

God save the North Atlantic Archipelago!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 06:58 AM

Other side of the moon? It depends what uniform you have on! And the sun is not out today so I can be as grumpy as I like.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,LJW
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 07:11 AM

"being an unemployed musician was quite a career opportunity for us northern lads."

"us northern lads"!!!!

Tha nowt burra Midlander!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,LJW
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 07:51 AM

"PS, if I had to guess at a number of people actually earning the whole of their living from folk and similar music (so excluding those with part early pensions etc - which I think takes out even Ian Bruce as he got some sort of payoff when he was removed from conventional economic activity, as his song "Blue Denim Days" relates (if my memory serves)) I'd put it at more like 100 than 1,000 in England. "

Since those heady days of rampant Thatcherism/Freidmanism the number of folk earning a living from numerous sources increased dramatically, so it may not be realistic to exclude the likes of Ian Bruce from your headcount. Also depends on your definition of "making a living" (I prefer to use "making" rather than "earning" - based on my perception of many professional football players I've paid good money I've "earned" to watch!) Whilst Shell oil tanker drivers "earn" an average of £42000 there are any number of folk musicians who manage to exist on a great deal less than that.

Numerous posters on here bemoan the fact that folk has changed over the years, and wonder what happened to the folk club template of the 60's and early 70's. It still exists in some areas, and remains fairly healthy. It puzzles me why some are prepared to admit to not supporting guest nights (because forking out a few quid and not getting to sing is a no no for a good night out) and then wonder why some club organisers throw in the towel. It's a fact that many more people now are playing an active rather than passive role in "folk clubs", and that must be one of the reasons the picture is changing. I think it's healthy, but then I'm not whittling about where my next booking's coming from, or when I'm next gonna sing, or how long it will be before my turn comes round again etc etc...

The folk/acoustic music scene is thriving - though not necessarily in the direction some folk wanted it to go. Again that puzzles me, because I thought (in my younger, more naive days I have to admit) that folk ethos embraced a form of democracy. Silly me - but I'm older and a little bit wiser now.

Go with the flow - be happy


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 08:20 AM

"therefore an answer to the argument that playing traditional songs (or even "folk songs") leads to stultification."

I thought that was the aim ........stultification.

I often see you traddy people on mudcat, saying I'm more stultifying than he is, and that guy's sold out....he's hardly stultifying at all. And others say, I thought I was stultifying, then I heard the original version - those source singers, by gum they were really stultifying. In fact Walter Pardon was so stultified, people used to say - hey up Walter, tha's not half stultified tonight!


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 08:30 AM

Hi Cecil Sharp Ate My Hamster and welcome to Mudcat....

Good Grief! It's YOU!

i) An irritating but fairly amusing wind-up merchant... Now that I can live with.

And I can cope with Subcomandante Snail and even folk club Stalinist even if I don't know what I've done to deserve them. My crack about revealing your identify to the citizens of Mudcaster was intended as banter in the same vein. It seems my timing was bad; I didn't realise "unpleasant things" were happening to you. I must say though that if you insist on rattling your stick against the bars of the cage, it is best to make sure the door is locked first.

ii) The last thing I would want to do is damage your (or anyone else's) reputation or that of the Lewes Arms - I was merely semi-flippantly responding to your earlier comments. Maybe your writing style comes over as more pugilistic than you intend and mine comes over as less frivolous than I intend.

This is a different matter. It's hard to know if you thought through what you were saying. It has become fashionable amongst some people (fortunately, very few) to claim that there is a widespread opinion that professional folk performers are an abomination, money grabbing harlots blah, blah, blah... I see very little evidence that anyone holds that opinion and those that make the claim have become increasingly equivocal about who they are accusing. I have been directly accused of it myself by someone of rather more influence than you. I think the people making this claim are doing serious damage to the folk scene by spoiling relations between folk professionals and the volunteers who run the folk infrastructure. So, sorry if I seem pugilistic but this is something that matters to me.

