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How do you make money in folk music?

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Subject: How do you make money in folk music?
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:18 AM

I muckle along, feed my six kids, write stuff, learn stuff and sing pretty regularly..but, man, it doesn't seem like there's any more money now than there was twenty years ago. I'm sure that making money is one of the best kept secrets of the folk trade (or maybe that's just a myth too) I am sincerely curious how people have managed to make folk music an economically viable part of their lives. I always tell our crowds (small as they may be) that poverty is an essential discipline of the folk community and not to go too overboard when the tip hat is passed around. But, seriously...any pointers?


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:34 AM

I wish I knew ...


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:39 AM

.... but next time I get to Concord MA, I'll have to stop in to the The Colonial Inn and say hello. Where is it?


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:43 AM

Day jobs, johnfitz, day jobs.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Bo Vandenberg
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:53 AM

Its sadly like the difference between a Folk Singer and a Savings Bond...


The Bond matures and makes money.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:55 AM

I got me day jobs as well...any player whoever wants to play with us on any given Thursday or Sunday is more than welcome...Sunday usually has the best of the music talent...myself excluded. You can't miss the Inn...it's smack dab in the middle of the square in Concord MA...open mikes on mondays too...amazin' harmonica player on tuesday (Hatrack Gallagher [confidante of Peg Leg Sam])...and Jimmy Mazzy, The "great tenor banjo wizard" on wednesday (and ornery and irascible to boot--genuinely so!)...yeah, the music is alive, but all you goddamn people who call and say you'll play for tips...you're killling us...my poor kids have to make do with cocoa puffs when we all know that cocoa krispies is the real deal.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:02 AM

... actually, the day job is the problem! Give it up, you'll have to work harder at music!

;-)

I'll call ahead - but I just may surprise you one of these days! I have freinds in that part of the world (we call 'em Yankees in Texas, used to be one myself - but I keep that quiet)!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:14 AM

We've had a few texans come through, most notably Townes Van Zandts a couple of times--and Robert Earle King Junior..It took a while for an old swamp yankee like myself to convince him New Englander's know how to catch bass...we'd love to have you too...who the sam hill are you?

Jed Marum, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:17 AM

John - your lovely poem about Joshua, makes me think of many New England scenes, walks through the graveyards, and thoughts that wandered through my head about the occupants beneath the headstones.

Aengus Finnan write a lovely song called O'Shaughnessy's Lament. You can see the lyrics here,(track 13) but Aengus said of the song, "If ever a song was 'given" to me it was this one. Written at the grave of a silver miner and his family in Cobalt, Ontario."


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:20 AM

LOL - Yes John, Jed Marum.

I stopped bass fishing when I moved to Texas! We just don't have many lakes with walkable shores ...


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:29 AM

Now Townes has achieved God-like status in Texas and Robert Earle, well he's fixin' to be the next one ... There's a great jam session every Thursady night in Dallas, at an old haunt of Townes, called the Sons of Hermann Hall. There'll be two or three circles goin' in two of three rooms, each with 10 or more folks ... every Thursday ... gone on for years.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:32 AM

Gotta go now, before I turn into a pumkin. Welcome to Mudcat, John. There's some good folks here, and lots of good information. I stay out of the politics, but otherwise I get on just fine!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:33 AM

pumpkin!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Cluin
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:40 AM

Through extortion.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:50 AM

By singing at work!    ?;^o

ttr


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: musicmick
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 02:00 AM

There are many ways to make money as a folksinger. I have been a full time folksinger for forty five years. I do not have a day job. I perform in schools, libraries, senior centers, camps, parties, travel clubs, concerts and festivals. I did educational programs at the Children's Heart Hospital and Shriners Hospital for twelve years on a grant from the Phila. Folk Festival. I do holiday shows and ethnic shows (Irish and Klezmer). I do a lot of Christmas programs. I teach guitar, banjo and mandolin two days a week. (I used to teach more but I've been cutting down). I should add that I live in a very good area for folk jobs and that longevity has given me reputation and credability. I have many friends who, also, make their living in folk music. Some of them work with pre-school groups, some with seniors, some in education. I will be glad to suggest specific paths and marketing strategies to anyone who needs ideas. Contact me directly, if you like.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 09:16 AM

With a Mattel money making kit and lino prints.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 09:18 AM

With a tiny number of exceptions NOT from gigs or CDs.

People I can think of who make a living from the folk scene are in education, theatre, broadcasting or arts admin.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 09:21 AM

By playing an out of tune guitar, not doing too much research and appealing to folk club organisers who do not seem to appreciate quality anymore.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 09:36 AM

Did you hear about the folksinger that won 2 million dollars in the lottery? He played gigs until the money ran out.

All jokes aside, you can make a living doing folk music. As Musicmic pointed out, you can find seed money and perform in schools, libraries, camps, etc. The extra reward is that you might inspire kids to learn the music too.   The bar scene can provide a living, but don't expect to have people lining up to hear your own songs that way. Unless you are lucky, audiences in bars need music only as background noise.

Talent, patience, strong business sense and a little luck will get you through. You will need to schmooze the right people and make yourself known.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 10:48 AM

I `ad that American Mr. Gibson in my cab once, all dressed up like pox doctor`s clerk and on `is way to an `oliday in the Seychelles. I asked him `ow did he make money from folk music?
`e said "I just sells`em all guitars and mandolins!!"


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Kim C
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 10:54 AM

Money? Folk music?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAAHAHHAHAAAHAHAAAHAAAHAAHA(breath)HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(ps Jed - in the South, it's "punkin" ;-)


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: breezy
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 10:56 AM

kill off the free sessions that cheapen the scene and attract too much bad feedback that put people off paying for a start.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: kendall
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:02 AM

It's like selling ice boxes. Wrong century. The demand is just not there.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Kim C
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:08 AM

Now that I've stopped laughing, I suppose I should ask what you mean by "make money." Mister and I get paid, usually, but not enough to quit our day jobs. Some artists make a reasonable living but I don't think any of them ever get filthy rich.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: The O'Meara
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:17 AM

One often overlooked benefit of being a professional folksinger: you'll only need two pallbearers at your funeral.

O'Meara


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:17 AM

"kill off the free sessions that cheapen the scene and attract too much bad feedback that put people off paying for a start"

What an absurd idea!! Making music has only been an exhibitionist sport for the last 100 years or so, before that it was a participatory pastime. How can we suggest that we should put up roadblocks for people who might want to make music? That is the surest way to kill off interest in this type of music.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Paul.
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:24 AM

In response to the post from Breezy, Ireland has probably more free sessions than anywhere in the world, it also has more professional musicians and singers, per head of population than anywhere else.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:33 AM

I tried for a year or so to make a living and scraped by so miserably (supplementing it even with other part time jobs) that I had to go back to a day job. I was mostly performing, not teaching, etc. However, I've been gigging on and off since the '80's and have friends who have been doing it since the '70's and the average wage for your average gig (pub, festival, etc.) doesn't seem to have gone up very much. It can be done, but it's very difficult. In the 80's I'd make around $100 for a pub gig, and now it's around $100 to $125, sometimes less.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:34 AM

But the question was how to make money - before it became an "exhibitionist sport" nobody made money from it. However much fun it was. Or is.

