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Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?

GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1 08 May 14 - 05:16 AM
Joe Offer 08 May 14 - 05:25 AM
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MGM∑Lion 08 May 14 - 06:01 AM
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Subject: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 08 May 14 - 05:16 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

-Joe-


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

~M~


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Phil


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

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

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

Mumford and Sons doubtless don't see a problem.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

I expect bands sell CDs


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

CRAP!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do NOT undervalue yourselves so much.


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

I'll just add one more comment:

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

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

Many feel like me.


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

"Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?" ?

Ok, similar question...

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



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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

I'm sure this made you very happy.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Bye, Lizzie

Phil


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Just sayin'.......

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

SHEESH!!!


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

So why NOT a musician?

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wot Will said.

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

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

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


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

"Lizzie you equate valuing with monetary worth."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Here's a musician whose work ethic Lizzie will approve


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 May 14 - 10:32 AM

Lots of musicians, myself included, tried to make a living playing traditional folk music and found that it forced me to play music I don't like to people I didn't want to play for in dreadful situations. It required being on tour half the year and I'm a home body. It forced me to play weddings, which were OK for a while but didn't want the music I love to play. It forced me to teach music, which I found frustrating because of the lack of commitment on the part of most students. And, while I was making a lot of money in comparison to other folk musicians, I was still making a poverty-level wage. Why should I give up a day job I like in order to work full time doing things I don't like for a lot less money?

As soon as you're not making a full time living playing music, the question of pay becomes much less important. I don't play for pubs or restaurants without getting well paid, unless they don't usually have music and I am helping to convince them of the joys of becoming a new music venue. I don't play corporate events at all. If I'm playing for a general non-music festival as opposed to a folk music festival, I get paid. Beyond that, I play where I want to play without worrying about the money -- I have a job that takes care of that, and, as I said, I don't want a full time job playing music.

Folk music is, at it's heart, community music. It is people in the community, experienced pros as well as beginning amateurs, getting together to play music within the community. I play for a lot of folk dances. Most of them pay a small amount, but I am well aware of their financial realities and would never dream of making a living from them. I do need to eat and keep a roof over my head and most gigs don't come close to providing that. I play because I enjoy sharing my skills with my community. I really like standing in a corner playing music and watching a lot of people dancing, experiencing the communication vibe that takes place between the musician and the dancers. I also really like playing concerts and feeling the similar vibe from the audience. Most of the places that want my kind of music in a concert have me there because they also love the music and are willing to work hard and spend their own money to help bring that music to audiences.

No one in the traditional music world, even the top-tier performers and the major festival organizers, are getting rich. A very few are able to make a decent living and the rest of the full-time pros live in abject poverty and work way too hard to do so.

Lizzie, perhaps you should investigate the idea that folk music is community music and that professional music making is much less so. Getting paid for playing traditional music isn't very traditional, eh?

Conversely, you could convince as many people to show up to see me play traditional music as what show up to see major pop acts and we might be having a very different conversation. Provide the paying audience, Lizzie, if you want all folk musicians to make a living playing folk music.

I'd also like to point out that you started this thread with a preconceived notion of the rat-like nature of the people organizing a folk festival. You came on a public international forum and started bad-mouthing them without having first taken your concerns to them and listening to what they had to say. People who act like you're acting here are a much bigger offense to me than festival organizers who I'm know for a fact (having been one myself) spend way too much of their own money and time in order to make something happen. Perhaps you should organize a festival yourself, or at least become conversant with the realities of the situation before you start publicly insulting people.

That's it, Lizzie: organize a festival. My rates are $2000 or equivalent pounds per show. Cough up the money, please.

John P


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 08 May 14 - 05:22 PM

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

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

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

Agreed in essence, Brian, but I was making a simplified point. I think "many hundreds" would be an upper estimate, and many broadside printers did not sing the ballads they printed. Some of the more productive kept a tame musician to do that (and also to adapt tunes for new words). I left them out mainly because their living was made principally from printing and selling sheet music (or words) and the discussion was about performing musicians.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Ebbie
Date: 08 May 14 - 05:24 PM

The Alaska Folk Festival, put on in Juneau, just completed its 40th year. The festival is run by (unpaid) volunteers, including the 7-person Board who each serve for three years, the cost for putting it on is more than $45000 (yes, 45 thousand dollars). Our costs are met through memberships and merchandise sales. Except for the Guest Artist(s) no one gets paid for their 15 minute sets- and we usually have more than 75 applicants from all over Alaska put on Standby, although through attrition and the occasional no-show, most of them do eventually get on. We also have three nights of dances, 3 or 4 a night, 45 minutes a whack. No one gets paid for that either, except for a Guest Caller.

We do sell lots of CDs for performers and some bands negotiate a gig downtown for a night or two.

The only time I have ever gotten tired of playing music was when I was being paid for it. We played for dances and weddings for six years; our remuneration was small but what we were doing was *work*. Jamming or just listening to live music comes under the heading of *pleasure*.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:02 PM

well yes, we do deserve to be paid......but most of us would prefer to play anyway, as long as there is a listening audience.
and if we waited for paid opportunities most of us would never get to perform. appreciation is reward enough for many of us , and we have fun......I don't suppose it can be much fun trying to organize events !.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:09 PM

I play music - it's my hobby.
If you get paid to play the expectations are higher and it becomes work. I don't like work as I'm by default a lazy bee.

Besides if you're getting paid to be a folk singer then, in my book, you're not a folk singer, you're a performer.

Voila!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Deckman
Date: 08 May 14 - 06:21 PM

I'm enjoying thid thread ... there are a lot of thoughtful and honest comments. Over the many years, I've "performed" in just about every kind of venue you can imagine: concerts, nightclubs, coffee houses, store opening, restaurants,weddings, funerals, festivals. I've also produced festivals and I'm still involved in producing a concert series in my hometown.

One thing I've noticed is that all too frequantly, the additin of "money", or Pay", changes everything. Suddenly, as others have pointed out, once you sign a contract, you are bound to sing for those two hours, no matter what, etc. I once was chewed out by a restaurant owner in Pocatello, Idaho, because I took a potty break.

I recently watched as the issue of more "money" broke up a very long time band.

And like some others have also mentioned, I once laid down my guitars for three years because I was burned out from constant paid gigs where I felt more like a prostitute than an artist.

CHEERS, bob (deckman) nelson


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:05 PM

felt more like a prostitute than an artist.......

was it the brushes that put you off?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:05 PM

felt more like a prostitute than an artist.......

was it the brushes that put you off?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:21 PM

I don't remember doing that twice. at my age I often have trouble doing it once.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:29 PM

One of the best threads in the last four years.

I side with Joe O. 100%

No musician is "in it" for the money... It is hard for me to understand the UK mentality. Perhaps, less than one out or 10,000 can make a "career."

We do it....because....we love it...we were born to it. We play solo, at home for hours and hours with no audience, for pleasure.(Can you say the same for a plumber, electrian or gardener?)


http://www.csulb.edu/depts/music/

The above music program has a special program for a "keyboardist" since they are the least employable.

Thank you Lizzie.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

I trust socialized medical has "come through for you," you appear more focused than when you had past, "issues."


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:40 PM

Basically, for playing music I want free beer and a lift home when I'm pissed. Apart from that, my philosophy about playing music is that you either do it for big money (0.0001% of us) or you do it for fun. Anything in between and you may well be a lunatic. I think there may be a few of those around on "the folk scene" (Jesus, did I really just type those three words...?)


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:23 PM

I think you got to face facts - exploitation isn't the problem. the music scene was in a healthier state in the sixties when exploitation was at its peak.

what about Robert Johnson - forced to use the goods entrance of the record company - but what great music!   and he was making some sort of a living. albeit at the bottom of society.

would you really swap any of the music where the artist gets a fair percentage of the download price for that where the artist was being paid 4% of the retail. bet your life, you would.

Exploitation isn't the problem. crap music is. do people even listen to music these days. they're all watching strictly x factor on ice.

exploitation is the least of our problems. the problem is that folk music doesn't excite anyone any more. yes I know there are bands that do festivals where drunken bastards jump round to some interminable jig and reel - but that doesn't come anywhere near how it was.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 08 May 14 - 08:31 PM

Whilst I wouldn't agree with you about a lost golden age, your point about folk music not exciting people is apposite. It's always going to be just the select few who get ample financial reward, and, rather than complain about that, we should either (a) ask ourselves why that is (and be honest), or (b) sod it and do it for a laugh, and possible free beer. And not give up the day job.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 May 14 - 09:43 PM

What John P. says above.

I've done a lot of freebies. The first television series I did was in 1959 on the University of Washington's brand new educational television station, KCTS Channel 9, now affiliated with PBS. It was called "Ballads and Books." The station didn't have much money at the time, in fact all the cameras and such were hand-me-downs from a local commercial TV station, so the "talent" such as myself didn't get paid. BUT?

Bob Clark, owner of a local art and foreign film theater had just opened a coffee house next door to the theater (calling it "The Place Next Door") and hired me to sing there as a result of the TV show. Three nights a week for many months, and he paid well and regularly.

In 1962, I sang for free every Sunday afternoon, along with several others, at the United Nations Pavilion at Century 21, the Seattle World's Fair. Many good paying singing jobs grew out of this from people who heard us there and hired us for concerts at the Port Townsend Arts Festival, the Port Townsend Centennial, and many other events?for good money.

I've done a lot of this sort of thing. It's fun to do and it lets people know your there. The thing is you have to pick your venues and be good enough to attract the attention of those who might be looking to hire someone.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Janie
Date: 08 May 14 - 10:04 PM

Lizzie, you asked a question. A good one. Musicians are answering. From varied perspectives and experiences. Consider just listening to the responses. Your question is being answered and there is no one answer.

Good thread.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Joe_F
Date: 08 May 14 - 10:29 PM

Singing for fun is not singing "for nothing". Fun is not nothing; it is something -- something, indeed, that some people are willing to pay money for, so it has a cash equivalent. Other, luckier people do not have to pay for it; they can generate it themselves. Those who do so are not being "exploited"; they are doing the best they can, and more power to them!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: LadyJean
Date: 08 May 14 - 11:02 PM

I have been known to write for nothing. As Colette told us, the nightingale sings to keep from dying. Staying alive is not nothing.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 May 14 - 11:03 PM

By the way, I was offered the "Ballads and Books" series by a fellow who had heard me sing?strictly for fun?at a party, swapping songs with a bunch of other singers. A "hootenanny" in someone's living room.

Ya never know??..

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Deckman
Date: 09 May 14 - 12:11 AM

I'd like to return to "Lizzie's" original thought when she started this thread. This thread has generated much interest and good postings. This is an example of just how fine MC can be.

I think that Pete Seeger nailed it, many years ago, when he wrote about the detrimental effect of "tin pan alley" in the folk music genre.

Scratch most of us deep, and you'll find that we're really folk musicians at heart ... meaning we make this music for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our friends.

When "Pay" enters the scene, the scene changes, and I don't necessarily think that it changes for the better. As so many others have said, much better than I, music is what we do and we do it for ourselves. bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 May 14 - 12:21 AM

What Bob just said.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 May 14 - 12:23 AM

Deckman, that is.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Deckman
Date: 09 May 14 - 12:48 AM

Don ... Very nice to see you posting again ... you've been missed. This thread topic is one that you and I have discussed for many hours while drinking many cups of coffee at "Howards", on the "Ave", in Seattle.

As well you and I know, the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 put our area on the map. We soon became a destination point for the bestest known performers of the day ... Joanny, Bikel, Belefonte, Bibb, on and on.

After the promoters got through milking Seattle and the crowd money, for what they could get, they left town. That BIG scene changed everything ... for the worse in my opinion.

I know you can remember those quiet evenings when we could walk into the Pamir House on a Friday night, maybe find six people sitting scrunched up under those tiny tables, trying to enjoy bad tea, and waiting for us to entertain them. We'd make 5, or maybe 7 bucks a night. But it was FUN.

FUN ... that was what it was all about and that is what still drives us today.

So ... while we're not being rich (weathy) we are still making the music that we enjoy. We're making it for ourselves ... AND EACH OTHER! bob(deckman)nelson (btw ... put on the coffee pot for me, will you)


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Mick
Date: 09 May 14 - 12:54 AM

I understand Deckman's point of view, but I can tell tyou hat Pete would get very angry if someone cost him a paying gig. He was a member of AFM Local 1000 and believed strongly that musicians should be paid. He also believed in using the power of music to effect social change and would often sing at rallies, and for certain causes for free. But he was a charter member of Local 1000 and a proud union musician. I sat with him at his kitchen table and we discussed this very topic.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Deckman
Date: 09 May 14 - 01:11 AM

Big Mick ... Those must be treasured conversations. We all have some. A thread and topic like this again shows that there are usually no simple answers. No right or wrong ... no black or white.

Again ... to go back to the original posters point ... I think we enjoy what we do for what we do. We mostly do it for ourselves. After all, are not "ourselves" what is most important to us? bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 May 14 - 01:23 AM

I've been a musician all my life. I do expect to get paid for some performances, but not very often. If I'm asked to perform for an event, then I usually expect to get paid - you know, situations where there is a paying audience. But most of the time, I'm making music with people simply for the fun of making music, and I don't expect them to pay me. Or it's church services where I want everybody to sing, or it't our nursing home performances that we do as a service to the community.

I'm hoping to finally get to the San Francisco Free Folk Festival in June. I didn't volunteer, but no doubt I'll make a lot of music - and most of the volunteers are friends of mine. I'll enjoy making music with them, but nobody expects to get paid. There will be lots of people there who aren't members of the San Francisco Folk Music Club - we provide the festival for free to try to draw people in to the thrill of making their own music.

My son Nic has been a professional musician since he was about eighteen years old. It's his only profession, and he works very hard at it and spends a lot of money on equipment and transportation and recording and agents and whatnot. He doesn't make a whole lot of money, but he gets by. He performs for some fairly large audiences, all over the world. YouTube has some 24,000 videos of his band, but most of those are cellphone videos taken at concerts, and the band doesn't get paid for them. They show all the signs of being a reasonable successful band, but they don't make much money. Their biggest source of income comes from performing at festivals. Income from recordings is just so-so. Nic will lecture you for hours about the music business model, and what a mess it is. And yeah, Lizzie, Nic deserves to get paid well for what he does - but that's different from folk music. His music is music performed for an audience, not music that people make together.

-Joe-


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Subject: Lyr Add: Sing for the Song (Shel Silverstein)
From: GUEST
Date: 09 May 14 - 02:04 AM

SING FOR THE SONG
(Shel Silverstein)

Sometimes you sing for the money
Sometimes you sing for the show
Sometimes you sing for those dewy eyed darlings
Still makes them cry, don't you know

One time you sang for the glory
But the glory didn't last very long
Through the haze of the stage, you look back to the days
When you used to sing for the song

Sing for the song, boy
Just like you did when you stood on that corner and you didn't even feel the cold
Sing for the song, boy
Just like you did before all of the cocaine and flash bulbs and bright painted ladies got hold of your soul

But you really don't make too much money
And you don't put on much of a show
And those dewy eyed darlings next week will be crying
For somebody else don't you know

And the tune is becoming your burden
And the words all sound twisted and wrong
And the song that you sell don't taste quite as well
As when you used to sing for the song

Sing for the song, boy
Just like you did when you stood on that corner and you didn't even feel the cold
Sing for the song, boy
Just like you did before all of the cocaine and flash bulbs and bright painted ladies got hold of your soul

Sing for the song, boy
Just like you did when you stood on that corner and you didn't even feel the cold
Sing for the song, boy
Just like you did before all of the cocaine and flash bulbs and bright painted ladies got hold of your soul

Transcribed from "Best of Friends", a 1985 live album by Bob Gibson, Tom Paxton and Anne Hills.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Rachel
Date: 09 May 14 - 03:40 AM

Just a small pennies'worth from me...as far as festivals are concerned, sometimes my band gets paid; enough to cover travelling expenses and beer money when it's split between the four of us, which is great. Sometimes we don't.
Regardless of whether we are paid or not, I go to festivals to have a fantastic time, making new friends, catching up with old friends, listening to new music, drinking without the worry of having to drive anywhere, living in the moment and loving life. This is something that money can never buy.

I play music for music's sake, as 'merely a hobby' BECAUSE I value myself....And surprisingly enough, Lizzie, despite what you may imagine of the likes of me, it 'runs through my soul' too...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 May 14 - 08:45 PM

If your values are only those of what pays most, then you end up in Simon Cowell's stable. Oscar Wilde had it right, a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. and I defy anyone to make decent music with cynicism in their hearts, it's why orchestral music so rarely gets much credit these days, the bands are full of people playing the same old warhorses the same old way on tape replay mode. You know who they are, their dirty overcoats are under their seats and on before the last echo dies.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Oggie
Date: 10 May 14 - 03:10 AM

I'm sorry but if a pub/cafe/restaurant is making money by a named musician being there and performing then that musician deserves a share. They're being used for commercial purposes and the owner isn't doing it for the love of putting on music, they're doing it to make money.

Festivals are an interesting one and it seems that the unpaid artists are creeping further and further up the bill (possibly as headliners get more expensive). I can see why artists do it and for many festivals I don't have that much of an issue with it although I'd prefer to see payment (after all the artist is expected to turn up at x, do a set so long etc just like a paid performer). Where I do have an issue is where the large profit making festivals (across genres, it's not unique to folk) are doing it to cut costs so the organisers make more money.

