Moody’s Musical Musings: Musician Income
Economic friction in the arts is nothing new. It goes back to the first caveman who wanted to be paid for chiseling. Yet, if people were only motivated by money, there would be no arts. Tools, yes. Arts, no. The majority of artists do not make very much money. Those who do may criticize, but don’t understand this mix. On the one hand, money is reinforcing and approving. On the other, it can be blinding, especially for creativity. Ideas involve risk in any art form. Music in Second Life® really exemplifies the best and the worst of the commerce/creativity mix. No one understands this delicate interplay between musicians and livelihood, the blend of real and virtual lives, better than Tara.—EM
Over the past several weeks, I have seen many posts on Facebook about the music community in SL. Some have absolutely enraged me, some made me laugh, and some made me think. I work in virtual music, as well as real life music, so my experience and writings come from both sides. As such, I like to talk about money. Sore spot for most, but someone needs to speak the facts, unemotionally.
With real life, a cover band with a following, and a good gimmick, can surely get gigs that pay, and pay well—especially in the summer. Will the band make tips? Not Likely. Original artists have open mics and sidewalk shows, and maybe the occasional coffee house gig. Will a solo artist make tips? Not Likely. In either case, will musicians develop an international following? Absolutely Not! They may pull from a zip code or two, at best.
With SL, a cover artist with a following can get surely get gigs that pay, and some that pay well, any time of year. Will that artist make tips? Very Likely. An original artist has open mics and some paying gigs around the grid. Will those pay well? Not Likely. Will the original unknown artist get tips? Very Likely. In either case will the musicians develop an international following? Absolutely! That being said, the comparison being made, is it enough to sustain a musician?
The answers to this question are mixed, depending on who you ask. So, choosing the positives points of virtual performing, musicians do build an international fan base. Those with a good head for business can get quite far. Using the numbers and the following from virtual worlds, they can carry over to real life through Youtube, FaceBook, Reverb Nation pages, etc. and this can also go a long way. Eventually, a partnership with Youtube can get monetized. Reverb Nation is an industry standard in ranking musicians, so a following can be developed there.
With venues in SL, some pay musicians, some don’t. All of them exist to share music with friends and family, reaching out to strangers. Venue owners open up their land (which they pay for) so anyone who wants to attend a live concert can. The venue owners support musicians as best they can. Because not all can afford to pay a musician, it’s a musicians choice to play at that venue or not. Some musician feel that everyone should pay for a show. So the venues that offer opportunity, but not compensation, are the the right venues for those seeking direct reimbursement. Unfortunately, many musicians who apply a real-world economic viewpoint to SL will bash the venues that can’t afford to pay. Rather, these less financially-based venues are trying to help get the world of live music out, trying to help musicians in the only ways they can.
As a musician you have choices to make. Do you want to play at tips only venues? If you do great! More exposure for you. If you don’t great! You can work with the venues who can afford to pay. But why complain about a venue for doing the best they can?
My bills pile up, just like everyone else’s, and the music is my escape. Do I tip musicians? Yes. Do I tip venues? Sometimes. If a venue offers a pleasant environment, limits spamming, and creates a fun event, then I show my appreciation. But if the venue owner or staff are more involved in their inside jokes with particular people, and not paying attention to the fans on a whole, then I do not tip the venue.
What are your thoughts? I want to know. I will answer all comments I receive. Shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Watch for more Moody’s Musical Musings in upcoming issues of Sim Street Journal!
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© 2014 by Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal. Articles cannot be reprinted without permission.