Invest in local musicians

View point

06 April 2018 | Columns

Leandrea Louw

We've become a society that's constantly expecting 'freebies'. An issue personally close to my heart is that of event organisers who expect musicians to perform for free, or simply for exposure.

There is much more to hiring a musician than meets the eye.

Organisers think they are just paying for someone to perform a few songs. In actual fact, you are paying for a lot more than that: You are paying for equipment and instruments, hours of rehearsal time, rehearsal space, hours of learning the words of specific songs you requested, transportation to and from the venue, time and money spent on perfecting the craft, promotion and website costs as well as telephone and internet bills spent on organising the performance.

This doesn't even include food, housing, bills and all other living expenses.

You wouldn't expect a plumber, carpenter, hairdresser, doctor, dentist, electrician or mechanic to work for free, or just to promote their business. So what makes a musician any different?

If you can't pay a musician to perform at your event, ask yourself what can you do to promote or uplift the artist?

I recently came across something on Facebook, where a guy called the musicians guild to get a quote on a 6-piece band for a wedding.

The rep says, 'off the top of my head, about N$2000. The guy says, 'what, for music?' to which he responds and says 'call the plumbers union and ask for six plumbers to work from 18:00 till midnight on a Saturday night. Whatever they charge you, we'll work for half'.

Many have this preconception that performing music or in general the creative arts, isn't an actual career and everyone who partakes in it, is doing it for fun, or to get out of doing 'real work' or trying to live a superstar fantasy.

It's time society realises that the arts are just as important as medicine, engineering and sciences.

The American musician Henry Rollins explains perfectly what it means it be an artist: 'Being an artist is dragging your innermost feelings out, giving a piece of yourself, no matter in which art from or in which medium'.

By offering a musician 'exposure', you are literally telling him or her, your music, your voice, your soul, is not worth it.

Stop comparing local artists to that of the international market. Each and every one has his own sound and own individuality.

It's time we support our local talent instead of paying thousands of dollars for international acts. It's your thousands of dollars that's helping them craft their art; why not invest in local talent for a change?

Let's change this. Let's set a new trend. Let's uplift the arts.

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