Steve
Steve


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 10 May 14 - 06:50 AM

Good thread. As a bad musician who will never make any money out of music anyway I have no problem playing for nothing. Anyone paying to see me should demand their money back :-) As a festival organiser I resent the implication that we are exploiting anyone. We have paid people market rates, we have given people an agreed lower fee and we have had favours of free performances from all sorts of people. What we have never done is made any money. All the money from ticket sales have gone on advertising, paying for venues and artists fees. I know there are dozens if not hundreds of organisers in exactly the same position.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 10 May 14 - 06:53 AM

Just as pressed the enter key I realised that I should have asked a counter question - Why do festival organisers work for nothing? Why does anyone do anything for nothing? From my point of view it is because I enjoy it, I am good at it and it gives other people a lot of pleasure.

D.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,1970s Hippy guitarist
Date: 10 May 14 - 09:24 AM

Anyone else remember the cultural revolutionary ideological values expresed in 'musicians wanted' Ads
listed in weekly music papers of the 1970s ???

Cast your minds back to the vintage era of hippy free festivals...

"Guitarist, Bass player, Drummer, etc, wanted - no breadheads" !!!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Noreen
Date: 10 May 14 - 10:57 AM

No musician is "in it" for the money... It is hard for me to understand the UK mentality.

Just in case anyone else makes the same mistake as gargoyle made above, I would like to point out that

the OP states only her own opinion.

The respondents on this thread, taking exception to her opinion, are from the UK as well as the US and no doubt other countries.

For completeness, this is the earlier thread which provoked this one:
Cinderford Festival not paying artists?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 10 May 14 - 11:25 AM

The real answer to the original question is of course supply and demand, which determines the pay rate for everything. If the demand for people willing to lie on a mattress were stronger than the supply, L'il Abner's mattress-testing gig would pay better. And if more people were willing to spend their time on earth buying companies and firing everyone, Mitt Romney wouldn't be as rich as he is.

In the case of folk music, my impression is that the ratio is 10 people who want to perform it for every one person who wants to listen to other people performing it. And that seems like a good thing to me. Music should be an experience, not a consumer product.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,freespiritceol1
Date: 10 May 14 - 11:32 AM

Hi all ,

interesting thread, Marie and I play as a duo , free spirit, down here in west cork and Kerry in Ireland. We do gigs mainly through the summer, and also organise 2 free festivals. St Patrick's weekend festival and also music and Craic in the glen in October. All musicians and artists who take part do so purely for love of music and craic,and people come from far and wide to take part and have fun. No one is paid including the organizers. Our host Bernard Harrington is generous to a fault with refreshments and drinks for the musicians. Of course the venue , Bernard Harringtons bar Glengarriff and local hotels/b&b/taxi drivers etc have a financial boost from the event, but that,s not a bad thing.

Visitors come from far and wide to take part, make friends and have fun. Holland,Germany,France,US,England, and also great Irish trad musicians.It,s an inclusive event and all styles of music song and dance are welcomed and appreciated everybody wins.

not saying who is wrong and who is right, it,s just our way of looking at things. Each to there own but please keep. Enjoying the music and craic!

All the best john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 May 14 - 01:14 PM

No musician is "in it" for the money

That's true. I'm "in it" for sex....but that hasn't worked all that well.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Megan L
Date: 10 May 14 - 02:00 PM

Ach Joe Joe ye ken fine lad ye tried that wance and luk at the bother it got ye intae


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 May 14 - 02:01 PM

Just in case Newport Boy is still reading, I thought I'd continue our sideline mini-discussion:

"Agreed in essence, Brian, but I was making a simplified point. I think "many hundreds" would be an upper estimate, and many broadside printers did not sing the ballads they printed. Some of the more productive kept a tame musician to do that (and also to adapt tunes for new words). I left them out mainly because their living was made principally from printing and selling sheet music (or words) and the discussion was about performing musicians."

Phil, I accept your distinction between musicians who were paid purely for performing, and sellers of song sheets, but I wasn't talking about ballad printers; I meant that class of people who earned their living by buying ballads at wholesale price and selling them on the street corners. Most of them attracted buyers by singing the ballads they had on their broadside sheets: all of those first lines that begin "Come all you lads of high renown" or "You gentlemen both great and small" etc. were designed to pull in listeners, like a busker's patter. My suggestion of 'many hundreds' is based on a 1641 estimate of 277 ballad singers in London alone, quoted in Marsh's 'Music and Society in Early Modern England' - if I'd wanted to be bolder I could have guessed at thousands rather than hundreds, since the sellers were active in market towns across the country as well as the cities.

Given that the majority of folk songs were at some point printed, that print runs ran to hundreds of thousands, and that very few broadsides were supplied with music, the singing of the ballad sellers must have been a very important way of getting the tunes into public circulation. I mention it just for interest, not to prove a point.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 10 May 14 - 02:27 PM

Joe ~~ Have you thought of trying a new aftershave?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 10 May 14 - 06:46 PM

I tried re-enactment once. I enjoyed the battles with Germanic tribes, even though they were quite uncouth, but I enjoyed the buffets at the end most. In fact, I was only in it for the Saxon thugs and sausage rolls.

I thank you.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 May 14 - 12:55 PM

I think that Pete Seeger nailed it, many years ago, when he wrote about the detrimental effect of "tin pan alley" in the folk music genre.

As someone who's been playing the product of "Tin Pan Alley" - particularly stuff from the 1920s and 1930s - for many years, I'm always amused at the attitude of some people, mainly "folkies", who tend to dismiss it as purely commercial pap or stuff without any soul. The amount of sheer talent and genius in writer and composers of that era (for example) is staggering, and there are some heart-stopping songs out there if your ears aren't hardened.

I first heard "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime" and "My Forgotten Man", for example, back when I first started playing guitar in the 1960s - and they resonate today. With good reason.

Even an utterly commercial label like Motown with an utterly commercial owner like Berry Gordy produced music with heart.

There's good and bad in all genres - if you care to listen. It doesn't all have to be passed on by an oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 11 May 14 - 01:35 PM

Dylan also disparaged Tin Pan Alley, at least as a source of "folk songs," in the intro to "Bob Dylan's Blues." But later in life he recorded "Tomorrow Night" (ruining it, but Lonnie Johnson's recording is on YouTube).

A lot of Carter Family songs and songs usually called traditional probably started life in Tin Pan Alley.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 11 May 14 - 02:12 PM

Well, I'm just blown away by the fact there were Pete Seeger sitting here beside me, he'd probably be saying:

"You tell 'em, Lizzie! You tell 'em! I've been trying to get them to see their own worth all my life, as well as getting others to understand this too. Go, girl!"

Yayyyyyyy!

Me & Pete! xxx

;0)

Listening to him and The Ghost Of Tom Joad with Bruce Springsteen, as I write this...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 11 May 14 - 02:49 PM

The problem with this thread is that Lizzie is conflating entirely different sets of circumstances. It is one thing to be critical of promoters who try to rip off musicians by offering them little or no payment for what is a commercial performance. However it is quite wrong to confuse this with a situation where musicians choose to perform at a not-for-profit event, for their own enjoyment as well as the audience's. As others have pointed out, there are other rewards from playing music besides the financial ones, and these are sometimes more valuable.

It is also quite wrong to compare the musicians with those providing support services to the event. The musicians are choosing to participate because they will get enjoyment from the event. Even when they are being paid to perform, they will probably also be playing informally as well, for no extra. The after-hours performers-only sessions at some festivals are quite something, I can tell you. Whereas for the service providers it is simply a job of work - no one flushes out portaloos for the fun of it. Of course they get paid. That doesn't devalue the musicians.

Playing without being paid does not equate to exploitation. The floor-singer in a folk club is gaining a valuable apprenticeship in performance in front of a live audience, often effectively as a support act to prominent performers. In many other genres this kind of opportunity doesn't exist. As well as this intangible benefit of gaining experience, and the not unimportant fact that they enjoy doing it, they often get into the club free or at a reduced rate, so there is a financial benefit (not at MU rates, admittedly.

Thank you for your concern, Lizzie, but I can assure you that we musicians can look after ourselves. Where payment is due, you can be sure we will charge what the market will bear and what our own talents can justify. Allow us to be the judge of when and where we should play without seeking payment.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,al Whittle
Date: 11 May 14 - 02:57 PM

okay we should get money. how much?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 12 May 14 - 09:30 AM

"Pay for Free" actually means "Pay to Play"! If you add up your annual overheads as a musician - Public Liability Insurance, Depreciation on instruments and kit, Instrument Insurance, wear and tear (strings, rosin, picks etc), web site registration, and divide the resulting sum by the number of gigs you do a year, for my wife and I working as a duo, that comes to at least £20 per gig before we leave the house. Then you add your variable costs like travel, parking, refreshments (assuming these are not paid by the venue)So getting £40 per gig in a nursing/residential care home is probably just covering our costs, which is fine if you are enjoying it!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,muppett
Date: 12 May 14 - 10:20 AM

Occasionally I get asked to perform and or M/C at events and festivals, sometimes I do get some money for my troubles, but mostly I don't, but to me this a bonus for me and it doesn't cross my mind to ask if there is a fee, even getting a free pint is fantastic and rewarding enough
At the moment I'm in full time employment (not as a performer) and I see my music and performing as being a hobby, if ever I did start get a regular income for it I think I'd start seeing it as a job and so eventually a chore, as, as a hobby I can take it up as and when I choose to, with no commitments.
Now if it came to time that I relied on music to make my living (I don't think I ever will, as I'm not that good) well my attitude might be different,


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: BrendanB
Date: 12 May 14 - 11:33 AM

By her own admission Ms Cornish is not a musician and cannot therefore comprehend the motivation of musicians. Furthermore, different musicians have diffent motivations which makes the situation even more complicated. I can understand someone asking the question posed in the original post but I cannot understand her peculiarly aggressive response to those musicians whose honest and thoughtful responses do not meet with her approval.
Sometimes I play for money, sometimes I play for free. I do not play if I don't want to, regardless of payment.
Why does anyone else think they have the right to question my reasons for choosing to do what I want to do?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 May 14 - 11:38 AM

One nun dead!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 May 14 - 03:53 PM

The first time I saw Pete Seeger was in 1954 when he gave a concert, sponsored by the newly formed Pacific Northwest Folklore Society. After the concert, he came to a party where he wanted to hear some of the local singers. And he also sang.

Over the years I've heard many well-known singers up close at parties and such, swapping songs with "locals" and singing for no pay, such as Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl, Sandy Paton, Guy Carawan, Joan Baez, Theodore Bikel, Richard Dyer-Bennet. . . .

Festival goers, whether on an official program or not, whether paid or not, almost invariably get together at informal gatherings where they sing up a storm.

It's the singing that it's all about. I'm afraid that Lizzie is just clueless.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 14 - 05:57 PM

Festival goers, whether on an official program or not, whether paid or not, almost invariably get together at informal gatherings where they sing up a storm.

Sorry, just how is that supposed to contradict Ms Cornish's arguement that the performers on the program should be paid for their programmed performances?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 May 14 - 06:17 PM

It's the singing with other people that's primary.

But I have a policy. If someone is making money off my singing, I have to have some of it.

Unless it is a charity event, and then I have to know that in advance.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Musket
Date: 12 May 14 - 06:31 PM

I'm not 100% with Al here...

Yes, the commercial fodder on the telly etc with Simon Cowell & co is dire from a skill concept most if the time, but if Fred Bloggs and his family enjoy that more, how can you force them to spend money to see an old bloke from Retford stick a finger in his ear and croon about herring trawlers?

Enjoying your music for its heritage, simplicity or the sound it makes is a very different proposition to playing it to get rich, feed the kids or, as in Joe's case, get laid.

Joe. Learn some of my songs, the chicks dig it.....


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,al whittle
Date: 12 May 14 - 08:12 PM

'Yes, the commercial fodder on the telly etc with Simon Cowell & co is dire from a skill concept most if the time, but if Fred Bloggs and his family enjoy that more, how can you force them to spend money to see an old bloke from Retford stick a finger in his ear and croon about herring trawlers?'

with a gun!

just watching Tom Paley on the music of bob Dylan on sky arts. fascinating to hear him sing Eleanor, anf the girl on the green briar shore - note for note like the album i had years ago - a red one - him and Peggy. I've changed such a lot in forty years. he seems the same - puzzling!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Deckman
Date: 12 May 14 - 09:44 PM

As I tried to explain earlier, "music" is a different kind of animal. It's not like a car, or a boat, or something that you made and must sell and profit from to survive. Music is a live and real thing. It needs to be nurtured and passed on to be kept alive and vital.

Case in point ... I'm right now recording several folk songs and sending them to my music friends. They don't ask for them. They enjoy and appreciate them. I'm not selling them. I'm simply giving them away because I know that my friends will enjoy them.

Am I being exploited by anyone? Of course not. Am I sharing this wonderful gift of music? Of course.

As a musician, I choose to do what I choose to do. If I want to perform for free at a festival, I will. If I choose not to do that, I won't. But I will make that decision ... not anyone else.

CHEERS, bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Joe_F
Date: 12 May 14 - 10:28 PM

The making of music is not the only valuable work that is done partly or sometimes for money and partly or sometimes "for nothing" (that is, for other reasons). One might mention cooking, child care, teaching, sexual intercourse, and computer programming. Such coexistence leads to various conflicts within & between persons, as we have seen.

A well-known poem on that subject is "Two Tramps in Mud Time" by Robert Frost. He is sometimes embarrassingly smug (I could do without his "life of self-control", and surely, in all charity, "yield who will" ought to be "yield who must"), but he does lay out one issue.

In case you want to read a view from the opposite extreme to the one that started this thread, here is my review of Elijah Wald's book.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 12 May 14 - 10:52 PM

Dear Lizzie,

This has potential to become a great MC thread. Thank you for posting.

I doubt that one out of 10,000 musicians "does it" for the filthy lucre.

We "do it" simply because it is "fun." It bubbles within our soul...we are happy to "just do it" for hours on end ... without an audience. The sauce on the duck is an unexpected bonus.



Sincerely,
Gargoyle

My previouz post, to your thread, was lost in the 2014 "Mother Day Mudcat Break Down.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 14 - 12:13 AM

Verily!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 13 May 14 - 05:15 AM

It's not only musicians who work for nothing.

I have over completed 40 years service as a voluntary youth worker, sometimes using up part of my holiday allowance from my paid job to take children camping. My wife had a professional career teaching the same age group. Was I letting the side down by choosing to give my time for free? Although I never receive monetary payment, it certainly has its rewards seeing children grow into responsible young adults and to know that I have been part of that.

In the same way, I sing for free because I want to and I hope that I am giving other people pleasure. Who are you Lizzie Cornish, or anybody else for that matter, to tell me that I am wrong?


DC


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 May 14 - 08:49 AM

that's a nice essay joe f. who are you -what is that erudite forum?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 14 - 09:27 AM

Lizzie, it's interfering 'well meaning' do-gooders wanting to impose their concern and rules for our 'benefit',
that's most probably lead to increasingly pernicious bureaucratic regulations and expenses
that restrict where, when, and how musicians can ever enjoy performing together in public...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 14 - 01:49 PM

Exactly so, GUEST.

Back in 1958, when I first started singing in coffee houses, the musician's union planned to lean on them and make them pay the singers union scale. Fortunately, we (the musicians they thought they were trying to protect) talked them into leaving the coffee houses alone. Coffee houses simply could not afford to pay union scale, and if the union had had its way, one of the best "training grounds" for folk performers?and the source of at least some pocket money?would have be lost to us.

Singing regularly in coffee houses, I was able to hone my skills and turn myself into a seasoned performer, while at the same time add to my income from teaching guitar, pay the rent, feed myself, had "walking around money" and could treat myself to an occasional beer.

While thoroughly enjoying singing. AND often getting hired for fairly lucrative gigs by someone who heard me at the coffee house!

If those who sought to "protect" me had not been talked out of it, all of that would have been lost to me, and I might have had to hang up the guitar and go to work for the Boeing Airplane Company like everyone else in Seattle at the time.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 13 May 14 - 07:45 PM

I help to run a festival, and one of my jobs is to set up the programme for our outdoor stage. Our headline acts get paid. But those who perform on our outdoor stage do not: they are a mixture of amateurs, semi-professionals and even some professionals. I nearly get trampled in the rush of people wanting a slot: they do it because "we just love your festival" or "we get such a buzz out of it" or "I'd be here all weekend anyway - money doesn't come into it".
Of course, a number of people who email us are looking for paid gigs, and we don't have enough to offer them: then, as Deckman, Don and Gargoyle have said, they can choose not to take it any further, or they choose to come and play for free.
I play a lot for free myself: the only money we take goes to support our parent organisation which runs invaluable music education classes in our city. We play for the enjoyment it gives us and our audiences. Some of our players travel considerable distances but never ask for travel expenses: most of us are pensioners, playing to even older pensioners! Not every musician is needing to make enough to live on from their music. It just isn't all about money. Lizzie!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 May 14 - 08:31 PM

Big Al: Thank you for your appreciation. I'm not sure what "Who are you?" means, but my regular name is Joe Fineman, and I can be reached at joe_f@verizon.net.

The "erudite forum" is LiveJournal, a blogging site that (I gather) was once a big deal but is no longer one. I have some friends there & still find it entertaining. You can look at my profile there.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 14 - 09:57 PM

Dunno about Gargoyle, but both Deckman and I have sung at folk festivals for no pay when there were acts, generally well known and from out of town, who did get paid. Emmy Lou Harris one year and Elizabeth Cotton another year, plus others.

