Artist vs. venue.

The competing perspectives of artist and buyer.

We get it. We’ve lost count of how many shows we’ve played for “exposure.” It’s not fun, but we have to pay our dues. It’s just the way of the industry.

People ask us all the time if they will be playing paid shows right out of the gate. That line of thinking is just as absurd as venues expecting artists to play for free forever. You cannot expect to get paid until what you do pays the venue as well. If you can’t draw a crowd that sells tickets which pays the venue’s lights, rent, management, and security, then you can’t expect to get paid by the venue. You playing at their establishment costs them money, and they are then excepted to pay money to put on a show for the right to pay you more money for being featured in that show, all while not making money for the venue, and in actuality, costing them money.

If you sell fewer than 300 tickets at every single show that you play, then you would be fooled to think that you are owed compensation, and you are proving an infancy in this industry and an unadulterated lack of understanding of how the music business, or business in general, works. That may anger some of you. You will make up your mind that you won’t play shows until you can get paid for playing shows. If you act emotionally before thinking reasonably, then that sounds like an obvious choice of action. But for those who understand that the only way to make money is by filling seats, and the only way to fill seats is by being a recognized name in every city that you play, and the only way to be a recognized name in every city that you play is by playing so many shows that people cannot avoid hearing your music in their city, then you know that the first step in making money for your art is doing your art for nothing but the act of fulfilling your passion.

Let’s be objective. If you’re creating art solely to make money, then you’re not an artist, you’re avaricious. Artists create art whether it makes them money or costs them money. Art is in their blood, and they have a need to create. No artist in the history of entertainment has made money from every show that they played in their early days. Every artist started somewhere, and that somewhere was playing as many free shows as they could until they finally gave someone a reason to pay them for their work. If your only purpose for playing shows is to make a quick million, then avoid music and keep looking for a different unreasonable goal. If your intention is to grow your name and your art until people can justify paying you, then begin by playing as many shows as you can. You’re the one asking people to buy your art. You’re asking something of people who have no reason to trust in what you’re selling. The burden of proof falls on you, and only you. This is your responsibility. These are your dues to pay. Pay them now and they’ll pay you ten-fold later.

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