Monday, December 28, 2009

Money, That's what I want

More on how musicians earn money - or these days, don't earn money. These are taken from a long interview with Candye Kane, a blues musician, on American Blues Blog (link now dead).

You can't play in a bar:
Bar owners hire DJs because they are cheaper to manage and you only have one ego to deal with instead of five musician egos.
If you do play in a bar, there are no young people there because of America's laughable drinking age/no minors, even accompanied policy, which means the audience is greying:

Most youngsters’ first exposure to music is thru technology such as the Internet. They may never even see a live band until they are drinking age. You can see the decline of live music when there is a line around the block to get into the disco and only fifty middle aged people in the blues bar next door. We desperately need to find a way to interest our youth in live music.

The old standby, fuckin' amateurs on the fuckin' internet are cutting into my game and I actually am a [insert name of chosen trade or profession here] and they fuckin' aren't.

And the internet makes it possible for any hack musician wanna be to make a professional looking CD product and flood the market with more mediocre music. Many of these home studio musicians and songwriters have no desire or resources to get a show on the road but their CD is on the desk next to the road bands who need to do this work to survive.
As you may be able to tell, I have an allergic reaction to that one. But it is a point.

One I'd never heard of before - charging a percentage of the artist's merchandise booth.
I also see more hands out to get a piece of my income, from the guy making the t-shirts to the bars and festivals that charge an artist as much as 25% to sell their own merchandise. I recently played a club where they took 20% of my merchandise sales. That 20% would have paid for our hotel rooms that night, but instead it went to the club along with the cover charge and the bar and food sales.
Venues getting record stores to pay for a booth, which means more money for them but less for the artist:
I used to be able to play a big festival and sell tons of product. Now at many festivals, there is already a record store there with a booth and they have stocked all my titles. I will still sit there and sign CDs because I want small record stores to thrive and prosper but its one more competitor for me and one less way for me to make money on the road.
And the usual one:
The free downloads of our CD, and CD burning also affects my songwriter royalty statements and all around, the money supply is dwindling or there are more people taking a cut.
Eye-opening stuff. Really, being a musician is definitely a struggle.


Anonymous said...

Wow, sad Candye - actually I recently took my 13 year old son to an "all ages" club and my husband and I were two of the very few grey hairs at the place (you could tell since us oldsters got wristbands so we could purchase overpriced beer). So I don't know what's up with the blues but I've been at both concert venues and clubs the past year have seen many, many NYC 'youngsters'. And clubs taking a cut of merch. sales? It's called the "cost of doing business".

Peromyscus said...

Interesting comment from the other side of the stage, thanks!

Still not sure about the merch sales though. I think it's legit to take money for a booth, but they could take $100 from what they pay to the band, or whatever. I think a percentage is a bit much - it's not the club's doing if the band sells $100 of merch or $1000, so I don't see where the percentage comes in.


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