I was one of those chosen for an evening concert in one of Seattle Center's bigger indoor venues (opera house or arena, I was taken into the theater from the back, and I'm not sure which it was, other than that it was one huge place!), and wound up following right after Elizabeth Cotton. Tough act to follow!! But it was a privilege being on the same stage with that lady, and somehow money just didn't come into it.

There are many memorable moments in performing, such as the time in my favorite coffee house, when I was singing the last set of the evening. The crowd had dwindled to about four couples, and rather than singing another song to wind of the set, I played a fairly simple classic guitar piece, "Romance d'Amor," and ended the evening on a quiet note.

There was no applause. At the end of the piece, people just got up, filed past me, and quietly thanked me for a pleasant evening of music and song.

Sometimes money (even though I did get paid for the evening) doesn't enter into the equation. Just doing something that I enjoy doing and that other people enjoy listening to is payment enough.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 14 May 14 - 05:30 AM

Just to clarify, I don't expect anyone to receive payment when musicians are just playing together for the love of it. But, when others are making a profit, out of the fact that it's YOUR music which is bringing people into a festival/concert/gig etc..then it seems only right to me that the very musicians, without whom, there'd be no audience in the first place, get to share some sort of financial reward, even if it only covers transport and you're given free food and drink, being treated with respect at all times.

Do you give away your CDs too, for free, as you give away your performances?

And is there bad feeling towards any musician/s who does/do get paid for their music, making their actual living from the natural talent they were born with?

How come you pay your plumbers, your builders and all others, whilst expecting to never be paid for your own skills?

I DO get the 'for the love of music' part, I really do, but it seems to me that if all of you offer your services for free, then eventually, even the musicians who DO get paid will be offered far less, or nowt at all...

If you are a talented musician, then you should be paid for performing, in my 'the woman talks out of her arse, as always' view.

Mick stated, a while back, that Pete Seeger agreed with this outlook, so would you have given Pete some of the rudeness and patronizing words which have been directed at me, I wonder?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 May 14 - 07:50 AM

I certainly haven't been rude or patronising, Lizzie - just tried to give my own reasoned response as a practising paid and unpaid musician.

I will just add one thing - which, believe me, is also not meant to be superior or patronising, and I hope you don't take it that way - as it's not always easy to explain.

Most people have a love of music. I've known the odd soul who has no ear for it and can't bear to listen to it, but, on the whole, the majority of individuals I know love it. But - and it may sound a patronising "but" - there's a big difference between loving it and listening to it, and loving it and playing it.

The act of playing, the physical and mental effort involved in doing it, in doing it well, and the things learned from doing so, make for a relationship with music which is different from the relationship for those don't play. I'm not trying to be egotistical or quasi-mystical here - just saying that the way I feel about music and the way I treat it is just not the same as non-musicians, and the same as many other musicians. And I guess that's the same for a lot of us.

Which is probably why you perhaps get a different set of reactions towards the money aspect of it than you might have expected. Music is NOT plumbing, and it's NOT building. It IS a different sphere of technical and artistic endeavour - and has different rules. It's not easy to put this down without sounding pompous - but that's how I see it. When we feel the need to be paid, we work hard and get paid, I can assure you. But sometimes the money just isn't the point.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Nick
Date: 14 May 14 - 09:00 AM

I think quite a lot of people play for nothing for the same reason that they do the lottery. Perhaps less in the folk area.

If you get to the realm of 'being famous' and in demand then the rewards are huge. The chances are tiny but why not?

My son plays in a good band (radio plays - decent album - won £6k to play in a rock festival in Canada etc - ) but most of the time in London you play gigs on the basis of 'how many friends can you bring?' - you pay to play. The bigger your fan base that you can drag to gigs the more you earn. But if you play functions - as Will and others said - you can earn money. Whether it is what you want to do is a different matter. I've recenntly started to play with a guy whose agent used to book him into all over the place and it nearly exhausted him as he had a full time job too!

Most of my friends who make money from music make it from busking (up to £100 an hour) and playing ceilidhs (£300 - £500)

I played in a £150-£200 covers band a few years ago. After costs/travel/strings/etc etc it's not a way to get rich but it was enjoyable and easy. Rough rule of thumb I was given by pubs was they needed to generate 4 times the fee to make it worthwhile. We played a gig to 3 people once and probably contributed to the pub stopping live music sadly. Even if people really love music they still need to make it economically viable. I have to say that there is a place we played for years 'for the love of it' but the landlord of the pub must have made quite a bit of money over the time but could never afford to pay for a band... which rankles a bit.

Steve Knightley played in our village recently and good for him that he can command the fee he charges. The place was full and made a lot of money for charity. I'm guessing on the way up he might have done the odd freebie to get noticed and in his case it has paid off.

I've had lots of evenings though where I have had the fun of sharing some songs and music with people which wouldn't particularly have been enhanced by getting a few quid for it - the fun was enough.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 May 14 - 09:30 AM

It's the "making a profit" which is the point. If it's a truly commercial event, run for profit, then I'm inclined to agree and I would generally expect to get paid. But most festivals are not run on this basis - most are not-for-profit and any surplus they make is ploughed back into next year's festival (and often supporting other activities). The organisers and a lot of other people put a great deal of time and effort into running these for no pay, because they and everyone else get a great deal of enjoyment from the event. Those musicians who choose to perform for free do so for the same reasons.

The fact that a few headliners might get paid doesn't detract from this, because they are part of the draw which makes the event attractive in the first place. No one resents this, or if they do they are not obliged to perform.

The bigger festivals with bigger budgets usually manage to pay the most of the booked performers. But even these provide opportunities for unpaid people to perform, because that is what people demand. I wouldn't go to a festival which didn't offer opportunities for playing or singing, no matter who was on the programme

This is very different from those contractors who are brought in to provide the support services needed to make the event run. They may have no interest in folk music or in the event. For them it is a job of work like any other, and they quite rightly expect to get paid the going rate.

You persist in seeing this as exploitation. In most cases it's not, and in most cases the musicians themselves are perfectly capable of recognising when it is.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 14 May 14 - 10:17 AM

Lizzie you seem to been keen on the term work but refuse the notion of a "market" with supply and demand. using your plumber analogy, if my pipes burst I get a plumber, my requirement is that He/She should be competent at plumbing.
When it comes to music being competent is in many cases unlikely to get you paid work, you must be outstanding either because of your ability in comparison to "competent" players or having something unique about your performance which appeals to audiences.
Many, many, more people play music than are ever going to be paid to do so. According to your argument we should stop them playing to audiences as the have not been paid to do so.
The problem is in the title of the thread. For a majority of musicians music is not work i.e. they don't get paid to play. It is a pastime/interest, hobby, release, etc etc. They may not get money but there are many other rewards, pleasure, sharing with others, sense of achievement, etc.
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 May 14 - 10:20 AM

Then there's bands like the one I'm in...

Audiences seem to like us, but we never expected more than petrol money and a few free pints
if ever offered;
because we almost entirely performed free of charge at benefit gigs
for lefty political causes, trade union events, community projects fund raisers, etc....

To a band like us politics and issues matter more than £££$$$ !!!

I know I'll always be out of pocket by ten to twenty quid in rail fares
before I even meet up with the rest of the band to get in the back of the van.


Ok, when I was much younger there might have been the prospect
of copping off with a drunk randy female at the end of the gig - which was a fair enough additional incentive..


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 14 - 10:51 AM

The festival in question was the Cinderford Free Festival. There is no ticket price so I understand admission is indeed free. You would have to check with them how it is funded but I do know they hold fund raisers. I imagine that food/drink franchises would pay to sell their wares. Artists chose to donate their talents for free and once again I do not know how they fund their expenses but CD or MP3 sales and free publicity would be incentives. As well as giving pleasure to other people of course. But I guess some may never understand that.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 14 May 14 - 11:26 AM

being on the other side of the pond, I have no idea what festival set this thread in motion... but... the term "free" - her quotes was used.

If the festival had free admission, where would the funds to pay performers come from??? The vendors? That money probably covered rent for the site.

Are we talking about Woodstock where promoters were hoping to make a profit? Unlikely...

last month Mike & I donated our time & talent to NEFFA's 70th annual Festival... performers are all volunteers. The cost of travel, motel & meals makes it not cheap but still worth it. The ones who get paid are the hosting school site, the custodians & bus drivers... all of whom are quite helpful & nice.   The money raised is used to keep the year round programs running. Which also keeps interest in the music & dance alive. performers can sell their books & CDs at the site's vendor area - using volunteers to man the table and the organization's year round website carries contact info... so there are benefits to the performers besides free admission to a 3 day festival. In fact, many have done this for decades and there is a family reunion feeling as folks from near and far arrive and join in the festivities.

yes... there are always there who will exploit others -

and then there are "not for profits" that exist to do what they can to keep the traditions alive, usually run by volunteers that work their butts off with little or no appreciation for the hard work & effort they expend.

and lastly... in our local all volunteer, small fiddler's fair that raises money for scholarships and public projects there has been one part time musician who complained about no muscians being paid. He was told, well you don't have to come if you feel that way. Fat chance of that... he's been back each any every year.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 May 14 - 11:27 AM

i'd like to find a folk club where you don't pay three quid a pint for diet coke.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 14 - 11:52 AM

Start one in Aldi :-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Mr Red
Date: 14 May 14 - 04:40 PM

Hmmmm
I just walked along the local canal. A group of employees from a national bank were helping restore the canal. Eg wheelbarrowing hardcore because of accessability. They were working for nothing, though I suspect the bank helped them as a gift to the canal restoration society. Then the WRG (Waterways Recovery Group) have working weeks and weekends they do it for nothing. It is mucky and backbreaking. Now the WRG and Cotswold Canal Trust have paid employees who could earn far more in a permanent job but they get paid and the volunteers don't mind (AFAIK). So how is this in this context any different?
None IMNSHO
1) It is a participation thrill. So is music.
2) It is contributing to a cause. So are charity gigs.
3) They choose where to give. And stop giving when they feel "used".
4) They could choose to volunteer at the local hospital, a far more worthy cause on the face of it. But see 1)
5) Who are we to question another's peccadilloes, especially when they do more for others than they do for themselves?

I run websites at my own expense, my reward is the human contact and the thanks it generates. I enjoy writing computer programs to support that effort - strange to amny but then I don't do crosswords or soduko - which does only for the crosswordee, nothing for others at all. (cf any puzzle like a musical instrument)


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 May 14 - 07:10 PM

well said Mr Red!

We should make more of people in our society who do good things. They are the unsung heroes who make our lives worthwhile and our environment better. We spend too much time celebrating the achievements of those who make a fortune out of charging us three quid for a pint of coke and other nefarious exploits.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Amos
Date: 14 May 14 - 08:34 PM

I'd love to do paying gigs. I do open mics for the joy of it, and sing when invited to for the pleasure of doing it.

But I am not in demand, either, and therein lies an important difference. Choosing from an over-load of volunteers is a very different matter than inviting someone to entertain your customers because it will draw in more custom. Different dynamic.

I know a handful of people who do a lot of free singing on the Open Mic circuit and an occasional paid gig. I notice that those who have many paid gigs are constantly busy promoting themselves, running as fast as they can to keep that revenue stream rolling, and I am glad I don't have to climb onto that squirrel-cage, myself. I'd be happy to do a paid gig, but there are others who need the dough much more seriously than I do.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Mick
Date: 14 May 14 - 09:11 PM

I helped found a festival here in West Michigan called the Buttermilk Jamboree. It is irun by a non-profit at a place called the Circle Pines Center. We pay every single performer that participates in the three day festival. To be sure, the first two years the performers played for less than their normal festival fee. We would not dream of asking professional musicians, people who make their living playing the music they love, to play for nothing.

I have donated sets many times, but I never allow anyone to take advantage of me. This is my profession. I once had a pub owner ask me to play for exposure. You can guess my answer. He then countered that I could have the door. I responded that if he wanted me to play, we would negotiate a rate, or I wouldn't be playing his pub. His response was laughable, "so, it's all about the money for you, eh?.". I then made him the offer that I would play for the door if he would cut his drink prices in half. His response? "I can't do that, I am running a business". That was what I was waiting for. I told him that so was I. I then produced the spreadsheet I keep . It details every string I have bought, every bit of maintenance such as fret jobs, electronics, cables, and so forth for my equipment, every mile I have driven to gigs and rehearsals, every hour I have spent in rehearsal and travel. It also shows my compensation year to date, and the free gigs I have done. I asked him to compare my net to his, and then rethink his stupid question. I guess the point of all this is that I don't have a problem with amateurs who sing at open mic's or at free festivals, or amateur and pro's (myself included) that choose to play a free gig. In fact, I have a standing offer with my Irish American folk band ( the Conklin Ceili Band) that we will do one free concert a year for any heritage club of any ethnic group for free to help them fund their club. But I have a real problem with musicians giving away their hard earned skills for exposure, or gas money. And I have a problem with musicians who undercut fair wages, and allow venues to rip them off. Hell, we have clubs here that charge musicians for the use of their sound systems, but won't let the musician bring their own. All the while they run the kitchen and the bar making money off the crowd the musician brings in. Open mic's and allowing folk clubs to meet for a sing around are fine. Taking advantage of hardworking musicians is not.

And Lizzie, pay no attention to those that seem to want to attack any question you raise. This is a valuable discussion, I understand the point you raise, and it's distinctions. In the main, I agree with you. I believe that Pete would too.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Musket's shout
Date: 15 May 14 - 04:29 AM

Epworth Folk Club.

Al, I'm reliably informed that a pint of diet coke comes out at £2.56.

Has to be said, a pint of Black Sheep is even cheaper and puts hairs on your chest.

I must try and get there more often.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 May 14 - 04:41 AM

Your post highlights the problem with threads like this, Mick. You speak from the viewpoint of the professional musician - one who hacks a living from playing. And, quite rightly, you want every penny you can get from the profession, because you like to eat, buy clothes, raise a family, etc. Quite rightly, you get pissed off with those who take advantage of that - particularly bar owners and their ilk.

Therein lies the problem, because many, if not most of the other people who've replied to this thread, are not in that situation - their music is not mainly for money - and therefore their viewpoint is different. Now, if Lizzie had addressed her exhortations to those in the profession, the points she raised would have been seen, I'm sure, as absolutely valid. But - and here's the but - this thread was a spinoff from a thread about a festival apparently ripping off musicians, and Lizzie didn't check her facts properly before launching her homilies about Cinderford. Which obviously got up the noses of many people whose view of such events is different and perhaps better informed. From the Cinderford thread arose this thread, in which all musicians are undervaluing themselves to the general detriment of the music.

Now, I've been on both sides of the divide. I spent a few years playing to live. I did all the things you do - noted all expenditures on equipment, clothing, dry cleaning, petrol, car servicing, telephone calls, rehearsal time, etc. I had an accountant, and he made sure that the band weren't taxed to perdition. When I decided to change tack, for reasons which I've stated above, I had the freedom to do what I want with my music, which is why I go to sessions and open mics and the like for free and for fun - and why I still play in a band, part-time, which charges good money for what we do - also for fun! So I can see all sides.

As for being hard-nosed, I'll tell you a story:

The trio I played with for many years (1950s rock'n roll) did a private party for a wealthy client and, the deal, as ever, was cash on the night. When we'd finished playing and had packed up, our bass player asked politely for the cash - to be met with several excuses. There wasn't the cash in the house; he'd forgotten' he'd have to post us a cheque as his cheque book was somewhere he couldn't remember. The bass player listened calmly to this and then said, quite firmly, that if he didn't get paid in cash that night, he'd drive his 4x4 into the guy's conservatory windows. The client then miraculously paid the cash, and the bass player then divided the money between us as per. But - before he drove away, he deliberately reversed his 4x4 into the conservatory windows - as a lesson to be learned for the future. There never was any outcome over it - for whatever reason - but that's what I call hard-nosed!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 15 May 14 - 07:40 AM

It's called "mutual assistance": If nothing works for me, I work for nothing.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 15 May 14 - 11:03 AM

"And Lizzie, pay no attention to those that seem to want to attack any question you raise. This is a valuable discussion, I understand the point you raise, and it's distinctions. In the main, I agree with you. I believe that Pete would too."

Will Fly made very good points regarding your post. I'd like to add these additional points...

yes.. exploitation of ANYONE who has to work for a living is wrong... it's not just muscians that are getting the shitty end of the stick in this world.

BUT... you are not doing a service to give an unqualified endorsement to someone whose form of logic is "if a collie is a dog, then obviously all dogs must be collies". And what she has perceived to be attackes, were mostly those of us who were attempting to steer away from her blanket accusations of unjust treatment by using our own examples based on very real facts.

Mick... your choice of doing the occassional free gig (using very valid reasons for your choices) was also under attack for being a "sellout", since there is never a correct reason in her book for not getting paid. In my experience - 40 years in the environmental field- extremist attitudes do more damage than good when trying to make improvements to bad situations and overcoming negative attitudes. There are enough closed minds out there... we need to get & keep them open.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 15 May 14 - 02:57 PM

I would suppose that once established as an artist you can afford to say no to being taken advantage of, and rightly so.
but who can blame the ....not there yet....for playing for the "exposure"
if the already established arrived there without sacrificing any ideals, they are very fortunate imo.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Workers Playtime
Date: 15 May 14 - 03:38 PM

Lizzie is confusing the words 'work' and play'.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Captainswing
Date: 15 May 14 - 05:02 PM

I agree with Lizzie. There are many free festivals in my area and the people who appear to make the money are the owners of the pubs/bars etc and the festival organisers who are often paid by the pub owners to engage the acts.

