Do You Work for Free?

Do You Work for Free?. Only if I know that the caterers and other folks providing services at the event that features my music are also working for free. In other words, it must be a charity event.

(Or the wedding or funeral of a loved one, but that kinda goes without saying.)

Same reason why I don’t have my Reverbnation songs available for free download.

Am I a fuddy-dudd for thinking that our current “free music” era is an abomination? True, we’ve exposed the naked emperors of the major labels and big corporations in the industry, but we’re still not putting the money where it belongs: in the hands of the artists. Instead, we’re putting it in the hands of the Internet providers who give us endless YouTube.

Am I being stingy when I don’t roll out my semitrailer of a keyboard for every open mic in town? That thing is heavy! My objective for playing open mics is to network and test myself; I don’t do it just for the joy of playing; there has to be more reason than that for me to bust my hump lugging my Casio around.

Allow me to steal a page from Ayn Rand and say yes, I’ve earned the right to play professionally and get paid for it. I’ve put in the work, I’ve built upon my talent, and I think I got something special. Nothing would make me happier than to share it with the world.

But I’m not just going to give it away. Unless you’ll give away yours, whatever it is.



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2 thoughts on “Do You Work for Free?

  1. Timothy Gay says:

    The community that does it the best is the electronic music community. What their approach is, give away something for free in the beginning like a mix and then show people where they can purchase the music from. It works quite often. For one, electronic music is probably the most listened to music in the world… literally. What’s also most amazing about that community is that they all do it themselves. They put their own music out themselves, they organize their own festivals, they do their own legal work. Everything is very internal and they seek little help from major corporations (even though mega corps could benefit from their help).

    I think us “real musicians” feel we deserve to get paid because we play “real” instruments and sing with our real voices. While there’s certainly a point there, it doesn’t guarantee pay much like spinning a cd or an mp3 does. The major ignored issue is the lack of business knowledge. We aren’t getting paid because people don’t take us seriously. Mainly because WE don’t take that part seriously enough! If every musician walked into each club with a contract, eventually they clubs would see that we actually respect ourselves. Sure, we might make some enemies along the way but so what? Better to let everyone know that you actually mean business than allowing yourself to be pushed around. Many DJs, at least the successful ones, are doing just that and it shows with their careers.

    I’m not entirely sure which direction everything needs to go in and the electronic music thing seems like a utopian idea but it seems to work well for them. While we aren’t electronic musicians, we can take what works from them and apply it to our careers.

    • You make some good points, Tim. And the kind of self-sufficiency that the electronic artists have is certainly something to shoot for. The key thing is that no matter what kind of musician you are, you are a service provider. Even if the music comes in the form of CD’s, mp3’s or piped-in Muzak, it’s still a service, and money is always changing hands somewhere.

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