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How can a folkie make a living?

Stower 24 Oct 09 - 03:51 PM
dick greenhaus 24 Oct 09 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,Mark Stevens 24 Oct 09 - 04:19 PM
Linda Kelly 24 Oct 09 - 04:26 PM
Vic Smith 24 Oct 09 - 04:32 PM
GUEST,Mark Stevens 24 Oct 09 - 04:42 PM
Amos 24 Oct 09 - 04:58 PM
GUEST,Mark Stevens 24 Oct 09 - 05:08 PM
Gervase 24 Oct 09 - 05:11 PM
GUEST,Stuart Reed 24 Oct 09 - 05:30 PM
Tim Leaning 24 Oct 09 - 05:37 PM
Joe_F 24 Oct 09 - 05:41 PM
Tug the Cox 24 Oct 09 - 06:44 PM
Richard Bridge 24 Oct 09 - 06:45 PM
Will Fly 24 Oct 09 - 07:03 PM
Alice 24 Oct 09 - 07:10 PM
kendall 24 Oct 09 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,Mark Stevens 24 Oct 09 - 08:03 PM
Charley Noble 24 Oct 09 - 09:39 PM
GUEST,FolkGiant 24 Oct 09 - 10:34 PM
Eve Goldberg 24 Oct 09 - 11:15 PM
Naemanson 24 Oct 09 - 11:19 PM
Richie 24 Oct 09 - 11:47 PM
Tim Leaning 25 Oct 09 - 05:14 AM
kendall 25 Oct 09 - 05:43 AM
Stower 25 Oct 09 - 06:05 AM
Young Buchan 25 Oct 09 - 06:05 AM
stallion 25 Oct 09 - 06:27 AM
GUEST,Mooh, who? 25 Oct 09 - 09:47 AM
Stower 25 Oct 09 - 10:11 AM
Fidjit 25 Oct 09 - 10:34 AM
VirginiaTam 25 Oct 09 - 10:34 AM
Rafflesbear 25 Oct 09 - 01:29 PM
Patrick-Costello 25 Oct 09 - 02:02 PM
Paul Burke 25 Oct 09 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Guest John Hartford 25 Oct 09 - 03:07 PM
Anne Lister 25 Oct 09 - 04:52 PM
Alice 25 Oct 09 - 04:59 PM
Deckman 25 Oct 09 - 05:11 PM
Stringsinger 25 Oct 09 - 07:09 PM
Bill D 25 Oct 09 - 07:12 PM
Mark Ross 25 Oct 09 - 07:25 PM
Callie 25 Oct 09 - 08:03 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 09 - 08:16 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 09 - 08:52 PM
GUEST,cookieless Jed Marum 25 Oct 09 - 08:54 PM
JedMarum 25 Oct 09 - 08:57 PM
JedMarum 25 Oct 09 - 08:59 PM
JedMarum 25 Oct 09 - 09:06 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 09 - 09:14 PM
Betsy 25 Oct 09 - 09:35 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 09 - 11:11 PM
GUEST,guest John Hartford 26 Oct 09 - 07:36 AM
matt milton 26 Oct 09 - 07:51 AM
JedMarum 26 Oct 09 - 11:58 AM
JedMarum 26 Oct 09 - 12:04 PM
folktheatre 26 Oct 09 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 26 Oct 09 - 12:25 PM
JedMarum 26 Oct 09 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 26 Oct 09 - 12:45 PM
Eve Goldberg 26 Oct 09 - 12:52 PM
matt milton 26 Oct 09 - 01:45 PM
Stringsinger 26 Oct 09 - 01:55 PM
matt milton 26 Oct 09 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 26 Oct 09 - 02:10 PM
matt milton 26 Oct 09 - 02:29 PM
Peace 26 Oct 09 - 02:38 PM
jimmyt 26 Oct 09 - 06:03 PM
The Sandman 26 Oct 09 - 06:53 PM
Vic Smith 26 Oct 09 - 07:30 PM
Tim Leaning 27 Oct 09 - 01:31 AM
Seamus Kennedy 27 Oct 09 - 02:29 AM
Stower 27 Oct 09 - 04:55 AM
kendall 27 Oct 09 - 07:43 AM
Banjiman 27 Oct 09 - 08:42 AM
s&r 27 Oct 09 - 08:49 AM
Tim Leaning 27 Oct 09 - 12:19 PM
InOBU 27 Oct 09 - 12:40 PM
DonMeixner 27 Oct 09 - 01:09 PM
The Sandman 27 Oct 09 - 01:49 PM
Stringsinger 27 Oct 09 - 02:11 PM
The Sandman 27 Oct 09 - 02:23 PM
Stower 27 Oct 09 - 02:29 PM
Vic Smith 27 Oct 09 - 03:08 PM
The Sandman 27 Oct 09 - 03:22 PM
Don Firth 27 Oct 09 - 03:58 PM
JedMarum 27 Oct 09 - 04:38 PM
Tim Leaning 27 Oct 09 - 07:34 PM
GUEST,biff 27 Oct 09 - 08:38 PM
autoharper 28 Oct 09 - 11:23 AM
DonMeixner 28 Oct 09 - 11:40 AM
Don Firth 28 Oct 09 - 11:48 AM
Tim Leaning 28 Oct 09 - 11:53 AM
JedMarum 28 Oct 09 - 12:10 PM
Seamus Kennedy 28 Oct 09 - 03:44 PM
GUEST 28 Oct 09 - 04:16 PM
Stringsinger 28 Oct 09 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,yer Hacker 28 Oct 09 - 07:34 PM
Vic Smith 28 Oct 09 - 07:45 PM
Leadfingers 28 Oct 09 - 07:53 PM
GUEST 28 Oct 09 - 07:55 PM
GUEST,biff 28 Oct 09 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,biff 28 Oct 09 - 07:59 PM
t.jack 29 Oct 09 - 08:40 AM
The Sandman 30 Oct 09 - 07:06 AM
GUEST 30 Oct 09 - 08:35 AM
Charley Noble 30 Oct 09 - 08:57 AM
Hamish 30 Oct 09 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Paul Reade 30 Oct 09 - 02:03 PM
GUEST, an interested reader 30 Oct 09 - 06:30 PM
jimmyt 31 Oct 09 - 11:36 AM
meself 31 Oct 09 - 11:52 AM
jimmyt 31 Oct 09 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,Jenny Brampton 31 Oct 09 - 03:31 PM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 31 Oct 09 - 04:01 PM
meself 31 Oct 09 - 04:05 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 01 Nov 09 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 01 Nov 09 - 12:02 PM
TheSnail 01 Nov 09 - 01:57 PM
Stringsinger 02 Nov 09 - 09:56 AM
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Subject: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stower
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 03:51 PM

I remember Martin Carthy saying once that, in the '60s, he and Swarb did a tour of all the folk clubs in Manchester. It took them two weeks.

Nowadays there are few folk clubs and some of them are struggling. So I am genuinely interested: how can a single folk performer, or indeed a duo or a band, possibly make a full time living out of their music? Obviously, for a few, it can be done, but we've all heard of performers who have to go back to a job where the wage is guaranteed. I find it difficult to imagine how our music from provide a living wage.

I'd be interested to hear from full or part time performers. How do you do it? Supportive partners with a regular income? Second jobs to fall back on? Other part time work? Instrument tuition? Educational work in schools? Playing solo and also in five different bands?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 04:13 PM

McDonald's?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Mark Stevens
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 04:19 PM

Busking.
Blagging gigs at pubs that you can negotiate proper payment.
By NOT playing boring 'we don't know this song' folk music to the general public !
Give the public what they what, give them The Wild Rover till the cows come 'ome.
Folk-erize pop songs: Buddy Holly, Cat Stevens, The Beatles, The Kinks, Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
Forget about the Musician's Union, what have they ever done for me ?
Forget about Folk Clubs, they're full of b.o.fs and yoghurt knitters.

That's my personal experience, anyway. You may disagree.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 04:26 PM

I disagree


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 04:32 PM

"How can a folkie make a living?"

Easy-Peasy. I can tell you how to make a living as a folk singer and end up with a million quid! You start out with £2 million.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Mark Stevens
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 04:42 PM

But where do you get £2M from in the first place, Vic ?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Amos
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 04:58 PM

Make a brilliant CD and flog it to hundreds of thousands of people.


