Mudcat Café message #2602041 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119211   Message #2602041
Posted By: Will Fly
01-Apr-09 - 07:05 AM
Thread Name: Tom Bliss Article -So long and thanks
Subject: RE: Tom Bliss Article -So long and thanks
The economics - and often the drudgery - of being a solo performer make it difficult for many musicians to make a comfortable living from it. I'm aware that these same "many musicians" get into playing in public for the love of it, and being paid was initially a secondary consideration. However, unless you're a "name" (define that how you will) and can afford to pick, choose and ask a considerable price for performing, then earning a reasonable living becomes a never-ending quest for moderately paid gigs with endless travelling and endless uncertainty. That I learned a long time ago.

Here are some simple economics: if I wanted to live in the style that I live in at the moment - modest comfort - with money got purely from performing, I would have to work around 5 nights a week for 46 weeks a year at 200 each and every night. This gives time for breaks and makes allowances for times when the gigs will not come. Calculate for yourselves the possibility or otherwise of doing that. Add to this travelling time, the cost of overnight stays if you can't make it home between gigs, getting bookings, organising publicity, getting a home life, etc., etc., etc. This is not just folk performers we're talking about here - it's performance in general. For example, I have very clear memories of getting back down to Sussex at 4am after playing a support gig for Showaddywaddy in Southport for 100 - total for the band. This was nearly 20 years ago - but 100 wasn't a lot then (between 3 of us) with hours of travelling, waiting around, etc.

So what does the journeyman solo musician do to make a decent living - especially when the gigs don't come? Well, you teach, if you can; you make CDs and DVDs, trying to get the best quality for the cheapes prices, if you can; you do workshops; you combine and re-combine with other musicians to play in different outfits - duos, trios, bands - just to get the extra cash; you exploit net esources such as YouTube, MySpace and FaceBook; you get Arts Council funding...

"Whoah! What did you say? Arts Council funding?. Because you play folk music? Why should folk music get special funding? Is it superior to jazz, or rock, or rap, or country & western or on a par with classical music? It's just another form of entertainment, isn't it - what makes it so special...?"

Not my argument, necessarily, but you get the drift of the 'man in the street'. So, my message would be: if you want to get special funding, support, help, etc., for this genre of music, you have to convince people that the music itself is special, and different, and important. And you have to seriously ask yourselves - is it?

Answers in a plain, brown envelope - but not to me, please.