glossary

Independent Contractor:

Someone brought in to do one job -- not a regular employee. Contractors have to pay for all of their overhead, including insurance, transportation, tools, and training, so their rates are usually at least $30 an hour and are almost always many times higher. Federal labor law does not protect wages for independent contractors, including musicians. 

 

House Concert:

A way for a band to garner exposure and work on their chops without getting ripped off, as well as a way to connect more closely with fans. Fair Trade Music’s first action guide was how to put on a house concert. See also Busking, Dysfunctional Allure, The.   

 

Hospitality:

Usually food and drainks offered in lieu of compensation. It’s nice to get drink tickets and be fed, but you can’t pay your rent with PBRs and Buffalo wings. Hospitality should be accepted gracefully and gratefully, but not in lieu of real compensation. See also tip jar. 

 

Hobby Mentality:

The all-too common notion, held by an alarming number of both fans and musicians themselves, that music is neither service nor profession, and that, as such, it does not have value and should not be compensated.  This mentality relegates music to a sub-optimal level of artistry.  See also hobby, service, and ‘For The Love.’ 

 

Hobby:

Activity that one does purely for enjoyment. A hobby doesn’t have to be engaged in at a specific time or at a specific location, isn’t required to be  high quality,  and is not generally done in a place of business for the profit of that business.  See also ‘Service, ’ as well as Four Things Every Musician Must Know

 

Guarantee:

Money that would have to be paid to performers regardless of the draw.  A guarantee would make the club partially responsible for financial risk. New bands that demand a guarantee, even one below minimum wage,  will usually be replaced with Fresh Meat, as perpetually supplied by the  ever-compelling myth of exposure.

 

Following:

Ostensibly the number of people that regularly come to any given group's shows, it really translates to "Draw." The assumption is that it's entirely up to the band to bring customers, a bar is not expected to have regulars. 

 

Fresh Meat:

A steady stream of 'up and coming' young musicians willing to "play" for "exposure."  This steady stream guarantees that there will always be someone who doesn't know what they're worth willing to do it "For The Love." Unfortunately, Fresh Meat's devaluing of itself also devalues other musicians in two ways: First, they're not getting the gig that Fresh Meat has agreed to do for two drinks and a tip jar, and it lowers average rates at other venues as well.Fresh Meat performs at Race to the Bottom venues and, more importantly, advertises for and brings them customers for little to no pay. 

 

Free Culture:

In this Mp3 / ipod / napster culture where massive quantities of recorded music can be automatically downloaded, copied, bit-torrented, ripped, and shared, and software like ableton, max, digital performer, etc.  can make someone with little or no rhythm or pitch ability a performer,  the efforts of those that perform music with their hands are cast in an entirely different context.  Musicians are expected to perform ‘for the love,’ or strictly as a hobby. This relegates the career to that of a hobbyist, ultimately degrading the quality. The bottom line: fans lose. Gillian Welch's brilliant and bittersweet anthem "Everything is Free" addresses Free Culture head-on. 

 

Playing / Doing it For the ‘Love’

The absurd notion that if one loves their work, it's necessary to do it for free. Sadly, this phrase is used by both club owners, who might avoid paying all of their employees if they could,  and musicians who have non-musical sources of income and thus believe that they are hobbyists, despite the level of service they may be providing. There's a difference between love and getting screwed: If everyone’s working for free, and no money is being made,  that’s love.  If others are getting paid and making money but musicians are not, they’re getting screwed. See also Four Things Every Musician Must Know

 
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