The policy regarding engaging acts seems to be quantity rather than quality, often exploiting younger performers who will bring all of their friends and will be impressed that they are playing at a 'festival'.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 May 14 - 05:16 PM

and the festival organisers who are often paid by the pub owners to engage the acts.

Once again an undeserved attack on the hundreds, if not thousands, of festival organisers, such as my colleagues and I, who have never made a penny out of the countless hours of work, dedication and grief of trying to run a festival. In fact, we have more often been out of pocket than breaking even and are often abused by both audience and artists alike. Captainswing, little wonder you agree with Lizzie. You are indulging in the same pastime. Engaging mouth before putting brain in gear.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Folkiedave
Date: 15 May 14 - 05:55 PM

Which festivals are these then Captain swing - go on name names.

And then there was silence. ..........


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Amos
Date: 15 May 14 - 06:34 PM

I wish to draw the attention of participants on this thread to the following linked graphic which has been circulating on Facebook for some time..


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 May 14 - 12:49 AM

perhaps we are just realistic. society ascribes no value to us or our work.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 14 - 06:51 AM

Don't you think it's just a question of supply and demand, Al? Supply outstrips commercial demand - loads of musicians all wanting a piece of the action and not enough action to go round.

This is why there are so many open mics out there, catering for people who have an urge to play and entertain but who may not find the opportunity to do so in a fuller capacity or a paying capacity. This is not to knock open mic players - most performers just like to pop along and have fun in a non-threatening atmosphere - but I have seen a few would-be stars who really can't hack it for cash at these occasions.

I'm not talking just folk clubs here. There's a whole host of venues where people can get paid to play - British Legions, Trades & Labours, Working Men's, Con Clubs, etc. - but you have to be prepared to do what they want, which may violate treasured musical principles!

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "our work" - if you mean specifically folk music (whatever that is) as "our work", then you may well be right.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 May 14 - 07:47 AM

no not really.

to be honest I love playing pub lounges etc. I love the gear, the technology - the interaction with people and to be honest I can't really take seriously anybody purporting to be a folk musician , who hasn't even made a stab at acquiring the basic showbiz footsoldier skills.

but my most serious work - I can't perform even in folk clubs - the audiences have their agendas - just like the guys down the boozer have - and basically there so many other singers on the folkscene, prepared to bore the arse of everyone - that out of the milk of human kindness you feel the pressure to entertain.

many of the songs on my cd never see the light of day. there is simply nowhere to play them. I think that's why when I hear of some extraordinarily dull musical concept,t inevitably 'in the tradition' by one of the wise and worthies of the folkscene, getting public funding - it does tend to piss me off.

my work has no commercial value - although it is usually aimed at a niche market. however I live with the consequences and accept them as my lot.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 14 - 08:08 AM

Well, good on ya then. As my Irish Granny used to say, "Have what you will - and pay for it."

A double-edged sword indeed.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 May 14 - 02:51 PM

I can't perform even in folk clubs - the audiences have their agendas - just like the guys down the boozer have - and basically there so many other singers on the folkscene, prepared to bore the arse of everyone

Sounds like your problem is that you're so much more boring than the performers you're griping about that word has got around. Why else would you be box office poison?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 16 May 14 - 03:18 PM

On scanning this quickly growing thread it seems to me that there is only one sort of musician about...rhe fully skilled ,esperienced 9semi) pro. Not the case. I'msure we can all remember our early days when even doinf a floor spot at the local club was more effective than a laxative. We then neededa graduated range of types of performance space, from local open mics and singarounds, to local festivals or pub night s where a solo spot was offered and a pintof beer would have ben gladly accepted, until growing skill and confidence made you feel able to charge a fee. Some, for various reasoons of time or ability, never got beyond the odd pintwill be fine threshold. When one is working regularly, one often performs for charity do's, especilaay in the barn dance world. We never reduced our fee for what were other people's charities, raising funds was their concern. We did , however put by a few gigs a year where qe would play for localcharities that we supported ourselves. When people are trying to make a profit, then 'an opportunity for exposure' is not sufficient inducement to go and work for someone else. It IS really difficylt for small venues to make a profit, es[ecially when they're being screwed by the pub company. I've come to think that a percentage deal can be fair to both sides.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 16 May 14 - 03:48 PM

Sat backstage with the rest of the band , can't get front of house to see the other act.

2,000+ audience. Got to wear slap, cost a mint to be here when you take hotel, fuel etc into account and doing it all for free.

The charity concert is a type that doesn't get much of a say in this thread. Mind you, the pleasure of audiences you'd never get by sitting in a singaround is a buzz. A different buzz to be fair, but great fun.

On in 10. Tatty bye.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 16 May 14 - 03:53 PM

My 'talent', such as it is, is indeed mine - mine to do with as I choose. I neither ask, nor need, the permission or approval of anyone else to perform for free - it's my decision and mine alone. Nothing to do with anyone but me.

IMHO.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 May 14 - 06:34 PM

yeh...that's it Jack. exchanges like that make mudcat such a fucking pleasure sometimes however - if you'd ever ventured out of 100acre wood of the folkscene - gone out into the real world of commercial gigs - you would know that insults availeth nought.

I decided a long time ago what I wanted to do with my life. practiced till I was good at it.

I've been abused by professionals.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Airymouse
Date: 16 May 14 - 11:20 PM

I am not a musician, so my opinion doesn't count. I know 15 or 20 versions of old (=traditional, vernacular, folk, etc.)songs that I believe cannot be found in a book, on a CD or over the internet. These songs were not sold to me; they were given to me by people who loved them and I believe these people were also given the songs. I am pushing 75, so rather than have these wonderful songs die with me I give them away to anyone who will listen.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 May 14 - 06:08 AM

good stuff AM! why not record them and get some pal to put you versions on youtube -so they are always there for anyone with the wit to look.

artistically - the suns always shining for Martin Carthy, Show of Hands, Ralph McTell and the rest of the merry band - always thousands of willing listeners, always the best studios, media exposure,etc . the rest of us have to shift for ourselves as best we can.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 24 May 14 - 11:59 AM

From Dave: "Captainswing, little wonder you agree with Lizzie. You are indulging in the same pastime. Engaging mouth before putting brain in gear."

How tiresome your constant patronizing of me has become. I was well aware the festival which first started me thinking about this issue was a 'free' festival, but in my view, musicians should still *always* be paid in some form or other, when they are the very people, (no-one else) who are drawing in the crowds whom *everyone* else has the potential to financially benefit from.


I make NO apology whatsoever that as a woman with a brain, and, even worse, an *opinion*, I obviously upset your arrogant, patronizing, misogynistic mind.

I hope you can get some help for your problems, but until you are able, please, do NOT bring this kind of patronizing (yes, I've used that word THREE times now) to me.

I am with Mick all the way in this...and his voice is always one of reason and good manners.


I have also never said that musicians should charge when they are playing amongst friends, ever. I am talking about music festivals, be they free or charging, for without the musicians there would be no festivals at all.

Sadly, far too many of you undermine yourselves by charging nothing at all and in doing so make it extremely hard for musicians to actually earn a living from using their natural talents.

I also pick up in this thread, a certain degree of disdain, anger and bitterness towards musicians who DO charge and who ARE able to make their living from their music. It should not be this way...and sadly, many of you, so it seems to me, have helped to create a situation where, in playing your music for nothing at festivals you continue to allow festival organizers and the public to assume you are not worthy of earning your living this way, despite the deep amount of hard work so many of you put in, whilst those very same people are perfectly happy to pay plumbers, builders, gardeners, whoever, £10-£30 (add your own £experience) an hour for THEIR natural talents.

As Mick stated above, Pete Seeger was passionate about this subject, feeling that musicians should have the right and the expectation, (which is SO important)that their wonderful skills and years of hard work are valuable to a world which is in dire need of the talents they have been blessed with, and have spent such a vast part of their lives improving upon, to bring joy to others, to raise political points, to bring love to people...etc..etc..etc..


And perhaps, Dave, you might apologize not only to me, but also to the memory of Pete Seeger, for daring to suggest that he too 'engaged his mouth before putting his brain into gear' purely for doing all he could to get musicians to feel great pride in what they do.

Thank you
Lizzie


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 May 14 - 12:16 PM

I still don't understand why you are so fed up Lizzie...

I think maybe a lot of these guys have tried to get paid. they have failed and now they have made an accommodation with reality that leaves them a little dignity.

don't you think are being a little tough on them. they haven't got the chops to play pro gigs, but they can do something - and allright no one pays them - but they set their dentist salary guitars up at the festival and in their hearts -its HELLOOOO! WOODSTOCK!

harmless middle aged fun!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 14 - 12:36 PM

"but they set their dentist salary guitars up at the festival and in their hearts -its HELLOOOO! WOODSTOCK!"


We're not all rich buggers playing for nothing.

Even us perpetually skint unemployed & disallowed from claiming benefits musicians with old junk shop guitars
are determined to continue playing for free for all sorts of reasons of politics and principles...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 14 - 01:12 PM

why is not making scads of money the fault of musicians? better to rant at the capitalists.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 May 14 - 01:56 PM

a lot of these guys have tried to get paid. they have failed and now they have made an accommodation with reality that leaves them a little dignity

More dignity than if they spent their declining years whining about how the traddie conspiracy denied them a shot at the big time.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Tony Rath aka Tonyteach
Date: 24 May 14 - 07:15 PM

I started out in life as a singer, did lots of amdrams for the so called experience great fun - hard work no dosh Then I went all commercial and started earning some money in the late 70s and never did stuff for nowt again and ended up singing as a professional tenor and being paid. If you want to perform for nothing thats fine by me but being a pro means you get paid otherwise no point. I also worked as a TV actor - conditions lousy but not not bad dosh mostly but you got paid. I have tried explaining to Sainsburys that feeding me and the wife would be good publicity but they seem to want money

I seem to remember in the 60s reading in Banjo Mandolin and Guitar that you could just about earn £20 a week ie a bare living wage as a folk singer if you toured constantly and slept in a phone box while working. I suspect it is never been a way to make a fortune for most people

Until the rise of the West End musicals in the 80s most trained singers were part timers who taught to make a living or did summer shows or panto. Music is a great hobby but a lousy living for most people


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Mysha
Date: 24 May 14 - 10:52 PM

Hi,

As usual on Mudcat I don't understand most of the thread, with all the "Name: You're [wrong]" bits where I don't understand why they're not "Well, in my opinion ..." bits. But I do see some patterns.

The simple one is the one about playing music as work. For most, that's the well known: It's only work if you'd rather do something else. The more difficult one is: If you're not working then, should you be paid for creating an opportunity that someone else uses to make profit? That's one most societies don't have an answer for.

It's the difference between intention and result. On the other side of the spectrum it's the thief that steals a trinket without knowing that it's worth millions: Should he be punished for his intention which was no big crime, or for the result which definitely was costly? Should we on our side be rewarded according to our intention to just have fun making music, or according to the resulting opportunity for others to make a profit?

Where I am concerned, I've been raised to be grateful for the created opportunity, were I the profit maker, and thus to seek to reward the creator of the opportunity. But likewise I've been raised not to claim what I didn't work for, and I would therefore have to refuse such a reward if offered. A polite reversed barter would probably be the result in that situation, creating a middle ground between intention and result, just like the thief is probably likely to get a punishment somewhere in between the two extremes.

So, would I feel exploited if someone made money of me having fun? No, I don't think I do. But I might notice someone's bad manners if serious profit never resulted in any form of thanks for the opportunity. (It would probably take me longer than most people to notice, but eventually I would come to the conclusion that they were not well-mannered.) So, what would I do about such bad manners? Nothing; that's not how I was brought up. But maybe, if we're talking about people accumulating personal wealth, I would bee able to break through my upbringing and not help them when they could use a hand. I guess what goes around comes around.
                                                               Mysha


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 25 May 14 - 11:54 AM

"Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?"

To be heard, and possibly to get a following...OR..perhaps a fund raising benefit...Or..because they haven't done enough homework..and no one will hire them.

GfS


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 26 May 14 - 04:26 AM

?? in my view, musicians should still *always* be paid in some form or other, when they are the very people, (no-one else) who are drawing in the crowds ??

While I enjoy listening to other people perform, they are not "? the very people, (no-one else) ?" that draw me to a festival. I go to a festival for the opportunity to join in with others, to sing and to play. I am realistic enough to know that if I insisted on being paid money each time I performed then I would spend most of my life in silence. The applause I receive is sometimes polite, sometimes enthusiastic but always, I believe, genuine so I am being " paid in some form or other".

Since I am lucky enough to have retired from the rat race, I reserve the right not to turn anything into "work".

DC


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 May 14 - 04:34 AM

And perhaps, Dave, you might apologize not only to me, but also to the memory of Pete Seeger, for daring to suggest that he too 'engaged his mouth before putting his brain into gear' purely for doing all he could to get musicians to feel great pride in what they do.

I would do that, Lizzie, if you were saying the same thing, in the same way as Pete Seeger did, but you are not. Pete Seeger was a brilliant songwriter and knew how to put his ideas across without rancour and without the hyperbole that you constantly employ in your rants. You have had lots of answers to your question and chosen to ignore them. You are now putting yourself in the same league as Pete Seeger. Don't delude yourself. You are not a fraction the activist he was. I said nothing whatsoever to suggest that he spoke without thought other than in your own mind.

Now, you promised once that you would not speak to me. Please keep that promise.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 26 May 14 - 07:49 AM

DtG, well put. For some there are delusions of grandeur, for others it's more a case of delusions of adequacy.

As for misogynistic attitudes.... again blanket statements based of opinions with little or no facts to support it. Speaking as a well educated and opinionated heterosexual female, I also took tried to take Miss Lizzie to task for her sweeping condemnation that, frankly, I found quite insulting and based on ignorance. The world is not black or white... it's shades of gray and many different colors as well.

Lizzie, you are not under attack... it is your strident and confrontational statement that ignore any facts or opinions that do not resonate your own. If you want your opinions valued, then maybe you should start to reciprocate. Maybe even consider getting off your high horse and taking a closer look around you.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 26 May 14 - 02:42 PM

oh jack why so fucking bitter. the fact is I grew up in an era when there were three or four folk clubs in most decent sized towns.

I learned to play guitar - expecting there to be places to play. the big time never came into it. okay I've had a hit record. iam content having made some sort of a living.

but I wish the folk clubs employing entertainers had survived - they were nicer places to play than the places I did end up playing.

most entertainers of the period can confirm that the week after Carthy (heavily promoted by the melody maker folk page) played aclub that had been running for ten years , the place was empty =people bored shitless and completely failing to understand 'traddy' performance style. half a dozen more traddy artists getting the same big build up from melody maker and the folk revival was dead in the water.

okay I am sorry you can't take the truth but that's the way it was. it was shit to watch - I hadn't even started performing when all that happened. absolutely heartbreaking.

asfor making it big - my hero was always tony hancock's the punch and judy man. a bohemian pro performer - surrounded by posh twats.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 May 14 - 05:46 PM

Here's a couple reasons I play sometimes play for free

1 - building relationships with venues,
2 - expanding your fan base,
3 - supporting a good cause (you mentioned that already),
4 - or just having some good times.

It's a tough one though. Like anything you're gonna have to watch for the signs of exploitation.



Here's a post I did on the subject... http://www.apparatus.ca/when-you-should-work-for-free/


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 May 14 - 06:19 PM

sounds like you know what you're doing guest.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 May 14 - 08:03 PM

I do wish people would not say "for free". It is a grammatical solecism. Something may be "free", or it may be done "for nothing".


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 May 14 - 08:38 PM

I hear that tautology coming, at the sentences end
And I ain't heard a solecism since I don't know when

I think Johnny Cash said that......


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 26 May 14 - 08:43 PM

I fully understand the folks who feel threatened by those of us who cheerfully play (for) free, but they're wrong. If I refused to play (for) free, I'd hardly ever get out to play at all. My playing (for) free is really a bit of symbiosis. I get beer and I get transport, so I get a fantastic night out with the lads (a piss-up with tunes, as it's occasionally though inaccurately been described, as we do have our standards!), and I get out every week, and both the pub owners and the pub customers love it (we've been doing it for 20 years, so they might have said something by now!). We're under no pressure, we stop and start when we like and we have a rollicking good time. On the other hand, we want good dough for any weddings and parties, with beer, food and petrol money chucked in. Totally different. But we only get those gigs because people see us in the pubs we play in. We're a cheery bunch of hairy-arsed amateurs and we don't need sniffy pros or semi-pros telling us we're letting the side down by not demanding big mazumas from little rural pubs. Bloody arrogant folkies. Bugger off!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Ole Juul
Date: 26 May 14 - 09:27 PM

This is a long thread and I haven't read all the posts, but I've scanned it and enjoyed the last bit. There's a lot of good answers there. Mysha sums it up nicely above.

There are indeed some realities which if ignored leaves one feeling, and probably sounding, grumpy. It's a cold fact that you can't force people to pay for everything. You can entice them and ask, but if that fails then you have nothing to complain about it. Obviously, although they may value your offering, they don't value it enough to pay you - at least this time. You can then withdraw you offering, or you can do it for other values. The GUEST posted link is well worth reading in that regard. As Big Al Whittle says above, "these guys have tried to get paid" and they've failed. There is nothing wrong with that. To suggest, as the OP does, that "the market" has some sort of obligation to you suggests some kind of entitlement. That others (capitalists?) do that, is no excuse for perpetuating the attitude.