Earlier on this thread Tom Bliss reported that 101 clubs on his database have closed since 2001. It could be that the organisers just got fed up with the abuse being hurled at them. After all, now they are being held responsible for the smell in the gents.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 09:09 AM

It puzzles me why some are prepared to admit to not supporting guest nights (because forking out a few quid and not getting to sing is a no no for a good night out) and then wonder why some club organisers throw in the towel.

I think I'm the only person who's been 'prepared to admit' this, so I'd better respond.

Yes, I'll admit to skiving off (most) guest nights, but no, I don't think I'm undermining the club. Usually I go to about one guest night in six and about one singers' night in three. But we don't have many guest nights, so in any one year I'll probably see one guest and go to 15 singer's nights. I'm pretty sure I'm contributing more to the club that way - including putting more in the kitty - than if I only went to the guest nights. Apart from anything else, while some of those singers' nights are well-attended (we've had anything up to 20 acts on), some of them - particularly in the holiday periods - are very thin, to the point where the presence of one extra performer (& listener) actually makes a difference.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 09:43 AM

LJW, the core point (I think) is whether folk is the source of the entirety of ones income. How much that income might be is at most a subsidiary point.

WMD, go on, pick the gratuitous philological exhibitionism out of that!

Yes, lots of people would rather sing and play than sit and watch. I often don't go to any of the main concerts at festivals my side dance at. The only concert in the last year I felt I really HAD to go to was the Young Coppers at the Pigs Ear minifest (and then sod me I felt unwell and could not last for the second set).

Oh, and for the purposes of this thread the main point is also not whether folk-ish music is folk or not. I believe that not knowing the difference dilutes what marketeers would call the "USP" (the unique selling proposition), but others believe in brand diversity. One of the consequences of polarisation is that today many who like one type of music will not pay to see another. I once went to see a fine (I had been told) Scottish singer of traditional material - and alas she was ill. An excellent performer was substituted at the last second and I felt cheated and very disappointed because the said substitute was 100% contemporary.

When I was last involved in running a club we often had good-ish turnouts for guests - rammed for Mundy-Turner for example, standing on the landing outside for Les Barker and for Sid Kipper, but almost no-one turned up for Keith Christmas's Magic. But the only way we could afford guests of that calibre was because of a gratuitous hump in our cash flow. Back in the early 60s one could ram a club full with an entry fee of 2 pints of beer (equivalent). Now an entry fee of 2 pints of beer is where the attendance starts to fall off a cliff unless the artist is a superstar.

Not enough money in leads to not enough money out to the professional musician. But I would guess that back in the early 60s there was Sidders and Cambridge and not a lot of other festivals whereas no one can if minded and able to afford it go to a folk festival or folk ale every weekend all summer.

The other factor I see is that back in the early 60s there were a few guitarists in particular on another planet from the rest. Soon there was a small but small band of killer fiddlers and squeezers too. Now there are hundreds of semi-pro and even amateur players and even bodhranners who are spectacular - but not so many who pass the old grey whistle test.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 09:51 AM

Phil's point that by paying to get in on singers' nights, you are making a financial contribution, even if you never attend a guest night, is right. On the other hand, if it means that there are fewer in the audience on the guest nights, there is less money in the pot on those nights; and more empty seats, which affects the atmosphere. But then no-one is obliged to turn up out of some sense of duty to the club, or to the guest. The folk clubs do not owe any of us a living. I suppose there were always people who didn't attend guest nights, but there seem to be a lot more of them now, and fewer regular paying punters, and my theory is that the clubs are failing to supply what the punters want. I don't think your average punter is greatly entertained by a long succession of people doing one song each, much though the singers themselves might enjoy it. I think yer punter wants to see somebody doing a proper turn, and enjoys hearing a few floor spots as well. I could, of course be wrong; which is why I'm interested to hear what the punters think.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 11:00 AM

I don't think your average punter is greatly entertained by a long succession of people doing one song each, much though the singers themselves might enjoy it.