A


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Mark Stevens
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 05:08 PM

I've already tried that, haven't I, Vic ?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Gervase
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 05:11 PM

Get a proper job and save the proper music for your spare time.
Or if you don't give a toss about your own heritage and culture, follow Mark Stevens' advice and churn out any old crap for drunkards in pubs.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Stuart Reed
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 05:30 PM

There are very few folkies making a living. By that I mean enough to pay the mortgage, bring up 2.4 children, run a car, take the family away for two weeks in the sun etc.

That probably means that handful of well known performers on the concert circuit. I'm sure that Vic would agree that very few of the guests he books at his weekly club are among them.

But it's not just folkies - I reckon that only about 10 per cent of all "full time" musicians of any genre fulfil the criteria above.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 05:37 PM

Get a job?
Go back to uni ?
Enhance your networking skills?
Accept that you maybe cant do what you would like to do and then do what you can and enjoy that~?
Keep trying and if you do, all the very best wishes for your success.
Maybe when you have made the big time you could post a how to do it thread on the cat.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Joe_F
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 05:41 PM

How can a blue-eyed person make a living? Plenty of ways, but not by having blue eyes. And that, IMO, is just as well.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 06:44 PM

Forget about Folk Clubs, they're full of b.o.fs and yoghurt knitters.
That's my personal experience, anyway. You may disagree.


   Yep, I do. But I also disagree with most of what mark ye Morris of Wild Hunt and the BNP says.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 06:45 PM

Pretty much a giveaway for the amount the BNP really care about folk music and other traditions, Mark.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 07:03 PM

I made a living from music for a short spell - before I got totally bored with the life - and it wasn't from folk music, it was rock'n roll. We (the trio) played up and down the country - British Legions, Con Clubs, Trades & Labour clubs, Army messes, social clubs of all sorts, one-offs in pubs residencies in pubs - plus weddings, anniversary bashes, corporate events, blah, blah and blah. Southport one night, Clacton the next, "50s" themed weekends at out-of-season holiday camps, works "do's"... with the New Year's Eve gig as the cash high spot of the year. Even made a record or two.

In the end, the life nearly killed the love of music so, in spite of quite good money, I jacked it in. But, and note this - only a few of those venues above are open to folkies. Bring on the day job...


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Alice
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 07:10 PM

Most artists have to have another source of income.

Musicians, painters, dancers, actors, writers, composers, sculptors, you name it. If you are in the arts, most do it without making a living from it (if you get paid to teach in the arts, that helps). My degree is in fine art. I've had gallery shows over the last 35 years, but lose money on those in the long run, because of framing, shipping, paying the gallery their commission. The money I made from art was from being employed as a graphic artist, illustrator, or art director, totally commercial stuff.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: kendall
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 07:36 PM

I never wanted to make a living doing folk music. Anything you MUST do is work, and I never want music to be work.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Mark Stevens
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 08:03 PM

well, cheers Gervaise, Tug, and Richard !
I don't suppose you've even heard my musick, so what do you know ? !!


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 09:39 PM

A wealthy wife or husband would help.

Very few people can make it professionally.

But it's still a lot of fun to sing, and sing well.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,FolkGiant
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 10:34 PM

I have also had a period of time where I made my living (admittedly as a single man in a cheap apartment with a roommate) at music. I am forming a new band and will soon make that living again, albeit with a wife and 3 kids in tow. Nevertheless, it shall get done.

My advice? Just keep plugging away, mate. Never mind all the bull about having to play crappy music for drunkards. Play what you want. Polish that motherfucker till it shines. Own the stage... whatever it is you do, do it like no one else. Put your own stamp on the music and leave no doubt in anyone's mind that your show is a scene worth making.

I never, ever bow my knee to what people want to hear irrespective of what I love (and was born) to play. I do, of course, try to get gigs where my music (Chicago and Kansas City-style blues) where the music is more likely to be appreciated, but damn if I play some bubblegum garbage pop music just because some rumpot is waving a dollar.

What does Pete Seeger always say, anyway? "Take it easy, but take it."


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 11:15 PM

When people ask me if I make a living from music, my answer is always, "define living."

Having said that, my only source of income is from music, and for me the key has been diversifying. Most of my steady income these days is from teaching. I teach private lessons out of my home (extremely low overhead and very satisfying). I have developed a bunch of workshops I can teach. So sometimes when I'm performing a concert I can also offer a workshop on guitar, singing, performance, or songwriting in the same town the afternoon before or the day after before I leave town. That helps me bring in more income for the same amount of travel.

I also teach classes at an arts school every summer now, and teach at several music camps. I have recently started teaching guitar lessons on an online website. And I've just started offering long distance lessons via Skype, so now I can teach guitar to someone halfway around the world if I want.

I love teaching and it adds immeasurably to my musicianship. I can (for the most part) set my own hours, and move my schedule around if I need to. My students become great supporters and fans, bringing their friends to gigs and buying CDs to give other people as gifts, and so on.

Recently I've also started looking into working with kids. I am currently taking a course for artists in different disciplines who want to work in schools. I'm learning about the learning culture in schools, developing programs that fit the curriculum, working with teachers, what's appropriate for different ages, multiple intelligences, and all kinds of great stuff that will hopefully prepare me to be able to bring my music into schools in a meaningful way.

I am also learning how to play the ukulele, because I love the instrument, but also because I see a lot of potential for working with kids - the uke is small, easy to get started on, portable, and incredibly versatile. All of which make it ideal instrument for kids.

All of this is in addition to my performing and recording activities, which I originally thought would be my main sources of income. I learned fast that I would have to find other ways of using my music if I wanted to be able to survive. Doing lots of other things with my music has helped me stay interested in what I'm doing, introduced me to new audiences, and helped me develop as a musician. So all in all, I think it's been a great thing for me. Your mileage may vary, of course!


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Naemanson
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 11:19 PM

Most folkies I know have a real job and music is their hobby. As the old saying goes, "Don't give up your day job."

My plan was always to retire and live on the retirement and tour the little folk clubs for fun. Now that I'm retired I'm on the wrong side of the world for that plus the retirement doesn't do the support job so well as to let me do anything but work at a second career.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Richie
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 11:47 PM

Hi,

I make a living playing music because that's what I do. I also teach and write. I really don't worry about making money- but my wife does- haha!

Times are tougher to make good money playing. I make less than I used to and play more.

My main goal is to contribute to the music community by doing research and sharing what little I know with others.

I've had some success and played with a few legends but it means more to me to uncover info about old songs and musicians than what I do.

I hope I can give more- money isn't everything.

Richie


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 05:14 AM

Seems success depends how you measure life eh?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: kendall
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 05:43 AM

Well said, FolkGiant! LOL. I would sometimes reluctantly sing a song that I had recorded earlier and grew tired of, but iI would never make like a freekin' juke box.

"You sing Irish songs? can you do WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILING?" AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stower
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 06:05 AM

Thank you. Thank you especially, Eve Goldberg, for being so positive and constructive. The answers are, on the whole, what I expected (but hoped to hear differently) - that making a folkie living is nigh on impossible.

Money isn't everything. I am not materialistic. On the other hand, I have bills to pay, a mortgage (like most people), and I never want to be in the position where my choice is to be in debt or sell an instrument, as has happened to two professional musicians I know.

More contributions on making a success if it, as Eve has, would be most welcome.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Young Buchan
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 06:05 AM

Harry Cox and Fred Jordan made a living working on a farm. Sam Larner and John Doughty made a living working on trawlers. Belle Stewart and Phoebe Smith made a living selling things from door to door. John McDonald made a living as a molecatcher.

None of them made a particularly good living. But look at the music!


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: stallion
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 06:27 AM

It sometimes pays for the beer we consume, sometimes we give it back, some clubs are so cash strapped it feels like the beggar is giving us money! the music is the most important bit.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Mooh, who?
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 09:47 AM

Get a haircut and get a real job. It actually worked for years, that is, working for others. Then came stress and burnout. Screw that routine. I ended up teaching private music lessons, small time gigs and recording sessions. It's a living, and the best job I've ever had.

Peace, Mooh.

P.S. Apologies to the mod squad, I ate my cookie.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stower
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 10:11 AM

Yes, Mooh: 'real job', stress, burnout. I'm doing that now. I've had enough of it. This is why I ask the question. I want to know how not having a 'real job' can work in practice.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Fidjit
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 10:34 AM

Much better now I'm a pensioner.

