Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

This Band Needs a Manager

From our Swindon Correspondent:

From The Guardian

A group of professional musicians have said they were dropped by Strictly Come Dancing after they asked to be paid for performing on the programme’s spinoff show.

Amaraterra, a band who perform traditional southern Italian music, said they were excited when they were approached by producers who were enthusiastic about them appearing on the BBC companion programme It Takes Two.

However, when they asked for a fee to compensate them for a day’s work the BBC producers told them, in emails seen by the Guardian: “We just don’t have money in the budget to pay for contributors.” Instead, they were offered a free lunch and it was suggested that they would receive a “decent amount of screen time, as well as a mention of your group name”, which would help boost the band’s following on Instagram and Facebook.

And that’s entirely fair. In fact, the BBC should probably demand a few grand because of the publicity you get, and the value to you.
Band member Cassandre Balosso-Bardin said the band responded by asking the BBC to honour the relatively low rates agreed with the Musicians’ Union for session work, in addition to to the hours of practice required. They then did not hear back for several days, only to be told the show had dropped them.
Because there’s another few dozen bands they can think of, and one of them will bite your hand off.
The performer told the Guardian she was tired of musicians being expected to work for free. She said: “The days of ‘it’ll give you exposure’ (something all musicians will be all too familiar with) are over. What exposure? For what? We won’t get any gigs these days and we won’t sell any albums as we have none to sell, not being able to afford its production … They want us and our expertise, but they won’t pay for it.”
That’s understandable with many parasites. But this is the BBC, on a show with 2 million viewers. And one of the hardest things in the music business is getting noticed amongst the 10s of thousands of other bands out there.
Sure, maybe you can’t make gigs now, but almost anyone appears on the BBC, they get people googling them. If you ever look up a company that’s on Dragon’s Den, their website has crashed, because people are interested.

And yeah, there aren’t any gigs right now, but people will Google you. You get people to subscribe/Follow on all your Facebooks and Twatters. You do little things to keep them following you until next summer when you make out like bandits by booking gigs.

(and you don’t need a load of money to produce music)

Balosso-Bardin said the inability to perform live during the pandemic had left some of her band members struggling to survive: “Like all other musicians, our gigs have been cancelled since March. We haven’t raised the funds to be able to produce our latest album. We created a few YouTube videos but haven’t monetised any of our work as it feels unfair to our followers, most of whom are just as hard-up as we are.

“We do not know when our next gig will be, and many of the band members are either furloughed or on universal credit. And the current Covid allowance for the self-employed (20% of your income), when 56% of musicians make less than £20,000 a year, is a pittance.”

I’m sure there’s an old expression about farmers putting up fences in winter that applies here. If you have work, you go and do it. If you don’t, work on longer-term stuff. Most of it might not work out, but so what? You’re not making any money anyway. You’re not losing money by going and playing a free gig that might get you a few thousand extra followers that you can eventually turn into gigs.
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Spike
Spike
4 months ago

The public-policy implication is that not only the employer but the employee is helped by the freedom to work for less than seems proper to a legislator. Baseball clubs routinely fill their lowest rungs with no-pay university students. Club managers participate in their evaluation and students get real-world work experience, the vital ability to tell a real employer they worked for an actual organization, and actual references. Obama thought this was exploitative and Biden is sure to “think” so too. The result will be to remove an option from the supposed beneficiary.

ANNRQ
ANNRQ
4 months ago

Looks like they’re this lot on Youtube: “Amaraterra London”. they’ve put up six videos in six months and have 152 subscribers – could try harder! YouTube is stuffed full of amateur and professional musicians posting stuff on line. Given that we’ve all been locked down and live music is in short supply, It’s been a golden opportunity to get stuff in front of people looking for entertainment. Everything from classical through heavy rock, smooth jazz, retro funk to Bardcore (modern songs in a mediaeval style) shows up in my offerings. Even after they’ve been in the Gruandiod, their most recent… Read more »

TD
TD
4 months ago

Someone is upset at the terms offered. Doesn’t that mean the government should get involved and set this to right?

Spike
Spike
4 months ago
Reply to  TD

That was the only point of guaranteed-issue, price-controlled health insurance (Obama-care).

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
4 months ago

I’ve really no idea how much bands were paid to appear on TotP, but I doubt it was megabucks, and if it turned out that they actually paid the BBC, I’d not be hugely surprised. Payment for a short ‘talking head’ interview slot on BBC1 is likely to be a couple of hundred, tops.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
4 months ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

It was a tiny amount of money, and irrelevant. Getting on TOTP added thousands of record sales, opened you up bigly to the UK market.

