Financial Risk:

Independent contractors like most club musicians incur time costs and hard expenses when preparing for a performance.  The time cost includes promotion, travel and two sets of load in/load out and setup/teardown before a single note is sounded, promotional expenses, instrument and equipment repair and maintenance, and so on. In other words, it costs both money and time to make music, but, under the current model, musicians’ time and hard costs are dismissed as those necessary to pursue a hobby



Distributed evenly. Currently, it’s considered the musicians’ primary responsibility to bring a majority of the club’s customers. With zero money guarantee, the majority of the financial risk of an evening’s entertainment falls upon the musicians.  Since the club covers its costs first and pays musicians later, it takes on far less risk.  Fair trade music would ameliorate all three of these inequitable situations by eliminating deductions and guaranteeing musicians at least State of Oregon minimum wage. 



An intangible benefit of dubious real value that preys upon commonplace fantasies of fame and fortune. The idea is that the reason the musician is currently struggling financially is because not enough people have heard their music yet, and, once they do, they'll start building a fan base, selling product, and be able to move up.   This is true in a few very rare cases - those where the audience is guaranteed, and comprised of appreciative, attentive music fans with disposable income.   Fortunately, this rarity is easy to catch: "exposure" is as ubiquitous as it is free, so venue owners will, without thinking,  tout the "Excellent exposure" of their venue, yet readily contradict this by mentioning that the band has to bring their fans. This means they know their venue doesn't have its own clientele, so the 'exposure' is to your own fans that you brought and thus is unlikely to help further build your fanbase.   Exposure is a myth. See also Four Things Every Musician Must Know. 



Loaded political word meaning, essentially, “The work and services you do are not valued by me, and therefore you are whiny to think that they are.” Based on the assumption that performing music is always a hobby, regardless of the context.   



Perjorative term lobbed at artists who perform for pay, by artists who don’t feel as if they can or should.  See also ‘mercenary.’  

Dysfunctional Allure, the:

Widespread and self-destructive belief that performing in a bar somehow consummates a musical product.   

The prestige may have something to do with the fact that the bar is a Business or Public Place, presumably becuase such places are more discerning.  Sadly, the truth is that many of these businesses are concerned with how many friends the band is bringing, and they may only be in business becuase they depend on bands working for zero guarantees.   

Natural antidotes are Busking, House parties, and  Self-Value.


The number of customers a band brings to a club they perform at.  If a performer asks a booking agent at a club for a show, the first question asked in return is "What's your draw?"  The perspective framing that question, and the term, is: 1) the club shall assume none of the inherent financial risk involved  and 2) it is primarily the performer's responsibility to bring customers to the bar. Naturally, the next question the musician asks should be “what’s YOURS?” See also following.


Double Whammy, The

The effects of short-sighted, no-risk, no-investment Race to the Bottom business model.  

Musicians, faced with low pay and poor working conditions, move on to the next club.  If they’ve worked to build their following and the club has not, that club loses all of those customers when the band leaves. 

The Double Whammy is the opposite of the synergy that can be gained from sustainable partnerships,



A club employee that’s guaranteed a minimum hourly wage regardless of how much alcohol is sold, how many fans are in attendance.  Unlike musicians, dishwashers are not required to pay other employees, bring their own equipment, rehearse, practice, or advertise for the club on their own time and their own expense.   These facts suggest that monetarily, our culture values dishwashers more than musicians.



Weekend Warriors,” e.g. hobbyist musicians who don’t derive an income from performing tend to forget two important things. First, see service below. Second, whether or not they need money from performance, others do, and by performing, e.g. providing services for low or no wages, they not only devalue themselves and every other musician in that market, they also displace performers that would have gained work at that venue on that evening. See also “Same bathtub.” 

Syndicate content

Subscribe to Fair Trade Music Newsletter