Fixed income. Solves the payment of the bills. Mortgage is payed off.

Plenty of time to get to gigs. I plan at least six months ahead.

Gave up pub singing in the seventy's
Can't remember when I last sang "The Wild Rover".

Choose where I want to play. Library's, Museums, Art centers and the like.

Won't say I'm making a living at it (Tax man would be after me) I'm not, but I don't care. I just enjoy what I'm doing.

Do a fare amount for free 'cos I enjoy the buzz.

Play with two different groups. Mostly for dance.

Play with another couple that live 3 hours drive away (even in another country) I have the time, they don't.

Then there's my solo stuff too.

Chas


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 10:34 AM

Not likely to support yourself with gigs, but it can be a nice supplement to other income and will keep it enjoyable because you don't have to bust butt and rely on it to pay bills.

If you do trad music put together a package of story telling and song that is folkloric especially geographically specific, maybe consider working schools, libraries, history groups for a small fee?

Though Tom Bliss did just this and still, sadly, had to pack it in to find more gainful employment.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Rafflesbear
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 01:29 PM

Norcsalordie went the pub route and kept it going for a while. They carved their niche in upbeat folk - there are enough videos on YouTube for you to make up your own minds as to whether they sold out

Yes there were pubs full of drunkards - but when you can get those drunkards dancing on the tables because there's not enough room on the floor just by playing folk music - that's quite a buzz

If you are not prepared to play and sing music that many people enjoy then you are not serious about making a living at it. Treat it as a crusade - give them Fields of Athenry then when they are on board put in something less well known

There were times when the duo threatened to outnumber the audience and there were the pubs with appreciative audiences that kept inviting them back. There were the myriads of phone calls, the publicity material, e-mails are an absolute boon, the website - essential, making contacts and hoping that someone will take a chance on you - in the case of Norcsalordie that someone was Kim Headley at Broadstairs - the socialising in the interval and at the end

Folk clubs were overall a dead loss - most of them fix their program up to a year in advance and are pretty conservative in who they book. They tend to run on a limited budget and are the haunt of people who play for free and are often pleased to do so. That said when Norcsalordie did get into clubs they went down extremely well

Travel all over the country and if you are not playing you should be getting bookings. When you travel to a gig, leave early and make personal calls on potential venues along the route and in the area. Take your instruments in with you and be ready to give an audition on the spot - if you are lucky you will get the ear of the locals who will insist that the publican gives you a gig.

Essentially - to make it in pubs

get an act that people will want to see
promote yourself 24/7
be thick skinned
be prepared to travel wherever necessary
don't have too many people in your act
keep it lively - pubs will have you back if you sell beer - not if you make their clientele stick to their chairs
break into festivals as soon as you can
and if you work extremely hard you may just get by on the takings


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Patrick-Costello
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 02:02 PM

I thing the real breakthrough for me was the realization that performing has nothing to do with folk music. Once I understood that I set out breaking all of the "rules" of the music biz. I flat-out refuse to perform. I have managed to put off releasing CD for several years. I refuse to charge for music lessons. I only leave my home town a couple of times a year. Anything I do sell is almost always made available online under a Creative Commons license.

I make myself freely available to my students online and in person (even our Folk Music Retreats in Crisfield are now pass-the-hat funded events). I never try to market myself. We do sell a lot of books, videos and instruments but I take a very passive approach to sales – and sales have nothing to do with how I treat people.
As a folk musician I view my job along the lines of service. Day after day I work to help folks discover that they can make music. The people I help go out into their own communities and, bit by bit, the good will spreads.

Whenever other folkies make fun of how I do business I pull my health insurance card from my wallet and smile.
-Patrick
http://dailyfrail.com/


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 02:26 PM

Here's a suggsetion, though it's parochial (to UK), and assumes you have access to some capital.

Buy a pub in a rural location- they are closing down like wasps die in the autumn at the moment. It needs to have a suitable camping field nearby. I could suggest one.

Run it as a folk venue- a permanent do-it-yourself festival. You'll get income from camping fees, beer, food. Extra expenses will be cost of bookings when you run a special event- the rest of the time, the punters entertain themselves.

Keep the snug for locals, and encourage them to mix with the folkies. Do them things they like on quiet nights.

Be high profile.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Guest John Hartford
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 03:07 PM

hi

I understand the feelings of most of the contributors to this thread. Making a living as a " folkie" is almost impossible.

It can be done but to do it you have to understand that you will be a proffessional and as such will need to dedicate most of your time and effort into being so.......oh and you will need more than just a little luck.

I did make a living out of music but not in folk music. I made my "pile" in rock & pop. It paid as a very good living for a few years and I was able to buy my home outright and feed and clothe and educate my family.

Having done this I got out and took up a "proper job" in commerce.

So I was then able to set myself and some friends up in the folk field and pick and choose what I wanted to do and when and where I wanted to do it.

Needless to say we didn't add to our bank accounts but we did bank some rich life experiences.

Good playing

John


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Anne Lister
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 04:52 PM

I can tell you what is a really, really bad idea financially, and that's to marry an actor.
How we make ends meet - luckily his acting is also a day job (pays peanuts, but it's regular peanuts). And I do supply teaching, storytelling, run workshops and do whatever I can to pull in more pennies. About to join him for a week at his day job (living history museum) where I will be acting for even smaller peanuts but it's school half term so hey, it's work.
So to take the opposite point of view, a folkie should aim to marry someone with a good regular income and that would probably help a lot.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Alice
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 04:59 PM

Thanks, John, for your input.

To add to what I posted earlier, the choice to be an artist of any kind is usually not motivated by money, but rather the love of plying that art. I spent many financially struggling years as an artist, but I am happy for the experiences I've had with art and music.




Alice


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Deckman
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 05:11 PM

I especially liked Kendall's first comment ... fits me to a tee.

I'm retired now, layed down my hammer and picked up my guitar about four years ago. Over the last 45 years of building, I always kept my hand in my music, performing the occasional concert, gigs, etc. We just returned from a 1,724 mile road trip: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, back home to Washington. We made enough on the road to match expenses, but that's all. Did concerts, TV, a supper club, and some freebies.

If you MUST make your living at music ... and you KNOW if you're driven to do that ... take EVERYTHING you can get. All kinds of gigs, teach, do school programs, nursing homes, funerals, weddings, children's parties, the Rotary club, the Kiwanis club, etc. Back in the early 60's I knew I'd reached my musical prostitution limit when I was offered a gig singing for a Safeway Store opening. (I turned it down).

Hang in there and don't pick up any expensive needs, such as a family! Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 07:09 PM

This is probably the worst time to try to make a living as a folkie. That doesn't mean it can't be done.

You have to be your own promoter, publicist and manager. You have to make one deal for a concert at a time. You have to either be willing to travel or play for little money. You have to find out what works for you individually because it may not work for anyone else.

You have to decide what it means to be a folkie.

CD's don't mean much any more. You Tube is a better vehicle for gigs. Or live DVD's.

You have to be ready to pay the psychic costs for being a performer. It's not as romantic as you think it would be. On the road, bad food, health issues, expenses associated with travel and lodging become highly important problems.

You have to find your niche. In this way, many will not know who you are nationally.

Fame generally finds you rather than you finding it.

Fame doesn't always translate into making money.

You have to study hard. Guitar, or any instrument, voice, performance techniques, songwriting (if that's what you do) just like an actor does. You kinda' have to train like an athlete. Even with all of this, you may not wind up where you thought you would be in a career.

You need to really know what you're doing. If you sing folk songs, know everything there is to know about the songs you sing historically, musically, vocally etc. If you write songs, they better be the kind that others will want either to hear more than once or sing themselves.

If you are a soloist, be prepared to be alone and like it. If you are in a group, it's like a marriage without any of the benefits. It's usually a temporary marriage, too.

You have to schmooze plenty with those who hire you. How far you want to go with this differs from gig to gig. (I am not willing to drink or smoke dope with anyone).

Luck plays an important role because unlike going to med or law school, you can make all the right moves and still be unsuccessful.

The best question would be:How can you be the best folkie you can be?

Stringsinger


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 07:12 PM

No one has really said **write songs**. It won't make you a gen-you-wine 'folkie', but if you OWN some good songs...(did I mention that you have to write good ones?)... it can increase your value a lot. If you also do some 'folk' songs, it can be a pleasant mixture.
   The other thing that *I* look for is someone who is knowledgeable and outgoing/gregarious about sharing what they do & know when they perform. That intangible thing called 'stage presence' helps also...I'm not sure one can just adopt that....it''s gotta come naturally.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 07:25 PM

I have learned after 421/2 years that there are literally tens of dollars to be made!

