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Notes from the Road: A Secret Habit in the Music Industry

BelleStarr - bioCanadian singer and fiddler Miranda Mulholland has just completed a tour with Belle Starr, with stops across Canada and the US. She’ll be sharing her experiences in our Notes from the Road tour blog series.

Notes from the Road is Music Canada’s artist tour diary. Canadian artists on tour around the world will share their stories of fans, gigs and the “good, bad and the ugly” of touring!

There are some people in the music industry who have a secret habit. All of us musicians know about it though, we talk about it, we discuss these people in hushed tones. We really wish they would come forward and get it out in the open, to make this habit known. To be made an example of!

What is this secret habit? These industry people pay to see live music. Even though they work with musicians, even though they are friends with lots of musicians, even though we ALWAYS put them on the guest list because they are champions of our work, they pay anyway.

In this Brave New World – A world in which the digital age and its promise of “eliminating the middle man” has actually only eliminated the creative middle class, musicians are really struggling to find a sustainable business model.

What about streaming, you say? Well, streaming income is risible (785 plays = 12 cents!!) and actual sales are down because “why buy when you can stream for almost free?”

I get it. I really do – I am a consumer as well. There are benefits to having your music made readily available all over the world, I see that too.

Okay then, we are told touring is the way to make a living so we leave our families and hit the road. Expenses are high, however, guarantees are low and budgets get very tight. Every dollar matters. Every ticket matters.

So here’s the thing, music industry. We are glad to have you there at shows supporting us, we do understand that you go to a lot of concerts for work and it’s sweet when you buy us or all your colleagues drinks, but it would be even sweeter if you showed us you value our work by paying a cover. It really does make a difference.

Allow me to point out for a second that musicians pay YOU for the work YOU do. We pay you in commissions, in percentages and in flat out invoiced fees. We value your work. If YOU don’t value musicians and the work we do what kind of example does this set to the rest of the world at a time when we are all are trying to combat the notion that music should be free?

To the people who I see at every gig, who, on the list or not, hand over money to see a band, I want to thank you! We musicians know who you are, we talk about you with a lot of love and respect. We value YOU. THANK YOU!

Of all the secret habits to have in the music industry, this is a good one!

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