I've seen some very, very good performances by floor singers. A couple of those, four or five good-to-memorables and a chorus song or two adds up to a pretty good evening, to my mind.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 11:47 AM

To Tom Bliss:

Museums often have educational outreach programs that are presented offsite, frequently in schools, and they also can sponsor concerts, cultural events, and even festivals. If you like working with kids, one of the hottest new museum activities is the "overnight", essentially a slumber party in the museum, where a folksinger with storytelling skills can be the center piece--

Here at least, many schools have special budgets that allow them to bring performers in (often paid for by PTA fundraisers), and the central offices are not involved--as to the other, I've created programs that needed to satisfy state and local core curiculum objectives, and it is and time consuming work that needs the resources of an organization that is capable of working with a bureaucracy--


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 11:53 AM

I don't know about museums but Wendy (Arrowsmith my other half) is doing a gig along with John Wilson in Richmond (UK, North Yorkshire before anyone in Southwest London or Virginia gets excited) Library. This will be a song writing talk with a "set" of about an hour for each performer.

Certainly a first from our point of view. It is funded by North Yorks County Council.....and fair play to them for funding something like this, almost makes you glad to pay your council tax!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 11:54 AM

"LJW, the core point (I think) is whether folk is the source of the entirety of ones income. How much that income might be is at most a subsidiary point."

I take your point, but maybe didn't make mine properly. Many of us are now retired or semi-retired (those who look back fondly on the folk revival like it was yesterday) and include a number who "make a living" out of paid performance. I suspect it includes a considerable number who supplement their income (be it lump sum redundancy payment/early retirement or whatever) by gigging/tuition/busking etc, and are dependent upon that income and would choose to call it their profession. Suppose someone has an occupational pension that pays around £10,000 but gigs etc for another £6000; by your definition you would not include them? I would - though I accept it wouldn't fulfill the criteria of "primary source of income".


"my theory is that the clubs are failing to supply what the punters want. I don't think your average punter is greatly entertained by a long succession of people doing one song each"

Probably true - though different "clubs" cater for different needs. There are no shortage of places around Sheffield where you get both; venues where "punters" can watch guests and local artists do "a proper turn", and venues where the "punters" are the performers patiently waiting their turn to do their "turn".


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 12:05 PM

"An occupational pension of £10,000" now that'd be nice!!!
(Pro singer nearing retirement)


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 01:28 PM

Yes, LJW, I'd call such a person a semipro; the point being that they could not support themselves from folk (etc).


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 05:27 PM

Not all clubs followed the "resident/floor singer/guest" template, and the move away from this was not always a bad thing - I knew of several clubs which existed mainly to boost the residents' egos, and floor singers found it hard to get a look-in.

The clubs I started going to in Essex in the early 1970s didn't have residents doing long spots. The Brentwood club was run by Geoff and Pennie Harris, and as I recall they'd just do a slightly extended floor spot (2 or 3 numbers) to start off each half. The Chelmsford club, in my time, didn't have any residents as such, but had a lot of very high standard floor singers.

Although I would always want to perform myself, I would also be happy to listen to the floor singers and the guest, because these would invariably be good. The guests would usually be established performers, and when the club booked less well-known performers you could usually be confident that they would also be good-quality as the club had a standard and reputation to maintain.

Most of the clubs I now see advertised seem to consist mostly of floor spots, sadly many of which are pretty average. They may occasionally book a local performer as a guest, but unless the club has already established a benchmark standard I am unlikely to be tempted by someone I know nothing about.

These days I hardly ever go to folk clubs. Instead I usually go to music sessions where I can play all evening, and usually get in a song or two if I like.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 06:01 PM

Perhaps one of the reasons that Lewes is able to support two clubs is that we have rather different formats.

The Royal Oak is more toward the concert club end of the spectrum. They have a guest most weeks. After an opening tune session, the residents take the first half before the guests first slot then a few selected floor spots will start the second half.