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Callie
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 08:03 PM

have several projects going at once. that way you can get gigs or play at festivals under many different guises (and not only as "oh - we had him last year, we can't book him again").

teach

get on the Arts Councils touring circuits

tour tour tour

continue to record and sell new cds (including under different guises)

move to a cheap part of town

don't have children!!

drive a bomb

ask other performers to billet you on tour, and expect to do the same for them when they are in town

play gigs at non-folk venues, fetes, fairs, festivals, community gatherings

practise all the time so that you can be good when the gigs come in

that's all i can think of!


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 08:16 PM

DEPEMDING

Age
Sex
Location
Morals
Connection
Living?

MOST of the world makes "a living" on about 2,000 Euros a year.
There are some.. who I hear...that support on their rear...
Two mortgagues - three dogs and four homes.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 08:52 PM

I'll tell you what I think; the first thing you do is give up the day job. Now you have to earn ALL of your living from music. Then you pound the pavement.

Figure what kind of gigs you might be able to take and try every flipping one of them. If you're not good at some of them, figure out how you can get better at them and keep trying. Obviously the ones you are good at, keep booking.

You build on your successes. You turn over every stone. Look at where the players you want to follow are working and figure out how to get booked there too.

Always develop your music; if you're a writer, keep writing. If you're a folklorist, keep researching and learning new material. Figure out how to "tell the tale" and hold an audience's attention.

You've got work at it - and I mean every minute of the day. The booking is the hardest part for me. I still hate it, but I do it constantly. I've been earning a living at it for over just under 10 years and I still struggle - but I love it.

Good luck


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,cookieless Jed Marum
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 08:54 PM

Ooops! Me again above. Sorry.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: JedMarum
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 08:57 PM

... and most folkies I know work only music for their living, and some do very well.

If you're looking to jump into a comfortable or even a good living, that won't happen to most people. But if you're determined to make your income from performing and willing to work really hard and keep pounding away at it - you can make it.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: JedMarum
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 08:59 PM

right on, folk giant!


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: JedMarum
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 09:06 PM

PM me for particulars. I'd be glad to share more thoughts on this.

It was through Mudcat that I got jump-started into performing folk music for my living - and I am more then happy to help out folks seriously considering the path I chose.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 09:14 PM

Relationships (aka networking)

You NEED some "anchor points."

No matter how "bad" tight, bankrupt, the ecomony you need at least three resources (they do Not have to be musical - fruit picking works).

Bottom Line - "The Grass is NOT Greener - if you do not hoe."

IF you can make "de man" money - you will live in "the land of milk and honey."


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Betsy
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 09:35 PM

Difficult - If Tom Bliss can't make it work, and he's bloody good, think very seriously.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 11:11 PM

'Yes, Mooh: 'real job', stress, burnout. I'm doing that now. I've had enough of it. This is why I ask the question. I want to know how not having a 'real job' can work in practice."

It can work in practice. For me it's because there is spousal support (she's basically my office manager), a good supportive arts interested accountant between us and Revenue Canada, frugal spending on business necessities (advertising, printing, vehicle), but the providers/services know us and we have great relationships with these folks. As much as possible (ie, over 90%), my income is paid in advance and held at our bank until the month of services (ie, lessons) being rendered. Keep regular hours, minimum rescheduling, get advice, stay current, always include theory in everything. Network, especially where it means prospective gigs, recording sessions, students, and community exposure.

Don't overlook trade of services for services. Lessons, for carpentry/plumbing/electrical or gear. Community concerts for ad space, or sales opportunities.

Do not work "under the table". Tax deductions, rebates, exemptions are worth the trouble of being honest, never mind peace of mind.

Pay forward. Bills can pile up if you let them sit. As much as possible, anticipate slow periods and get the big bills (loans, mortgage) paid ahead.

Save towards a financial cushion for sick time, vacation, and unexpected expenses. Save also for a gear fund.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,guest John Hartford
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 07:36 AM

hi Alice

You are so right !!!

When I started to learn to play music I did it because it was something that I really wanted to do.

Making money did not enter my mind. I just wanted to learn all I could and that's what I worked at.

Secondly I actually enjoyed learning and the process of improving. Enjoyment for me was paramount.

The process of meeting like-minded people and joining a band was a natural one for me as I happen to be a very gregarious person.

Actually making money just happened !!!! HONESTLY

I happened to be in the right era when it was possible with the right breaks to be able to earn a good living out of playing music.

At that time for most of the time we were playing what we enjoyed - OK there was sometimes when we had to compromise but not often.

I did weary eventually of the constant need to travel and be away from my family.

The lyrics of the then popular John Denver song Goodbye Again seemed to summarise what made me start to want to stop so much travelling and settle down to working more from home.

see link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqoqcwiUM9c

regards

John


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: matt milton
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 07:51 AM

How can a folkie make a living?

1. Set up a limited company. Make sure your limited company has a fairly broad description of its remit: "multimedia and entertainment content creation" or the like. Keep all your receipts. In one fell swoop everything that was previously money down the drain (guitars, strings, travel, petrol, rail tickets, manufacturing CDs, studio hire etc etc) becomes a legitimate expense. It also encourages you to "think professional"

2. Put out an album that you have recorded properly and mastered professionally. Press up 1000 copies (at least) and send the majority of them to reviewers, festival organisers, writers, folk clubs, websites, radio stations, internet radio stations, venues.
Make sure the reviewers you send them to aren't just 'folk' media but national newspapers and magazines too. Never be afraid to give CDs away - that's promotion and an expense. Your postage costs are an expense.

That's a good way to start. At the very least it'll give you an idea as to whether anybody gives a toss about what you're doing.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: JedMarum
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 11:58 AM

good advice matt milton.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: JedMarum
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 12:04 PM

If you want to do it, you can. There are lots of folks who say you can't. There are lots of reasons they will list but to my mind those are just excuses. Assuming you have some skill and a love for your music, you an do it.

There've been a few good practical comments here for tactics and strategies, but just get out there and get do it. The details will fall out of the effort. You'll find lots of folks like me and others who've done this - and we're only too happy to offer help and advice. It's been a tough row to hoe, and we're happy to help a fellow just getting started. To pay back the help that we got from others ...


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: folktheatre
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 12:25 PM

Did someone recommend becoming a molecatcher? I understand where your coming from mate. I have a 'proper' job for the council where I make barely above minimum wage so becoming a full time musician seems very tempting but still not feasible even when I compare it against my meagre wage but I supplement it with teaching (at which I don't rate myself highly but it's something I have to do). It's a bit patronising when people say get a proper job. Like what? An investment banker? Sure! It doesn't happen. Like anything you have to take a risk and try and keep your head screwed on and instead of asking in here try snatching a word with a musician after or before a gig!


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 12:25 PM

When I was part of a trio, back in the early 1960's, we had an agent, a number of bookings and some money coming in. But, those bookings could be a bit erratic, the money not wonderful and, split three ways, even less so. I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything, but I gave my musician son some advice which was based on that experience: Get a regular job in order to support your music habit until it pays well enough to support you. He's been at it for over 11 years and still has his regular job, despite some small successes.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: JedMarum
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 12:36 PM

I'll try to reread my next comment before I hit "submit message" - my posts surely need editing, above! Sorry about that. I hope you can figure out what I meant to say.

BUT - it occurs to me that there are many ways to make this work, and you have to find what works for you - or maybe I should say; find what YOU can make work.

When I started earning my living at music, I decided I wanted to earn all of living from the performance of music. I did not want to teach. I did not want to work in a music store or in the business end of the entertainment industry - but that was a personal choice. There ARE good means of income from some of those tasks, if that is something you enjoy and feel supports your music efforts.

I started out working a mix Pub gigs, festivals and concerts. They are all very different, from a performance perspective - but each taught me core lessons for my main interest; that is performing my music for people (and of course getting paid for it).

I still work that same mix - but with a greater focus on concerts and festivals. I'd give up the pubs in a heartbeat, but I need them. I need them for money. I need them to meet new people (people who'll buy CDs and come to other shows) and I need them to keep me humble! That is, make sure I continue to learn how to please an audience - or more correctly; how to get my music across to an audience. Pubs are hard, but they are good for you. They force you to learn your craft.

