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Posts: 95
Reply with quote  #1 
I know a guy/gal, not me, though it applies to me as well, that, whenever he/she plays with his/her band, at least at Sidewalk Cafe in NYC, he/she loses money.

 My last bandcamp only album cost me roughly $900 to make, partially because I hired someone to play on it, as well as paying the sound engineer. I also asked a few friends for favors and gave them a little cab fare.
 So, $900.
 I make $330 a week working 37 hours a week, so it's substantial, relatively.

 A few folks paid to download the album. (You know who you are. Thanks.)
 That adds up to about $50, maybe, more as time goes by.

 I made a low budget video for one song.

 Now, if I hire anyone to play with me at Sidewalk Cafe in NYC (which, if you don't know, is a tips-only gig) I will lose money.

 Is it just cool that I pay to keep this all going, because I provide another option to music fans, and I am a good singer/songwirter?
 Is the audience letting me know they don't need this option?
 Am I the sucker for not just playing in my room, or solo, or at a party where they pass the tip jar?
 Are these questions based on false premises, or does the answer vary depending on each particular case?

 This isn't just a vanity post. (Sure it is. [smile])
 Plenty of others deal with these issues.
 "I know I like making art, and that I always will make it, but how much should I spend out of pocket so that others have the opportunity to see and hear what I do."
 This must be a question others besides myself have asked.

 I won't name names, because I wasn't given permission to, but one band doesn't play Sidewalk Cafe NYC when they come to town, because they need money and they can make more money playing somewhere else.
 Sidewalk Cafe NYC serves a purpose, and I personally adore the place, but it doesn't serve all purposes for everyone.
 This band I mention, they play somewhere else and make more money.
Okay. Now, what about the person or band that cannot play anywhere else and cannot make any more money.
 Pay to play?
 Stay at home?

Posts: 103
Reply with quote  #2 
I'm guessing the band you are talking about is Schwervon! I'm fine with you revealing that if you want. I'm also up for discussing it more in depth if you feel like it. I think it might be interesting.

To respond to your post I'd say it all kind of comes back to what your goals are? I know it's not always an easy question.

Do you want to make more money from you music?

Do you want to make music for a living or are cool with it as a hobby?

Are you interested in trying to grow an audience?

Do you make music for yourself or other people?

I'm no authority here but off the top of my head I would say that if your goal is to make money or to get more fans for your work then you are making the mistake that a lot of artists I know (me included) have made. I think that problem is a serious disregard for value of PR.

Also, it doesn't have to be 100% in either way, all the time. But it helps to try to at least ask yourself questions like these and try to come of with some honest answers. Anything you decide is going to have pros and cons. I would never blame anyone for playing or not playing the Sidewalk. I love the open mic format. The sidewalk happens to be a venue sort of built entirely off of that format, which is kind of special. It feel like a home away from home for the folks that have logged many hours there performing and watching friends. But just like being around your family it can be a blessing and a curse depending on where you are in life. I recently discovered this CD baby podcast http://cdbabypodcast.com/ I think it often has some interesting discussions about what it is to be an independent musician today.

Posts: 95
Reply with quote  #3 
"Do you want to make more money from you music?

More? More than negative? I lose money doing shows and making albums, and I turn down work to be able to rehearse, even though I have no college degree and work for $11 an hour, have no medical insurance, and no retirement plan.

What I would like is to be able to dedicate enough time and energy to music that I realize my full potential and offer the highest quality in substance and form that is possible.
 I am not convinced that this can be done while having to also work 35+ hours a week.

"Do you want to make music for a living or are cool with it as a hobby?"

 If I had a trust fund, I would be cool with it as a hobby, because I would be able to do what I stated above.

"Are you interested in trying to grow an audience?"

 I am interested in offering the best songs and the best performances/recordings possible.


"Do you make music for yourself or other people?"

 Other people, as in what they need, not what they want.
Who am I to decide what other people need? I don't, but when you come from the heart it IS what other people need.

 In past lives I killed and fucked shit up. I've been rich as hell, I have tortured, I know what all that shit is like and I know how dead it all is. I also am aware of my focused drive in this life time to address that and make ammends.
 The music making I do is a service, plain  and simple, but it's not the service of some angel that came down to provide it, it's the service of a devil that admits he's a devil and is righting past wrongs so as to one day not be a devil anymore.
 (Again, you see why I am not a party favorite.)

 Sidewalk Cafe is a place where I have been able to perform my songs, uncensored (except the ones I refused to even write due to self-censorship) since 1999.
 It is also a place that has had me as a performer since 1999 without having to give me any money.
 The audience has given me some money, but the venue never has, except for drink tickets-one per show.
 Still, the place is legitimate in my eyes and the trade off is fair. You see people move on from there when it no longer makes sense to play there.
 In my case. I have no complaints, I simply refuse to say they did me a favor for 15 years. We worked together, in partnership.
 Someone might could say "Well, actually they did you a favor, because except for a few of your shows, therer was a low turnout and they could have had soemone in your spot with a better draw".
 There's truth built into that, but Sidewalk is not known in other countries because they always book the band that can bring in 40 people. Sidewalk is mainly known as a place where great artsists play in a greater number than most any other tiny bar club.
 Whether that notoriety has enabled them to profit monetarily you can argue, but I say it perhaps has, and that notoriety is one of the reasons they have a packed house for so many open mics.
 What part have I played in that notoriety?
 A substantial one (or, at least one worth noting), in my humble opinion.
 Not as much as Regina Spektor, Diane Cluck, Beck, Adam Green, Schwervon!, Toby Goodshank (as of late), Rick Shapiro, Etc., but not inconsequential either.
 In regards to pure art and honest self expression, I believe it has equaled the pure art and self expression of the folks I mentioned above, which is a lot to boast of, yet I do, out of a need to type what I believe inside of myself to be true.
 I have not done a perfect job, and I have not written perfect lyrics, but the quality has been very high and the honest/sincere drive has been there from the start.

 What's next?
 I haven't a clue.
 Maybe it's time to get hit by a truck and let the songs be around without me in the way.
 If not, there will be a change ahead while I still live, because I ... I just cannot see it going on as it has.

 Could be wrong.
 Could be working low paying jobs and making money-losing albums for another 30 years or more, but I doubt it.

 Truth comes in many forms.
 I do my best to listen with my heart, metaphorically typing.
 I hear some interesting things in the sermon below.



Posts: 103
Reply with quote  #4 
Love you B. Please don't get hit by a truck.
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