I just had a realization. Since I started working as a freelance illustrator (about 3 years ago) I'm pretty sure I have earned more money working on album/E.P covers than I did in 10 years of gigging with bands. For the record, I haven't done a whole lot of cover art and my first two jobs were paid for with a bonzai tree and tickets to Lykke Li. With the last band I was in, as far as I can remember our last ever gig we played together was also our first one we got paid for. I'm talking purely about a specific form of musical entertainment, live bands playing pubs, venues, festivals.
I stopped playing largely because of problems with my arms, RSI that still affects me today. But at the time, my main reason for quiting the band (who I loved playing with) was because I simply couldn't afford it. A case of, I could put up with one or the other, but with both it had become unenjoyable and unaffordable. It was a similar situation when I played with Bouts last year. I would imagine most people don't realise how expensive it is to work as a musician. And I do mean to use the word "work". There is the general thought that music is something of a hobby, you're doing something you love so money doesn't really matter. I would agree in some part with that. Music is something far more important than financial gain and should be shared as much as possible. It's something that I simply love, as a listener and performer. But ultimately it is still work. Work that requires much time and effort yet for some reason is more often than not unrewarded.
It's important that musicians and bands accept the struggle and toil it takes to develop and perfect their craft and I do think music should be shared freely. But unfortunately that's not always possible when the process of sharing requires money. For me, the onus is ultimately on the listener, the promoter, the venues, to value what it is they are listening to and value the people who are offering it.
I'm getting somewhat carried away, so I'll get on to the main point of this post.
Support Pay for Play, is a Facebook page started by Laura Sheeran to discuss the issue of venues charging bands to play, instead of paying them. In their own words;
"This group has been set up as a platform to discuss all the issues that
bands and solos feel are making it difficult to move forward with their
work, particularly in a live context.
Live is one of the only ways
we can make any money these days and a lot of musicians are finding they
are working to a constant loss when doing gigs.
...a place to talk about these things and potentially come up with some new
ideas/solutions as to how we can improve the situations for ourselves."
Some interesting conversations on there already, worth checking out if you've any interest in the subject.
I came across this via the ever reliable Nay McArdle of Harmless Noise who, while we're talking of supporting music, could possibly be my favourite thing about Irish independent music today.
Thank you for listening. Now here's Bouts, from their awesome new E.P.;
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