Point of View
Pickett asks the following question...
A dozen bars and restaurants in a particular part of town, (Lets call it
Newoxfordtown), decided to stop having musicians and bands play for free
and instead have ONE band ONCE a week, and pay them $600.
The accountant at the first venue, thought it was the stupidest thing
he’d ever heard. "Where’s the return, in that?", He said. "Why pay for
something that, apparently, is so easy to acquire for free? They all
kind of sound the same anyway.. You know, couple of guitar-shaped
things, some of that stuff someone hits and a couple of in-and-out of
But the venue manager, that month, had obviously attended some kind of
spiritual group, or had something slipped in his drink because he wasn’t
going to budge from his plan.
The first Friday came and the band weren’t tight or inspiring... and no
The accountant and the chef said, "Guys! If we’re going to pay for this
we have to pay more attention to who we hire".
The chef then got the job of having a ten minute meeting with any
prospective acts, which pissed him off and, like chefs do, he got
straight to the point.
"You guys better not stop for breaks longer than 20 minutes". "You can
have TWO beers each and no more", "You better dress nice and you better
dedicate a song to my Mum when she’s in".
The band were so taken with the fact that they were getting paid enough
to ditch a day at their shitty warehouse jobs, they willingly made these
As the new approach took off in this part of town, all twelve venues,
motivated by their need to justify this $600 they were parting with,
took a bit more notice of their live music and reasons for having it.
A couple of funny things started to happen.
Several 4-piece bands, duos and solo, skinny-legged, singer-songwriter
harmonica-blowing types started getting a bit excited and practicing
They found that IF they polished their act and attitude just a little
and played their hearts out, they reliably had a couple of gigs a week
which earned them enough to free up a couple of days a week from their
The warehouse guy told his bosses they were smelly retards, stole a
bunch of IKEA lampshades, hidden in his guitar case and never went back.
The kitchen-hand set fire to the Peking Duck on purpose, threw his
hairnet in the soup and shinnied down the balcony, went home and
practiced his bass-playing ALL night.
The musos in that part of town suddenly found they had a couple of days
free to practice, jam and Write.
The level of playing and quality of the material written increased
Word began to spread that Newoxfordtown was a hotbed of music and
The eaters, drinkers, dancers and listeners started showing up on Friday
nights from miles around.
The accountants of the dozen venues couldn’t explain the sudden increase
in revenue but, being highly-trained marketing people, they quickly
assessed that it was because of the new flat-screen tvs in the pokie-rooms
and "cheap spaghetti Friday lunches".
© 2012 Tommy Pickett
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"What if" could be "If only".I think your scenario is well set out and we would all love to see such a result but unfortunately I think the logic is flawed. I don't think we would ever find such an inspired accountant and you began your article by pointing out that the musicians were already playing for free. Until we are prepared to put a worth on our work that we won't compromise on we can't begin to change the status quo.
This requires solidarity amongst the musicians which is hard to obtain.
I can see someone approaching an accountant and saying "we will do the gig for $550.00 if you give us 3 gigs a week and let us bring a friend for free".
The American musicians managed to get a good result back when they went on strike from recorded music to obtain residuals. On the whole there was no new recorded music made for 2 years or so and the live scene went through the roof as it was the only way to hear your favourite bands. It took a couple of years of solidarity (some broke the ranks but used assumed names to avoid backlashes from their peers but they got their demands met and have never looked back - something that the Australian musicians couldn't pull off as they opted for short term gain over long term financial security.
The first step must come from us. We can't wait for an inspired accountant to help raise our standards.
Posted by David Pudney on Sunday 2 September 2012
I think your point is well made, and very appropriate in today's climate - and to add to it, there is the value added because of the perception of quality due to the fee charged (i.e. it MUST be good because it's costing us $600...).
The only question it doesn't answer is why there are so many musicians at the absolute top of their field (who DO practice almost more than there is time in the day) who are without work, or who have day jobs. Perhaps this is a result of people's perception of their own value - i.e. If you don't think you're worth $600, then no one will pay you $600.
Posted by Bill Risby on Sunday 2 September 2012
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