I can't help but see a parallel with the open source and free software community. People write code in order to satisfy their own needs and to contribute. That capitalists like Steve Jobs scoop up the work of thousands of coders (and many times that in hours of work) and then use it to make money is not a concern to many of those people. They do what they do for their own reasons and they passionately believe in what they do.

If you want to get paid like a "capitalist" then you have to play by those rules. That's what the music business is about, not what music is about. If you disagree with that, then you might as well demand that people buy your super duper potato peeler that you spent your whole life developing. Good luck with that.

tl;dr A sense of entitlement is perhaps not the most altruistic basis for getting paid.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Stanron
Date: 27 May 14 - 03:43 AM

I do wish people would not complain about grammatic solecisms. It inhibits creative expression when one is only having a good old rant.

Sorry this reply is so late. I've just got back from playing for free at Chester folk fest.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 27 May 14 - 04:30 AM

Al - I have to say I really don't understand your thesis that the "folk revival" players - however you define them - were frozen out by the more traditionally-minded club organisers, and that people like Wizz Jones, Gerry Lockran, Bert Jansch, etc., were deprived of places to play. In short, vibrant modern folk entertainment was shifted into second place in favour of traditional singing by clubs with a preference for performers like Martin Carthy.

If that's your argument, I find several problems with it.

1. Its' more likely that the public's taste for performers like Jansch and Renbourn simply waned. "Folk" music was ever a minority interest anyway. I was a huge fan of people like Davy Graham, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Al Stewart, John James, Keith Christmas (remember him?), The Incredible String Band, and played some of their stuff in clubs myself. And then I started to tire of it. Partly because of the lack of progression of some of the performers themselves. Graham took heroin and went tits up; Jansch drank; the Pentangle travelled swiftly up its own arse, and so on. Partly because of my own changing preferences. I started playing jug band music, then 20s dance music, then jazz, then other stuff. Many of my mates did the same - changed musical directions and tastes.

2. If there really had been a huge demand for the folk revival entertainers, then surely enough like-minded people could have started their own clubs to cater for that audience? It's not impossible. I started my own session in my village about 6 years ago because I needed a local musical "fix" in between the monthly one I attended, and still attend. It can be done. You say that there were 3 or 4 folk clubs in most decent-sized towns. Perhaps in your neck of the woods. There was but one in Lancaster, my home town - and that's a county capital. Even that faded and died, simply because the music in the area took on a different focus - blues, rock, and so on.

It seems to me to be too simplistic to say that one set of musical ideologues "killed off" another set, as though it was all political. Musical tastes and requirements are ever shifting. My local city of Brighton had a thriving jazz scene right up to the 1990s - I was part of it. There's very little jazz in Brighton now, and not a club that I can think of. There are pockets of manouche - gypsy jazz - here and there, and some little pub gigs - and that's about it. C'est la vie, eh? You can't legislate for peoples' tastes - they shift all the time.

Now I may be all wrong here. I stopped actively going to folk clubs in the late 70s, and only started popping into them again a few years ago, therefore my knowledge of the scene in the intervening years is sketchy. They look very different in some respects - the prevalence of music stands and books of songs I find highly amusing and rather sad - but one thing hasn't changed, and that's the friendliness and welcoming faces of the club organisers.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 27 May 14 - 06:36 AM

We played at hull folk festival last year. Keith Christmas was on the bill and very good he was too.
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 27 May 14 - 07:36 AM

Good to hear he's still around. He went out with my sister for a spell - many years ago.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 May 14 - 07:40 AM

well of course Will, more things happened than that. its abit like the Napoleonic wars. I spoke about Waterloo, but I left out the Battle of Austerlitz, not to mention the Peninsular Wars. and totally forgot Trafalgar.

there was the coming of the folk comedians. folkies with hit records. super agents like Les Ward, and Jim McPhee. Ann Dex who seemed to arrange gigs for artists willing to travel to Denmark and the Arctic circle......and much much more - battles, skirmishes, internecine struggles - all cemented together by the English talent for bloody mindedness and narrow vision from every interested party.

the greatest show on earth.... sorry you missed it!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Seaham cemetry
Date: 27 May 14 - 10:12 AM

My Dad used to say his free gigs were when nobody would pay them.

I suppose he meant he was a musician first and a businessman in music second.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Musket
Date: 27 May 14 - 10:23 AM

Keith Christmas played a festival just up the road and I didn't go. Boo... Wish I'd known but as the date clashed with something, I didn't check the guest list.

I used to sing his Robin Head back in the day. Normally I changed a line to read "Old Friar Tuck with which nothing rhymes." Huh.. Big charity gig, mayor etc and hundreds in the marquee, a young Musket spouted "Old Friar Tucker the king moth..."

That's the beauty of gigs, paid or unpaid. Nowadays I can laugh at how the commotion got louder and two verses later, the whole place was discussing my faux pas.

Nobody seemed interested in the drugs theme, just a naughty word. Calling Maid Marion the acid queen went over collective heads I think.


Sorry, rambling again..

Keith Christmas. Well, well well....


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 27 May 14 - 11:58 AM

Maybe we should start asking why so many "venues" go with karaoke or "live" DJs (never could figure that one out) instead of live musicians (that at least makes sense)?

Or perhaps, why do so many people volunteer their time, energy and even money to keep folk/traditional music alive?

Many folk venues exist because the folks running them love the music and do what they can to keep it going. Many go under because they couldn't make enough to break even, and that's the most discouraging. What the heck is ASCAP doing to keep venues going??? Oh yeah, keeping their well heeled lawyers on retainer.   

While saving money to go to grad school, I worked for a short time as a waitress at a not so local tavern that had country music on the weekends. The band played the same songs that were on the jukebox... and during their breaks, guess what the patrons played on said jukebox. Not even different selections, but the same ones that were just played for them live.   

These are the same patrons that have a band playing "Please release me, let me go." at wedding receptions!?!? Honest to god... I witnessed it myself.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 27 May 14 - 12:31 PM

wasn't the robin hood song by the late dave turner.
dave sold me amphetamine one time and told me it was acid. w...well it was the sixties! I believed him.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 May 14 - 01:11 PM

Mick, I always enjoy your posts. It would be better time spent rather than performing without pay, practicing and rehearsing what you love to play and sing.

Sometimes a benefit concert is helpful but that's a business choice.

If you work hard and do your homework, than you should be paid unless you
are in school and paying to be educated. Taking classes and instruction can also
be added to that tally sheet, Mick.

What you say makes absolute sense to me and Lizzie, a festival that doesn't pay it's performers, I agree, is exploiting them.

Again, a benefit for a worthy cause provided the performer is treated with respect
and gratitude, a rarity when you donate services to most causes, is the only
exception I can think of.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 27 May 14 - 03:30 PM

Stringsinger ... I completely agree that commercial festival and events - those whose purpose is to make financial gains for the sponsers- should expect to pay their workers. Musicians, gaffers, etc.

HOWEVER... this statement she made in her opening post is what sticks in my craw and in others who have taken exception to her inflexible attitude.
"I'm sure ALL festivals have people selling food/beer there, so WHY are musicians content to bring in the crowds to make those people profits, whilst not being paid a penny themselves."

Spoken by one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Here is the website for the small, local event that does not pay any musicians and uses the funds raised to cover expenses and make donations back to the community. http://www.springwaterfiddlersfair.net/index.htm

The craft venders have to pay to exhibit their works... the musicians get in free with a guest, given a token gift and are fed. While knowing that their participation is helping others. Only a few get stage time... anyone else who shows up with an instrument gets in free. We all got red hats, which explains all those hats in the various photos.

Folks have not only done this once, but 5 times and we are signing up for the 6th festival this fall. Any many of these folks have been paid to perform in other venues... this is their contribution to a good cause. What many of us have tried to point out, is that not everything revolves around the almighty dollar, pound, euro, rubble or yen. And that does not make us sell outs... rather it confirms our basic decency and concern for something other than short term gain. OK, and maybe some feel it's their only shot at performing.. but they are the ones out playing in the woods, not on stage.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 27 May 14 - 05:53 PM

No real point in trying to explain, sciencegeek. Many have tried and failed :-( Stringsinger, I fully understand what you are saying, but the phrase "If you work hard and do your homework, than you should be paid " is the contentious phrase in your statement. Many people have worked and studied hard and not received their just rewards. It is sad but a fact of life that not everyone gets what they deserve. Including musicians. If we make a special case for musicians why not for those who studied law and ended up stacking shelves? Or those who studied art and are now on the dole? The whole premise of this thread is that musicians should always be paid for their work. Sorry, nice as that would be, things just do not work like that.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 27 May 14 - 07:05 PM

The whole premise of this thread is that musicians are unable to decide the matter for themselves.

There is a world of difference between a commercial event which seeks to exploit musicians and a community event which musicians wish to donate their time to. If Lizzie cannot see the difference, most musicians can, and can decide for themselves whether or not they wish to play.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,John P
Date: 28 May 14 - 09:56 AM

My music got a lot better and more enjoyable when I stopped worrying about using it to pay the rent. Now I can play the music I want to play instead of what my boss tells me to play. And, to reiterate, if the promoter is making money, so am I.

There's a word for people who want to tell other people how to conduct their lives. I'll remember it in a moment . . .


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 28 May 14 - 10:03 AM

Sciencegeek and DtG - many thanks for those sensible contributions. I heartily agree.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 28 May 14 - 10:45 AM

thank you, Will

And here is a review for a recently closed venue in the Rochester, NY area. McGraw's Irish Pub... opened a few years back by a father & son who have hosted a celtic music show for decades and tried to do their bit to keep the music going.

A corner stage in the mirrored dining room of this loyally Celtic venue is dedicated to the many musicians and dancers who headline several evenings each week. The presence of pint-sized performers encourages families to come out and enjoy the Irish-themed menu, from hot reuben sandwiches with Dublin cheddar to the signature wings coated in McGraw's tangy, rich Guinness sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Not a meat fan? The sauce doubles as a vinegary dipping side for french fries served in paper cones.

I'm sure the banks made their pound of flesh off them...

it being a long drive away for us, we only got there once. The whole family had pitched in to convert a dingy bar into an inviting pub and we hoped it would make it.

Not for profits have a hard time keeping things going and more than one paid performer has taken less than their usual fee when the gate was so poor it barely covered space rental. Their donation to the cause. More than one benefit members concert needs to held to keep the coffers filled enough to cover expenses... and there are no salaries in those expenses.

Without viable venues, where will musicians be able to play the music that's important to them? Or learn the tunes and songs?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Musket
Date: 28 May 14 - 10:55 AM

Robin Head was certainly on a Keith Christmas album Al. We had a copy at the hospital radio with a sticker noting not to play that particular track.....

(Your old stamping ground. The gig was at Mansfield Civic Centre, circa 1980.). On the subject of gigs, a relative in Weymouth told me you played The Ship at Upwey recently. Do you still stand at the end of a skittle alley to perform there? I rather thought hecklers might feel obliged to roll a few balls down at me when I played it many moons ago.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 28 May 14 - 12:30 PM

I run a folk club there last tues in the month - closed til september. I played at a st paddy's night dinner. and one other gig. i'm hoping they come up with another one - tho to be truthful i'm not sure the regular punters noticed I was there.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Bert
Date: 28 May 14 - 06:40 PM

I've just looked at this thread for the first time.

Lizzie, I don't think that it is always a case of undervaluing themselves, or should I say ourselves.

Sometimes we play for free to support a worthy organization or cause.

I performed on almost 80 episodes of Mudcat Radio without pay because I thought that Mudcat was a worthy cause, and I think that most members would agree with me.

For about a year I supported The Stargazer's open Mic in Colorado Springs because Stargazers does so much for local musicians.

I attend a local open mic at Gracie's Lounge to support a couple of musician friends of mine.

I value my work very highly and enjoy donating my time and songs to those whom I think are worthy and who are not taking advantage of local talent.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Charlie Cashbags
Date: 29 May 14 - 09:35 AM

I've just been humming, whistling, and singing a few songs whilst sat on the toilet with constipation the past half hour.

Bloody hard work.

That'll be £150 thanks Lizzie - Paypal is accepted....


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Musket
Date: 29 May 14 - 12:31 PM

The curry you buy with the £150.00 is tax deductible if it cures your constipation, so long as you hum, whistle and sing whilst curing, as it were....


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 29 May 14 - 12:44 PM

one bright side to this thread has been the number of mudcatters who find ways to support their musical communities as well as the larger local ones with their time and talent. Volunteerism has not become extinct and folks find ways to balance their priorities in life.

Driving on our highways, one sees signs citing the local company or organization that has "adopted" sections of the highway ( basically they spend a few weekend hours picking up trash & debris from the shoulders & meridian).

I have yet to attend a folk concert or festival that didn't have a small cadre of volunteers helping out... they might get a nod or word of praise in addition to whatever perks are offered by the venue.

So let's hear it for those who find positive ways to help keep the music alive for future generations in whatever small way they can.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 May 14 - 04:51 PM

Without this army of anonymous toilers there wouldn't be a folk scene worth mentioning (IMHO)


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 30 May 14 - 07:35 AM

Doesn't that sound somewhat bitter, Steve? To me you're saying that those who DO make their living from their music, working damned hard to do so too, more often than not, aren't to even be considered in keeping the folk scene alive.

You see, I pick up a bad feeling in this thread, towards musicians who do get paid, who DARE to feel they SHOULD get paid too.

Often, they too contribute freely of their time, despite being professional musicians..and they also use the fact that they may be headlining at various festivals, to introduce new acts to the folk world too...

So, pooOOOOOOoooo to your statement above....

There is NOTHING wrong with musicians being PAID for what they do and it's appalling that so many are NOT paid, often being used by those who seek to make money from them being there in the first place...

And just to re-iterate for the Pedantic Twits in this thread, that I am NOT advocating that musicians should be paid at all times, even when playing amongst their friends etc...sigh...just that if others are making money from the fact that those musicians ARE playing in the first place, pulling in the crowds, then the musicians, above all others, should be the ones to receive payment.

Next time your plumber comes round, tell him you regard his skill as a hobby and that he gave you joy fixing your toilet, so therefore, you ain't going to pay him a darn thing...and see what happens.

Fine, if music is your HOBBY, so be it, go out there and play around, but if it IS your chosen form of work, then you should darn well be paid for it, in a generous and respectful way..


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 May 14 - 07:54 AM

I can see your point, Lizzie, but music is actually not as black and white an occupation as, say, plumbing. There may be a plumber here and there who picks up his wrench and plumbers mait with joy in his heart and an overwhelming urge to plumb, regardless. But I doubt it. There are, on the other hand, countless musicians who pick up their instrument with joy in their hearts and an overwhelming urge to play, regardless.

There's an endlessly fine line between total unpaid amateurism (in the best sense of the world) and total paid professionalism in the world of music - particularly the folk world - and it's possible to drift seamlessly back and forth along that line according to circumstance and inclination. It's the nature of the beast.

When I was doing my day job, there were certain times - here and there - when I worked all the hours in the day, took work home, burnt the midnight oil, etc., until an important project was completed. I was paid a salary - not by the hour - so I got the same wage no matter what hours I did. The point is that I was immersed in the project and believed in a successful outcome. The extra hours I put in were freely given - so you could say I was being exploited - but the pleasure I got from that successful outcome wasn't just measured in money terms.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 May 14 - 08:00 AM

Thread title: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?

Then: And just to re-iterate for the Pedantic Twits in this thread, that I am NOT advocating that musicians should be paid at all times

So, when those very musicians are not paid, why do they work for nothing? There have been plenty answers throughout this thread, all of which seem eminently sensible. Surely they fully answer the opening question. So why take exception to some of them?

BTW - no need to capitalise 'pedantic twit' :-)

The plumber analogy is totally spurious. If the plumber decided he or she wanted to do someone a favour by working for nothing that is fine. But it is entirely up to the plumber. Do you always pay for everything? Has no-one ever done you a favour? If they did, would you then slate them for devaluing the paid work of others in their field? I think not.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 30 May 14 - 08:10 AM

Music is an art form. The principal motivation for artists is to create art. If you can get paid for it, even make a living at it, that's a bonus.

"if it IS your chosen form of work, then you should darn well be paid for it, in a generous and respectful way.."

Of course, and I don't think anyone has disagreed with that. However even a professional musician should also be free to decide when NOT to get paid, and to perform for the love of it. The OP has come close to criticising them for agreeing to do such a thing.

This thread originated because a free festival didn't pay its performers. It didn't refuse to pay them previously agreed fees, they performers agreed to appear for nothing, for the love of it. Lizzie seems to think that's wrong. No one else agrees.

