These groceries were paid for with money earned by performing live music in a pub gig. This photo represents the monetary value independent musicians add to our economy. It’s not just groceries.
Gig money pays for things like:
- Diesel or petrol to get to and from the gig
- Insurance on the vehicle and instruments
- Fees paid to backing musicians or guests artists
- Food and drink to and from depending on the distance from the musicians house.
- Advertising materials (leaflets placed in venues so future customers can find the band…)
- Website hosting
- Replacement parts for instruments
- Light and sound equipment
- and more!
Our band recently played a gig for a venue we’d never been to before and the landlord subtracted £1.00 per minute for our 15 minute break between sets. They also subtracted an additional £5 for the 5 minutes we started late, although we were in place waiting for them to dim the lights and turn off the canned music! They didn’t tell us they’d be deducting £20 from our fee until we’d done the last song, said good night and packed up all our stuff. If they’d asked us to keep going a bit longer, we would have complied. Ritchie reckoned they were trying to claw back money any way they could as it wasn’t a particularly busy night. So, it’s not all fun, games and rock & roll. Musicians have to deal with all sorts of fantastic and awful people… just like any other job. But we do this, despite people like that landlord, because we love music and connecting with audiences that love music too.
Just remember, the next time you ask musicians to travel to your venue and entertain your guest for free, you’re making it that much harder for yet one more serious band to keep going. You’re taking money out of the economy and making all of us a little bit less well off, not just financially, but musically too.
Those bags of groceries came from money earned from years of training, hours of regular rehearsals in a space that has to be paid for, investment in instruments and other equipment, insurance and travel.
We are fortunate to have the support of local BBC and independent radio stations.
Radio presenters like Dominic King, Sue Marchant and independent station owners like Paul Golder at Phoenix FM are the lifeblood support system for independent music because they help us connect to new audiences while mainstream and national stations cater to the traditional ‘star’ system and pretty much only play music from major labels.
When you hear a new band performing live on your local station, take a minute to find out where and how you can support that band when they come to play in your neighbourhood or maybe buy a copy of their new album if you like what you hear. Your purchase might buy another bag of groceries… or put a bit of petrol in the tank to keep that musician going a bit farther down the road on their musical journey.
In our case, we literally built our own recording studio, walls/windows and all… in an old office building.
It’s important to be good to your local and touring musicians who don’t have the shelter of a major label or management team. You ARE the community sheltering bands like ours. Take care of us and we will uplift, entertain and inspire all sorts of people in all sorts of places.
My band, Rhonda and The Great Unknown, is undertaking a project beginning the 24th of October 2015. It’s 50 Songs in 50 Weeks. I launched the project to celebrate my upcoming 50th birthday on October 24th 2016. Join us there, or just sign up for the newsletter on the bands website. You can find snippets and links to the songs and blog posts about the journey there too.
Hope you like what you hear and share it with everyone you know. I’m off now on my own musical journey. ‘No One To Blame But Yourself’ is the first of fifty songs the guys and I will be recording in our handmade studio. This video is a snippet of what we came up with.
If you’re a radio presenter, please consider inviting us to play live and put some of our songs in rotation. If you’re an event organiser or promoter, please add us to your books. If you love live music, come to one of our gigs if you can. If you like buying music, then please buy some of ours. To paraphrase Tesco… Every little helps. But don’t just do this for Rhonda and The Great Unknown. Make a bit of effort to find and support local music, wherever you are because independent music really truly does matter for lots and lots of reasons. In 2011, I was alone, writing a new song everyday, teaching myself to play guitar and craft songs about everyday events and people. This year, my 49th year on this planet, I am surrounded by musicians, music producers, actors, dancers, artists, writers and other creative people. I am already living the dream. With your interest and support, that dream might not be quite so heavy to bear.