So, a friend of mine posted this picture on his FB profile of this musician’s clever response to a restaurant owner looking for someone to play at his joint, without pay. Which, if you’re like me you’ve seen this response a few times.
The problem is, I saw it the day after my girlfriend and I walked out of our local bar mid-drink because the band playing was so bad. I mean, it was really bad. I compared it to a cat getting killed by bagpipes.
And, well, this Coachella thing is happening, so for all of you aspiring musicians, I’m putting this out for your benefit:
Your music is worthless. You need to deal with it.
I’m not saying this as an insult, I’m not here to stomp on your self-esteem for my own sick pleasure, I’m just another guy who likes music. Good music. But if the music does not improve on my own thoughts or conversation, I do not want it around. That makes it worthless, at least to me, but I’m sure others around me agree.
But what is this thing, “worth”? And why is a musician somehow entitled to get paid for his music just as much as a restarauteur does for his cooking? In this clever letter I see not only someone who thinks his music has some intrinsic value, but it devalues the work the restarauteur has made to build up his establishment and clientele. And considering he’s looking to find musicians like you on craigslist, his establishment is hardly famous.
Personally, I blame this perverse American dream that makes people in this country aspire to deliver entertainment more than they do basic necessities like food, shelter or clothing. But let me tell you that no matter how famous a restaurant is, the owner still has to work his ass off.
And plenty of restaurants go belly up or don’t make any money. Plenty give away samples of their food or offer it at next to nothing to build up exposure. People invest hoards of money in their businesses, more than I imagine most musicians will ever invest in their bands.
So to go after this restarauteur, who worked his ass off to build up his restaurant and give you a ready-made audience, as someone who somehow owes you money?
I mean I could say “supply and demand, bitch. Join the horde of aspiring nobodies dying for any gig they can find.” But that would be mean. Nor am I even going to jump on the “exposure” bandwagon, because I’m well aware people use it as an excuse to short-change people.
But just take my example from the top of this post, and understand that he’s taking a risk on you as well. You could just easily clear out his restaurant and make him throw away a bunch of food. You know, food those working suckers worked their ass off to bring to you.
So keep in mind, nobody even knows you well enough to know if they like your music or not. You’re going to have to make some investments to get popular enough to make a living off it. Until then, you’re no better than the rest of us, so you should probably keep your day job.