I hear fellow musicians and artists say, “Okay lang walang bayad, basta maka-perform, basta may exposure” after performing in some big “benefit” concerts. Sounds cool. But not when you found out that the bouncers and even technical assistants got hefty “talent fees” and the musicians did not.
I’ve been to a lot of music festival and events, big and small. Paid and unpaid. And I saw a lot of homegrown talents from drummers to guitarists to bassists to keyboardists to wind instrumentalists to back-up singers to lead vocalists…to band managers and organizers.
Which makes me want to ask this question: Are talented musicians supposed to be asked to play for free or for a fee?
Musicians Make People Feel Good They Have To Be Paid
Let me share with you a conversation between a British musician named Em Peasgood and a concert organizer asking her to perform for free in the London Olympics. Filipino musicians should learn from her and how she responded to an offer. Here’s a snippet from her blog post.
“But can you believe it? It happened. This morning I received the call.
“We have two slots to fill for bands during torch relay celebrations. We’re looking for volunteers as we’re only in the position to pay expenses. Are you interested?”
“Well, I am free on those dates but I can’t provide my services free of charge”.
“I am aware that this is a tricky situation but it will be a great opportunity to showcase your music”.
“Will it?” I replied.
“Will it be a great opportunity to showcase my music?”
“Of course. It’s great publicity as well.”
“But I’m a professional musician and I have been earning my living as one for years. And I don’t need exposure because my goal isn’t fame. I’m sorry. No. I’m not sorry… Just out of interest, are you working for free you know… to showcase your organisational skills?”
“And are the technical staff working for free?” I asked.
“Technical staff will be paid”.
“Then why aren’t the musicians? You know, the only reason this situation is tricky is because of people like you!”
“I don’t understand why you’re being so antagonistic. There are other bands that have accepted our offer”.
“Well, you get what you pay for” I replied and hung up.
If you, talented Filipino musician, were offered to play in the Olympics for free, would you accept it?
Well, you will be paid Manila-London round-trip ticket plus you will be billeted in a middle-class hotel somewhere in Edgware Road (go search it. :P). But no talent fees, no allowances. Would you? Why not? Right?
But that’s too ambitious (but not impossible). Let’s go back to Manila and other Philippine cities.
While I’m not against playing for free in charity fundraisers, I just feel disrespected when I hear that event staff were paid and we as musicians were not. I mean where’s the heart there?
But most of the time, it’s the musicians themselves who are almost always the victims of their own will. I just don’t get it anymore when musicians announce it in their websites and social media pages that they can play for free.
Minimum Fees Should Be Set for All Filipino Musicians
Which makes me think about this proposition. Musicians should set minimum fees wherever and whenever they perform.
It’s our talent. It’s our craft. It’s our core gift. It’s what God has given us.
It’s time to value ourselves as musicians and artists. This is the internet age, dude. It’s just a matter of learning about how to market yourself and your music.
Will you pay more for rehearsal costs than what you will receive as talent fees? If you keep on showing the concert producers and organizers and bar owners that you accept offers to perform unpaid, they will continue to see you as cheap musicians.
It is our responsibility to put value and price tag on our product: our music.
Decide to have a minimum musician’s/band’s fee and stick to it.
If you’re offered to play for free gigs, ask if the organizers, bouncers, techies, and other staff are going to be paid. If they are, then counteroffer your minimum fee.
Save and Invest What You Earn from Gigs
As I always say, just because you were paid 5 to 6-figure fees, that doesn’t mean you have to party every now and then. Or buy whatever you think will make you look good and cool.
Music is your work. And as any other kind of profession with pay, you need to save a portion of what you earn.
Save at least 20% of your talent fees and invest it in financial instruments such as stocks, mutual funds, UITF‘s, real estate, bonds, etc.
Read my previous blog posts about money and investing to learn more about these stuff.
Make your money grow, fellow musicians.
Don’t grow old poor and penniless.
Be guided on how to not grow old poor as an artist or musician by subscribing to BurnGutierrez.Com for free.
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