It's Great Exposure
How to work every night and go broke.
The music business isn't like other businesses. All my life I've been asked to do "freebies". Unpaid gigs. Someone calls out of the blue, says "hey I've got great gig that we want you to play. It doesn't pay anything, but it's great exposure." That's usually followed by something like, "Kenny Chesney is supposed to be there." Well, I've learned over time that rarely, if ever do things amount to a hill of beans. The person that talks you into to doing the freebie is happy because he or she got free entertainment for the night. The band and yours truly are out gas money, time, wear and tear on your car and equipment, and usually a sore throat from screaming over an insufficient P.A. Usually Kenny Chesney, or whoever doesn't show up. No reason why, they just didn't. What a surprise!
We need to see a sample your work
Well, I've got a video online and a CD I can give you. That should give you a rough idea of what our show is like. Look, I've been playing music for over 30 years. How bad can I be? Do you really need to see the "live" show to know if I'm any good or not? Then I get the following: Well, they love your Dad, to which I respond, He's not available. Then they say something like, "they're gonna' have to see you first, and only then will they consider getting you a paid gig". I hear it all the time. I also hear "you're rich, you don't need the money anyway, do ya'?" Well, I'm not rich, yes I really do need the money, and why would YOU hire someone that sucks, just to see if they're any good. Here's my CD.
It would be like me asking someone to come over and install a new septic tank. The septic tank company would tell me how much they charge, and I would say "No, this doesn't pay anything, but it will be great exposure. We just want to see a sample of your work. If I like the new septic, I'll tell my friends and one of them might actually want to pay you for one." It's pretty silly, yet time and again I'm asked to play for free. It's as if this were just a hobby and I have absolutely nothing better to do than go play a show for free.
Bucking the status quo.
I'm sadly aware that there is a glut on the market when it comes to Music City, USA. Still that's no reason to bilk hard working musicians via practice of having them play in the round for free. It's the "for free" part that bothers me most. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the "in the round" format. It turns songwriting into a spectator sport. Hey, somebody's making money off those drinks and cover charges. Why not share a percentage with the performers. They are able to get around the Union by saying it's a showcase FOR songwriters. Bull, it's a way to charge for drinks. Usually the owner says that his waiters and waitresses need to be paid, they won't do this for free. Usually I'll get a response, such as "Well, you never know who may hear you and sign you to a record deal." In a pig's eye. The labels don't NEED to go to free writers nights to find their songs. They have a pile of songs from great writers just sitting on their office desks. They have plenty to choose from already. At best, it's a long shot to think giving these bars free entertainment is going to do anything substantial for your career. Again, it's just one man's opinion. All I can say is, I haven't seen a direct correlation.
The point I'm making?
Pay em' something, or at least feed em!
Still more stuff...
- Being taken seriously.
- How my father became a star.
- So, you wanna' be a country star?
- Who do you like better, Garth or Gershwin?
- You'll eat what you're served...
- The Media: Out with the old, in with the new.
- It's great exposure.
Thoughts on some of the people I've played with or known.
- Charlie Rich
- Freddy Fender
- Smokey Robinson
- Jo-El Sonnier
- Randy Meisner
- Billy Swan
- Flaco Jiminez
- Augie Meyers
- Doug Sahm
- Jerry Lee Lewis