If you want people to pay good money, or lots of people to pay a little each but it all adds up, you have to give them quality. Amateurs may be enjoying themselves, good for them, but if the public can get music free why pay? In any way of life, if you want to make money you have to offer something that people want, that they can't get elsewhere. And if folk music becomes too associated with amateurs then just plain ordinary non-music playing people will be put off. If you don't think that's true, just ask some of your non-folkie friends about the image of folk music: especially ask the young ones.

Now which will keep the music more alive: giving elbow room to a few extra amateurs or to high quality professionals with a mass audience? If folk can regain a mass audience it will recruit a new generation of enthusiasts and get new faces coming in as artists too. But no, I don't have any recipe for achieving that.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: mack/misophist
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:36 AM

The best, most reliable, way for a folk singer to make money is to buy a high quality scanner/ printer. Watch out for the Secret Service, though.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: mg
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:41 AM

If I had 6 kids I would kee p the teaching job for the insurance and the stability, even if I had a wife or husband making good money etc. Life is too uncertain, for me at least. But you have an ideal situation, called summers off. Use them to make music money then. Go to festivals etc. Pander to tourists... mg


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: VIN
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:41 AM

I don't think 'free' sessions cheapen the scene in any way. On the contrary, the more the desire to listen to 'folk' music is exploited, packaged, sold and promoted as just another commodity is more likely to cheapen it far more than any free session. Whilst there's nowt wrong with making a living from singing/playing folk music, a free session comes from the heart and the love of and desire to share the music - that can only be a good thing surely?


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:45 AM

University education seems to be the best new scam, in England anyway. This was a non-existent trade 30 years ago, now there are courses on Folk Music attended by worthy students (Fay often slips on to Mudcat to chat about her latest essay). Now presumably there are people earning a fat salary teaching these courses. Exactly what the qualifications are, or how you get the jobs, is naturally a well-kept secret.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:46 AM

Sorry Santa, but there is space for both professionals and amateurs.

The people who participate in sessions are more likely to pay to see professionals because of their interest in music. The non-music playing individual can also discern what is an amateur session and what is professional gig. I don't think that a large portion of the audience is being siphoned off because a bunch of people are playing tunes in the next door bar. If the music is good, people will pay to see it.

Part of the problem that I see is that "folk" music tends to aim for an older audience. As the audience ages, there is less interest in going out to bars or pubs. Admission fees have become much higher, the costs of drinks and food have increased, so people tend to be more choosey about going to see a performer.

What has started to replace the bar scene is the house concert. Audiences are growing for these events and the audience goes because they want to hear music. The musicians tend to sell more CD's as well.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Midchuck
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:52 AM

I plan to become a full-time professional folk musician in about 3 years - when I start to collect Social Security.

I figure that's about the age when my voice, such as it is, will go - but I'll be doing folk music, so it won't matter. Might even make people think I'm a authentic traditional singer.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Kim C
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 11:56 AM

Santa, I reckon that depends on how you differentiate between an amateur and a professional. I've seen a few "professionals" who weren't all that great, and some "amateurs" who were really spectacular.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:27 PM

My Mother (bless her heart) gave me the truest advice I've ever gotten: "In this country (America, in my case) you can be anything you want to be, as long as you have a job, too."

How do you make money in folk music? Anyone who saw "A Mighty Wind" should know that one answer to this question is to go into personal management. It's the promoters that make the money, not the talent. Promoters are the only people who create "jobs" in music.

There are folk-related jobs; you can teach people to sing or play, but I have always considered this is more a job in education than music. Success as a teacher will depend more on your teaching skills than your playing skills.

There are jobs in pop music, some that are also folk-related. You can help bar owners sell drinks or coffeehouse owners sell coffee by playing songs that people want to hear in rooms where they can consume these things. What you will find, though, in most cases, is that the "folk" songs that people want to hear are the ones that at some point crossed the line and became pop tunes. You can also make money by writing and selling songs, but these songs will not be folk music (by definition, they are not songs from "the folk").

The fact is that some folk songs have become pop and some folk singers have had long, successful careers without becoming entirely pop. In my opinion, these have been happy accidents more than the result of job opportunities; the residue of great talent bumping headlong into rare opportunity.

To make money in folk music - just as in any field - you have to approach your music as "product", ie, just another vehicle for making money. Maybe you can do it without losing your integrity, or cheapening your music. I sure don't know how to do that. In my experience, you find yourself after x-number of years in some country bar at 4 in the morning with another set to do wondering "how the heck did I get here?"

Good luck, keep playing
Something good just might happen
JIM B.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Stewart
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:31 PM

Midchuck, you're right! I had a long career as a research biochemist, college and university professor. Probably could have made more money if I had stayed out of academia, but I did alright and enjoyed the other benefits. Then I figured I could well afford to retire, that I didn't have to put up with an unreasonable dean and administration, and took early retirement at age 63. Now my new career is as an unemployed musician - I wouldn't have it any other way. I thoroughly enjoy the freedom to do what I want and enjoy the music. But, as one of my musician friends remarked about my new career, "you have a lot of competition!"

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: folkie51
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:34 PM

I'v heard that some people make more busking in the subways than doing evening gigs. But the people I know who actully make money devote all their time to it with no day jobs, work their asses off , network with everyone they meet, run it like a business office, and write folk with no qualms about pitching to Nashville, where it evolves into country. unc. bill.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:37 PM

I worked in advertising/marketing/PR for a long time, and from time to time, one or another of my music friends would corner me and ask me for some professional advice--here it is:

If you want to make money playing music, you have to find the a paying audience, then you have to turn what you know how to do into something that the paying audience likes--

To a lot of musicians, especially folk musicians, that sounds a lot like selling out--which I suppose it is--on the other hand, if you decide you want to make your living playing music, you are going into business--

Years ago, when I lived in Philly, I knew a guy who had a shop that sold all the notions that are used in making women's foundation garments--basically, a lot of little clips, hooks, pads, bits of elastic, and trim--very boring stuff. I asked him why he didn't move on to something more interesting--

He laughed, and told me:"Selling is selling, don't make no difference what it is. It's about with people--They come to you because they need something--you got what they want, you make a buck."


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: dermod in salisbury
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:54 PM

This is my theory of the secret of making money out of folk music. First, think 'singing and dancing'. Listeners expect songs to pour out of radios for free 24 hours a day, but dancers still expect to pay the door. Acquire a few like minded friends, work up a few sets to slip between the songs, then pitch for St. Patrick's Day gigs, Burns Nights, etc. Hava Nageela will net the barmitsvah market. Expand into weddings. In no time, you will be on the television, guesting in movies, and cutting record deals.

I give this advice as a free sample. I am now working on a theory on how to make money out of theories. Send no money now. But watch this space. It's virgin territory. We could be talking serious bucks. Only selected applicants will be invited to invest.