We at the Lewes Arms have a smaller and cosier room and are more floor spot oriented and have more open nights. We do our utmost to get anyone on who wants a go. Residents take their turn amongst the others and will drop out to make room if there are a lot who want to perform. Hence for us, there is no distinction between a punter and a floor singer. Obviously, on busy nights, there may be too many to get on so a bit of selection has to be done.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 07:11 PM

It occurs to me (on getting home from a well-lubricated singaround, so logic and typing may be somewhat impaired) that John is mourning the loss of a folk audience, i.e. a large body of punters who want to listen to folk music but don't want to get up and do it themselves. I think it's probably true that a folk audience these days contains a much higher proportion of performers than, say, 30 years ago, to the point where non-performing punters are likely to be in the minority. My problem with John's position is that I can't see anything wrong with being a punter who also gets up and performs - as long as they can actually do it, the more the merrier.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 07:59 PM

No that's not true. I didn't mind going and not singing, but all these fucking idiots started going on about how we must protect the tradition. And it bloody well finished off the scene.

First of all they were nasty to people whom I would happily sit there and watch, and a lot of the prformers just pissed off abroad to work.

Johnny Silvo, Wizz Jones, Gerry Lockran - they used to talk and act disrespectfully through their sets - because they said it wasn't real folk music.

If you could produce people like that, I'd still be going to folk clubs. But you broke up the continuity. Nowadays these young kids are being suckered into thinking folk music is like the civil service.

They think they can sit their with melodeons and fiddles with faces like they're sucking on a lemon and producing excruciatingly boring and unmemorable music and they will be awarded a place in the folkmusic hall of fame.

And awarding them a major recording contract isn't going to work either. Believe you me, I know - I would have sold my ass musically speaking, but if they don't think you'll shift the units - they will lose interest so quick you won't believe it.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 09:23 PM

I never saw anyone do that to Johnny Silvo. Never saw the other two live. And although the frantic diddlers can bore me PDQ the ones I have seen are usually grinning maniacally. A few misfires on the Spandau there WMD.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 03:10 AM

Yeh true enuff Richard. yeh the songwriter who has never played anyone else's songs, so he doesn't actually know what a song consists of, has played a not inconsiderable role in the demise of the folkclubs.. .... Who killed Cock Robin?


I admit I never saw anyone do it to Silvo.   I don't really want to go into it with other players, but let's just say I saw too much of it. often times when I'd travelled a distance to see players, some protector of the tradition would be there rattling his mouth off in the background in a most annoying fashion.

Lets face it with Dylan and his like, folk music got a break. Most people then as now didn't go to folk clubs. Previous to that, folkmusic was heading to be a turn off for a lot of people.

'singing together' was better than doing sums, but it had its 'off' weeks. TV programmes like Folk cellar seemed to involve some pretty weird characters - people in rugby shirts singing Cosher Bailey with a fixed anal smile, ladies with sub operatic voices that would have been better off sub aqua, anti war songs about the mushroom clouds that would inevitably carry us all off. Pretty grim fare.

Then for a summers lease les Cousins was the center of a cultural revolution in the ordinary folks view of folkmusic. And for that brief period - it looked as though one could earn a living, from folkmusic. People like Brimstone and Lockran carried on the spirit of Greek Street 1966 heroically for while.

But now we are left with, what we are left with.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 03:32 AM

You know I hate Bob Dylan's singing and playing! He's a good writer though. But, again, the double standard. Praise Dylan, damn mushroom cloud writers. But he was one.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Betsy at Work
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 05:12 AM

Weelittledrummerboy encompassed many of thoughts which I have been unable to express as succinctly as he has, in his post 02 Jul 08 - 07:59 PM.
There are other elements which I would like to add, but this thread is not the place for me to do so, as I am the first to moan about thread creep.
Maybe someone can re-open an existing or open new thread which addressed or addresses the organisation of clubs and how over many years the nature of them has changed for the better or the (perceived) worse .


