Amanda Palmer is a an American performer whose album has just entered the US top ten. She famously raised £1.2 million though Kickstarter, the website set up to help artists and musicians raise money for their projects through their fanbase. This is by far the most money ever raised by anyone through this method and it was trumpeted as an alternative to the record label advance as a future business model for the up and coming act.
So far, so good. However Amanda Palmer courted controversy when she asked musicians to join her Grand Theft Orchestra and play at her tour dates with the promise of “beer,merchandise and hugs” as compensation. Angry musicians flooded her website with complaints and the President of the American Federation Of Musicians (the equivelant of our Musicians Union) criticised her plans at length. Amanda Palmer dropped her idea to crowdsource musicians before the start of her tour and, one assumes, the musicians on her tour of the UK next year will receive some monies but reading about the controversy over the weekend raised the question “should musicians be paid?”
I am currently in the process of promoting and rehearsing for a sell out charity show in my hometown . Myself and the former members of a band with a local following decided to reform for a show. We knew our minor success in the local area back in the 1980s would lead to enough interest to sell a hundred or so tickets and we decided to donate all the ticket sales to the Children’s Hospital Charity. We have no regrets about this as we are all in the fortunate position of being able to earn money from a variety of sources and we can afford to give some of our time to a good cause. However it has brought home to me just how much people are asking when they ask musicians to perform for free.
We have held a total of ten rehearsals. Each rehearsal room hire costs £26 (which, by the way, is remarkably cheap a quick bit of research suggests double the costs in most towns and London rehearsal rooms can cost hundreds of pounds to hire.) Travel costs to each rehearsal will have been maybe £6 to £10 for each member.
Guitar strings and other breakable items like drum sticks will have added another £15 or so cost to each musician.
Then, of course, there is the cost of the many thousands of pounds worth of musical equipment which each individual musician has had to invest in other the years. The PA system required to perform at a gig that holds 100 to 150 people could cost £5,000 to purchase (or more) or around £250 to £400 to hire. If there are more people in attendance then the skies the limit with costs of hiring PA.
In most venues stage lighting is expected to be provided by the band. Stage lighting will cost several hundred pounds to buy or around £100 to hire a basic set up.
Getting equipment to the gig is going to involve a large vehicle. Many bands have to hire a van or buy a van.
Maybe the band need or are expected to wear special clothing? There is a cost attached to this.
PAT certificates are required for all electrical equipment. It can cost £40 or more to get PAT certificates for one piece of electrical gear.
Punlic Liability Insurance is required by many venues. This can cost hundreds of pounds per annum.
Then there are the years of practice room hire, music lessons , spending money on sheet music or MP3′s to listen to.
The cost of demos and recordings can be huge and yet it is necessary for bands to have these in order to be sought after for gigs.
A website is a necessity in this day and age and these can cost a few hundred pounds to set up.
Live Music Management believe that musicians should be paid a reasonable rate for bookings and we hope that the quality of our function bands , wedding singers and tribute acts will show that there is a real need to employ professional musicians to make your event special.