Best wishes.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:06 PM

"Listeners expect songs to pour out of radios for free 24 hours a day"

Sorry Dermod, but songs do not pour out of the radios for free. YOU pay for it every time you listen to a commercial or if it is a non-com, you make a donation.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: breezy
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:25 PM

Supply and demand

No demand


no money to be made.


Create a demand


kill off the freebee pub sessions


let musos go and play from their hearts


in their own privacy.


Dont unload your unreheased and unlearned tunes on me in a public place, it gets the genre a bad name.

Those sessions in Ireland , well someones paying the good musos to hold it together I bet.


Go Ron, come on santa.


Someone rang me for a gig tonight.

I'ld never heard of him and in turn he had never heard of the 'names 'that I've booked who've pulled in the punters.

He was looking for a paid gig?

You have to do alot of leg work to get known, and then for the right reasons, then in the end your integrity has been completely eroded.

Its all musical prostitution

Unless your a folkie like me who will not compromise.

I got a gig at the Moorland Folk Club and at Sharps this year, then one at the local nudist colony in the summer.

That'll do me.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:28 PM

Breezy, a nudist colony? I bet that will cut into your T-shirt sales.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JWB
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 02:08 PM

I don't even consider trying to make a living performing folk music -- then it would become work. The full-timers I know spend most of their life doing all the non-musical stuff that is the business end of things: promotion, getting gigs, networking, traveling. The performing piece is pretty small by comparison.

It does appear that success is more likely if one specializes. It's the "sponsors" you have to sell yourself to -- the club owners, festival organizers, booking agents. They tend to see the musical world through a label, and if you don't have the label they're looking for you haven't got a chance.

Unless you've been hired to do a performance of 18th Century Hebredian waulking songs for the Society of Felters, you must remember that your primary purpose is to entertain. That's why people fork over their hard-earned scheckles -- to be entertained. If someone practices, practices, practices, selects material that will entertain the audience in front of them, and never forgets that the performer is there for the benefit of the audience, and not the other way 'round, then someone has a chance of potentially getting the opportunity to consider the possibility of attempting to try and make a living at folk music. Oh yeah, and that someone would have to work very hard at the business end of it.

Jerry (happy to "play" not "work" music)


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Lanfranc
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 02:31 PM

A: with great difficulty!

When I first had aspirations to become a folk singer, I wanted to be like Bob Dylan, or at least like Paul McNeill!

I did make a reasonable living out of it in 1969/70, but couldn't make enough to buy a house for my new wife, so went back into banking.

Spent the 70s and early 80s playing bars, restaurants and folk clubs in Britain and Germany, teaching guitar and running folk clubs as well to compensate for my wife's loss of earnings while she brought up our kids. Managed to hold down the day job in a Bank at the same time, which caused confusion when the worlds collided.

Then spent ten years accumulating airmiles and developing a reputation in the field of financial computer software. Put both kids through University, left banking, started my own software company. Bill Gates need not fear my competition, but I make enough to indulge my serial guitar acquisition syndrome.

Now I'm offered more gigs than for some time, but now I find myself compared to Burl Ives. Must be the beard!

I've not made a lot of money from my folk activities, but I've had some great times, and met some fantastic people.

What more could I ask? What more could anyone ask?

Alan


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 02:49 PM

You are not serious are you? I have CDs by some of the folks in this thread and I'd pay to hear them sing. But one guy in the audience??

Man - only in most of our dreams -

Best of luck though -

Steve


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 02:56 PM

It's an oxymoron. Everyone above says so, in different ways. So the only way has to be - transcend "folk" and enter the realms of "popular"; be noticed by big-buck publishers and promoters, and sell tens and hundreds of thousands copies of each album, as opposed to hundreds or (at best thousands); be invited to write music for big-studio films.
Others who started in the world of folk did that. Mark Knopfler, for example.
And did he sell his soul to the devil? Is he less of a folkie now? Just listen to his "Sailing to Philadelphia" album, and you'll get the answer.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 03:39 PM

I think JWB has got it about right.

I recall a professional musician described as spending all his days on the phone trying to get gigs and all is evenings playing to pay his phone bill.

Some time ago I asked a well known singer why she no longer played in a ceilidh band. The answer was that it had stopped being fun and had become a job.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 04:02 PM

Yes, of course there are some good amateurs and some poor professionals. And I don't doubt that playing together and having fun is a good thing for the individuals concerned, but what about those around them? Maybe as a non-player I sometimes see something players don't. (Maybe not...) A couple of years ago I went to Sidmouth for the festival. Every time I went past a certain pub on the corner - and I pretty well had to go past it every time between my hotel and the events - someone was playing diddley-diddley. All day every day and as far as I could tell the same damn tune! Continuous non-stop diddley-diddley. I don't know about non-folkies but it put me off.

This thread is in danger of drifting into why folk is unpopular rather than how to make money out of it.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: freightdawg
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 05:06 PM

Long time axiom in the my current field:

"If you want to make a small fortune in aviation, start with a large one."

Can the same be said for folk music? ;)

Thanks to everyone for their experiences. This is a good thread.

Freightdawg


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 07:41 PM

We have made a half million dollars playing folk music in schools!

But, most of our time has been spent making phone calls, writing letters, rehearsing, traveling, doing research, learning about computers, printing, tax laws and a thousand other things we didn't think were related to folk music. It's taken two of us and we've worked damn hard at it.

So, if you want to, you can make money playing folk music but go into it with your eyes open.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,gerry
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 08:25 PM

Perhaps some of the full time artists who contribute to this site could provide the answer. My guess is that most of them are too busy playing music to spend as much time here as those looking for the answer to this question.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 08:42 PM