You have to work the business side very hard. Get your music recorded - and make the album a true work of art. As Matt Milton says above; "Put out an album that you have recorded properly and mastered professionally. Press up 1000 copies (at least) and send the majority of them to reviewers, festival organisers, writers, folk clubs, websites, radio stations, internet radio stations, venues." - This is just so important. The world needs to hear you and you need to put your best foot forward.

I have learned that I have to travel to make ends meet. I try to work once or twice a month in my hometown - and I work the big festivals in the region - but I need to continually find new audience to grow. And I need to reconnect with old friends in places I play 3 or 4 times a year. So I travel. A lot. I travel frequently within the region (a sort of radius of 9 or so hours' drive from my home) and I make several trips to either coast each year.

I've stumbled into licensing music to film and TV. That helps with a bit of income and is really good advertizing (I don't have an advertizing budget). And I've developed a few music relationships with other players that can help add to my performance schedule. All of these things help keep me growing and pay the mortgage.

I've also learned the on-line tools for promo and music distribution. CDBaby - gets me to all of the MP3 Services (iTunes, etc) and CDBaby has been a great partner for selling CD around the world on-line. Myspace and Youtube are very helpful promotion tools. And FaceBook has been surprisingly helpful for direct communication with friends, music partners and (I hate to use the word) fans.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 12:45 PM

Someone mentioned my name, and deep in the vast caverns below the glinting minarets of academia I heard. And came.

You don't need a limited company to claim expenses. Just have music down as one of your business activities.

You can give away all the CDs you like. Only a handful with be played, and most of them will not be followed up. The internet helps, but phone-bashing and word of mouth - backed up by a consistent track record and a fistful of great reviews is the only way. But then getting gigs was never a problem for me.

Filling chairs was.

I tried all the short-cuts. And the long cuts. Some worked after a fashion, but not well enough. The big ones (major support tours/collaborations, national media exposure - a talent transplant / youth injection / voice retune) all eluded my best efforts.

By the way - if contributors are genuinely interested in providing useable advice, they might mention which country they're referring to.

I can only speak about the UK. I suspect things are very different across the pond - which may be why there is such variation in the advice above.

I should make it clear that I did all the things suggested so far, but I was only interested in building up a nation-wide touring business. If I'd stayed in Leeds and played hospitals and care homes I'd have made slightly less money, but with lower costs I probably could have gone on making a living indefinitely. But that wasn't the idea. Pub gigs likewise. I gave up believing I enjoyed them in about 1999. I did do a little corporate work, but again, wrong audience.

Last year I turned over £23k but my profit was just £10k (and yes I kipped in the van, stayed with friends and blagged meals along the road). I sort of managed on this, (though my kind wife allowed me to eat some of her shopping when I dropped in at home - yes, I do have one).

Things were in fact getting better year on year - but nothing like fast enough. I was running up a down escalator.

Tom and I had, after 8 years, become small-festival headliners, and 'undercard' stalwarts. Yet on our well-publicised farewell tour we had one audience of just 15 people. At one gig on my farewell trip round Scotland not one person came. Not one. (There were reasons, it transpired, but you'd have to be stupid not to read that rune)

I had a great profile and reputation and thousands of loyal fans on my list, but I frequently didn't draw enough people to cover my fee, and usually offered a reduction. But my offer was always refused (bless you all again) - and I was usually rebooked - only for it to happen again.

A majority of places were full or happily quorate, of course, though the quorum was often not really enough to justify the journey.

If the OP is interested, my article is still online on page 16

But please - don't let me put you off!

At the end of the day it's down to talent. I didn't have quite enough - but I know some who do and are proving me wrong (e.g. Flossie) , and you may well be one of them!

Tom

Now back to the essay... err... how many man hours does it take to coppice one hectare of hazel at 2.5m centres on a four year rotation? (rummage rummage)


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 12:52 PM

I think TJ has hit on something that was key for me.

I worked full time (managing a folk music record label) for a number of years. I was fortunate that my full-time job was related to my music. Through my job I learned a lot about the business side of music, and I got to meet and establish relationships with a lot of people in my work role. I can't tell you how invaluable that was. I feel incredibly lucky to have had that opportunity.

Then, when I quit working full time, I managed to find some part-time work that was very flexible. I got a decent hourly rate for it, I could set my own hours, and it was work that I didn't have to take home with me. My employer knew that music was my first priority, and was able to allow me to take a few weeks off at a time if something came up.

Having that job is what allowed me to make the transition to full-time music. I had time, I had some income coming in, but I had to make up the rest through gigs, CD sales, etc. And gradually, my music income went up, until I was earning more money from music than from my part-time job. At that point, I took the leap and quit the job. And I've never looked back.

So I consider myself extremely lucky in the job department. If you can find a part-time job where your employer knows your situation and is willing to accommodate your music career, you are in an ideal position to test the waters and see where music might take you, without having the huge stress of having to earn ALL your income from music.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: matt milton
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 01:45 PM

"At the end of the day it's down to talent. I didn't have quite enough - but I know some who do and are proving me wrong !"

I really strongly disagree with Tom B's quote above. I don't think success - from a money, career point of view - has anything to do with talent. I'm tempted to type that it helps, but on reflection I don't think even that is true.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that it doesn't matter what sounds you are making - somewhere out there, there will be people somewhere in this world who will like them. The musicians who 'make it' are simply musicians who have managed to get their music to enough of those people. It's a mixture of determination and luck.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 01:55 PM

Small paying regular gigs are better than the big ticket paying ones.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: matt milton
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 01:58 PM

There's a really good illustration of just how arbitrary 'success' in music is, and that's Tom Robinson's twice-weekly radio show on 6Music, "Introducing with Tom Robinson". You can hear it on the iplayer.

The show consists entirely on unsigned bands and singers and acts. They are recommended by listeners. (I've actually recommended music that's been played on there, gratifyingly.)

But what's significant about the show is that it is indistinguishable from other shows on Radio 1 or 6music. In terms of the quality of the product (production, sound quality, songwriting etc) you are listening to basically the same thing. Now, you hear plenty of awful music on the show, but no more so than on other programmes on mainstream radio (it is predominantly a pop show after all!).

I think it's a very salutary listen, and a perfect illustration of how making money out of music is an almost entirely arbitrary.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 02:10 PM

"The musicians who 'make it' are simply musicians who have managed to get their music to enough of those people. It's a mixture of determination and luck."

Absolutely, and I think I probably applied more determination than almost anyone (well, that's what they say).

But you have to make your own luck, and you need talent to do that.

If I'd been good enough at some point I'd have been invited to play with some established band, or to do a big support tour (I asked everyone!), or I'd have been played on mainstream radio, or eventually got some other break - I was around long enough - or I calculated that I had been, anyway)


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: matt milton
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 02:29 PM

But what does 'good enough' mean? There aren't absolute standards of good and bad in music popularity: there is only whether you're popular or not.

I don't like the music of any of the current crop of big-name folk acts who can be said to be 'successful'. I'm not mentioning any names. By my standards, they are not 'good enough'.
They are not without talent, but that has nothing to do with their success.

Their success has to do with their very particular sound, and how they look and, yes, determination and luck again. If their music has anything in common, it's an agglomeration of unpleasant musical tropes known collectively as 'crossover appeal'.

Conversely, the folk musicians in Britain who make in my opinion the most successful art (and who I'm happy to name: Alasdair Roberts, James Raynard, Nancy Wallace, Michael Rossiter) are not in any danger of troubling the pop charts. Entirely uncoincidentally, they have none of those unpleasant musical tropes known collectively as 'crossover appeal'.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Peace
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 02:38 PM

How can a folkie make a living?

Banks. The answer is banks.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: jimmyt
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 06:03 PM

I decided in 1969 from observing other musicians struggling to make a go if it that I would keep my music as a passion, and find another career to afford me the luxury of getting to play with my passion, music. I was a jazz man back then. NOw a PLay a bit of Jazz and blues, folk and do-wop. Having an absolute ball performing, giving my share to the other musicians who need the bucks. It works for me, and it sure beats the hassle and disappointment of trying to do it as a career. Music is music, be it folk or otherwise. We are all underpaid, but what ya gonna do?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 06:53 PM

I never went away.
http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 07:30 PM

"I never went away."
...and more power to your elbow for staying the course, but can you honestly say that it hasn't been a struggle?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 01:31 AM

Wow heck of a thread Keep em coming..


