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Why Performers Are Getting Paid Less (PS It’s partly our fault)

posted in: business, ethics, performance | 0

This article made the rounds on Facebook back in January, but I waited to repost it here on Deep Roots Dance because I figured we could use a periodic reminder of the phenomenon that is rife in the artist community.  I know it happens here locally, because I myself have turned down similar gigs and then watched other groups and troupes take those gigs.  I know what they got paid, and I believe strongly they should have turned it down and fought for better pay overall.  Why would they accept such terms?

We are shooting ourselves in the foot by allowing club owners and promoters to use us in this manner, encouraging us to undercut ourselves and our fellow artists.  It’s not enough to get $25 apiece and a half-priced dinner, all while being expected to bring in a group of friends to fill the seats. Frankly it never was, but certainly in 2012 we are worth much more than this, and we won’t get it unless we demand it!

The article is about LA musicians and club owners, but this is really every city in the nation and every performance artist and genre.  For us belly dancers, I hope we take the sentiments to heart and talk with our feet…by turning around and walking out that door until we get paid what we are worth.

by Dave Goldberg

“…Just the other day I was told by someone who owned a wine bar that they really liked our music and would love for us to play at their place. She then told me the gig paid $75 for a trio. Now $75 used to be bad money per person, let alone $75 for the whole band. It had to be a joke, right? No she was serious.But it didn’t end there. She then informed us we had to bring 25 people minimum. Didn’t even offer us extra money if we brought 25 people.

I would have laughed other than it’s not the first time I’ve gotten this proposal from club owners. But are there musicians really doing this? Yes.

They are so desperate to play, they will do anything. But lets think about this for a second and turn this around a little bit.What if I told the wine bar owner that I have a great band and we are going to play at my house. I need someone to provide and pour wine while we play. I can’t pay much, just $75 and you must bring at least 25 people who are willing to pay a $10 cover charge at the door. Now wouldn’t they look at you like you are crazy?

“Why would I do that?” they would ask? Well because it’s great exposure for you and your wine bar. The people there would see how well you pour wine and see how good your wine is. Then they would come out to your wine bar sometime.

“But I brought all the people myself, I already know them?” they would say. Well maybe you could make up some professional looking flyers, pass them out, and get people you don’t know to come on out.

“But you are only paying me $75, How can I afford to make up flyers?”

Full article here:

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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