We get this all the time: "Yeah, our band got screwed again last weekend. Fair Trade Music?! Great idea brah. Let me know when you're done fixing things for me." Nope. Musicians are mired in a red sea of societal values. We're not Moses... we're not even Chuck Heston. We're just the folks handing out buckets, and if we want to fix the current zero-minus-expenses, race to the bottom status quo, we all need to start bailing. In other words, we're all somebody. Now do something! You can start by signing up as an endorser here, and please be sure to check 'go to the next level.'
from 'four things every musician's gotta know' #4: “Exposure” kills.It’s no coincidence that this term refers to what kills you in bad weather. Although genuinely valuable exposure opportunities show up, they’re quite rare. “Exposure” is almost always offered as a feeble excuse to try to get naive performers to work for low or no compensation, based on the mere chance of an intangible commodity of dubious real value. The term is so common that booking agents will tout their venue’s excellent exposure opportunity, yet tell you (in the same breath!) that the place has no built in draw and you'll have to bring your own following.
Fans tend to forget how expensive gear is, and musicians apparently like buying it so much that they forget to figure the cost of amps, strings, cables, repairs, drums, heads, cymbals, mics, cases, effects, stands, etc. etc. into their overhead costs.
It's pretty common to offer 'hospitality' as part of the compensation. It's a nice gesture, but a) it doesn't actually cost them much, b) money paid at a gig can be used to purchase other goods and services and c) unless your landlord really, really likes corn dogs, HOSPITALITY DOESN'T PAY THE RENT! (NB: Yes, I've been asked to play out-of-town festivals in exchange for snack bar credits)
Unless you're a piccolo or triangle player, remember to figure something in for 'Portage' in your job estimates. At the end of a three hour gig with three additional hours of load in, load out, setup, and tear down, you'll be glad you did.
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Remember folks, Exposure can kill or find you on the wrong side of the law! From "Four things every musician's gotta know:" #4: Exposure kills.It's no coincidence that the overused term 'Exposure' refers to what kills you in bad weather - it's generally used to get artists to work for low or no compensation, under the shady premise that there's a chance someone might see them that might give them some real work, or, worse yet, "Make them famous." Booking agents will freely tout their venue's excellent exposure opportunity, yet tell you (in the same breath even!) that there's no built-in draw. They don't even realize they're suggesting you'll get new fans, plus famous, by performing to an audience that you bring.
OK, for those non-lusophones: Panel 1: "Rock show today! Half off with this flyer!"Panel 3: ("amp comes back broken") Panel 4: "And they say music isn't work?!"
Since this isn't actually possible, make sure you are getting paid enough to put real food on your table. You - and the other musicians in your market - will be better off for it.
I have a different set of rules: 1) Are the other musicians similarly committed? 2) Does the band have a coherent vision and goals? 3) Do the other musicians insist on playing crappy, no-pay gigs? if 1 or 2 are 'no' or 3 is yes, I leave. Maybe that's 'cause I'm a decent drummer!
Look, Fair Trade Music is about helping musicians make better music by getting them at least a minimum wage. We're not here to save these miserable turds! Raising the minimum to something above zero minus expenses does not preclude a meritocracy -- It's still up to venues to hire acts they think will make good business partners. Bands still have to do half of the promotion and entertain the crowd, keeping them there dancing, drinking, and wanting to come back. If the band's good enough to hire, they're good enough to get a minmium wage. If they do their job well, they're worth more.