Dear small coffee shop that posted this ad. I won’t share it because I just want to give you a little lecture. I get that you realize you’re not really in the middle of the city on First Fridays, so maybe you think offering some live music will help folks come by. I realize that you think you really don’t have a budget for said live music but think that maybe there is a talented soul out there who would be happy to just have the opportunity to play at your establishment during a dead evening, so really you’re just helping us hungry musicians out. But just so I’m reading it correctly, you’d like me (“acoustic talent”) to come to your restaurant, put on my 4-ways, unload my PA system (which you said I must bring), park my vehicle, set up my PA system, play for two hours, tear down my system, bring vehicle around to load equipment, and drive home….for a sandwich (“a FREE meal!” according to the ad, beverage and tip jar, too!). BUT I only get to play at your spot if I submit a short bio and include an .mp3 of me performing ‘live’ or in studio and IF you decide my submission meets your criteria.
Now the lecture: You are a for-profit business, so are musicians. Of course we do this because we love it, otherwise we’d spend our time doing things that would make us more money. When you whittle down all of my years of practice and investment into gear, lessons, degrees, what have you, you’re basically saying all that is worth a sandwich. It might be a great sandwich! But that means I only get one meal until my next gig. Furthermore, you are one of MANY venues in this city offering the same compensation. Some of them are also non-profits and ya know, they’re really just trying to create community. Let’s say I help bring in two new people. They buy a meal. Am I not entitled to some of that profit? Tip jar, couldn’t I just busk outside your door for two hours instead? I realize I’m being an asshole here, but I just want to make sure that you know that no matter how many exclamation points you use, we read through the lines that say “please come play for free to help my business, but only if you’re up to our standards.” What if you’re not up to our standards?