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 02:29 AM

Wow, Some great advice here. I might try some of the suggestions and hope for the best.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stower
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 04:55 AM

As the last 2 contributions have said, thank you, thank you all for your contributions. This has given me a lot to think about.

Having done some thinking, there are people I will want to talk to privately, within and beyond Mudcat.

But please keep 'em coming. Performers have given their experiences and advice. Are there any folkie promoters or record label people out there willing to have a say?

Thanks again.

Stower


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: kendall
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 07:43 AM

One of the problems with working in a band is that the promoters want to pay for one act and they expect you to split the same fee among three or more of you instead of paying three people.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Banjiman
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 08:42 AM

"One of the problems with working in a band is that the promoters want to pay for one act and they expect you to split the same fee among three or more of you instead of paying three people."

"want" might be the wrong word. As a smallish time promoter I pay the maximum we can afford for any act...... if the act is going to bring in 3 times as many people, I can pay 3 times as much, if not, I can't.

It's the market, see.


As a member of a band, I know how difficult this can be for the acts.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: s&r
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 08:49 AM

This is why in hotel work etc a lot of performers use backing tracks (not a suggestion just an observation)

Stu


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 12:19 PM

Hmmm Backing tracks    oh dear.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: InOBU
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 12:40 PM

Armed robbery can fetch a bit of a living... and does not get in the way of your night time gigs...


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 01:09 PM

Assuming this was a serious question.

Treat your music like it is a business and you are a businessman. Learn your audience and what they want. If your audience requires Danny BOy and Wild ROver to stay in the bar of the man paying you then play Danny Boy and Wild Rover. Do six covers of the stuff that gets you hired for every one bit of original music or art song you play.

Keep good books of your business. Be accurate of the miles you travel and the expenses you clain to the IRS. Be prepare to lose money or breakeven for three of five years on the road.

Never be snotty, vulgar, or mean from the behind the mic. Microphones are always on and people are always listening. Always take and do a request but never do a song you barely know just because some cutie requested it. She'll be gone by the first break and everyone else will know you did a crummy job of someone's favorite tune.

Please the bartender as he is the man who pays you. Tip the waitress because she brings you a pint or a cup of coffee and she is working too. Don't leave the place a mess when you leave, the owner remembers.

Don


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 01:49 PM

yes Vic,it has, I have had to busk, I have taught music, and still do,
I refuse to play wallpaper gigs.I have in the past done one or two but
I would rather busk,because playing wallpaper music is soul destroying.
any gig is alright if the audience are not ignoring you,some people play hospitals[that is perfectly valid it gives people pleasure].
if you want to remain in love with your music and show it proper respect,and are hard up consider as extra to folk clubs
1.teaching.
2.busking.
3.hospital gigs.
4 school gigs.
but[imo] do not do unamplified or ampilfied solo pub gigs,where no one is listening.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 02:11 PM

I think the question has to be asked in more depth. What is your motivation for wanting to make a living at folk music? Is it just to gratify your ego? How much regard do you have for the music?   Is it just to promote your songs so that they will be picked up?
Do you really think that a larger audience will give a damn?

For a folkie to make a living at it, who are the best models for what you want to do?

And the final question is: why would you want to put yourself through this?
A songwriter once described his career as "pole vaulting through the glass window
of a ten story building and picking the splinters out of your skin when you made it through".

Both Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie were never motivated by wanting to make money at it. They both made a lot but in the case of the latter, it came too late. Joan Baez engineered her career quite well but took a lot of abuse from Dylan as one of her causes.
They spent a lot of time on the road by themselves away from friends and family.


Most successful folkies who made a living at it struggled and compromised their health and finances. Are you willing to spend a lot of money to support your career with diminishing financial returns? If you get big, you have to pay others to help you.
If you remain "small" then you might get by but still will pay dues.

How much abuse are you willing to take from crooked bookers, managers, and jealous
performers? I can assure you that they will be there.

This is not an optimal way to live IMHO. But the career chooses you.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 02:23 PM

take each day as it comes.
think, observe , learn , practise.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stower
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 02:29 PM

Stringsinger, not sure if you're asking good questions or making accusatory assumptions. Not sure if your questions are general for anyone or aimed at me. If the latter ...

"What is your motivation for wanting to make a living at folk music?" Because it is what gets me out of bed in a morning.

"Is it just to gratify your ego?" No.

"How much regard do you have for the music?" Answered above.

"Is it just to promote your songs so that they will be picked up?" I don't write songs. I play traditional music - largely English, a little Irish, Scottish and French.

"Do you really think that a larger audience will give a damn?" How much larger? They did in the days I used to play festivals and tear about the country while trying to hold down a full time job. I'm more interested that the audience respects the music than their size.

"For a folkie to make a living at it, who are the best models for what you want to do?" Not sure what you mean. Musical models? Behaviour models? Business models? Models of success (define 'success')?

"And the final question is: why would you want to put yourself through this?" Answered above. Friends and audiences have been urging me for years to try and make a living out of this. I have always resisted. I now wonder if I could. I'd like to think it is possible, but have real doubts, which is why I started this thread.

I apologise in advance, Stringsinger, if I have taken your questions the wrong way, but your tone came across as rather accusatory. We have never, as far as I know, met. If we had, you wouldn't have needed to ask. Anyhow, you have your answers.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 03:08 PM

This thread does make me feel slightly guilty.

I have never aspired to full-time professionalism in music but have thoroughly enjoyed semi-professional status over 40+ years, playing and singing in some wonderful places. Both Tina and I had demanding professional jobs but we still found time for weekend and the occasional midweek gigs and now that we have retired we have been able to extend what we do and practice more. We have several irons in the fire so that beside our singing and playing, we are in a highly regarded folk dance band that gets far more offers of gigs than it can handle and we act as a technical team for popular shows that have taken us to five different countries in the last three years. We manage to keep ourselves pretty busy musically without having to accept the sort of gigs mentioned above that we feel would debase our music.
The guilt comes from conversations from folk music professionals that we meet who confess to us how much they earn in a year - and we know that between us we are earning more than them.
I suppose the guilt is assuaged, somewhat, by the fact that throughout our married lives, we have run weekly folk clubs - never taking a penny out for doing so - and have this provided work for folk musicians on an estimated 1800 occasions, apart from all the tours that we have arranged for singers and musicians.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 03:22 PM

yes Vic,you have done a good job,you booked me once , I quite understand that was enough[joke].
Seriously,40 years deserves some appreciation,so , well done and thanks.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Don Firth
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 03:58 PM

One singer whom I admire very much didn't especially try to appeal to "folkie" audiences. Quite knowledgeable about the songs he sang, he got connected with the American School Assemblies program early in his career and spent a lot of time singing at high school assemblies and at colleges and universities as part of their lectures and concerts series. Because the songs he sang had historical roots, AND because he was a very good singer and musician (although often not particularly well liked by folkies for that very reason [ ! ], many of them were not above learning songs from his records and trying to copy his guitar accompaniments), he set about trying to appeal particularly to early music enthusiasts and to general concert-going audiences. He didn't "go commercial," but as I say, hard-core folk music enthusiasts tended to dismiss him and/or bad-mouth him because of his musicianship. Nevertheless, he had a quite successful concert career, and got a lot of people interested in folk music who, otherwise, probably would have dismissed it as just another popular music fad not worth bothering with.

Although the vast percentage of his repertoire consisted of folk songs and ballads, he did not regard himself as a "folk singer."

If one aspires to a professional career singing traditional songs, it might, perhaps, be more productive from several viewpoints to try to appeal to audiences other than those who frequent the folk clubs. Think of it as "outreach."

Just a thought. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: JedMarum
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 04:38 PM

Watch out for the self-defeating myths. Here are 3:

1.) You can't make a living at folk-singing
2.) You have to sell out to make enough money
3.) Those bast*rd agents, managers, and record companies will cheat you

1.) You can't make a living at folk-singing? You can if you work a lot. You have to be true to your craft. You have to continually develop your music and all the skills required to do the job. That effort will keep your drive to be successful high, and you'll learn how to best "sell" your music to your audience.

2.) You have to sell out to make enough money? Rubbish. It's your job to figure out how to present the music YOU love to your audiences. People come to your stage/pub/concert because they want to enjoy the experience. It is human nature that they will respond well to things that they know and love already. So learn to play those "standards" they like, that you like too - and learn to get them interested in the new songs you love.

