“As a professional musician, I’m gutted”

As a professional musician, I'm gutted

I’m a singer/song writer and perform live music for a living. I’ve recently moved to London and I’m shocked by the amount of live music venues and promoters that ask musicians like myself to play for free. Especially when they have posters like ‘Support your local talent’ outside the venue to entice people to spend money in their bar, and then charge them an entry fee to see the live music, but then don’t pay the performers! See the irony? I’m also getting asked to do more and more of these ‘showcase’ nights, e.g, a night of 5 to 6 free acts, that play for free in hope of getting something out of it, but nothing ever does, apart from the venue getting a free night out of us.

Today I sent out a bunch of emails to live music promoters and bookers, explaining that I’m a professional acoustic artist that provides live music, and asked would they be interested in booking me for an evening at a live music bar/venue. Of the 3 emails I got back, each offered me a gig, great, but wait…. Each only wanted an average of 20-30 minutes, along with other acts, for free (or for an unspecified percentage of ticket sales to guarantee a minimum fan base of 20 to 50), no travel expenses or even a free drink! Huh? So, to get paid a small percentage of ‘?’ for going to this place all evening to play for 20-30 minutes, I need to do marketing and sales for ‘their’ event?

When I questioned one promoter (knowing he expected me to play for free) what the fee was, I got the answer “Nothing, It’s free entry” ….. and?! The venue is most likely doubling it’s profits with a live music night that I’ll be contributing to! 

I really hope musicians and music lovers will stand up and support campaigns like this. Venues are not going to get a decent night of good quality music without paying for it. If you want a professional service, you get what you pay for. 

I bet the venue managers, promoters and bookers would be gutted if they went to work and didn’t get paid at the end of the month.  Well guess what…I’m gutted.

Tom Lukas