On Playing For Free

This weekend I’m out judging the Western North Carolina Region Music Performance Assessment Festival.  While I’m busy listening to high school and middle school jazz bands here’s a quick link to an interesting post written by Oxford based musician and writer Elisabeth Hobbs, called Do You Work For Free?

Hobbs’ inspiration was the suggestion that professional musicians should be willing to perform for free at the upcoming Olympic Games.  She writes:

The Evening Standard started the debate with a leader item suggesting we should be proud to showcase our talents on the world stage. Social media is alight with anger. Perhaps, as one colleague said, we could suggest that the plumbers who will keep the stadium systems operational might be pleased to showcase their own sanitation expertise to the world?

This is, of course, part of a larger problem about performing for free.  On the one hand, as musicians we realize that we need to promote our work to develop a following and this sometimes means performing for less than what we may deserve.  On the other hand, when we play for free we end up shooting ourselves in the foot as club owners and other venues begin to expect this is typical.

You can check out more of what Hobbs has to write about this topic on her blog post.

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