glossary

Supporting the Arts:

Everybody loves art and music, and everybody supports “the arts,” including music. Oh wait, do they support musicians? uh, sure why not?   Does that mean they pay them? What? No! Those people need day jobs - music is a hobby!  An administrator with a local large classical music organization said recently “Portlanders are great at saying they support musicians, and lousy at paying them.” One venue we met with, whose motto is “Long Live Art,” told us that Fair Trade Music “deeply and personally offended” them.  

 

Support:

In the music world, the word "Support" seems to mean to clap, smile, dance, and enjoy. Everybody "supports the arts" and "supports musicians," because it feels good to say it.

Although appreciated, this limited definition of support does not enable musicians to pay their bills or devote their full attention to developing their craft.  In fact, musicians, especially those who work in clubs, are commonly expected to have other jobs in order to support themselves, often at menial jobs.

Perhaps the saddest part of this is that experienced, talented musicians are forced to stop performing, while a new crop of amateur, startup (e.g. free) groups parade through every few years -- aka Fresh Meat.

Sustainability

In order for a slow build to happen, a venue and a band must make a commitment to working with each other consistently and equitably over time.  If a venue invests some resources in developing its own crowd, and provides a good workplace for musicians (adequate sound system, engineer, and acoustic treatments, for example,) the band is more likely to stay, and a state of synergy becomes much more likely. Moreover, if the band does move on, the venue, having won over some of the patrons, is not starting at zero again.  See also Double Whammy, The.

 

Solidarity

An incredibly useful word for a concept that seems central to being human: mutual aid: “We’re all in this together, we’ll help each other out, we’ll raise each other up. I’ve got your back,” and even the hallowed union slogan “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.”  Sadly, this last slogan, like the word ‘Solidarity,’ is as unfashionable as the labor movement; it’s much more punk-rock and badass to believe the myth of “Your Own Bootstraps.” Then again, the sudden popularity of the messaging in the 99% movement may indicate that this is beginning to change.  See also Four Things Every Musician Must Know, #3

 

Solidarity

An incredibly useful word for a concept that seems central to being human: mutual aid: “We’re all in this together, we’ll help each other out, we’ll raise each other up. I’ve got your back,” and even the hallowed union slogan “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.”  Sadly, this last slogan, like the word ‘Solidarity,’ is as unfashionable as the labor movement; it’s much more punk-rock and badass to believe the myth of “Your Own Bootstraps.” Then again, the sudden popularity of the messaging in the 99% movement may indicate that this is beginning to change.  See also Four Things Every Musician Must Know, #3

 

Slow Build

Building an audience for either a band or a venue takes consistency over time. Building a brand of quality music, too, will take time, for word of mouth to spread, for people’s habits to change, for marketing and advertising to have an effect.  Marketers say that prospects will ignore printed advertising the first six or seven times they see it; that number is even higher for electronic media. See also synergy, sustainable

 

Showcase:

A typical kind of show for Race to the Bottom-type venues that maximizes bar sales while minimizing compensation for musicians.  Despite these, showcases do provide cross-pollination of musicians' fan bases, so the Fair Trade Music Venue Agreement does provide specifics for one "new band night" per week. 

 

Service:

Starts at a specific time in a specific place (e.g. a place of business) for a specific duration, and has to pass quality standards. Services have real value and cannot be discounted without devaluing all other workers in that market. See hobby, Professional, Same Bathtub,  Four Things Every Musician Must Know

 

Self-Value:

It’s currently more fashionable to be self-effacing, than to show that one values one’s self. Perhaps this is why self-value is a difficult concept for many musicians. However, humility is very different from low self-value: It is possible to be humble without accepting zero minus expenses as wages.  It’s also entirely possible to ask for a minimum without being a megalomaniac. Author Eckhardt Tolle said it wisely: “We must all realize that we are neither better nor worse than everybody else.” 

 

Saying "No"

Massively underrated.  Taking a bad gig puts $15 in your pocket now,  takes $25 out of your pocket next month, and $50 out of someone else’s this month and next - working for less than what you’re worth, below minimum wage guarantees, for cruel myths like the tip jar, hospitality, the merch table, and the most insidious of them, exposure, devalues not only you but every other musician in your market for now and the future.  Saying ‘no’ to poorly paying gigs is not only okay, it’s crucial. Value yourself, and encourage your musician friends to do the same.  See also The Tough Choice, also Four Things Every Musician Must Know

 
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