While on the hunt for venues to gig at around my way, I have come across so many places that do not expect to have to pay performing musicians. There are a lot, and I won't quote directly from any single one, but the general line is this - "We offer our space to performers for free, giving you the chance to showcase your music, while bringing business into our establishment. There is no compensation, although you are allowed to sell any cd's you may have, and we encourage you to bring a tip jar.”
Firstly, I get to play in your sports bar for free, in every sense of the word? You offer it for free? You would normally rent the space to a musician? To play in a sports bar? Over the sound of the 25 telly’s around the place, and the tables full of shouty people, all getting louder and louder to be heard over one another? Well, how grateful am I for not having to pay for the privilege of working for 6 hours in your place. They must be queuing up for a slot.
It would be nice to be able to sell cd’s at my free gig, unfortunately I don’t seem to be getting paid for any of these shows, which makes funding the production and manufacture of these cd’s a little tricky. Honestly, go on any cd duplication website for a quote. I spent all my money on petrol to get to the gig anyway, and any tips I may have made (which lets be honest, should be going to the wait staff) will be going on possibly maybe eating something, seeing as I missed dinner, because I had to make time to get the car loaded with my gear, spend an hour getting here, then another hour soundchecking..
Hey, how about in my (imaginary) music venue, I advertise for a chef, I offer the use of my kitchen for free, and they have the opportunity to showcase their cooking skills, while bringing business into my establishment? You will, of course, be expected to bring all your own ingredients, and we highly recommend you bring a tip jar, as there is no compensation You will be allowed to sell the recipies, if the person eating your food enjoys it.
Here’s how it goes on a regular gig night. I get home from work (ever tried living on a musicians earnings?) I clean up and make myself presentable for a performance. I load the car with the gear (speakers, guitar, mics, stands, mixer, cables, spares and backups etc) I may have time to get a quick bit of toast if I’m lucky. We drive to the venue. I unload all the gear into the venue. I set it all up. I tune up. I break a string, and put on a spare. (there’s another tenner gone for a new set..) I soundcheck discreetly. I play for an hour and a half, have a water break, then play for another two hours. I finish, and dismantle all the gear. I reload the car, we drive home, and I unpack all the gear back into the house. There’s seven hours right there, I reckon that’s worth at least some petrol money, and a plate of chips, don’t you?
If you aren’t prepared to compensate a working musician for quality entertainment, then you will get what you pay for.