If there’s one thing that musicians agree on, it’s that they want, in fact need, to be paid. Spotify, illegal downloads, file-sharing, pay-to-play gigs and many more are all railed against. If musicians aren’t paid music will die, they proclaim, and they are right. And yet a significant minority – at least I hope it’s a minority – are not so much colluding as happily encouraging their own demise.
Here’s an example. A gig I went to recently featured four acts. On the undercard were two no-name local singer-songwriters and one partial name local singer-songwriter. Headlining was a four piece band from London, an Americana name (though not a major one) that possessed the usual large amounts of critical acclaim and is in fact very good. The price of entry to this extravaganza? £3. Three pounds. Less than the price of a pint.
The paying attendance peaked at no more than 25, which seemed to disturb the promoter not at all. The headliners were on a £100 guarantee (I asked) so I’d guess that the no-names got nothing and the partial name (who, incidentally, played with three friends) maybe £20 if he was lucky.
This is far from an isolated instance, even just thinking about my neck of the woods, and so long as musicians are prepared to accept deals like this then so long will people be conditioned to think that music should be free or next-to-free.