There are situations where musicians really are exploited and those should be criticised. However the OP should direct her fire against these. Playing for nothing does not automatically equate to being exploited.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 May 14 - 08:11 AM

"To me you're saying that those who DO make their living from their music, working damned hard to do so too, more often than not, aren't to even be considered in keeping the folk scene alive."
Lizzie,
Without the often nameless singers and musicians who kept the songs and music alive for generations without payment, or even without a thought of asking for a penny for their efforts, and who, more often than not, were never acknowledged for their having passed their art on, we would never have had a folk scene.
Of course people are entitled to make money out of the creations of others, that's the world we live in, but they are no special case.
When arguments like this arise, I'm reminded of the Irish Travelling man who passed on a bundle of extremely rare songs and ballads and he expressed his gratitude for somebody caring about his songs.
He died of malnutrition in a derelict house in Roscommon - one of his rarest ballads, The Well Below the Valley, (The Maid and the Palmer), was copyrighted by a well-heeled singer/musician with a marginal connection to the tradition.      
While it's true that some professional music do deserve some credit for popularising the songs, many, many more have done a great deal of damage with their efforts to turn them into commodities for a mass market.
For those of us old enough to remember, the folk song revival came like a blast of fresh air - and escape from the mundane and extremely bland stuff off the commercial shelves.
We were given access to a music that was ours to revel in and to share without commercial considerations.
The uniqueness of folk song is that it is ours, it is democratic and it is free.
Please don't try to hang a price-tag on it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 May 14 - 08:25 AM

A story told by broadcaster, CairŠn MacMathķna, about an elderly fiddle player- farmer from Kerry who he recorded for Irish radio many decades ago.
After the session was over MacMathķna told the old man, "there is the matter of a small recording fee".
The old man thought for a minute and said, "I have no money in the house at the moment, but I'm taking a bullock to the market in the morning if you don't mind waiting till then".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 30 May 14 - 08:59 AM

"So, pooOOOOOOoooo to your statement above...."

Miss Lizzie... the only poo, dung, manure, crap & BS is coming from you. Perhaps you are bitter because no one wanted your "help" even as a volunteer. I know that I would really not want to have to put up with you and your miserable attitude.

There is a group called Habitat for Humanity... both professional and amateurs come together under the watchful eye of someone who knows what they are doing and pitch in to build a home for a deserving family that had little or no hope of ever being able to own their home. So even professional plumbers and members of the various building trades find it in their hearts to give back to their communities. Not only that, but companies have been known to allow their employees to volunteer during paid working hours on occassion... or contribute building materials. The message here is GIVING... which IS NOT a dirty word.   

And as for the stupid title of this thread... Musicians ARE working for something... it just might not be monetary gain in each and every case.

The more I see of your posts, the more I am convinced that you are a small minded, mean spirited twit with an ego to match Nero along with his social skills. You exiled yourself from this forum in the past and I dare say that no one missed you... and this thread is a fine example of why that is so. The ones who are missed are those who have had positive attitudes, a willingness to help or listen, and made positive contributions ... not small minded negativity.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Charlie Cashbags
Date: 30 May 14 - 09:04 AM

Lizzie put your money where your mouth is.
Organize a festival.
Pay all artists you book what you consider a fair fee.
Remortgage your home if needs be to cover all costs and wages.

There, that should prove your point and make you feel all warm and cosy inside...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: DebC
Date: 30 May 14 - 09:25 AM

I am a professional musician. I have been looking in on this thread every so often and have taken in the many contributions here. I am also a proud member of the American Federation of Musicians and Vice president of my Local, AFM Local 1000.

One thing that this thread has taught me is that I have no right to judge another person's musical performance decisions. If a musician wants to play for a fee or for no fee, that is their decision and their's alone. This is also the position of Local 1000. We would love it if all musicians, pro or not got paid a decent wage, but that is not the reality and so be it.

Mick and others spoke of exploitation and it certainly exists. I am glad to say that I have not run into this situation in the folk music venues or communities in which I participate. In fact, many times that I have given or donated my musical services, the reward I received was much greater than I ever could have foreseen, either in the satisfaction that I made a contribution or in some cases, monetary compensation that was not discussed during the booking process.

It all comes down to a musician's choice. For me, getting paid is important since it's how I make my living and as was said in another post, it's not a black and white issue.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 30 May 14 - 09:42 AM

so nice to have your input, Debra

I will vouch that you also have a keen appreciation for the many hard working volunteers who help keep some of the various venues going. It's always a good year when Ralph & Judy don't have to raid the savings to keep Heartland afloat.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,John P
Date: 30 May 14 - 10:22 AM

You see, I pick up a bad feeling in this thread, towards musicians who do get paid, who DARE to feel they SHOULD get paid too.

What a load of bullshit. If you are picking that up from this thread then I think your interior fantasy life is overpowering both your intellect and your integrity.

Why aren't you picking up the thoughts that are actually in this thread? Thoughts, to be blunt, like:
"you don't get it, Lizzie"

"What kind of twit castigates other people for their personal and artistic choices?"

"Volunteerism is important and rewarding"

"I can actually pursue the music I want to play if I don't have to worry about making my living from it"

And, from almost every semi-pro musician here, "When the venue is a making-money situation I get paid."

You, Lizzie, and Big Al for that matter, are astonishingly offensive. How can you live with yourselves? Why do you think that normal people should put up with your rudeness?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,John P
Date: 30 May 14 - 10:25 AM

Why do amateur astronomers spend hours peering through telescopes and adding their findings to the general pool of scientific knowledge?

Why do amateur mechanics fix their friends' cars?

Why do professional website designers make websites for non-profit groups for free?

Why do parents take care of their children for free?

Why do people rescue and foster homeless cats and dogs for free?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 30 May 14 - 11:32 AM

"Without this army of anonymous toilers there wouldn't be a folk scene worth mentioning (IMHO)"

I know what you mean, Steve. Mike & I have been volunteers at the annual Mystic Sea Music Festival for 20+ years. I refer to it as our folk family reunion. There are any number of such festivals that create a bond among the organizers, volunteers and performers... and even festival goers. Each year I find myself greeting and being greeted by folks who come each year as attendees... I might even know some of their names. And we have sponsored some to become future volunteers. The hugs at the end of each festival are real and we ask about those who are absent and mourn those who have passed on.

I've been to plenty of concerts where the performers are up there on the stage and the audience confined to their seats or refreshment area... it's a show. I'd rather be one of the volunteers and contribute something more than my admission fee. And I've done gigs for self absorbed folks that regarded me as one of the help... I got paid, and so did the waiters & bartenders... and we were all well below the salt.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 May 14 - 05:57 PM

Thanks, sg!

My favourite folk festival is the week-long Whitby Folk Week which usually has something like about 500 events during the week. Okay so there are 4-5 concerts each day and at least one ceilidh each day and the big names get paid for their hard work but that constitutes less than a tenth of the events. The rest is made up of workshops, sessions, small concerts, dance displays, etc. mostly run by volunteers, and people on free tickets, and all of the events are manned by volunteer stewards who get free tickets but work hard. Without the latter part of the programme Whitby would be like those odd little weekend festivals that only put on concerts with the odd big name. Certainly not my cup of tea, but some people are happy with this so I'm not criticising them. Then of course there's the hard working team who organise all of this, flog the tickets, look after the campsites, see to publicity. Many of these do it for love, and I love them for doing it!

I don't think anyone here is seriously suggesting that folk performers shouldn't get paid if they're putting bums on seats. What's to argue about?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 May 14 - 06:27 PM

Why do amateur astronomers spend hours peering through telescopes and adding their findings to the general pool of scientific knowledge?

Why do amateur mechanics fix their friends' cars?

Why do professional website designers make websites for non-profit groups for free?

Why do parents take care of their children for free?

Why do people rescue and foster homeless cats and dogs for free?


Excellent stuff, John P.

I was supposed to be going off to play at my second-favourite pub of all time tonight. Free beer, a big bowl of chips and absolutely no money. A little pub in the country which is a delight to play some tunes in and in which we always draw a fantastic response from the local people, meagre though our talents are (though spiced with boundless enthusiasm!). Unfortunately, two of us were away on holiday (school half-term hereabouts) and one of us wasn't too well, so we couldn't really make up a quorum, so, exceptionally, it didn't happen, and I'm miserable. The very idea of our asking for "wages" or any sort of fee is utterly laughable. We're putting something in and getting just as much, if not more, out and we love it (we've been at it for twenty years, week in and week out, which must say something). I'm so glad I just love doing this for the fun of it.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 30 May 14 - 07:15 PM

well lets see john p.

i played last night to help oout at a friend folk club for nothing
I played tonite for nothing to publicise Wessex folk festival for nothing.
i'm organising singarounds tomorrow and sunday at the kings arms for nothing.
I've done stuff like that every week for the last forty years on top of my professional work.

so what do you do for the folk revival that makes you so bloody superior?

i'm retired now as a pro musician - a heart condition means i can't climb upstairs carrying amps and pa systems - but i did it for many years. i'm a proud mu and full prs member.

however lizzie is cock on when it comes to buggers like you. you despise anyone professional enough to make a living out of music - some kind of sell out, a moral failure- except of course for your heroes who once let you buy them a drink.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 14 - 08:17 PM

Al, I'm glad you are giving of your time to worthy causes. Thank you. The rest of what you just said is so far out of touch with what's actually been written on this thread, by me and almost everyone else, that it doesn't merit a response.

Just to be clear, the reason I accused you of being rude is because you said something along the lines of, "they play for free because they're not good enough to get paying gigs."


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 May 14 - 04:15 AM

you despise anyone professional enough to make a living out of music - some kind of sell out, a moral failure- except of course for your heroes who once let you buy them a drink.

Read through the thread again Al - that is not the general sentiment. It's what's appropriate for the individual and everything in its place, and many people have spoken to that effect.

Still, if you go through life with a big enough chip on your shoulder, someone will always knock it off - even if by accident.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 31 May 14 - 04:40 AM

this man has called me astonishingly rude - bollocks to him! I haven't been rude to anybody. generally speaking I am non confrontational. I hold admittedly controversial opinions about folk music - but they are based on a lifetimes work promoting and encouraging every kind of folk artist - no matter how weird their take on folk music has been. I expect the same measure of tolerance to be extended to my views - rarely get it though. so sod him!

no its not the general sentiment, but its his sentiment, and its exactly the attitude that has stuck in Lizzie's craw...

i'm not her friend, I couldn't give a shit about what red Indians name clouds. but I agree with her on this one.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 31 May 14 - 06:21 AM

Music is not the only field in which the majority either earn very little or undertake the activity without pay. Most actors struggle to earn even an average salary but many amateur dramatic societies produce fine performances. Artists have always struggled and may find their best earnings only appear when they are dead.
Talent is not enough there needs to be a demand for what you have to offer. Folk musicians will always struggle as the demand is so small. To earn big money become a folk rock band, get a record deal and sell to a wider audience; hey presto Mumford and Sons are now multi-millionaires; Simples!
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 May 14 - 09:11 AM

From: Big Al Whittle - PM
Date: 08 May 14 - 07:45 AM

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

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

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


From: GUEST,big al whittle - PM
Date: 31 May 14 - 04:40 AM

this man has called me astonishingly rude - bollocks to him! I haven't been rude to anybody. generally speaking I am non confrontational


Al, you know full well I respect you both as a musician and as a man but in this instance it is you that is talking complete bollocks. You call some people a neurotic failures and then say that 'semi pro traddies' have left us 'endless dreamy sessions'. Then you expect us to believe that you have not been rude to anyone and you are being non-confrontational! If you believe that then the only person you are fooling is yourself.

Get a grip man!

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 May 14 - 10:06 AM

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

In one sense, Al, that's a true statement - but it just doesn't apply to the world of folk'ish music. Nothing stays still, and the law of supply and demand, not always coupled with hard work and ability, unfortunately, rules the roost. If you try hard to make your living from a world that's shrinking, then you have several choices - you tough it out and sink or swim in it - or you adapt and change and compromise - or you jack it in and do something else entirely different. You know this as well as I do.

I've also seen dreary sessions with bulging ringbinders and bulging, talentless performers - and I keep away from them as much as possible - but if you can't change that trend, ignore it, forget it, move on and do something else.

Look at the computerised revolution in the printing industry. The cozy world of chapels with their fathers and apprenticeships, huge wages and work for life was on the brink of massive and total change back in the days of Eddie Shah. Did the print unions see the light and acknowledge that inevitable change? No, they didn't, and their jobs were taken by unapprenticed, unqualified engineers and electricians and the journalists themselves. Their whole world changed and they were left high and dry.

You can kick against the pricks as much as you like - but it doesn't mean the pricks will go away. :-)


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,been there, burnt out, time for nap now
Date: 31 May 14 - 10:40 AM

Hasn't it always been so ?
The most successful 'Pros' in any given creative artistic endeavour
are not necessarily the most talented, educated, knowledgeable, or experienced;
but usually the most ambitiously driven, agressively ruthless survivors,
adept at business & finance skills, and exploiting altruistic social networks...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 31 May 14 - 11:01 AM

To correct some of the Pedantic Twits in here (with capital letters intact, thank you very much), not EVERYONE has agreed with those who think musicians shouldn't get paid at all.

What I still pick up, just as I did years back on the BBC board when I asked a similar question is how the folk world is 'ruled' almost, by those who don't want money to come into it.

And as to the man, Dave, who suggested I mortgage my house, yadda yadda, the very man who put up a small fortune to keep Sidmouth Folk Festival going, as Sidmouth Folk Week, in 2005, was castigated by many in here, as well as many of you doing all you could to try and stop that Folk Week, in 2005, from taking place....

So please, don't come the Holier Than Thou sort with me, because I've seen, for many years, that antagonism and resentment shown to professional musicians by many in the English folk world...

I have seen some bloody awful musicians in my time, in both the folk world and outside it too, who I'd not pay a penny too, it has to be said, because they are either tone deaf or appallingly appalling at what they do, but brilliant musicians, who have honed their skills and natural talents to perfection over endless years, DO deserve respect and payment for what they do, ESPECIALLY when OTHERS are making money PURELY because the musicians are there in the first place...

It's like a Secret Club and any musician who DARES to break out of the Holy Mantra Of Music and think they should be paid, is then thrust upon The Holy Musical Alter and whipped with guitar strings, ad infinitum for daring to break The Holy Seal of Poverty Within Music....

YEESH!   

I'm NOT a musician, so therefore I CAN say these things without fear of being placed upon that alter, or of never being offered a slot at a festival or folk club again...

I blame fecking Ewan MacColl, but then, I blame that bullying ol' grumpy bastard for a LOT of the other grumpy bastards who still dominate the folk world, although they are declining now with every passing year....

Gawd, I bet Diane is frothing at the mouth up there in Folk Heaven for not being able to join in this thread... ;)


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 May 14 - 11:17 AM

Sorry Lizzie - did you actually say anything there?
You certainly didn't reply to anything that has been said.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 May 14 - 11:33 AM

Ewan actually wasn't all that bad. his followers were sometimes something else - but you can't blame Jesus for St Paul.

i have always been extremely courteous to anyone who turned up to my clubs. however i am allowed to express my opinions, dave. after all we are talking about life in abstract. the opinions we have been able to extract from our voyage through this vale of tears.

where are we if we cannot talk freely about our experiences in the folk world? i haven't buggered off abroad like Jim Carroll and slagged the English folk revival off from the sidelines. i have donated my limited abilities without counting the cost -running folk clubs, lending accommodation, support, public address systems -even in the case of Paul Downes restringing his guitar. in the case of Martin Carthy lending my sofa and nail scissors.

apart from one exception - i have not said to anyone - you are a c--t.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 May 14 - 11:42 AM

ps am i one of the pedantic twits?

oh lizzie -light of my life! fire of my loins! you're so damned attractive when you're angry!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: johncharles
Date: 31 May 14 - 11:45 AM

Lizzie, have you any evidence for your conspiracy theories?
john


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Bert
Date: 31 May 14 - 12:12 PM

Then there is another aspect. One time I paid to join a famous "Folk Club" but when they put on concerts and when they held their Annual Festivals they brought in paid musicians from the outside and didn't give their paying members a chance to perform.

I left.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 May 14 - 01:22 PM

"Ewan actually wasn't all that bad. his followers were sometimes something else"
Don't suppose you'd care to specify Al?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,MikeL2
Date: 31 May 14 - 02:15 PM

Hi
I have been reading this thread since Lizzie started it I decided to stay away although I felt I had things to say.
However even though the thread has taken more or less the route that I thought, I would like to point out that whether you are a paid musician or not it does not always reflect ones talent and ability.
Over the years I have been paid good money as a semi-pro playing all kinds of music. Although the money was welcome I was lucky enough to have a career that allowed me to play music in my spare time. I have to say that none of this was actually Folk music or in Folk clubs.
As I grew older I did not need the money as much and certainly not the travelling around to gigs both far and near.
So I hung up my guitar for a while until I met a guy who invited me to a Folk Club.
It was inevitable that I would get up to sing and play using a borrowed guitar.
I enjoyed it and because I was asked I returned, this time I knew I was going so I prepared some " folky" type songs and I became an occasion guest. I was not paid nor did I ask to be paid. In fact I preferred not to be because it gave me the feeling that I did not have to do it if I didn't want to. I saw myself as a free agent ( literally) and I enjoyed that.
Since those early days of *folk I came to run the club and act as resident. We had some good floor acts , and I used them on a rota system. I didn't pay them but occasionally on a good night would buy a couple of beers. I didn't make any money because I used the door money to book my own acts when I wanted to pay for popular acts.
Other people here have graphically described how running a folk club in financial terms was often a nightmare. Somehow we always seemed to scrape through but it was getting ever more difficult.
I decided to give up the club because I was not enjoying it.
However to answer Lizzie's points ; it is in the end down to simple supply & demand that determines whether there is enough money to go round everyone who wants to play and be paid.
Some people are mercenary either by necessity or by nature and others not.
Some those that work on wanting to be paid will be successful. Others not.
Being paid is not wrong and is not a guide to levels of ability. I do agree that being paid is frowned upon by a diminishing number of people, but these types usually frown on everything, especially if they can't do it.

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: gnu
Date: 31 May 14 - 02:43 PM

Sorry... had to do it.