3.) Those bast*rd agents, managers, and record companies will cheat you? I've been making all of income from music for about 10 years. I've never met one of those "bast*rds" yet. I'm there are some, but you meet jerks in every walk of life. You make your best judgments about people and situations and act accordingly. Music is no different.

The few agents that I've worked with are sweet hearts. I'd work with them again in a heartbeat. And Thank God for the other performers. At the bottom of my heart, underlying all of the work and effort I put into this way of live, is a deep abiding love for music - songs and singing. And that is also true for all of the music friends I have. Seamus Kennedy (above) is one of the truly kindest folks you'll ever meet and he's always happy to lend a hand to fellow musician. The late, great Rick Fielding (former Mudcatter), likewise went to great pains to assess and assist the musicianship of every musician he met. My friends Ed Miller and Brian McNeill, both very focused on their own work have never-the-less been truly generous to me in my efforts to get started in this business. And there are lots of other stories like this. It is not just the goodness of their hearts - it is the fire of music that burns in their hearts.

Worried about the jealous, unfriendly types in the music world? Forget them. There are plenty of good hearted folks. Find them and stick them - and most importantly; BE one of them. You'll be in a position to pass it on someday.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 07:34 PM

Jed
I am a cynical cove
But it does raise my estimation of the world to read a positive post now and then,as in yours above, so it must give hope to those with the drive and talent to find a career playing and in music generally.
Well done


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,biff
Date: 27 Oct 09 - 08:38 PM

get clear on who you are and what you want. does the environment determine your outcome or do you shape your life? art and artists will continue to continue and for those who choose to follow this particular path, the way will always be unknown until revealed. van gogh continued to paint while having mental breakdowns. coltrane sewed a cloth bag to put over his saxophone so his practicing would not disturb neighbors. basquiat walked up to warhol and showed him his art. whatever works. your question shows self doubt. do you want it? get positive. easy to say? not for me, mate. it starts with you and not with them. be so good they have to listen to you.

practice
perseverance
study

no one said it comes to you easy


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: autoharper
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 11:23 AM

This thread has produced a lot of good suggestions. I noticed nobody mentioned that it is quite helpful if you know how to entertain an audience.

-Adam Miller


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 11:40 AM

Adam is quite right. Earlier on I stayed on track with the business of the business. I assumed a level of ability and ability assumes a lot I guess. Malvina Reynolds was a great songwriter but not a classic voice and not exceptional as a guitarist but she was captivating when she performed. A great voice isn't necessarily a great singer and a great singer isn't necessarily entertaining. Bob Dylan apparently has more going for himself than his exceptional pipes.

Don


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 11:48 AM

"I noticed nobody mentioned that it is quite helpful if you know how to entertain an audience."

That's a given. Without that, striving for a career as a professional musician is pointless. However, many singers, in there eagerness for a successful music career, compromise their music, not to mention their integrity, in order to be more "entertaining." Many pop-folk groups of the 1960s are examples of this.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 11:53 AM

Had to smile at the Malvina Reynolds ,Bob Dylan comment.
There are some great entertainers on the folky type circuit in uk
Mr Garbutt,Flossie and GP are on my personal list. But its just that really, personal. You could be Elvis reborn but its in the ears,heart ,mind, of the listener I reckon.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 12:10 PM

Learning how to entertain an audience is implicit in my comments above.

When I say "It's your job to figure out how to present the music YOU love to your audience." I mean you must be an entertainer.

We all do this part of the job differently - and some of us are described as entertainers, and others not, but you must interest the audience in the music you want to present.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 03:44 PM

Jed - thanks for your kind words.

After 38 years doing this, I've found that what goes around, comes around. So let's all help each other and pay it forward.

Jed's post about the 3 myths is remarkably accurate -and very well written. Words for a folkie to live by.

And the entertainment aspect is extremely important.

If you are not presenting your music in an entertaining fashion for your audience, regardless of how great a virtuoso you are, you may as well stay home and dazzle yourself. It's the audience who is primarily responsible for us 'making a living'. Simple - no audience, no living.

And pretty much all the truly great musicians I admire are/were excellent entertainers.
Victor Borge, Doc Watson, Yo-yo Ma, Jethro Burns, Steve Goodman, Merle Travis, Joe Maphis, Mick Moloney, Paddy Moloney & the Chieftains, Mark O'Connor, Flatt & Scruggs, Frankie Gavin. The list could go on.

Seamus

I once heard this little gem (sorry can't remember the source):
a good performer comes out in front of the audience and says "Here I am!"; a great performer comes out in front of an audience and says "There you are!".


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 04:16 PM

I guess you need to decide whether you want to "Make a living as a folk musician, " or "Make a living as a folk entertainer." To me, music is music, and either you make a living doing it or not. Folk, by it's nature and the audience (or lack thereof) is undoubtedly more difficult to make a living at than some other styles of music.

Then you address whether you wish to entertain or just play. If you are a performer, you are playing a performance,and the large share of performances are to entertain. Some times we seem to look down on entertainers, like the"commercial groups" of the 60's. They had huge followings and still do. They played their brand of music, entertained up a storm, and probably reached more audience members and affected much more change than the obscure folk player that didn't want to entertain, just to spread his philosophy by his music.   I guess when I read the original question, I never once thought that it might be an option to not entertain... makes the $ much more elusive methinks.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 07:01 PM

Stower, I was just trying to inject a little reality in this conversation. I didn't mean anything personal. I think my questions are legitimate and not directed at you.

Accusatory is not the nature of my posts. Reality is.

It doesn't do anyone good to make nice about such an undertaking. It's a rough road
and anyone who takes it must be prepared for a few bumps along the way.

As Adam says if you can entertain, you can almost do anything you want.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,yer Hacker
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 07:34 PM

"How can a folkie make a living?"

One answer:

I play me guitar and I play it right well
And ah sings with a luverly voice
Ah draws inspiration from a bottomless well
en ah'm ever bin one of the boys

The punters all hail me when I'm on the mic
when they've quaff-ed a bitter or two
They tell me "y'know, lad, go pro, boy, yer not bad!"
'tis a dream that I wish would come true.

It's all fine and well that ah sing in the pub
that's what the pub owners all say
But they grow hard 'o hearing, quite desperately weary
when ah tell 'em that tha'll have ta pay

"Ye've sung here for years and nae charged me nae once!"
They cry in the name of their pocket.
"Tis just music!" they whine, "for a moment in time"
And that's when ah tell 'em to fock it.

For ah play guitar and ah play it right well
but business is nae my true love
Ah'll play where ah like (and get stood a pint)
and tell greedy bastards to shove

For in all of the years of long history
A player can hardly bear livin'
without a patron who's best worth his natron
bare pockets and art are a given.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 07:45 PM

The problem with making a living from singing folk songs is not to do with the quality and attitude of the singer. It is to do with the quality and attitude of the audiences. Tony Miles has pointed this out at @displaysong.cfm?SongID=714 but his reasoning would be worth repeating here:-

BLOODY ROTTEN AUDIENCE
(Tony Miles)

Well, here's a song I've written specifically for you
Who sit in the audience and talk through all I do
I cannot understand it cause I'm pretty good, you see
So there must be something wrong with you, there's nothing wrong with me

Ch.: You're a bloody rotten audience whilst I am very good
If brains were made of oak and ash then you'd have balsa wood
I'm ethnic and authentic and I'm really full of class
While you're ignorant, you're cultureless, you're philistines
en masse.

I'm an artist and authority on music and what's more
I'm incredible informative on folksong and folklore
I'm a wonderful performer and so you all must be
So bloody thick and stupid not to like the like of me

I'm a folkie and that's obvious, you can tell it by me clothes
And when I sing traditional, I sing it through me nose
And if you insist on talking everytime I sing a song
I'll fix you with 'Bold Robin Hood', that's eighty verses long.

And when I sing contemporary, my heart and soul is pure
I must be bloody brilliant, cause my writing's so obscure
My hero's Leonard Cohen, I dig him perfectly
But I must be so much better, cause no-one here digs me.