JC cOLLINS
JC cOLLINS
4 months ago

Great. As a musician my own self, I won’t play ‘for exposure’. Folks DIE of exposure. That being said, any person who expects to be paid for a service needs to have a firm understanding of scope of work and scale of pay. I suspect that the Beeb was doing this to avoid using any of its actually contracted employees. Chickenshits.

jgh
jgh
4 months ago

‘Clients From Hell’ is full of the old “you’ll get exposure and can help yourself to the coffee. What? *PAY* you? Surely you’re doing this for fun”.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
4 months ago
Reply to  jgh

There’s nothing wrong with working for exposure, it’s how good the exposure is. Generally, the people offering money for exposure don’t have any. There’s lots of exposure that works because people keep doing it. When a donut shop opens in town and starts handing out donuts for a few days, it’s because someone figured this works. When someone gives you a 30 day free trial of their software, it’s because that works. Putting your music in front of 2 million viewers who might like what you do? Look up how much you’d spend on Google or Facebook ads to reach… Read more »

DiscoveredJoys
DiscoveredJoys
4 months ago

Perhaps it’s a market signal that (however regrettable) there are too many musicians?

Spike
Spike
4 months ago
Reply to  DiscoveredJoys

Artists, athletes, politicians, there are too many of everything; there is no field without a huge number of people trying to do it and hoping to do it well enough to earn the reward they see at the profession’s pinnacle. The price and profit system puts us in touch with the best of them without making us slog through the poseurs.

DiscoveredJoys
DiscoveredJoys
4 months ago
Reply to  Spike

Peter Turchin (Cliodynamics web site and books) reckons that there are historical cycles where ‘Elite Overproduction’ occurs i.e. too many wannabe elites chasing too few Elite positions in society. And then, as the non-elites get squeezed out of reasonably paid employment, it all goes pear-shaped.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
4 months ago
Reply to  DiscoveredJoys

Indeed. When people look at exploitation in work, it’s nearly all about massively imbalanced markets. A movie producer can pick from 1000+ beautiful women, so why not pick the one that gives you a blowjob?

M M
M M
4 months ago
Reply to  DiscoveredJoys

If other bands start demanding money, I guess that would be a signal that “exposure” on the show is not actually helping.

NOLU
NOLU
4 months ago

Money makes the world go around, Tim Worstall, as you, more than most would be aware. It’s your world. Would you offer your financial services or ‘political advice’ for free? So, why should hard-working, talented musicians not be entitled to financial recompense when they are contracted to perform, either by the BBC, WOMAD, Brixton Jamm or anyone else? The BBC knows full well that exposure on their programmes is helpful, which is precisely why they feel they can do what they have done here. You say there are dozens of other bands they could have asked, simply exposing your appalling… Read more »

WOM
WOM
4 months ago
Reply to  NOLU

@nolu Tim WorstOfAll is merely looking for (paid) exposure, he’s not worth your time and effort

NOLU
NOLU
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim Worstall

Your arrogance is tedious. You know nothing about the musical industry. Suggesting that you have played on a couple of crap albums is supposed to make you an expert? Try it as a career. I deposited some money in the bank a month ago. Does that make me a financial expert? Two years in the Italian south, yet you know nothing about southern Italian music here and probably have no interest in it. You also weren’t asked to perform on the BBC. I’ve been interviewed myself many times, for nothing there. It isn’t the same thing. You are ignorant of… Read more »

PelizzaDaVolpedo
PelizzaDaVolpedo
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim Worstall

good for you that you like to work for free, how much food do you manage to scrap with “exposure”? you see the problem with this and many other industries is that you always find someone that would pay to get to work – desperation is understandable but not quite a good thing. And since you lived in Southern Italy, perhaps you might know that one of the things that kept the farmers and daily workers from earning a living wage was that there were always some that would work for “exposure” and just enough to survive. But that is… Read more »

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
4 months ago

“good for you that you like to work for free, how much food do you manage to scrap with “exposure”?”

How much food do you manage to scrap with no-one knowing about you?

Industries like movies, video games and music are saturated with people. I’ve worked with video game developers and it’s a hard industry and lot of work is put into various sorts of marketing. Why should someone play your game, rather than one of the thousands of games on Steam? How does someone who might like your product find you?

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
4 months ago
Reply to  NOLU

It’s not Timmy that wrote this, so I’ll reply to this in full. “Would you offer your financial services or political advice for free”. I do software work and I have done that for free. I spent two weeks working on something for a company just to get something on my CV. Look at companies like Red Hat or Umbraco who give away their whole product for free, in the hope of getting support contracts. “So, why should hard-working, talented musicians not be entitled to financial recompense when they are contracted to perform, either by the BBC, WOMAD, Brixton Jamm… Read more »

Spike
Spike
4 months ago
Reply to  NOLU

Money is my “world” too – or at least the need to measure value is. Tim has reminded us that all jobs I can do “pay” the same, but some pay in non-monetary terms (such as flexible hours or pleasant socialization). Tim and Co. write columns here probably for more than the hope of donations. I write replies I hope are useful for no hope of money at all.

Your posture is that the band is inherently worthy and this columnist is inherently misguided so the band should get the fee it desires. In what world?

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