As Dire Straits once sang, “Money for nothin’ and chicks for free.”
Yeah. Not so much.
“It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.” Those AC/DC lyrics are more appropriate for local bands trying to book shows every weekend.
I saw a meme posted by Nick Pencis of Stanley’s Famous BBQ that did a great job outlining what you are paying for when you pay a musician to entertain your guests for the night. To sum it up, if you think you are simply forking over a few bucks for someone to perform some music, you’ve got it all wrong. There are many other factors you need to consider.
Gear. It ain’t cheap. Most musicians try their best to purchase gear that is “intermediate level” at a minimum. You really do get what you pay for in terms of sound. There’s no substitute for talent, but talent on cheap gear doesn’t sound near as great.
Time. And lots of it. These people didn’t just pick up an instrument one day and decide to play a show. There are hours upon hours that go into practicing and honing their skills. Time away from family. Time away from kiddos. All to do something they love. But please don’t confuse that with “being irresponsible” or “needing to grow up.” Musicians, like any other artists, have an absolute need to do what they do. That comes at a cost.
Money. An obvious one, but here are just a few more things the musicians you enjoy listening to have to pony up the bread in order to do what they do: A place to rehearse, lessons, transportation, gas, hotel, insurance, taxes and probably the biggest one – promotion.
Good acts work hard to promote their shows in order to build a crowd and get people to come out. Websites, T-shirts, CDs, stickers, etc. are all added expense.
Think about this – venues book entertainment so that you, the patron, can sit back and forget all the stuff your boss shoveled at you all week long. Yes, they want you to stay longer and spend more money. But it’s really a win-win situation. You get to clear your head. The venue makes money. The musicians are at work, though sometimes for barely enough to cover their gas to and from the show.
Next time you are enjoying the night’s entertainment, show a little extra love. If you are a venue, keep it in mind when you negotiate pay. If you are a patron, keep it in mind when you see that lonely tip jar or open guitar case sitting in front of these folks. And take a second to tell those guys and gals “Thanks” for doing what they do.
Mike Hill is a local DJ, percussionist for The Kid Icarus Project and owner of Route2 Advertising.