But now I'm going to leave you, cause I feel I'm wasting time
Couldn't possibly be wasting yours, so you must be wasting mine
And let me tell you now that I'm not out here for me health
So if you don't come and pull with me, I'll go and pull meself

Ch.: You're a bloody rotten audience whilst I am very good
If brains were made of oak and ash then you'd have balsa wood
I'm ethnic and authentic and I'm really full of class
But underneath it all I'm just a pain in the flipping ass.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 07:53 PM

100


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 07:55 PM

From reading Mudcat postings it appears some augment their income by stealing fiddles and guitars and then hocking them pawn-shops.

100 !


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,biff
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 07:57 PM


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,biff
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 07:59 PM

how to entertain an audience...a little candy now and then doesn't mean you've sold out. you gotta give them something..some hooks some attitude some visual. a little flash is part of professionalism and can make songs and performance better. works for me.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: t.jack
Date: 29 Oct 09 - 08:40 AM

Across the water here, i have been on the road,yes on the road hitchiking selling my CD( SOME MOTHERS SON )it is quite interesting what comes up,house concerts everything,people are alive there is no rehersal its life ,Nova Scotia TO British Columbia to the North West Territories,you got to get out there and get the pulse..GET IT?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 07:06 AM

in my case I also have a website,which apart from my cds,has a songbook
my own songs,plus two concertina tutors.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 08:35 AM

you know we call it playing,try going on stage with a hard hat and steel toes,now your working//music it seems is an addiction and most club managers know musicians need their fix so they hoste open mikes and open jams,da,bla,bla at the end of the night you go home with your guitar..boy that was fun cost me two beer or whatever.stupid.it is work and the bar ows you coffee free or a drink free or something,if the till rings its because you sing..


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 08:57 AM

On the serious side, the "folkies" I know who make a modest living at their craft are not only competent musicians but well-organized people, and likable people as well.

One doesn't have to be brilliant on all three counts to achieve some success but you have to at least register in each category.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Hamish
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 01:32 PM

There's a bit of arithmetic which should be taken into account: a solo act takes 100% of the fee. Duos get 50% each. Trios get 33.3% each...

...get the idea?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Paul Reade
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 02:03 PM

The number of folk clubs now who book artists regularly is very limited, perhaps a few with "regional" singers and occasional "headliners". Set this against the fact that a soloist would need to do an average of one gig a week at a fee of £200 just to make the annual equivalent of the 2008 National Minimum Wage (£5.52 an hour, about £11,500 a year for a 40-hour week) and it's obvious the figures don't add up.

In the 70s I played some well-paid but crap gigs, such as a Young Farmers' social where everyone got drunk and loudly chatted up Young Farmer-esses whilst we provided background music. We soon decided we had day jobs and didn't need the money and would rather do floor spots or the occasional booking in a folk club, to a smaller audience who were at least prepared to listen.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST, an interested reader
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 06:30 PM

I just want to put this out there: just because you love the music doesn't mean people will want to listen to you. I'm sorry if this sounds unkind, but no one seems to be mentioning that perhaps some people are not finding an audience because they're not that talented or accomplished. I used to go to concerts often but I stopped because it was the same thing over and over again, and folk music performers were only rarely outstanding musicians. Folk/trad music doesn't necessarily belong on a stage - it's music for people to do together, not to passively listen to. It's the rare musician who can add something special to make it interesting for a concert. Maybe some people who are struggling should think hard about the message their lack of audience is sending.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: jimmyt
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 11:36 AM

music performance is taking a huge huge hit from karioke, canned music, dj's every other computer generated crap that replaces musicians. When I was young back in the 60's I could count on gigging every weekend with someone, either a rock group, or playing the VFW dance of a trio in a nice resturant bar. THis was in small town Ohio. LIve music was pretty much a given. Acts would come through every town of 20,000 people through booking agents and you could go out locally and hear fantastic musicians that just hadn't made the big time yet. Many of them did later on. Any more, you go to the same places and see everything BUT live performances. I have no idea what has happened to the culture that has simply allowed this to happen. This phenomena is in all genre not just Folk. My folk group gets few gigs from time to time, but most places want it either free or for so little money it is a joke.

I have a do wop group, 4 vocalists four part harmony, piano guitar bass drums and just added a horn man that plays everything. ALso a female vocalist. We get some jobs but again, I can hardly get enough money to play my instrumentalists. The rest of us do it purely for the passion. Some times after I get the fee, count the tip jar, I have to reach in my own pocket for some extra to finish paying my guys. It is a tragedy!

My horn man played professionally in LA for 40 years. He practices 8 hours every day. He is the complete musician. He is a perfectionist. He plays by ear or charts. He plays in every key. He plays all saxes, trumpet, flute, piccolo. He moved back home because there are NO JOBS for guys like him. It breaks my heart to see how hard some musicians work to make it only to be left high and dry. We do, however reward every athlete with millions when there relative skill level is certainly no better than many out of work musicians. I know I am rambling but this is a subject that just pisses me off.


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: meself
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 11:52 AM

"most places want it either free or for so little money it is a joke"

What - there are places that actually WANT live music?!

As for me - I'm making a living busking at the moment. It's not for everybody - I mean, it's not the way to go for all musicians; I am actually busking for everybody - and there's a certain amount of luck involved - you have to have access to a spot that has lots of pedestrian traffic, relatively little noise, and few or no other buskers. Come to think of it - I really have lucked out, haven't I?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: jimmyt
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 12:44 PM

I have always wanted to try busking. I have heard some outstanding musicians busking! Good for you!


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Jenny Brampton
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 03:31 PM

Running your own venue and cooking big artists. That way you get to support them and benefit from the income on the door.
JB


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,The Folk Entertainer
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 04:01 PM

60 % talent 40% businessman. You will fail if you are not a good businessman


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: meself
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 04:05 PM

"I have heard some outstanding musicians busking!"

Yup - and then there's me .... !


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 01 Nov 09 - 08:49 AM

"ENDS
Within the broader music industry, and beyond, what some get for their hour's work, compared with others, is ridiculous and inhumane; hence, many relatively competent musicians within the folk-scene are really struggling to make ends meet; so, if we like fair competition, we don't like capitalism. A better way, as I've suggested in verse, is to accept that humans are competitive, and have strong regulations (partly via nationalisation) to make that competition as fair as possible – whilst also providing "safety-net" support" (from here).


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 01 Nov 09 - 12:02 PM

I `ad that busker in my cab the other night. `e looked well tired and `ungry. `ed been bashing away down the Waterloo underground all day.
I said, " `ere, my old mate, you look like you could do with a warm fire and a good meal."
`e said, " You`re right there Jim. I`ve been giving it loud for `ours and all I got to show for it is 35 Yen. The place is chock-a-block with Japanese tourists"
I said, with a bit of a chuckle, "Not to worry. With all that you`ll be o.k. in that Nip restaurant on the Charing Cross Road."
`e said, " Nah. The trouble is I `ate all that Oriental grub!!"

Whaddam I Like??


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Nov 09 - 01:57 PM

Busker? Taking a taxi?


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Subject: RE: How can a folkie make a living?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Nov 09 - 09:56 AM

There are a very few that are making a comfortable living at singing folk music.
Many are doing songs they've written themselves or branching out into other kinds
of material, jazz songs, classical etc.

I think the day of Burl Ives has ended. The shows have gotten too big and commercialized.
Dry ice, flashing lights dominate. Not many are interested in listening to a good song unadorned with high production techniques.

There will be those however who are endowed with a gift to entertain and have an aura
of charisma. We know who they are. I don't know how much this can be developed.

I suspect that in the UK scene, there is not a lot or even a comfortable amount of money to
be made. Listening to Child ballads is not a usual crowd pleaser.

There are those in the States who have a huge production budget comparatively. Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen bring a full blown "show" with their acts. (This is assuming that both of these performers could be called folk singers any more).

Audiences seem to cheer those who with clever stage patter or can tear it up with
virtuoso instrumental ability. Just an unadorned song doesn't cut it any more.

A lot of this has to do with what is called "entertainment" these days. Personally, I find
that a lot of the big ticket concerts are not interesting to me. Also too expensive.
I don't frequent clubs or places that permit smoking. I prefer having people in my home to share music or jamming jazz with my buddies. I think many people share this view and this is why folk concerts are on the wane.

The solution (at the risk of being redundant) is to hone your craft the best you can. Voice lessons, acting lessons, writing skills for patter, research on folk material, even movement classes can help you here.

As Naomi Klein describes her mother's mode of apparel, I think the same adjective can apply to many "folkies". The word is "schlumpy". (Good Yiddishism, I think).


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