I agreed to pay a gig in a cafe for a meal, though ideally I wouldn’t do this but I know the cafe well and thought they needed someone to help out. The idea of course is to bring revenue into the cafe… of which I will see none.
The gig was somewhat ruined by the organiser of all people talking loudly throughout, which as an acoustic folk blues player I find very distracting (some level of talking I expected but this was louder than my guitar!). At the end I claimed my “free” sandwich, and the cafe owner commented, “It tastes even better because it’s free!”. I felt really offended and patronised, and pointed out that actually I had worked for at at which he looked baffled!!! I then said, I’ve been playing the guitar for an hour… and he retorted, “yes but you were enjoying yourself!”. I couldn’t believe what he said and I just felt no retort would sum up how patronising and undervaluing that was of my work. Actually I hadn’t been enjoying myself very much, playing gigs is hard work, and even if I had been, as your website points out, it’s not an excuse not to pay someone!! I have to say, I’ve never come across this attitude face to face before, he expected me to be grateful for a sandwich rather than be grateful to me for the hour of work I had put in for him! To be honest I wasn’t even hungry and could hardly eat the bloody sandwich as I was feeling upset.
Another time I was told I could play at an acoustic evening doing a half hour set and there would be a bucket passed around for musicians (a common thing here), and there would be a sound check pre playing. When I went, the organiser wasn’t even present, so no sound check was performed and no bucket was passed around. This was another time I was disgusted. A lot of the time musicians are expected to play for nothing in venues where no-one is listening! Such as this place. I find it really odd, why not just put the juke box on?
Musicians aren’t robots! We are people who spend years learning a complex skill and share our skills and creativity with the world. I also find it odd that people refer to a “free” drink for performers when actually we should be being paid a lot more than the price of a drink. If I had played at a horrible venue and been paid, at least it would be worth it for the money even if my spirit was crushed!
A hobby is something you do “for fun”. Writing songs and learning an instrument to a high standard is far more than a hobby, and the very word makes me sick to my stomach.