JWB speaks truth!
The answer to the question is basically.... be born in the Forties in Britain.Soak up all forms of music then find skiffle, leading to Woody, leading to Dylan, leading to folk clubs. The Folk club explosion in Britain happens in the 60's when you're just entering your twenties, as is the new folk club audience. Learn guitar, learn songs, write songs,get bookings, up to five a week and learn your trade.Build a reputation at a time when there are more clubs than artists to play them. With a basic talent the work pours in. It's a small island so no journey is generally more than two hundred miles to a gig, and most gigs are less than one hundred miles.In a year you do two hundred gigs and drive home from most of them.An American folk singing visitor can't believe how compact it all is. Towns have four or more places to play that are full every week. Get the record contract as the companies discover folk music and sign every artist in sight.Live simply, but well and pursue your vocation with what you hope is integrity. Pay the bills.
Ride the ups and downs, lose the record contract as the companies realise "Folk Music" isn't cool anymore. Make your own album and sell it on gigs, getting the first profit a record has ever made you. Just when it's beginning to look grim, cds come in and you licence your back catalogue and everyone wants to replace their vinyl. Folk clubs are closing but arts centres and village halls are burgeoning.Your audience ages with you and you write and sing the age you are. You've always had a good agent and paid their bill on the dot.The odd lucky break helps and suddenly you've been on the road for thirty years. You now have five cd's of new material you sell on your gigs.Now the children of the original folkies start to find you in their parent's record collection and your audience gets a boost. You're working less for more and beginning to find the road a pain in the neck because the small island is getting too crowded.Suddenly you're advertised as a "veteran". The Internet starts and you get a website. People from countries you have to consult a map to find send you E mails asking for the chords to all your songs. Suddenly you're advertised as a "living legend".You do your forty years on the road tour and discover that the younger audience doesn't buy cd's anymore. You explore the net and find your work is going for free and they're taking it.The older audience already have all your cd's and then they begin to start dying off. Every gig you do someone says "Have you heard about...." It's another funeral.
Finally you announce your last gig. You look around and realise you've travelled the proverbial million miles, raised the kids, paid the mortgage, got a nice place and a bit in the bank.
You realise you've spent your whole working life worrying that the gigs would dry up, but somehow they haven't.On the last gig people shake your hand and say thank you and you say thank you back. Then a young girl and boy ask "How do you make money in folk music" and you say "Get a circuit going,find an audience of thousands of young people just like you who want to hear your music,work hard,develop yourself as far as you can, hope they continue to like what you do and are willing to pay you to do it."
As they walk away under your breath you say "But I don't know how you're going to do that today...unless you can be born in the Forties."
Then you wish them all the luck in the world,hire the video of "A mighty wind" and say "yep, it was just like that"
Then for old times sake you buy a folk mag and as you read it you realise you don't know most of the names, they're all making what they call World music, bagpipes and saxaphones together with Arabic lyrics.You meet some young musicians at a local pub session you find is going on when you've popped in for the first pint you're buying with your first pension payment and you have a chat. They've never heard of you, or Paxton, or Stan Rogers, or Alex Campbell or The Spinners or.... On TV they show the Cambridge Folk Festival which you did yourself in the 70's and 80's to a tent full of sitting listeners and you see the modern audience all on its feet jigging about having a great time and you realise they were born in the eighties and the big wheel you've just got off is still turning!
And aren't those two young things on the stage the ones who asked you that question at your last gig?


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 09:48 PM

There is NO money in folk music...nor in ANY of its parmutations.



Apprentice your six children to a traditional trade, ie plumbing, electrical, even horse-shoeing!



If you were kind to your children, perhaps one of the six will be kind to you as you progress into your advanced year.....unfortunately, you did not have a seventh child.....inwhich case the statistical odds would most certainly have tipped in favor of a "golden years."



If, perchance, all six of your children prove compasionate to your sperm-donation..."please to give a penny to an old poor man."



Sincerely,

Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 09:53 PM

Used to live in Concord Mass. and I'm visiting again in April- so there's good music in Concord?


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,peter - york
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 10:50 PM

Very boring but I agree with a previous contributer, when folk music becomes work it loses its fun, becomes a chore. I think it is better to be a good amateur than a poor professional. In England the old style formal folk clubs of the'60's appear to be dying on their feet, the trend today is for open, easy, sessions where all types of accoustic music is perfomed if one has the"balls" to do it. New performers of whatever quality are given encouragement with some of the "older hands" helping them along the way. I made money in the late sixties and I really was rubbish then, I think I am a lot better now and far happier doing it for fun. York has various venues:- Sunday night, Golden Ball pub, Bishophill, mainly musicians irish and cajun. Tuesday night, The Maltings pub, Lendal bridge, diddley-i-di musicians. Wednesday night, The First Hussar pub,just round the corner from the Maltings!, more formal session hosted usually by Chris Barnes, performers put their name on the list and may get a free pint. Thursday night,The Black Swan Inn, Peaseholme Green, traditional style cub with varying tastes, the only regular venue with paid artists and entrance charge. And finally, Friday night, Tap & Spile, Monkgate, depending who's gigging depends on what kind of night you get, open to all, jump in with a song or a tune or join in with everyone else, or maybe just listen.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 10:56 PM

Yeah, there's pretty good music in Concord. Come check it out. I was born here and have sat on the same barstool, in the corner of the Village Forge at te Colonial Inn for over twenty years playing to a pretty steady crowd. When I first started I thought it would be a good place to step off from--towards a more artistically rewarding career in music. Now it's just a great way to make a little extra cash and sing whatever the heck I want to sing. My kids have grown up singing and listening to what I think is great music. I do know how lucky I am, and how good I have it. I appreciate everyones input. I'm trying to make a renewed foray into the broader (outside of town) world of folk music. The discipline of marketing and promotion won't (doesn't) come naturally to me. But, if you ever hear my name you'll at least know I've managed to do something. Thanks for the input, the asides and the reality checks. Fitz


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 05:55 AM

"when folk music becomes work it loses its fun, becomes a chore"
A myth.All work is a chore sometimes but I don't know one successful pro who'd do any other job or isn't grateful for the life they've led.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Hugh Jampton
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 07:45 AM


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 07:52 AM

Don't sign with Celtic Music!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Hugh Jampton
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 07:53 AM

To Santa et al,
                "good amateur or bad professional"??
I cannot imagine a bad professional being on the scene for long for in my experience, in the long run, audiences the world over are discerning. If anyone knows some who have got through the net, let us know!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 11:02 AM

Sorry to be picky folks , but I believe that three different questions are being asked and answered in this thread, causing some confusion.

Q1 – How do you make money from folk music?

Q2 - How do you make a living from folk music?

Q3 – How do you make a good living from folk music?

A1 – "Without much difficulty: if you have the basic know-how, and are willing to put in enough effort."    Over the years, many people I know have gradually found themselves making a little money from their favourite hobby.   Maybe just enough to cover transport costs, plus a beer or two, but money nevertheless. (My own rule of thumb is that so long as your playing doesn't earn you enough to buy new strings, you're an amateur - once it brings in enough to buy new guitars, you're a pro. A lot of us are stuck somewhere in between.)

A2 – "With more difficulty: it takes a lot more know-how, a great deal of effort, and some luck."   Even then, you will probably go short of material rewards. We all know about folksingers hitch-hiking to gigs, sleeping on friendly floors, or busking with freezing fingers to earn the price of a meal. Many of us have tried it, or provided the lifts, the floors, or the meals for friends who were trying it. From a distance (in time, or in space) it seems an attractive bohemian life-style. But in reality, it always was, still is, and probably always will be a hard way to earn a meagre living.

A3 – "It's almost impossible: because once you start doing the things you must do in order to earn real money, you will probably have to stop making folk music (except as a hobby in your spare time – or maybe as a tax loss)."   To have secure tenure of a comfortable home, to raise children decently, to put aside savings for the day that accident, illness or age stop you working, to have a little spare cash for holidays and minor luxuries – all this takes more money than anyone (bar a tiny handful of exceptional performers) can hope to earn from making folk music. The public demand for it just isn't big enough. And to break into the mass music market, you will need to change what you do so radically that it will no longer sound much like folk music.   

