Zach Caruso

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This is a fantastic piece that I first read a year or so ago, and recently came across again and decided it needed to be shared. LA-based jazz musician Dave Goldberg wrote an open letter to venues and venue owners addressing their exploitation, disregard, and disrespect of today's working musicians. I, and many of my peers, would be the first ones to tell you that every point Dave makes - from the ridiculous expectations from venues, to the flawed logic they run their businesses by - are problems we encounter on an almost daily basis just trying to play in front of a small audience of music fans, and go home with a decent paycheck at the end of the night. Dave's article - which has made its rounds on the internet, and I borrowed from Grassrootsy.com - can be read in full below.

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As I've been looking for gigs lately, I’ve never seen so many free and low paying gigs. Well the economy is bad, so I can understand that a little bit. However, it is no longer good enough for the musician to be willing to perform for little compensation. Now we are expected to also be the venue promoter? The expectations are that the band will not only provide great music, but also bring lots of people to their venue. It is now the band’s responsibility to make this happen, not the club owner.

Just the other day I was told by someone who owned a wine bar that they really liked our music and would love for us to play at their place. She then told me the gig paid $75 for a trio. Now $75 used to be bad money per person, let alone $75 for the whole band. It had to be a joke, right? No, she was serious. But it didn’t end there. She then informed us we had to bring 25 people minimum. Didn’t even offer us extra money if we brought 25 people. I would have laughed other than it’s not the first time I’ve gotten this proposal from club owners. But are there musicians really doing this? Yes. They are so desperate to play, they will do anything. But let’s think about this for a second and turn this around a little bit.

What if I told the wine bar owner that I have a great band and we are going to play at my house. I need someone to provide and pour wine while we play. I can’t pay much, just $75, and you must bring at least 25 people who are willing to pay a $10 cover charge at the door. Now wouldn’t they look at you like you are crazy?

“Why would I do that?” they would ask. Well because it’s great exposure for you and your wine bar. The people there would see how well you pour wine and see how good your wine is. Then they would come out to your wine bar sometime.  “But I brought all the people myself, I already know them”, they would say. Well maybe you could make up some professional looking flyers, pass them out, and get people you don’t know to come on out. “But you are only paying me $75. How can I afford to make up flyers?”

You see how absurd this sounds, but musicians do this all the time....

To see the rest of Dave's article, click Read More below

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