Why,


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 14 - 02:49 PM

"I blame fecking Ewan MacColl, but then, I blame that bullying ol' grumpy bastard for a LOT of the other grumpy bastards who still dominate the folk world, although they are declining now with every passing year....

Gawd, I bet Diane is frothing at the mouth up there in Folk Heaven for not being able to join in this thread... ;)"

I've seen Lizzie gloating on several occasions about members here, treasured friends of many, who have recently passed on. I think these passing swipes are one of the nastiest things I have ever seen on Mudcat. Lizzie should be ashamed, but I am not sure it's an emotions she is capable of. Personally, I am disgusted.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 May 14 - 03:15 PM

When we moved to Ireland in 1998 we were staggered by the amount of good traditional music and discussions on same, at all levels, on the media here.
One of the first we watched was entitled, "Has traditional Music Sold Out", a debate on what effect the rising popularity was having on what and how was it was performed.
The most memorable statement was made by an internationally known fiddle player, arguably Ireland's best.
He said that if a player of traditional music wished to make a living at it then he or she had to become part of a group.
I spoke to him several years later and he reiterated that statement; once you become part of the music machine, you lose a great deal of independence in order to make a living.
Up to fairly recently, requesting financial assistance for music projects was pushing on an open door - we were lucky enough to get a generous grant for processing our work with Travellers and a producer friend was financed to produce three radio programmes on our work with them.
Since the bankers put their kiss-of-death on the economy, things have become much more difficult - we have just managed to scrape through support for two programmes on MacColl in time for his centenary - this time with fairly stringent conditions.
It remains to be seen whether the Arts Groups here will concentrate on the tried and tested already successful performers, or will continue to encourage unknowns, as they have done in the past.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Clair Voyant
Date: 31 May 14 - 03:32 PM

So, doesn't Lizzie know any living folk that she can call to her aid
with grand claims that they would agree with and support her ???


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 May 14 - 04:27 PM

At least 3 non-extreme posters over the last couple of days have mentioned supply and demand. I think that would be a good place to terminate this pointless battle before it disappears up its own orifice!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 May 14 - 07:08 PM

specify......

well the Grey Cock in Birmingham.... a sort of no go area for common sense.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 14 - 08:00 PM

I got paid tonight: wasn't expecting anything - being just an enthusiastic amateur. Money had never been discussed: assumed I was doing it for free and, dare I say it, flattered to be asked. Damned good night, and they seemed to like what I did. Only just got around to opening the brown envelope - £25. Happy!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 14 - 08:01 PM

"Grey Cock in Birmingham"
The Grey Cock was renowned for the work it did on Traditional song.
Charles Parker produced the Radio Ballads along with Ewan and Peggy - introduced working class culture without the patronising BBC voice, and presented some of the best of our traditional singers.
Parker's record alone with The Song Carriers, the Sam Larner programmes, Harry Cox/Sam Larner film - and all the other platforms put its contribution to folk song streets ahead of most clubs I can think of.
Had a good, dedicated group of residents which never put on anything less than a more than adequate evening, in my experience.
Their work with The Park House Convention and Banner Theatre made a lasting impact on the scene, as did the work done by Roy Palmer.
The Charles Parker Archive at Birmingham Central Library, set up by Grey Cock members, remains one of the most important archive sources
As far as a "no-go area for common sense", it didn't go in much for navel gazing snigger snogwriters, but you can't please all of the people all of the time!
Next -
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 May 14 - 09:20 PM

Just back from a gig (2am) - playing a ceilidh for a 50th birthday in a 16th century barn.

£120, plus food and drink - played acoustic and electric for listening and then dancing. Great night.

Did floor spots at a local folk club last night. Paid £2 for raffle tickets and got bought a pint of Guinness. Great night.

That's how it goes.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 12:31 AM

I used to go the grey cock when there Ewan or someone else I liked was on. I wasn't actually allowed across the threshold carrying a guitar. who were my influences. Ralph Mc Tell - well sorry we've got to draw the line somewhere.

I was aware of the Charles Parker connection. Never knew the guy, but if his disciples were anything to go by, he taught them how to be opinionated wankers. they all wore wore fisherman's smocks and couldn't play anything worth shit. the singers night I wasn;t allowed to play was purgatory. singing,guitars, fiddles, penny whistles - they were crap at everything and thought they were great, I took my wife and in laws with me that night. I had to apologise for what I had put them through.

I suppose I got my grounding and a very good and enjoyable grounding it was too in traditional song and music, at the late Ken Penny's club in Exeter, that used to be at The Jolly Porter. near StDavid@s station. it was years later, I found out they refused to book Paul Downes and Phil Beer. two young local players of exceptional talents. I dunno why the traddie world feels the need to cut up rough - you obviously approve Jim.

I think it stinks. I have always tried to encourage any bugger who turns up at one of my clubs and has an ambition to sing and perform - however bloody weird an experience that turns out to be - and some of the people you would NOT believe. I suppose it comes from sitting in quaker meetings when I was a kid and listening respectfully to nutters and bores giving testimony.

my fathers house has many mansions - and you would not believe the inhabitants of the west wing.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Megan L
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 01:22 AM

grrr tired fingers been awake to long. what I was going to say was it doesn't really matter what anyone says people will go their own sweet way. If you want to get paid hold out for money, if you want to do it for your own enjoyment or other altruistic reasons then go ahead . whichever way you swing don't try and take the whole world with you it only makes you bitter.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 02:47 AM

Al: i am allowed to express my opinions, dave.

Of course you are, Al. Never said any different. But when you call people neurotic failures and their work uninspiring tripe, and then go on to say that you have not been rude to anyone, I am just as entitled to point out the irony :-)

Lizzie: To correct some of the Pedantic Twits in here (with capital letters intact, thank you very much), ...

And as to the man, Dave, who suggested I mortgage my house, yadda yadda


Firstly, do you really not get the joke about being pedantic? If not then there is little hope that you will ever understand anything I say. Still, I can but try. Why on earth are you referring to me when going on about mortgaging the house? I have nothing whatsoever to do with that point. Although I do believe it is quite valid.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 02:49 AM

You get up and give them a song at a club and you are appreciated.

You perform a paid gig and you can be reviewed.....

The fun starts when it is the same club.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 03:00 AM

" I wasn't actually allowed across the threshold carrying a guitar. "
Sorry Al - we must be talking about a different 'Grey Cock'.
The one I am talking about I visited around a dozen times.
There was no 'no instrument' policy whatever - on the contrary, Pam Bishop ran classes for musicians; Peggy Seeger did a seminar on instrumentation - I have a recording of it here somewhere.
Many of the residents were fine instrumentalists.If by 'opinionated wankers' means that they actually knew what they were talking about - I would go along with you there - I attended some of the best seminars on traditional music I have ever experienced organised by them.
Lots of clubs I know had a policy of booking singers that centered their work around what they/I believe to be traditional - I stopped randomly going to clubs when they disappeared - I'm one of those odd individuals who like to know what I find before I open the tin.
Ralph McTell - I used to listen to him at the West London Irish Traditional Music sessions in Fulham occasionally - nice feller, but I wouldn't have walked down the road to King Georges Park if he was giving free concerts every night - not my idea of 'folk' I'm afraid.
Sorry, I've heard far too many stories told about The Singers Club in London to regard your view of The Grey Cock as anything more than a, 'I took my harp to a party, but nobody asked me to play' one.
As I say, I enjoyed the nights I was there.
It was not a 'no instrument' policy' club, so the likelihood of your being "not allowed across the threshold carrying a guitar" was fairly slim, I would say.
Definitely another club.
Come to think of it, one of the old residents, Alan Bishop, recently gave me a copy of a booking I did there in the early 1970s (when I was a bit of a singer) - talk about a blast from the past!
My mate Barry, who accompanied me, must have slipped his guitar under his jacket to get it past the lovely Joy Ashworth on the door.   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 05:15 AM

no it was the same place.
times change though.
the rude young man on the door wasn't lovely. the players were shit, and knew nowt about folk music, but thought they knew everything.
it was the mid 70's by the time I started performing. I took the time to learn my instrument before I needed lessons on playing it - certainly from Peggy Seeger - and Ralph McTell remains one of my biggest influences.
He is not just folk - he is a great writer and performer of folk music. Probably cos he comes from Croydon and his family knew the Bently's, his song about Derek Bently beats the shit out of Ewan's.

what happened, happened. I have no reason to lie. I'm willing to bet I went to the Grey Cock more times than you. I went there because I was interested in their guests. During the times I went I never saw any of the other Birmingham trad singers who used to go to the Prince of Wales and the Old Crown - they all gave it a very wide berth. It was actually notorious by this point.

the idea of the Irish singers going there, who hung around The Star and the pubs of Digbeth and the Irish centre would have been ludicrous. I mean those guys could play!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 05:39 AM

Any way - what exact benefit do you feel the folk music revival derives from you saying Ralph McTell isn't folk music.

Folk music is what he has done with his life. His vision of it. Dozens of peoples' vision of it. If this was an election - you'd have lost your deposit!

I just don't get it. Ralph has surely earned the right to call himself folk music - a dozen times more than that gang of plonkers at The Grey Cock.

(It was the mention of the Grey Cock in one one Roy Palmer's books that drew me there - imagine my disappointment!)


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 06:24 AM

"the rude young man on the door wasn't lovely. the players were shit, and knew nowt about folk music,"
Could describe a thousand 'folk clubs' I've walked out of because of the crap that was performed there Al.
I know the Club promoted the singing of Sam Larner, Harry Cox, Walter Pardon... it was named after one of Britain's greatest.
I know that it included some fine musicians and singers, heard many of them and knew some personally.
I know they left a magnificent legacy of traditional song - just Googled 'The Grey Cock' and found this:

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES

and this

THE CHARLES PARKER ARCHIVE

and this

COLLECTIONS

Can't for the life of me think of a single club that has left such a rich legacy - can you?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 06:30 AM

I have no intention of moving any of this into a "what is folk" discussion - I commented in passing that Ralph McTell wasn't my idea of the genre - could have addend many bore, from Al Bowley to Luciano Pavarotti - all with their own individual merits.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 11:49 AM

depends what you want bequeathed to you I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 12:06 PM

I didn't call anyone a neurotic failure, Dave. I would not be so impolite. trying to become an artist is a neurotic alternative to accepting reality and mortality. its a road some of us feel bound to take. a degree of self awareness is advisable though.

as for the pile of rubbish - however polite you are, there is no moral imperative to abandon the critical faculties.

last night someone sang a long lugubrious shanty at a singaround. ten minutes later someone sang it again. obviously they hadn't been listening to each other. if I could switch off not being stupid, I would on occasions.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 01:13 PM

"depends what you want bequeathed to you I suppose."
I'll settle for a wealth of knowledge and entertainment and a lot of good friends and memories, such as The Charles Parker Archive and the friends I made in Birmingham every time Al - how about you?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 04:57 PM

well a happy memory of visiting the club would have done for a start. s friendly and welcoming atmosphere. instead, more than once, I felt that I had brought my friends to an enclave musical Stalinists. rude, dismissive arrogant - and supremely ignorant of the world of working people. and frankly disinterested in the way they express themselves. only this abstract 'folkmusic' mattered - and -they needed to be told, which music the regime approved of.

folk is people. before its music. one is a noun - the others just an adjective. a very questionable one at that.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 08:54 PM

I should just like to point out, pointlessly, that I like Ralph McTell a great deal and I don't give a monkey's flying fart whether you, me, he or anyone else wishes to, or does not wish to, call his stuff "folk music". I do try to live my life largely not up my own bottom, you know.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 09:13 PM

yes indeed!

Steve 'largely not up his own bottom' Shaw! didn't you used do that floorspot lighting your own farts and singing 'Ring of Fire.....

I thought it was derivative of the Crapper family of St Neots.

or was that your brother...?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 09:44 PM

sorry bot that steve! but my wife's very ill and I am up late - you don't get sparkling wit at 2.40 am!

I was going to bed, and then it struck me.

hasit never occurred to Jim that you don't get to be Ralph McTell without singing and playing hundreds of folk songs. certainly many more than the Copper family have in those exercise books.

you don't get to be that good a guitar accompanist - without spending hours of practice on ethnic styles. Many more than Peggy Seeger has done.

lookat his most famous song - that has a hybrid of several folk styles - streets of London . on the C chord he is he is playing piedmont east coast style, then when he rolls into the e shape - its a sort of Broonzy roll.

his Derek Bentley song - that is a tuning D major - sometines called vestapol - a corruption of Sebastopol. it came originally in the 19th century from England.

McTell has fascinated and drawn more people into folk music than Charles Parkers disciples have ever done - and yet you and they seem to think they are superior to them.
he's done it without being rude and telling anyone he is superior - he's just got on with it.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 03:47 AM

Sorry to hear your wife is ill Al, hope she improves soon.
Sorry also that we can't agree on a singer - it happens all the time; the nature of our different involvement, and, of course, personal taste.
I met McTell on a number of occasions, as I said, he used to turn up at the Comhaltas session in Fulham where we were regulars.
He seemed a nice feller; I remember someone complementing him on his 'Streets of London' and his replying, "I made far more money out of it than the homeless ever did" - I respect that.
His personality aside, comparing what he did with Peggy, Charles or anybody is a little facile - apples and bananas - different fruit altogether.
Personally, his singing did nothing for me, English singers who sing in an assumed American accent seldom do - I find myself not being able to take what they are saying seriously.   
He is a skillful enough performer of the genre of songs he has chosen, and he has a large following for that type of songs, but so what, so do a lot of others, nothing special, as far as I can see.
Nothing of what he songs has anything to do with the type of songs I have been listening to, performing (for a time) collecting and researching for the last half century.
I can't think of a single singer of the older generation we have taken songs from or interviewed, to whom his songs would have made the slightest difference.
For me, the real contribution people make to folk music is in what they leave you, what difference they make to your love and understanding of the songs.
I was drawn into folk song by accidentally (out of boredom really) going into a club run by a nationally (later internationally) known Group, and being entertained week after week for a couple of years, until I found that what I was listening to was beginning to sound rather samey, so I began to lose interest.
This was in pre-Beatles Liverpool, with a thriving Jazz and C&W scene, so we weren't short of places to go.
The club invited Ewan and Peggy along as guests one night - who?
It plunged me into a world of song I had never heard and knew nothing whatever about.
I became hooked on their songs, their approach, their knowledge and their incredible generosity in sharing what they had and the time they were prepared to devote to working with people like me who had nothing but our interest to offer (all for free).
This discussion is about being paid as a performer - I have never met anybody else on the scene who was prepared to devote a night a week for nearly a decade, to turning over their home to work with inexperienced singers who wished to learn more about folk song in order to become better at what we were doing.
When I got to know them later I stayed with them half a dozen times and was let loose on their collection of recordings and books - they'd converted their son Neil's bedroom into somewhere people like me could sleep in and record what they had, even providing a couple of tape recorders to enable us to do so.
Each time we visited, Neil was evicted into his brother Calum's room next door.
Later, when Ewan asked me to become a member of the Critics Group, they fed me and gave me a bed for a month until I found work and somewhere to live.
They weren't particularly well-off at the time; they lived in a three bedroom maisonette, sang for little more than expenses at the Singers Club, got occasional radio work from the BBC, and did regular tours when they needed to.
What real money they did make came much later when one of the songs they had written was accidentally taken up by the music industry (ten years or so after its composition).
I later found the same generosity throughout their particular group of followers, a desire to talk about and pass on what they had - I stayed with Charles a few times, in Birmingham, and later in Leominster, and was greeted with exactly the same incredible hospitality.
If I got anything from working with these people, it was the knowledge that these songs weren't mine, or anybody's in particular - as Walter Pardon once told us, "They're not my songs, they're everybody's".
For me, one of the uniquenesses of folk songs is that they came into existence to be passed on; ideas rather than commodities.
Sorry - gone on far too long
Best wishes to you both
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 04:04 AM

My apologies, Al, and hope your wife gets better soon. You did not use the term 'neurotic failure'. I interpreted, obviously incorrectly, that being neurotic as an alternative etc. meant that said neurotic had failed at 'reality'. I am still not sure what you meant by it but I accept that you did not mean failure.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 05:30 AM

sorry bout that - I wasn't playing the sympathy card -honest.

I received nothing but kindness from Ewan and Peggy. iloved her instrumental and songwriting work. that autoharp thing she did on Peggy Gordon was a particular favourite. her guitar part for just as the tide was flowing ...and that song

the rambling man was weary and wet
down by the side of the fire she set

they thought I was bonkers, but a lot of people have come to that conclusion. I remember feeling really sorry for them when Argo decided to pulp all the copies of the radio ballads - they wouldn't sell them Ewan to sell at gigs. Apparently it didn't fit with the label's new image.

my point was that Ralph had no real expectation of great wealth when he must have been soaking up folksongs like a sponge. he and his disciples are part of the continuum, the same artistic movement that weall are engaged in. I love his industry and devotion to the craft.

going back to your earlier comment about the well below the valley - I always associated it with John Reilly - did you say that someone had now claimed authorship?

as for my wife - we are in crisis at the moment - bad reaction to an anti inflammatory. things are never less than iffy - this week they're in meltdown. I value your friendships.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: gnu
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 07:13 AM

Big Al... I am sorry to hear about your wife's problem. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Megan L
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 07:28 AM

Al thinking of you both anti inflamitories can be a beggar hope things settle


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Foliedave
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 09:02 AM

Lizzie must be delighted watching one of her threads deteriorate off the subject she so provocatively started and then changed the subject once it was pointed out that she was talking about something she knew nothing about - not unusual.