If this seems a gloomy picture, cheer up: there is light on the horizon.    The key to prosperity is diversification. Many people make a significant part of their living as performers of folk music, and get the rest by other methods. Some dress up in antique costumes and provide period entertainment for heritage sites and re-enactments; some act in the theatre or on TV; some work as stand-up comedians; some become anchor-persons for talk-and-records shows on local or national radio; some write scripts, magazine articles or books. Those who write (and copyright) good songs and tunes usually make something from the royalties. Those willing to pass on their skills to the next generation earn money from schools or colleges, or in private lessons. Putting some - or all – of these income streams together can create a viable and satisfying career. Provided you have enough ability, enough energy, enough business sense - and enough luck.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,weerover
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 03:12 PM

Don't know about good music in Concord, but I've often found there's good concord in music.

wr.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 03:34 PM

I think Mike makes fair points.
"The public demand for it just isn't big enough" is how it is today, hence my piece about the luck those of us born in the forties had. The demand was so great it created the performers.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 03:35 PM

I must say that this is as good as discussion as I've seen on the subject--here are a couple more pieces of fodder for the discussion--

"The public demand for it just isn't big enough"--this is is the real issue--but I think it is both true and not true--True in the sense that there certainly aren't the venues that there once were, which is to say, not a range of well attended, paying venues for folk performers--but I think it is not necessarily true that the "broader audience" no longer likes folk music--just that they don't have an easy way to listen to it anymore--

Part of the reason that "Country Music" is such a big industry is that there is a great network of venues--more than few folks have crossed over from being folksingers or singersongwriters, simply because if they do, the work is there--I subscribe to the Build it and they will come" theory, that if similar, but "folk" oriented venues were around, the audiences would be there--


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 04:12 PM

If you can do a good measure of all of these, you may be a Ewan MacColl or " add your favorite name here"

I suppose it helps to be part of a married team who double the attraction, but only have one household to support....(being part of a band changes the equation. No matter HOW good they are, they have to earn more per gig or sell more CDs to make the same money per person)

This was written by me, a member of the audience, who has watched folks try to entertain me for 40 years...there are performers I will go see anytime, in any weather, at almost any price, whose enthusiasm for the MUSIC and rapport with the audience is astounding. But there are others whose name stirs up feelings of "oh, yeah...they are pretty good, but the show never changes. They are running on autopilot and haven't added new material in years." or whose RECORDED material somehow feels 'flat' and sterile. You know what I mean...a record can't capture being there, but some recordings have more 'feeling' than others, and often it's really hard to say why.

...so, there's MY take on 'stuff to consider'....no magic formulas, but maybe something to chew on.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 04:15 PM

You don't (especially if you don't sing.) :-)

Instead you do what Frank Zappa did and sell out and make enough to live comfortably for the rest of your life.

Then, you make folk (or whatever other kind of music.)

Life's too short to be a martyr. :-)


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Michael
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 04:19 PM

Ask Mr Bulmer


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: wendyg
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 05:40 PM

Some years back (around 1983) I did a couple of posters for myself of "Murphy's Laws of Folk Music". I keep meaning to put them up on my Web site.

But one of the first on the list was:

No one makes any money out of folk music except the telephone company.

--
It's not of course really true. I made a living myself for something like six years. But it's much easier to make a living as a writer -- and most *writers* struggle.

wg


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 08:25 PM

hey...most of my post is missing! Mudcat went down just as I tried to post it, so I saved to do do later, and I guess I didn't copy it all...RATS! It was a complex analysis, too..*grin*...well, maybe I'll be mnore careful next time....


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,PHC
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 04:40 AM

I have made a living out of folk music for 30 years, I have visited
places I would never have seen but for music.
Sometimes it wasn't easy, but as I was useless at everything else
I was stuck with it.
Yes, it is a buisness, and needs all the backup mentioned in previous
posts, so does any other job that's worth doing.
I have a house, a nice car, two well educated sons who also own houses, loads of friends, and in general have a ball.
As selling out seems to equate with being successfull here, I guess
I must have sold out.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 04:57 AM

Maybe that's a new thread topic. Why, in the folk world, does success in material terms equal selling out?
As Dylan put it, having got the same negative reaction;
"There's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all."
I spoke recently to a folk enthusiast who said he was comfortable and happy belonging to a musical community that was small and basically unsuccessful in wordly terms.
So is this community based on a need to reject something rather than on a need to accept something?


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 07:21 AM

Breezy - free folk music in sessions etc can often get people interested in folk music in the first place. I've had many people walk up to me in folk clubs over the years who told me that it was me singing in a pub and telling them where their nearest club was that got them started.

I even suggested your club to one St Albans couple who happened to be visiting Kent last summer - hope they turned up.

When I was running Blacheath Folk Club, we always had one singaround/session a month downstairs in the bar and it provided a steady stream of new members.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,JOHN FROM ELSIE`S BAND
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 07:49 AM

When we used to book Paul Simon at Catford, Blackheath(Green Man)and Chiselhurst Caves his fee was £12-£15. For sure he seems to have found the formula.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,pavane
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 08:06 AM

Looks like one of the main factors is being able to write your own material.

(Ewan McColl, Dylan, Paul Simon, Harvey Andrews to name a few: even Martin Carthy fills out trad songs)

Making a living out of Trad. material seems to be the hardest path.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: English Jon
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 04:05 PM

You dont. and this is why...

if you make loads of money, as a self employed businessman/woman you are liable for loads of tax.

so: in the income column, you put gigs, educational work, corporate events, music lessons, cds, other merchandise - whatever you do that brings it in:

then in the outs, you put strings, stageclothes (ie all clothes), basic subsistance (£11 a day), petrol, phone bill, ISP, new instruments etc.(don't forget about depreciation) then there's musicians union subs, equity, efdss membership, prs, mcps etc. Then there's business accomodation (1 room in your house up to a value of 1 seventh of your rent, I think)

Add it all up - hopefully you should now have a minus figure, or a low figure - way below tax threshold, so then you get a positive tax return.

If you make more than the tax threshold, divide your activities into multiple seperate companies with seperate accounts.

lets face it, in a normal job, you spend everything you earn - what's the difference? Essentially, if you are making loads of cash, you aren't doing your books properly. you'd be amazed what you are legally entitled to claim for.

Hope that helps

English Jon


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,squeezy
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 05:35 PM

I'm turning pro after tomorrow.

I don't know how you make money in folk music.

However, I don't think that is the question for anyone who actually takes the plunge. Most people (myself included) IMO go pro because they love the music so much that they are prepared to sacrafice the likelyhood of riches for the love of playing and are prepared to risk a couple of years to pursue their dream. They might well be ambitious but if they are to succeed I reckon you need to have 2 other things 1) good business sense and 2) the humility to take any work that is viable (even if it is bar work or similar in the lean times).

I will work my arse off to try and make this work. I've done 2 full time jobs for a year and a half - fortunately my employers (The Music Room) have been more than accomodating and I owe them a great deal of thanks. The one thing myself & Jon Boden have realised is that at this time you have to put on a show that is worth watching - you are a service that people buy - as much as the terminology makes me sick that's how it is. I can't believe some shockingly bad acts on the English scene I have seen getting gigs who obviously think that only turning up and going through the motions is enough and to some extent the scene puts up with them!

