pay artists.

April 10, 2013

Wednesday. 4.10.13

This is my first official journal entry.  I'm pissed off right now, wondering what percentage of journals are born out of anger and or frustration.  I bet it's high... Anyways.  Here goes.  

 I am a full time artist.  I work everyday, I spend all of my money on film and music projects and I often end up broke.  It's frustrating, but it makes sense.  Music is lovely, film is great, but most people just want to pay for food and beer and furniture.  HOWEVER!  Art, no matter how intangible, it is still of value.  So when an organization asks me to play for their event but can't offer any kind of exchange in terms of money or trade, I am confused.  The same question flares up in my brain. 

Would you ask a plumber to fix your toilet for free?  No.  Probably not.  Your plumber invested time and money on training, equipment, maybe schooling.  Your plumber has experience fixing other people's toilets.  Your plumber has bills to pay.  Maybe a girlfriend.  Maybe a family.  So why, then, is it so ordinary to ask artists and musicians to perform for free?  A musician has likely invested time and money on training, equipment, sometimes schooling.  A musician has experience.  A musician has bills to pay.  Maybe a girlfriend.  Maybe a family.  Even beyond the simple exchange of skilled labor, performance and art also requires an emotional investment and on a spiritual level, that shit is not cheap. 

The trouble is, as artists, we love what we do and there are always reasons to perform for free.  Loving what you do this much is thrilling, but it isn't sustainable for full-time artists.  We are so willing to drive onehundred miles to this random venue off the strength of "I just want people to hear my stuff", or maybe "I'll sell enough CD's to offset gas money and snacks."  Exposure!  Good cause!  Opportunity!  Investment!  All great reasons for people not to pay you and for you to stay broke forever. 



Here's a thought.  If you want art, pay artists.  Pay them as well as much as you can afford.  If you really can't afford to, offer your time or something they may need in exchange.  If you can't do either of those things, don't ask.

 

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