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on playing for free, paying to play etc

Stephanie Rearick
Fri, Jun 28, 2013

on playing for free, paying to play etc

While musicians in Madison were playing for free at Make Music Madison and elsewhere, or not playing for free and maybe or maybe not complaining about musicians being asked to play for free - I was paying to play in Europe.

I didn't realize until I was at the airport that my equipment case was 20lbs. over the weight limit and thus cost $200 to transport. And then transportation to the venues I played, another $30 to take it on the train back to London from the Netherlands, and the physical cost of lugging the monstrosity around. And the 20 lbs. of equipment I shed while over there to avoid having to pay another $200 to get it back home.

I couldn't have spent my money and bodily integrity better! I got to play a whole set during an open stage at Sunrise Festival, on the last night of the festival when people seemed eager to come into the beautiful coffeehouse tent that I was playing in, ready for something on the prettier more tranquil side to wind it down with.

I busked on the Jubilee Street bridge on a sunny day in London, overlooking the sparkly Thames. (I only made 8 euros in the 1 1/2 hours I was there)

I looked out at the ocean while I played a beach party in the Hague, during the Int'l Complementary Currencies conference there.

And I enjoyed playing 2 London bar shows for free - Songs of Love and Hate #1 at Bar Solo in Camden and with 2 local bands at the Boogaloo. I'd hoped to get paid at the Boogaloo but of course forgot to ask about it when setting up the show, and during the show didn't think to check on it, or pass a hat. And like many musicians I get uncomfortable asking for money or for people to buy CDs or t-shirts.

So instead of paying my way with music I ended up hemorrhaging money. and getting all bruised up from hauling my huge flight case with my equipment in it.

But I had the most glorious experiences.

Maybe the fact that I have a hard time making money at this means I'm not good enough and should stop. I think that's bullshit. I think you do too. I think most of us think it's a little tragic when we or people we love hang up their artistic pursuits in favor of 'real' jobs, often real crappy jobs.

I don't think the answer to this problem lies in keeping our art to ourselves unless people choose to pay us to provide it. That false enforced scarcity model of arts economy is dead. And not worth reviving.

We're in between creative economies without having found our new path yet. Why don't we make it one that encourages people to share their creativity and explore new avenues for expressing it, with the ability to travel and cross-pollinate with other cultures and creative people? And with people who would like to be audience members if only they knew what you were doing, and supporters if only they had ways to support you, and so on and so on.

The other part of the Europe tour I was on, and the US tour I'm about to embark on, is in connecting with people who are working to build a sharing economy. A creative economy built on and building abundance.

I hemorrhage money there too! A lot of places I go people take up donations or fundraise to pay me a stipend, but a lot of places I go people have other things they need to put their money toward.

But people feed me, house me in beautiful places with amazing interesting people, show me a good time in their towns, give me a chance to learn about what they're doing, and promise to pay forward whatever help I can provide that doesn't happen to be paid for in dollars.

That's all wonderful!

Two ways I'm working to make it more sustainable, so I don't have to continue to rely on one very generous donor - asking for all kinds of technical assistance that you can provide for time credits or as a gift through http://mutualaidnetwork.org - that's just a skeleton for now and will become a way to find people who can assist with all kinds of projects.

And asking you to support this tour financially if you're able. You get a download of my new record Dreamworld as a bonus if you give! http://www.razoo.com/story/Sharing-Economy-Tour

So that's that. Plus a couple pictures of cool places I got to be!

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