“The Music Business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway
where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There’s also a
negative side.” ~ falsely accredited to Hunter S. Thompson
Recently this article popped up, Los Angles Club Owners Drop the Ball.
I’ve never seen so many free and low paying gigs. Well the economy is bad, so I can understand that a little bit. However, it is no longer good enough for the musician to be willing to perform for little compensation. Now we are expected to also be the venue’s promoter. The expectations are that the band will not only provide great music, but also bring lots of people to their venue. It is now the band’s responsibility to make this happen, not the club owner.
Here is a response from a music professional and friend of mine from the other side of the pond, Bert Brandsma. And he’s playing the bass sax in this video:
I’ve seen this article before. It’s true that playing gigs is under pressure moneywise. Another side to it is that things simply change, there always have been new upcoming bands/styles/acts taking over places and starting to compete with older acts that suddenly find it harder to get jobs. It’s a normal procedure that always has been there.
Under harder economic conditions the changes just go faster.So in order to survive as a performing artist you have to be keen on where the trends go. At the moment the company parties are very low here. Logical, if you have to fire people in your business, it is not likely you are going to organize a big party with live bands.
On the other hand, there is still an older generation of people with steady jobs, longtime contracts, they are in fact hardly hit by the economic situation at all. They still visit theater concerts like they always did.
So example, when the invitation came this summer to join the Big Chris Barber band, that
almost only does theater work and some bigger Jazz festivals, I didn’t have to think long and accepted happily.
Of course I don’t know how it is in the USA, but in the Netherlands almost all music is in a way under pressure at the moment. The sponsored classical orchestra’s are challenged and the military music has to save money. There are less Jazz Festivals than there used to be, less company gigs and even less weddings.
The work for music behind movies went to a few guys that are good with electronics, getting an orchestra sound out of a synth. I don’t like it, but it is the actual situation. Most of the people hardly can hear the difference, so the movie producers are very happy saving loads and loads.
DJ’s are doing pretty well, until of course the point has been reached that everyone wants to be a DJ, and the competition gets too big under each other as well. And where the real big money is made at the moment is composing little jingles and melodies for computer games. Some musician friends in the Pop/rock music scene are doing business much better
and easier though, compared to say 15 years ago.
So one general trend I see is that it is somehow easier to earn money in electronic means of music that in more traditional acoustical sounds.But that again should not surprise us, in a time where everything gets digitalized. Money in the recorded music is also difficult, but that hits the big record companies harder than most musicians. Usually in the past, musicians were simply bought out, and IF there were big earnings, they only went to producers or sometimes famous singers or band leaders. The average musician usually just
hoped to get some fame, I guess.
On live situations it is still well possible to sell CDs though, like the Dixieland Crackerjacks and Chris Barber are still doing. You don’t get your Jazz records in the stores anymore… but is that so bad, you have to invest loads of promotional money to get them into those places, so what is the use? Better sell them through internet directly, and have some profit out of them.