This letter showed up in my e-mail today, and I thought I’d share it with everybody as I wondered if other indie artists felt the same way he did. I suppose this letter by indie musician Jodie Jones has already started to make its rounds, if it already spread to my e-mail and Facebook.
Spoiler alert: He doesn’t have good things to say about club owners
Read the letter below:
“You can make $64.45 for just five hours of your time! As i am preparing to leave to play one of my favorite reasonably paid local gigs, I decided I would write this in an attempt to raise some awareness amongst the general public.
As I approach forty years of age I become more and more aware of how little I care if I offend someone with facts and that is what I will attempt to state. I will probably lose a few gigs over this.Fine,i worry not for i am not a worried man. I am very grateful for the career I have but I to still deal with a great deal of owners who just cannot seem to comprehend how I could be so audacious to ask for more money than what is being offered at some venues for a long form show. (3hours or more) This is offered up in solidarity for so many musicians who are struggling and working their asses off in the business at this time. I hope to you will write your stories.
Here is one based on a recent conversation with a club earlier this week.Read this next sentence carefully before you jump to judgement. I work with some wonderful venues in the business and to them I am incredibly thankful and have long standing friendships, business partnerships and many are incredibly generous with their contracts! However there seems to be a trend that is growing amongst entitled club owners so here a few simple thoughts from a guy who has been working in the industry in one form or another for 20yrs now.
Note to music venus or establishments that host music. If you set a price for a three to four hour show (which is what i am often asked to play) and ask the musicians to bring the crowd,the P.A. and the entertainment consider this; Load in by musician.load out by musician,Driving to and from venue by musician,promotion by musician, business at your venue increased by musician, 3 hour show by musician, sound reinforcement run by musician, singing and guitar playing etc… by musician. Your offer for pay should be in accordance to the time taken by the artist to provide you with the services YOU have requested. If you say to me “well $100.00 for three hours is great pay!” I will say to you “That may be true if It only took three hours to do the job. It takes a lifetime of practice which you don’t pay me for. As well it takes at least an hour to set up and break down a solo or duo show,strings for a guitar on the low end of the spectrum cost $10.00 per pack, medium gauge Fender picks $4.00,fuel for a local show within 30miles 3-1/2 Gal. @ 3.80 a Gal. = 13.30. One hour of labor for set up at minimum wage varies state to state so let’s call it 8.25. Grand total before I get to the show is $35.55 out of pocket (let’s call it a business expense or parts for the mentally challenged) $100.00 - $35.55= a whopping $64.45 for the day! Oh and you prefer that I not play any where else in the area for a week or that night? ” We would be willing to pay the same price for a band as well.” So for a trio that works out to $21.48 big ones per man! “We just can’t afford to pay if you don’t bring a large crowd. What does this say about how you are running your business on your end? You don’t have people at your establishment when there is no live music?You can’t draw a crowd to your bar? See if you can get a plumber, electrician or a carpenter to come and give you approx. five hours of their time for that price when it is a service that you are in need of.
Young Men and women in the industry need to understand the value of your time. You are only hurting yourselves when you agree to this type of slavery. You will have to do things like Kick-starter funding in order to make an album. I am not against those who use Kick-starter. Make sure and read that again before you get butt hurt about it. I just think it should be a platform not a necessity for up and coming or even established artist. This is what happens when when you don’t say no to bars who want something for next to nothing.
Perhaps we musicians should consider taking a week long strike and have house concerts and not bring any of our fans, friends or family or our other musician friends to the clubs and see how that feels to some of these self-entitled bar owners… Running a bar takes a great deal of work and commitment it does not entitle you as the owner to a free ride because you own a club. They say if you want to change the world start locally.
So Consider this. Next time you consider working for less than a full days wages, consider what your doing to drive down the price of what you have worked a lifetime towards and before you know it you won’t be doing it for a living any more. Why? Because you cannot afford the expense to travel from one gig to another. Much less pay your bills. p.s. try and rent a P.A. for $100.00 for the day and have the tech come set it up. by the way five hours for a skilled tradesman with parts at $64.45 is $12.89 per hour. 64.45 X 5days = 322.25 per week 1289.00 per month Does this sound like a living wage or career you would want your kid to pursue?”
I would love to hear from other indie musicians on there thoughts on this letter, and if they run into the same trouble as him.
Billy Bones is the Marketing Director and Founder of BBE Marketing, a digital entertainment marketing agency that provides SEO, Social Media Marketing, Mobile Marketing, and Web Design services to clients within the entertainment industry. I can be followed at @bonestx or @bbemarketing.