If Mudcat wanted to save its reputation one way would be to stop Lizzie starting threads. NOT to stop her contributing - just stop her starting threads that invariably sound like disgusted of Torquay going "Why Oh Why......................?

On the other hand she stands as a an example of a perfect keyboard warrior.

Tell me Lizzie which singers have you ever booked, which folk clubs have you ever run, what have you EVER done of folk music part from sit at a keyboard and pontificate?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 09:26 AM

Hi Dave
Thy K hath vanished if 'tis indeed thou.

The OP was answered immediately and precisely by Joe. The thread has taken another twist based ultimately on the meaning of life (x sorry! 'folk') yet again.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 10:41 AM

I don't understand why you're all so nasty and down on Lizzie.

its true she talks a fair amount of bollocks - red Indians etc, but in truth, we all talk a fair amount of bollocks.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,semi Lizzie supporter
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 11:03 AM

Biggest prolem with Lizzie is that she can be such a relentlessly obnoxious bore.

Which is a shame, because sometimes she proves capable of revealing a very incisive eloquent talent
for promoting positive valid arguements
from an alternative or unpopular standpoint.

Unfortunately, she is her own worse enemy, constantly undermining her credibility & reputation
with abject streams of unrestrained self indulgent wrong headed drivel.



None of us can sustain a life/persona as rejected martyrs and victims
for such a length of time, it's not healthy...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 12:34 PM

it can't bore everyone since there are over 150 posts...mg


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Folkiedave
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 12:55 PM

Indeed Steve it is I.

Al, Lizzie gets people's back up because she knows all about what musicians think, how to run a festival, folk club, etc.

When people who really do know about these things and have done them for many years (and in the case of this thread actually ARE musicians) tell he she is wrong - see second letter in this thread then she prefers to ignore what they have to say and persist in her own ill-conceived opinions - even to the extent in the past of upsetting the artists she purports to love.

She will then switch the argument - quote people out of context and eventually when those with more knowledge and experience tell her (once again) that she is wrong - she will accuse them of bullying - and flounce off the board never to write on it again. And she will do this for the umpteenth time with no personal lack of shame.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 01:00 PM

150 posts because it is an intrinsically interesting and relevant topic;
no matter who might have started it...

But obviously it could have be a fair bit less than 150, if the posters had stayed on subject.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 03:46 PM

I used to frequent a driving forum that was frequented by a millitant cyclist. Most of his posts were rants that attracted a lot of understandable abuse. The trouble was that his occasional valid point was treated with the same abuse as the crap. To the point where people went into denial about his rare accurate facts.

Why do threads started by Lizzie make me think of him?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 05:10 PM

still it can't be nice with everyone snarling at her. I mean if she was a floorspot - you'd say, very nice dear and go out to the bog.

I think what she doesn't understand is that there is a certain amount of pleasure in screwing a living out of the dull earth. being a musician is sort of like that -its not the civil service, with a regular pay packet. you visit the publisher in his office and know that the money he's done you out of has paid for one of those Porsche's in the parking lot - but hey! you did it ! you got to make music. the crooks only make money.

anyway. regrets, I have had a few - but being a musician isn't one of them.
there's a gig tomorrow night - I don't know what it will be like, but i'm looking forward to it.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jun 14 - 04:41 AM

People do things for nothing for, mostly, three reasons:

1. They can't get paid for it
2. They like doing it
3. They feel they are supporting something worthwhile.

For example, I was at a minifestival (mostly folkie but not much 1954 definition) over the weekend. The sound rig - quite a good one - was provided by a professional sound engineer who also had overall supervision of the volunteer sound-desk-jockeys (including me). He did it for nothing. He brought his wife and young daughter along. Obviously none of them paid for their tickets (I suppose). And he kept telling me and everyone else what a wonderful time he was having, such lovely welcoming people, great atmosphere, lovely patch of countryside, terrific musicians (some of the time). He was hoping to be allowed to provide the sound rig, free, at future events. Giving something back to the community (etc).

Some of the performers were I suppose paid. One came down from Newcastle mostly for the crack (well, beer). Many were not, and were jostling to play, because it's fun! One such set of young performers have a single coming out soon, and they posted later on the event's facebook page to say what a wonderful time they had had. I've played there in the past. All the performers, including those who don't get paid, love doing it and being there. People who get a slot in the "friends" section get a reduction in their camping fee but those who simply do the open mic or sessions do it for love - because they want to. If nobody played except for a "full rate" fee the event could not happen, and we'd all be heartbroken.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 03 Jun 14 - 05:10 AM

There are other reasons:

4.he musician doesn't want to be tied to the money-making mill. If everything is down to money then a pleasure can quickly become a task.

Playing for free gives you mo


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 03 Jun 14 - 05:15 AM

I didn't touch anything, honest! It just posted of it's own accord in the middle of my typing.
Here, hopefully, is the whole post:


There are other reasons:

4. The musician doesn't want to be tied to the money-making mill. If everything is down to money then a pleasure can quickly become a task.

5. Playing for free gives you more choice over what you play. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

DC


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 03 Jun 14 - 05:28 AM

Al, in answer to your post...

"still it can't be nice with everyone snarling at her. I mean if she was a floorspot - you'd say, very nice dear and go out to the bog."

Here is one of Miss Lizzie's immature responses to another poster.

"So, pooOOOOOOoooo to your statement above...."

This came after she completely misinterpreted his completely innocent remark about how he feels about volunteers involved in the folk scene.

This behavior has been seen throughout any number of threads that she has posted to. What's that punchline...? Oh yeah, he hit me back first! Well maybe if you stop hitting out at folks, they might not feel the need to hit back. We are none of us saints to always turn the other cheek.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 03 Jun 14 - 11:06 AM

I mentioned one venue that had gone under here in the Rochester, NY area (McGraws)... and I just read in the paper that another wonderful venue will have it's final concert the weekend we are away at Mystic.

After 10 years, Ralph & Judy are giving up the Heartland Concert Series. If they couldn't fit an artist into a hall, they often held a house concert instead... and more than one Mudcatter has performed for the series.   

I guess it gives them more time to spend with family & grandchildren.

Thank you, guys... you done good.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Stanron
Date: 08 Jun 14 - 07:44 PM

Thought I'd revive this zombie thread to say I've just got back from Wirral Folk Festival where I played for free and thoroughly enjoed myself. Happy days.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Alan - UK FOLK MUSIC website
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 10:10 AM

In a previous life, before becoming a folkie - I used to play in 60's groups on the pub/ club circuit.
We always got paid for playing for a couple of hours and providing entertainment for audiences. I still find it hard to accept the folk music way of playing for FREE or for exposure.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Stanron
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 10:37 AM

Before retiring I played gigs for decades and got paid for them. In folk music not all playing is in gigs. There are 'sessions' as well. There are sing around sessions, tunes sessions and all in jam sessions. These are as much for the participants as for the audience. In fact a good session doesn't particularly need an audience as such. The participants are their own audience. I go to festivals for the sessions rather than to listen to concerts.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 10:47 AM

It's basically a culture clash that so many fail to appreciate or understand.

'Music Business' versus 'Folk'.

At one extreme are such serious 'pros' who wouldn't even scratch their own arse
unless someone payed them to do it;

at the other extreme most of us lot

- many of whom would be quite happy to scratch each others arses if asked
as a shared gesture of friendship and good camaraderie..


errmm.. figuratively speaking of course.......


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 12:30 PM

Lizzie is mentally ill and should not be encouraged by responding to her irrational posts....


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 12:48 PM

That is not nice GUEST, Morris-ey.

Everyone is entitled to express their opinion, even if others disagree with them. Such comments as yours are insulting and un-called for.

DC


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Airymouse
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 01:23 PM

Our local paper ran an article today in its "opinion" section. It is entitled "The piper must be paid" and was written by T Bone Burnett, who the paper informs us is a 13-time Grammy Award-winning musician and songwriter. Here are some excerpts. "For the last 20 years we have witnessed an assault on the arts by the technological community - especially when it comes to music. This devaluation is troubling because music is not only the creation of people who make this art; it is how they make a living.....
It turns out that recordings made before 1972 are protected by state law and newer recordings are protected by federal law..It shouldn't take a lawsuit or a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress last week to make clear that businesses that include pre-1972 recordings in the playlists they deliver to their customers should pay the creators who brought those recordings to life."


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 01:43 PM

from comparing apples to oranges, we now go onto bananas...

apples: the right of a performer to expect payment for their services

oranges: the right of a performer to donate their services if they so chose.

bananas: the right of the copyright holder of a recording to expect fiscal compensation when said recording is played at a public venue or sold as part of a service.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 02:02 PM

I Like figs - How do they fit in?

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 02:06 PM

well.... some folks just don't give a fig...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 02:24 PM

"I Like figs - How do they fit in?

:D tG"


Not with too much discomfort if you use plenty of vaseline.

But Syrup of Figs taken orally is probably more effective ???


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: OlgaJ
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 03:49 PM

Stanron;

Thanks for that

We played at Wirral too for nothing. We get good money playing for weddings etc which is 'work' sometimes hard work, so we can afford to go and enjoy the things we really like doing - playing to people who appreciate us and meeting up with lots of really nice musicians and singers - unlikely to happen in the 'professional music' circles where its probably dog eat dog, don't really want to go there.

Quite happy to do festivals for money though if anyone thinks we are good enough :)


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 10 Jun 14 - 02:59 PM

We'll be playing at the Wittfest at Long Wittenham on Sunday. We won't be paid and would not dream of asking for money from a free festival that aims to raise cash for some good causes.
If any Catters feel strongly that I should receive something for playing there they are welcome to come along and buy me beer at
Wittfest


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 11 Jun 14 - 11:41 AM

Well, I think you'd find if they didn't even more would be unemployed. It may sound unfair but for many, most in fact festivals are very hard to get work at. Hence many festivals offer unpaid spots for musicians to put their work on show so to speak. The alternative is busking (which for a good hard worker can pay fairly well) But playing free at festivals puts them on show to the right people, and with the increase in recent years of paying festivals, free ones are a very good stepping stone, as are the many unpaid open Mic clubs. It's quite simply a nessessay way to get your name out there


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jun 14 - 12:06 PM

Most people seem to ignore an important word in the title:

"WORK"


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 11 Jun 14 - 12:14 PM

Because many (most?) of us don't regard making music as 'work', it's 'pleasure' (something the Bread-Heads don't appear to understand).


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jun 14 - 12:21 PM

You you by any chance the doped up deadbeat who once gave me a lecture on how music should be "free" when he couldn't get into a concert by a top pro musician?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Red Head
Date: 11 Jun 14 - 12:28 PM

.. then there are Tory musicians...

smug egotistical ****s * who are only in it for the ££$$...

They can't give a toss about anyone else, as long as there's a profit in it for them.


[* fill in favourite insulting expletive]


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 07:40 AM

Unlike processing paperwork or serving customers, music is both an avocation and a profession... it's art.

Some of the hardest working musicians- both vocal and instrumental- are studio musicians who show up and have no creative control over what they do. They're hired guns with a single job to do...

Our world is saturated with commercial music and very little of it appeals to me. What I do enjoy is found in the folk and traditional venues... which are off on the fringe and the as big names ( those recognized by the average person) no longer perform, it gets less and less attention. In my office of well over 100 people, maybe a dozen even know of Pete Seeger.

The point being that we are tiny... and bickering amongst ourselves is not helping anything. The way to stay viable is to keep visible.. and give folks something to enjoy so that they have a reason to want more.

This weekend the general public that decides to visit Mystic Seaport will not only see the regular exhibits, but will also see some of the finest musicians around. Paid performers and dedicated volunteers will keep things lively... and it's the young people who show up and join in that will keep it alive.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria(sans cookie)
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 08:19 AM

Hello everybody ? I thought you'd all gone away!

Been following this thread with interest since the start, but too loaded down with other jobs to contribute before. Now here's my belated two-penn'orth.

To begin with the obvious ? this has been a very useful discussion. We owe Lizzie a debt for starting it (even those of us who disagree with her opinions or dislike her rhetoric). But although many sensible and relevant points have been made, something still seems missing.

Agreed: there are many acceptable reasons for playing gratis ?supporting a worthy cause ? bringing some neglected or undervalued music to a wider audience ? getting a foot on the first rung of the professional ladder ? or just for the fun of it?

Also agreed: in showbiz, as in any other biz, market forces prevail - if your name on the bill puts bums on seats, some entrepreneur will pay you for showing up - if not, then not. (It may not be nice and it may not be fair, but we don't live in Utopia.)

And yet ? and yet ? there's a question lurking here that we haven't confronted. Please bear with me while I try to explain.

We all know of many talented performers (and composers) who have tried, tried and tried again, yet still failed to make a tolerable living from their craft. Most of them eventually returned to the conventional labour market and got on with their lives fairly successfully. But too many ? including some of the most gifted ? have fallen into despair, and then into drink, or drugs, or suicide. (We can all make our own lists, but the name that comes first to my mind is Peter Bellamy's.)

A few of these tragic figures were acquaintances of mine, and one or two were friends.   Thinking about them now, I ask myself (and anyone out there listening) are we 'music lovers' partly to blame for what happened? Are we guilty of expecting to get too much and give too little in our favourite leisure pursuit? And if so is it the same everywhere else?

Well, many Brits who perform 'our' sort of music (please let's not try defining it now) have said in interviews that when working abroad they are usually better paid (and treated with more respect) than they are at home. (Over the years a fair number have said this to me in person.) Some of them have eventually graduated from extensive overseas touring to full-time expatriate status ? not from choice, but from sheer economic necessity.

Do we just shrug and say 'so it goes'?   Or do we need to think again about our priorities and our obligations?

What do you think?

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 08:34 AM

what has annoyed me in the past is the attitude of festival organisers.

I have known them get angry with acts that have organised a pub gig in the same area as their club or festival. Very often a pub gig will help subsidise a folk gig - and its a different approach and frequently different material that constitutes a pub act. and frankly - a lot of it is jealousy - neither they or their idols could do a pub gig as long as they had a hole in their arse.

Also they feel quite morally allowed to piss about lesser mortals on the folkscene - they forget to pay us, rearrange their appearance times, bicker about publicising you - when in fact all they have to offer you is publicity.

this is all done in front of your face, as they toady about to their idols - too high and mighty to provide their own PA system. they have muggins to do that.

okay its not all the time - but I have seen it done twice this year and I seethe with annoyance to see friends of mine humiliated by these bloody germs of humanity.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Nick
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 08:42 AM

I have always enjoyed Maura O'Connell's singing so it's sad to read this article.

Hard to believe that she will totally stop singing so I wonder whether she will sing for free and fun or just disappear?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 08:50 AM

We all know of many talented performers (and composers) who have tried, tried and tried again, yet still failed to make a tolerable living from their craft.

We do indeed, Mike, and it is a very good point. But surely this, and your point about making more abroad, is indicative that the music market in the UK is brimming with talent and only the very best actually make a living at it? Not deriding those that do not make it in the slightest. I have known many who are superb performers but they have lacked that final something that those who have made it display. I don't know what that is. Maybe presence? Going the extra mile? Lucky breaks? The X-Factor? :-)

Surely, as well, there are thousands, if not millions, of people (myself included) who have not made it in our chosen field and have had to work at something else to raise our families, pay our mortgages and put food on the table. Why make a special case for musicians? Why not writers or house decorators or computer programmers? It may be sad but it is true that we have to make compromises. And maybe that is another good reason why some musicians work for free. Because, even though they cannot make enough to get by, they still love music.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 10:22 AM

'music is both an avocation and a profession... it's art'

Well, it can be but is it always?

There was a similar sort of discussion elsewhere recently, started by a jobbing bagpiper who does funerals and weddings (in the US) he said, among other things (in the context of justifying his fees to the people who hire him) :

You are paying for a piece of heart, part of a soul, a moment of someone's life. More importantly, you are paying for the musician to have more time to do something that they are passionate about.

But really, if you are in the business of providing a service like that, aren't you really just a craftsman like any plumber, plasterer etc? You're hanging an aural wallpaper as a background to proceedings, you're not making statements about the nature of the human condition.

Not everybody turning up somewhere with a musical instrument is going to produce art, you're more often supplying a service, be it entertaining the company, providing background noises or put a rhythm under the dancers' feet.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: Stanron
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 11:29 AM

As long as folk music is folk music it isn't Art with a capital A. Art with a capital A is making millions out of displaying a shark in a tank of formaldehyde. Some people consider this to be a con trick.

Sitting with a group of musicians and playing and listening is a pleasure. I am not fussed whether or not anyone considers this to be art. It's certainly culture and I don't mind non players listening if they want to. They also contribute with attention, encouragement, applause and the occasional,(but not required) free drink.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 01:00 PM

Mike of Northumbria

No one, in any line of work, has any right, entitlement, or expectation to make a living from it except by providing a product, service, or skill that people are prepared to pay for.

Musicians are not a special case, nor should they be. Many people do regular jobs to suport a hobby and most folk musicians are hobbyists because they know how difficult it is to make a living from it and many/most do it because they love it and any payment is a rare bonus. The same is true of other types of musician and of those in the acting profession.

There is nothing to feel guilty about.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Musicians Work For Nothing?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jun 14 - 01:15 PM

Arguements raised in a parallel debate in thread "Cinderford Festival not paying artists? "

may be of interest since the recent post there by an anonymous pro musician:

"Subject: RE: Cinderford Festival not paying artists?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jun 14 - 05:00 AM
"

Most of which may have been more relevant if it had been posted in this thread ?


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