For those people who think that anyone trying their utmost to make it work is selling out - then that's what I'm doing. And I don't care because I love playing the melodeon and any move which lets me do that more than I already do and practice so that I can get better is worth it to me. I've already taught (I am no teacher believe me), played french accordion in cafes and irish music in irish pubs, I've busked for God knows how many hours on the streets of Oxfordshire and now it looks as if I'm doing well on the folk scene - my best estimates are that I will just be above the bread line next year. Who cares - it's the chance in a lifetime.

So to sum up - no probably not much money in folk music (wherever you are in the world), but there's probably more soul to be had trying than anything else (I was going to be a geneticist), if you love it. So do it - if you love it enough you'll have practiced enough!

Cheers

John Spiers

PS - it doesn't help if some idiot nicks your instruments the week before you turn pro - but that's another thread!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 06:28 PM

After 36 some-odd years trying to make a living in Folk Music(and what odd years they have been), I can honestly say that there are literally tens of dollars to be made! Seriously, the reason we do it is because we can't do anything else really well that will bring the same amount of satisfaction and joy. The Hell with the money! I know too many musicians, much more talented than I who have given it up because they wouldn't play the game, but they still make music. It is just those of us poor damn fools who continue in spite of all the roadblocks . You have to balance freedom & security, the more of one, the less of the other. Maiking a living and paying bills have always been too highly over-rated.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 06:31 PM

Rob a bank on the way to or from gig


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 06:41 PM

John Spiers....go for it and the best of luck. Sounds like the right attitude to me!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 06:55 PM

Well I am extremely poor, but I have a lot of friends. The only non-musical job I ever did was for three weeks in about 19711. it was crap. Other that I just strum, squeeze and whack away and get paid a pittance. Great stuff, nobody made any promises to me. My decision.Yippee, why not?
   Good luck, squeezy/John spiers. However bad it gets, it's better than a real job.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: clansfolk
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 08:02 PM

Supply and Demand

If people want something they will pay good money for it - at the moment there is not a real demand for folk music in anything like the quantity it is being offered - and I doubt if (certainly here in the UK) there has ever been enough demand! It has been a well paid hobby for most performers most of the rest have had to change there style to become more commercial or been in the small percentage that did what they did and were in the right place at the right time to "Get That Break".

To be fair I made quite a good living from music in the mid 60's and 70's but again I had to "give the Clubs what they wanted" and luckily I enjoyed most of the music I played - but not the Bingo, smoky clubs, and the travelling!

Most self employed people have a hard time of it whether they have a little corner shop or a market stall why should musicians be any different :-(

as me Dad used to say "Why don't you get a real Job" ;-)


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: breezy
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 08:08 PM

its a two way deal between organisers and performers as well.
Performers always have the option of initiating and organising whereas organisers who dont perform cannot.
Its late.

Saw Paul Simon at Catford I was in the front row, boy did he take a lot of time tuning his martin, then in cleethorpes f c when on teaching practice. Apparently Herga paid him £12 too. The Herga is still there at its orignal venue, but the room was painted last month when Mr Patel took over.

I gained my inspiration to run a club by what I saw at catford railway Tavern. 40 years on and I'm doing it.Anyone got Paul Simon's e-mail, well I've already booked Martin Carthy.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Dave.
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 09:57 PM

The Herga is still there at it's original venue, Paul Simon is not. John Spiers, well said, good luck to you. Folk music does have a considerable following, but not in England, where the majority of sessions I have attended seem to be Irish in origin.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,JOHN OF ELSIES`S BAND
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 04:47 AM

Breezy,
       Its a pleasure to know you got your inspiration from our club in the "Railway Tavern" at Catford and it stands you in good stead today. I trust all goes well with your present enterprise.

GUEST Dave,
            If Paul Simon isn`t "there" then the Pope of Gozo i Jewish!!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Dave.
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 11:06 AM

My point was that English Folk Music remains stuck in the same old crumbling mould, with an ever decreasing number of old diehards trying to sustain it, Paul Simon plays to slightly bigger audiences these days.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: InOBU
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 12:06 PM

I don't agree that supply and demand figures into it. The audiences are there, as those of us who busk in order to supliment what our bands aren't paid when we do gigs... (no kidding), but part of the equation is that buiness sells not only what folks want, but what it is in the interest of buisiness to sell. So, you see the censorship of MTV... the complete absence of protest music when the world needs it the most. Keep hammering away, not because it is lucritive, but because you can't help it.
Ouch
Larry


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 02:17 PM

"...not because it's lucrative, but because you can't help it".
InOBU and Squeezy J have the best (bravest too) approach. But that basically invalidates the original question. Making money, nice though it is, is secondary. Playing folk music comes first.

Too late for me at 50, I've "sold out" to the day job long ago. But I admire and envy you John. Go for it, man; and carry our dreams with you too.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 03:05 PM

"part of the equation is that buiness sells not only what folks want, but what it is in the interest of buisiness to sell. So, you see the censorship of MTV"

You can't have your cake and eat it too Larry. On one hand you are complaining about not having paying gigs and then you complain about a commercial venture like MTV making money. MTV, the last time I looked, was not public-access programming. They are a cable operation and their rules are different than even broadcast televsion. They aren't "censoring" but in reality they are "programming" as they see fit. While I don't agree with their choices either, I would not make presumptions to tell them what they should and should not play.

Folk music is not the path to big bucks, unless you get very lucky. The great thing is, the best artists are not motivated by money.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Martin from Barton Beds
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 04:33 PM

The answer is very easy.All you have to do is become The Prime Minister. You can make all the money you like out of Folk Music then.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 06:27 PM

Be true to your dream

Have what they want to purchase.

Do it well.

Be in the right place at the right time.

Be lucky. (the main one.)

If they offer you $50.00 for the gig, just tell them "Obviously you need the money more than I do."----Then offer to do a benefit for them gratis. If the venue is successful, you have a paying gig there forever.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 06:45 PM

That crap about not doing free shows is just that!!

One other point: Give quantity discouts ! I wanted to stay near home to take care of my wife Carol's medical conditions better. The owner of the boat had a limited budget but MANY STEADY gigs to offer. I lowered my fee that I got if I was doing a college concert etc. That led to a ten year gig----five months a year (every other day) on a stemboat on the Mississippi River. Was home every night with NO MOTEL BILLS. (Did drive 160 miles over and back each day I had the job.) Got our son through college with nobody oweing anything. On the off day I'd do other gigs in the midwest. Only had to take jobs I wanted to do. Took many for nothing. Quoted high for things I halway would've rather not done---and often did those jobs as well.----The other seven months a year I hooked up with an agency that set me up doing shows in schools in the eight counties around Chicago. Played a coffeehouse in Chicago that hardly ever paid anything for 37 years. It was my second home ans spiritual base. I'd've done that for nothing if they hadn't offered to pay me to do it. (But I never told them that.) ;-)   There were several gigs where that was true. I just loved the people.

