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Thread August 9, 2014 editorial: comments

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1 August 9, 2014 editorial: comments

The “E” Word

One of the things I like most about writing this column is that I get to rant when I want to. So here goes...

It burns me up when club owners and concert promoters try to exploit musicians by dangling the carrot of “exposure." They ask musicians to play for little or no money by telling them how much “exposure” it will give them. 

But think about it: If I were to ask a contractor to redo my driveway for free because people would see his sign on my lawn and he’d get great exposure, what do you think he’d say to me? Or if I asked my guitar repair guy to build me a custom electric, and explained to him that I wouldn't actually pay him, but he'd get lots of publicity when everyone saw his name on the headstock, how long would it take for him to stop laughing and throw me out of his shop?

But because our industry is so crazy competitive and difficult, there will always be artists willing to play for free. And that just encourages club owners and promoters to continue exploiting us, and makes it harder to find gigs that pay decently.

So am I saying never take a free gig? No. There are times when it might make sense for you to do so. But when you hear the word “exposure” bandied about as if it's some form of compensation, it should be a red flag. Think carefully about the motives of the person offering the gig and whether there’s really any benefit to you. 

Do you agree me? What do you do when someone drops the “e” word on you? Let me know what you think.

Have a great week,

Mike Levine

U.S. Editor, Audiofanzine

Hello Mike, and to all on here, this is my first post. I am a 44 year old guitarist playing since the mid 80`s. I started out like a lot of kids getting a band together, learning covers from cassettes and vinyl., and we waited for a knock on the door from a record company, who would give us millions of pounds and stadium gigs. we couldnt get gigs locally because we were to rock/metal.

anyway the band fizzled out, folks got married, jobs etc, and lots of us ended up in wedding, tribute bands and the like.

Sorry for the long post but that "E" word, in my experiences, always came in the worst possible way. By that I mean Band "leaders" saying "OK lads, the money is small tonight, we need a PA system" (we all know how that ends up) and "think of the exposure"
I don`t care about exposure. I care about Pay me my money. And my advice to anybody starting out with this cowboy industry is "Name your price" and stick to it. you will get more respect. You need the attitude of "if you want me, pay me"

Don`t get me wrong, If I get a call at 8 O clock on a friday night, to fill in on a gig, for say 50 euro, with a few friends I might do it, just for the sake of being able to try out my new tele in a certain amp, or put into a live situation some stuff Ive been practicing,

My rock band is back together after over 20 years, but we do it for fun, some like golf, we like jammin and gigging, sometimes it costs us money, but thats ok, we make a night out for ourselves and our friends. Some places we have played, have never changed though, we still get club owners treating us like wannabes.. Managers, trying to get you on at 8 O clock til one in the morning. Its amazing, we are doing a free gig, bringing good people and custom to their club, giving them exposure, and they still try to turn it around on us!! The Red flag mentioned about the "E" word is still here, and always will be. I tease these greedy folk for it. The "E" word is my q to give these selfish people a good wind up.

I could rant about it a lot more, but this is a positive site, always has been. I guess if you are happy to play for free, or just for yourself, do it. But don`t let these people fool you. If they could expose a band, to greatness, they wouldnt be working in a pub or club, they would be working for sony or something.

Lastly, if people want exposure for their band... don`t make the mistakes we did when we were young. Remember its an industry. A Business, Do your own exposure. also, marketing, recording, promotion, merchandise etc. The only way a record company will "knock on your door" is when you have all the leg work done yourselves!

Rant over. Thanks Mike, for getting my blood going!
Hello there!

Two things... First off, I agree that as musicians we are our worst enemies when it comes to earning money for our craft. But it takes us realizing that the music business IS a BUSINESS and we should treat it as such. Never back down from our pricing schedule especially when someone needs an "emergency" fill in. To use your example, if you need a plumber in an emergency, he would actually charge more for the last minute rush job. We can be strict with our prices and still be kind.

And secondly, we musicians need to use this brand new thing called the Internet better to our advantage. We can make our own "exposure" so we don't need free gigs to do that. As a matter of fact, I use my paid gigs as advertisement online to show prospective clients not only that I exist, but that I can create entertainment and excitement in a crowd.

Thanks for this post!
I respond with "my exposure must be OK already, you found me!"
Thanks all for your comments. Hopefully, we're giving some "exposure" to this topic, and will get people thinking about it more.
In the meantime, I heard about this gig you might be interested in. There's no actual money involved, but...:mdr: