With the close of the financial year looming, I will soon be mired in the tedium of working out how much we have earned from our music. My feelings on completion of this task can be summed up in two questions:
“Is that all we earned?”
“Why do we even bother?”
I’m reminded of a poster I’d seen on facebook (see below) bemoaning the fact that musicians are undervalued and under-rewarded financially. Reading, I remember, nodding and agreeing wholeheartedly all the way down the list before concluding the whole thing was hopeless.
Firstly technological changes have mean that the music consumer has ample opportunities legal or otherwise to access recorded music without paying for it. I would rather it wasn’t so, but unless somebody can find a way of breaking the internet, then that is just how it is.
Secondly, in terms of expecting bands to play for free or for experience, I expect simple supply and demand is at play. If we turn down a gig, there are any number of acts willing to perform. Contrary to what the poster suggests, I expect if there was an endless supply of young men and women trying to make it as plumbers we would indeed be able get them to fix our pipes free of charge also.
I would generally take a straightforward view that not being able to earn any money from something is the free market’s way of telling you to do something else, (like maybe take up plumbing) but I think for most musicians and artists it isn’t that simple. We at Candi’s Dog have a need to make music and could no more give it up than we could stop breathing or drinking tea. We love what we do that much. So we may feel normal economic rules do not apply, but still need to put a roof over our heads and feed our families. What’s the answer?
I have no idea better than the one on the bottom of the poster of ‘getting the message across’. Please be aware that if you are watching a band, especially an unsigned band, they may not be getting paid or be getting paid very little. So if you really like a band, try and nurture them. Throw a few quid their way by buying some merchandise and tell your friends, family neighbours and even people you don’t like or normally talk to about them.
And if you see Candi’s Dog, and you like what we do, please show your appreciation by buying one of our CDs. It’s democratic; if you don’t like us; don’t pay. If you do like us, but you are broke, don’t pay, but do ‘like us on facebook’ and come and see us again.
That’s it, my best solution to the problem. It’s hopeless I know, but I’m just a musician, not a businessman. This year, however, when I come to my accounts, I’ll ditch the self-pity and those two questions I usually ask and just think: “We’re doing something I love and at least we’re getting some money for it.”