Art Thieme

Art


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Dieter Boss.
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 10:02 PM


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,sory Dieter again.
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 10:21 PM

I am just back from a concert in Schwanstetten, here in Germany, by
Pat Cooksey, he was great and it was full so that many of my freinds
could not get get get in, 700 people here there, so I think Pat did
O/K.
We listend outside, and later Pat sang for us in our local pub for
1 Jameson, I do not think Pat cares for money too much, but he
Knows how to have fun, and is as modest with his talents as I have ever seen. We played darts together two weeks ago with some of U.2.
Great.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 12:46 AM

Is it too late to add a serious answer?

I joked at the start of this thread, when I said, "I wish I knew ... " (How to make money in folk music) but I have made a living at folk music for the last 4 years, modest as it has been, and it's getting better. I guess I've learned a few things, at least things that have worked for me.

There are a few good practical suggestions above, some that maybe I should have looked at - but I want to make my income from performance and from CD sales, so that is what I've stuck to. I work festivals, clubs and pubs. I sell 2/3 of my CDs from the stage, and CDs are an important portion of my income.

I do spend a lot of time digging, working at bookings, planning tours - and that could become a problem because the business of music can suck the joy out of it - but I'm quite motivated to make it work, so I accept that that is just part of the job.

I ignore the push to become more "marketable" because that would also suck the joy out of it for me - so I develop the music that I love, and hope enough of the "market place" will see the same beauty I do. In truth, rather then become more mainstream, I've become more parochial! But I love it, and I'm still working - so I go with it.

Small victories mean a lot to me. Every year I add new festivals, new concert venues - each one makes my life just a breath easier. I just keep plugging away at it. I work like heck to keep the calendar full, and always try to add new venues to the mix.

I used to travel in hopes finding places to play ... now I travel when I have places to play and there's enough money to make it worthwhile. I take chances, but calculated chances. I guess I try to build on the successes I've had, learn lessons from the places that didn;t work for me. Like that country pop songs says, "some girls don't like boys like me - ah, some girls do!" I stick to the ones that do.

I've read some of your poetry and listened to a bit of the sound tracks, John - you can make this work.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Jeremiah McCaw
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 11:59 AM

Easy.

While on your way to a gig in a place you would never be if you were not a folksinger, stop and buy what will turn out to be a winning lottery ticket!

You're welcome.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 12:43 PM

LOL - Jeremiah, I have to admit that I do exactly that, now and then!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 08 Jan 14 - 08:38 PM

As Utah Phillips used to say; "You want to make a million dollars playing folk music? Start with two million."

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 01:10 AM

Mark, I didn't realise where I'd picked that up - I share it around all the time.

I only know a few folkies who make their living from their music. Some manage by also producing their own & other folks' music, teaching music & doing related stuff.

Most have day jobs in different fields.

sandra


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 05:44 AM

There's a similar saying in motor racing, Mark:

Q. How do you make a small fortune in Formula 1?

A. Start with a large one!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 06:04 AM

song writing


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 06:49 AM

I `ad that John Spiers in my cab the other Day. `parently, `ed just done a booking and the collection on the door didn`t cover `is fee. `e looked just like `ed got an `ole in `is bellows.
`e said, "`ere Jim. You and your band `ave done all the clubs over the years. `ow does one make money in folk music?"
I said, "Well Squeezy, my bruvver `as no problem."
`e said, "Go on then!"
I said , "`es got this little shop, see, flogging instruments, anything that makes a racket. Bearing in mind what is marketted as "Folk Music" nowadays `e stuck up a notice saying "Folk Instuments". The kids are all over `im like a rash. Lovely little earner!!"

Whaddam I Like??


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 11 Jan 14 - 10:39 AM

Main thing is to not sing or play it. Yon's a mug's game.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jan 14 - 04:54 PM

15 Jan 04 - 05:35 PM
Jon Spiers, the day before he turned pro...


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jan 14 - 05:36 PM

Take as your role model the Person who bought up other people recordings and suppressed them, problem is you cant take your money with you to the grave, to whom it may concern hand back those recordings now. Rosemary Hardman for instance is on hard times[as i undertstand ]and could do with some dosh from her recordings.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 12 Jan 14 - 04:16 PM

My theory is the minute you're paid to perform you cease to be a 'folk singer'. You have become an artist/musician/professional/etc.

Hold on! Before the war starts, that's just my pawky definition and it applies to me alone :-)


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,John Fitzsimmons
Date: 13 Jan 16 - 08:41 AM

Quite funny. I found this post today after a long absence from Mudcat. 12 years later, and I have a pretty good "thing" going (and one more kid for that magic seven). I "don't" make a living as a folksinger, but I do make a pretty good side living playing ten or so gigs a month--and get paid enough to at least make a dent in the college tuitions I pay. If anything, the pub scene is worse (paywise) than ever. Most pubs around here (Concord MA) try to get musicians to play for food vouchers. The better money is in the harvest festivals, private parties, school gigs.

The best advice on the thread--among a lot of deeply appreciated thoughtfulness) is to consider yourself as an entertainer and to learn the songs that truly entertain the crowd at hand--and there are plenty of pretty amazing songs that "entertain" (whatever entertain really means, so I do not feel like I have horribly short-changed my artistic vision for my life.

If any of you are in the Boston area, stop by The Colonial Inn in Concord and join me for a set. And even split the tip jar with me--which most weeks is more than the pay:)


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 13 Jan 16 - 04:52 PM

I think some people do pretty well with house concerts. I think a teacher's schedule would lend itself best to folk music money..summers off, can write off some travels and expenses, good weather....


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 14 Jan 16 - 03:40 AM

Guestmg - you obviously don't know any teachers in GB. Despite gaining 10% of their time table to prepare and mark, the job takes over normal life. ' You must mark in three different colours' - the heads been on a course - so it takes twice as long. Then the head goes on another course!
Holidays are spent getting the work ready for the next term because Government have changed what you have to teach yet again.
One third of young teachers leave within 3 years.
The days of being a modestly paid government employee but one where you could develop other interests are long gone. ( except the bit about the modest pay).
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jan 16 - 06:03 PM

'how do you make money in folk music'? Start a band called Bellowhead! Simples!


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 14 Jan 16 - 08:20 PM

There's a whole world of good paying work out there that seems, in many ways, ideally suited to the folk musician. School gigs, libraries, cultural arts centers, and the like - - places where you can educate a bit while you entertain, and where the venues secure funding to make the programs happen because of the benefit to the community.

I've been doing this full time, very comfortably, for the last twenty years, and have started a blog to help others do the same.

Articles can be found here: Educate and Entertain: A Great Living in the Arts   

Would love the feedback and contributions of the Mudcat community.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jan 16 - 09:02 PM

Dave - sorry to be a pessimist, but in the UK these funded opportunities are mostly long gone,
and the pitiful few left tend to be monopolised by an elite minority of 'approved' performers.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 15 Jan 16 - 01:21 AM

anonymous 'GUEST'
you might be right but maybe the "elite minority of 'approved' performers" are following Dave's blog... checklist of daily jobs. Worth a read.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 15 Jan 16 - 08:11 AM

Thanks GUEST and FreddyHeadey.

