Dear Elanor Watt,
In response to your recent article “…some instances exposure is payment enough”. I do agree, with the sentiment. But all of your points and arguments are flawed.
You mentioned that the band was relatively unknown. Does being relatively unknown ultimately mean that the band, or perhaps a person isn’t good at their job? I’m sure your name as a journalist is relatively unknown, but I would never suspect that you don’t deserve a decent wage based solely on popularity.
You brought up that “we have all seen the movies”. Am I to believe every movie about journalism is exactly how it is too? I don’t think this point needs any further comment, as it clearly shows that fantasy reigns in this point.
A factor you have also missed is that many unknown bands have members in them that may have been in very well known bands previously. With expectations of reasonable pay for a professional performance.
As to your haircut analogy, it simply doesn’t equate. A hairdresser, training in a hairdresser to have an eventuality of a paying job as a hairdresser, is far removed from bands that train as separate musicians and are asked to play a food market. What’s more, I doubt anyone pays to learn how to cut hair in this era, and if it did occur, there would be outrage on social media.
Perhaps you misunderstand how royalties work? The performance itself draws money for the entertainment. Royalties on one particular performance are miniscule. We’re talking less than 20c! Royalties are not recompense.
The part of your original sentiment I agree with is that some instances of exposure are payment enough. An event like South by South West “SXSW” is something bands play for free every year. This event brings in musicians, producers, publicists, entrepreneurs; any countless amount of people that have the potential to invest in a band or musician. This type of exposure makes business sense.
Playing support to a rather well known band on a large stage may also be something a band (that performs original music) may want to play for free. They’re exposing their own music to hundreds, if not thousands of live music attendees. Just the type of audience that could help them expose their hard work to the world.
Playing a night noodle market for free is a bad business choice because it holds barely any of your target audience, next to no investors, and even when people do enjoy the music, that’s not why they are there. Subsequently, the musicians performing are there to entertain the masses that show up for food. This classification requires that the entertainer is paid for their work.
The depth to which you misunderstand the situation is grandiose. As a journalist I would expect more research into the situation. They don’t call it the music business for nothing. And nothing (free), doesn’t create a business.