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,LJW
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 07:36 AM

As ever WLD hits nails on heads, but I take a more optimistic view based on my experiences in recent years. The power base of many clubs has changed and my general impression is they have become/are becoming more inclusive and supporting a wider base of what is accepted as "folk/acoustic music". OK - so there will be those who would like to see more people "upholding the tradition" but they are having to accept the reality of the situation.

Folk music and folk/acoustic music clubs are thriving, and they provide venues for folk of all types to go and get their own particular fix. Though many don't like it, they are able to "uphold the tradition" by way of the fact that there are others (in significant numbers) who support the venues by both playing and listening to wider forms of music; without them the clubs would die a death - and I suspect that in their hearts they know this, but use this forum to indulge in a little harmless moaning. This is a great site and provides therapy for many.

WLD has maybe had a rough ride along the way - sounds like his music does not fall neatly into the "folk tradition", but maybe he has been going to the wrong venues. One club I love is the Bay Folk Club in Robin Hood's Bay - this is probably quite heavily biased towards traditional (there are a good number of locals who sing very traditional songs) but I never get the feeling they don't appreciate a wider brand of music. It's a very well run club, and there's always a great atmosphere.

The Whitby festival will be with us soon - you can certainly get whatever form of "folk" music you want there. WLD said he'd never go to the festival again (not since the 70's) which is a shame because his music would be very welcome in the pubs where I go.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 07:57 AM

I don't know if this is relevant because the fact that I'm on probably influences who comes to my gigs and therefore the percentages, but for a good few months now I've usually (not always) asked the audience fairly early in my set if they would prefer me to do more trad, more contemporary covers, or stick mainly with my own. The number of people who say they they prefer trad is usually very small, often none at all - even in clubs where I've been advised that they normally prefer trad material and/or with trad in the title. Only once have I had a majority wanting trad, and I do have one booking later in the year where I've already been asked to do only trad - but from my very unscientific survey I get the impression that, on the whole, in VERY general 'sweeping statement' terms, taken across the whole gamut of places called folk clubs, on average (is that enough caveat's yet?) perhaps most people who go to places loosely within the 'folk club' category of event seem generally to enjoy trad music, but very few want to hear only that. Yes, Robin Hoods Bay is indeed a great little club - the regulars have a fine stock of trad, but whenever I've played there a majority of the audience have been tourists staying on after chips (they start early then stand in the doorway to keep em in :-)!) who have little knowledge of 'folk.' What's nice is that the tourists seem to enjoy the trad as much as the rest, but anything goes as long as you can win them over. Tom


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Aoife Mac
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 07:58 AM

heya.

i noticed your request for a phonetic version of "buachaill on eirne" and i went and had a stab at it.

(i know the post is VERY old now, so you may not even care anymore, or have given up on checking for replies. thought i'd just let ya know!)


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 07:59 AM

Oh, you should go to WMD's website. He's good (even if nearly all of it ain't folk).

More importantly, folk clubs should never exclude that music that its makers say is or will be the new folk music - nor vice versa. The vine does not grow without its roots.

The relationship of that to being able to scratch a living is more vexed.

THe thing that distinguishes "earning a living in folk" from "earning a living in music" is the folk aspect, which for present purposes is wider than folk (1954 def). But even the wider folk is narrower than all music, and the amount one can earn is partly controlled by the amount of money in the market, and partly by the number of suppliers to that market.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Betsy at work
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:05 AM

Banjiman has started another thread something like "Can Folk clubs get any better" so I'll take any views I have on Clubs / trad or not / acoustic / was the 80's a dull time etc etc to THAT thread and leave this one to what ( I understand ) it's supposed to be .
Now then Paul .......