I can't comment on the UK scene other than my brief tour there in 2009 playing mainly in folk clubs (though the best paying gig, by far, was...at a museum).

And apologies if I made the USA sound like the land of milk and honey; it's far from that. In fact, I know many talented performers here who would echo GUEST's comments to the letter. I do think some of it comes down to the amount of "hustle" we put in though. For me, I haven't had much of a choice, as I broke off from a steady job twenty-some years ago to pursue music on a local/regional level and have been the sole breadwinner for my family of four since that time. I've simply HAD to find a way to make it work for me. I'm here to say - it can be done.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: kendall
Date: 15 Jan 16 - 05:35 PM

First, you must be one of a kind. If all you do is imitations of famous people who made it, better get a day job.

When I lost my singing voice, that was that for the folk music. I still do performances as a Maine humorist, but, no more Thousand dollar gigs.

Performers such as Gordon Bok, JedMarum, Seamus Kennedy do stuff that not everyone can do. So, if they want Jed Marum, they must be willing to pay Jed Marum. He is the only one qualified.


I used to tell a story to people who wanted me to drive 200 miles for $50.00. The fable of the oats. "If you want top quality, fresh oats, you must pay top dollar. However, if you can settle for those that have already gone through the horse, they are much cheaper."


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Jan 16 - 03:01 AM

How do you make money in folk music?
Get a job at McDonald's...


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Guest can't remember password
Date: 16 Jan 16 - 08:19 AM

The late Diz Disley used to say "You'll never be poor if you remember these three little words ...


"Stick 'em up"


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 16 Jan 16 - 11:27 AM

How do you make money in folk music?
"Ah, but you may as well try & catch the wind" - Donovan (1965)


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 16 Jan 16 - 12:37 PM

Kendall: "First, you must be one of a kind. If all you do is imitations of famous people who made it, better get a day job."

Amen to that!!!...That includes your run of the mill protest/political 'statements' and any and everything that puts you into some worn out fad of yesteryear. You can say more as a 'social commentator' than a quasi-'political activist'....but FIRST you HAVE TO DO YOUR MUSICAL HOMEWORK!!...and play to and from the heart...not just another 'fill your head' trip!!..then practice, practice, practice!!

Playing 'benefits' is great for exposure, but not for money...so use them wisely, and don't get hung up is playing them all the time. You can reach a greater audience, using one to promote the other, while still doing beneficial work for others...BUT, DON'T get hung up in playing 'political events'....when you do, even though you may 'self impress yourself' that certain people may like you, you also lose half your audience, by those who may disagree with your politics, no matter what the song sounds like, or how much time you put into it.

Remember, if you're a musician get an instrument...if you're a wannabe activist, get a soapbox!!

People will listen IF your music is not just 'good' but great...besides, if you're out to make political statements, but play shitty, then nobody is interested in either....and it reflects on the shallow benefits, of which you think you're trying to promote!


You might not get rich, but that's my two cents in your pocket!!

GfS


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: kendall
Date: 16 Jan 16 - 09:18 PM

Right you are. if you don't feel the music, neither will your audience.
I've seen grown men weep when I sing :The band played waltzing Matilda." No wise cracks, please.

One of the best descriptions of someone who is not ready for prime time came from My old friend, Sandy Paton. He called them, "Teen age philosophers wailing out their diary entries".


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 16 Jan 16 - 10:02 PM

Kendall: "Right you are. if you don't feel the music, neither will your audience.
I've seen grown men weep when I sing :The band played waltzing Matilda." No wise cracks, please."

I would be honored to hear you do it!!

GfS


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 17 Jan 16 - 12:08 PM

I have to say that I think Dave's site is wonderful, inspirational even--I have to laugh at our UK friend, who basically says that the way Dave's been supporting a family for the last 24 years isn't viable;-)

He says a lot about the business aspect--and that's the part that trips a lot of people up. A lot of performers, especially folkies, look down on the business part of this, and that is what keeps you going. Notwithstanding what everyone is saying about excellence and uniqueness--there are more "same-old,same-old" performers out there who are good with booking and bookkeeping than "unique talents" who aren't.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 16 - 03:07 PM

I haven't done gigs for some years - I am a bit old now. But I used to do quite a lot at one time; and I too have had emotional responses to Band Played Waltzing Matilda. I always thought it had been a good performance if it was greeted at the end by complete silence. If interested, it is on my youtube channel

http://www.youtube.com/user/mgmyer


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jan 16 - 03:23 PM

stim - you can laugh as much as you like from across the Atlantic.
Local Govt. / Education Authority grant funded arts employment provision has dwindled down to near zero over here.

The work is simply no longer there for even the most ruthless business minded musicians to compete and scavenge over.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Jan 16 - 01:47 AM

Guest--Not a derisive laugh at you, more of an approving chuckle for Dave. I've been listening to musicians over here say exactly what you are saying, and they've been saying it for years. Then I see guys like Dave, (and a lot of other people like him) who still have figured out how to make a career playing music. You've gotta love people like that.

When you say, "The work is simply no longer there", I am sure that you're right (though I kind of doubt there was ever a lot of work). Dave's played in bar bands, until he suffered an injury and couldn't physically do the work. He found something that he could do, as a performer, and looked for places that would pay him to do it. It isn't about finding grant funded arts employment.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jan 16 - 03:24 AM

Dave Ruch:
"There's a whole world of good paying work out there that seems, in many ways, ideally suited to the folk musician. School gigs, libraries, cultural arts centers, and the like - - places where you can educate a bit while you entertain, and where the venues secure funding to make the programs happen because of the benefit to the community."

Stim: "It isn't about finding grant funded arts employment."

Don't know about the internal dialogue within your head, but out here in a specific debate between me and Dave, yes it is !!!.

Come on stim - less time chuckling and more time concentrating if you don't mind..

In fairness, yesterday I asked a significant other who has a life time at managerial admin level in this sector.

The reply, "Well yes we sometimes still get in outside freelancers [entertainers in education] if we can.
But mostly these days we are looking for anyone who will do it as a volunteer for free"


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: kendall
Date: 19 Jan 16 - 12:55 PM

Guest from Sanity, if you want to hear me sing that song, it an be arraigned. I recorded it some years ago before I lost my singing voice.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Jan 16 - 11:08 PM

Dave isn't debating, he's working as a musician and he's giving marketing and promotional advice to others who want to work.   You're both right, of course. He says he can do do it, and he does it. You say you can't, and you don't...


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jan 16 - 12:07 AM

Stim - we can only admire your American "Can do" positive work ethic.

But whilst you are cheerfully stating the obvious regarding the greater scheme of things,
you don't seem to be 'getting' the equally obvious point that if paid work in this specific sector in the UK is on the verge of becoming extinct,
due to savage Government cuts in funding,
no one can actually do it anymore.

Respect due to Dave.
He does understand and acknowledge this apparent economic reality difference between the USA and UK.


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Subject: RE: How do you make money in folk music?
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 20 Jan 16 - 04:23 PM

Love the fable of the oats, Kendall. Can I steal it and convert it to sterling?

All the best
Greg


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