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: GUEST,Aoife Mac (again)
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:06 AM

sorry that was meant for JedMarnam or whatever his name is. *shrug*
can't you send personal messages here?! weird board...

embarrassed now, so i'll be off! anyone who's not Jed ignore this... and, uh, and have a nice day. :)


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Surreysinger
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:15 AM

Hi Aoife ... if you need to send a message to someone specific ,you can certainly do that, but it's probably better to make it a personal message (PM) . But to do that you need to lose your guest status and become a member of the Forum - easily done and straightforward.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:17 AM

And free


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: M.Ted
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:29 AM

My thought simply is that the performer, wheresoever he be, howsoever he came to be there, and whatsoever he performs, must make it work in that moment, or nothing else matters.

Thanks to Big Al Whittle for the link above, you make Arthur McBride work as well as I've have ever heard--

Tom Bliss's comments above cause me to dig out his web page, as well, and, however one might describe it, his music is a pleasure, as well--

More music, less chat, and we'll all be happier--


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:52 AM

aw shucks.....

People think I'm being grumpy on my own account. But the reason i can say the things that I do is that I'm not well enough to do real gigs any more. So I've nothing to fear or expect from anyone

It grieves me though to see younger people than I am going through the same nonsense that i did. I think the folkscene missed a trick when it decided that what i did and several others of my generation wasn't folkmusic, and therefore had no place inside the folkscene - no claim to the folk radio programmes and magazins, no place on the festival stages...

I think the movement would have been stronger with us inside than outside. i was lucky, I got to make records and play other venues, but a lot of people didn't - they just gave up. Ithink its worth (even if its only on mudcat) raising a voice in protest.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 12:38 PM

Al - I'm not sure whether I agree with you or not, because I'm not sure what you're saying the problem is. Too many young trad virtuosii?

...sit there with melodeons and fiddles with faces like they're sucking on a lemon and producing excruciatingly boring and unmemorable music...

Or too many young bedroom Dylans?

...the songwriter who has never played anyone else's songs, so he doesn't actually know what a song consists of, has played a not inconsiderable role in the demise of the folkclubs...

I have seen a few of those; encourage singer-songwriters and you will encourage the differently talented as well as the ones who deserve the attention. Coincidentally, I've just noticed that the myspace page for my beloved Chorlton Folk Club actually describes it as a venue for singer-songwriters. But I wouldn't have thought you'd have a problem with original material pushing out traditional.

As for the sour-faced young trad virtuosiii, I've never seen any; I rarely see anyone who looks younger than me playing trad anything, and I'm 47.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 01:21 PM

You're very lucky if you don't encounter people like that.

Personally I used find to the lower rungs of the industry pretty much clogged up with them - hogging suport slots, being awarded slots in prestigious festivals, getting favours done for favours done.

Meanwhile really competent people some who have been banging on the door for years, and have invested their lives in this music don't get a tumble. And eventually - they go off and do something else with their lives.

My friends who are still active in folkmusic say its still pretty much the same, and I don't doubt that's the way it will always be.

The internet is really the great white hope of English folk music - probably of all music. God knows they turned the pop music of our generation into a branch of showbiz. The folkmusic hit the skids in even less time. They can't stop little website communities like Mudcat, and it amuses me to hear them try to dismiss us as unimportant.

Don't get me wrong - we all go through stages if incompetence. No one should resent that. But theres a time and a place for it.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Tootler
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 06:44 PM

Personally I used find to the lower rungs of the industry pretty much clogged up with them - hogging suport slots, being awarded slots in prestigious festivals, getting favours done for favours done.

Meanwhile really competent people some who have been banging on the door for years, and have invested their lives in this music don't get a tumble. And eventually - they go off and do something else with their lives.


I can assure you that the music business is no different from many other walks of life in that respect.

I spent most of my career in the academic world. During my time I have seen a few "bright young things" climb all over anyone who got in their way bid to "make it to the top" and when they got there, they turned out to be useless. On the other hand there were a considerable number of very competent people who never made it very far, either because they were taken for granted or because their faces didn't fit or because they couldn't (wouldn't) spout the currently fashionable jargon.

There were also a number of people who did "make it" who thoroughly deserved their success.

That's life.


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Subject: RE: Earning a living in Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 07:24 PM

Sure is!


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