Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Common cause with other artists...

I don't talk to much about my personal life, but a conversation at a club recently brought this up.

Since I've been living on my own -- about six months now -- I've developed a habit of going to clubs. Never did that when I was younger, even though I have always loved live music and the thousand flavors of electronic music in particular. I'm still a shy person, so I go alone. Strictly for the music.

But I've also made a habit of going to shows put on by local deejays. Young guys and ladies who are still building their reputations and a fan base. I can relate to that, as a self-publisher. I know what support from a non-family member means when you're trying to earn money as an artist.

Given that these are small-time deejays, they play in small clubs to small audiences and it makes for an intimate setting. They were quick to start recognizing me and always come over to say hello, which is very sensible from a self-promotion viewpoint. Being shy, I've never been good at that sort of thing.

That got me to thinking about the parallels between how different artists try to earn a living and what I could learn from these kids. I don't know a lot about how it works for new deejays, but I hear mutterings about unreliable bookings and slim pay. The struggle to find the balance between giving away free samples and charging money for your work sounds familiar too.

I also couldn't help recognizing the incestuousness of the scene: most of the people at the shows are either fellow deejays or girlfriends/friends of deejays.

As a follow-up to my post about visual artists, I'd like to expand that to include all fellow artists. Back in the day, I was guilty of using Napster and Limewire to collect mp3s. I limit myself to legit freebies now, and I support musicians by going to clubs, but I still don't pay much for my music.

We all know how hard it is to make a living off of art. I think we owe it to each other to be as supportive as we can.

What do you do to support the arts in your area? Do you find local musicians or bands to support? Dance troupes? Theater groups? Post something and maybe it will inspire another reader.

Be glad, as a writer, that you can get by with pen and paper if you must and don't have to drop hundreds of dollars on a mixing deck like the one in the photo. That's a smallish one, too. Yikes.

On the off chance that you're a fan of techno/house/drum & bass/etc., some links: the GLAS Mix Project crew here in DC. Also, Dancekraft. Specific DJs: Confetti, the house queen of Baltimore, Traxiom, who can put me in a dance-floor trance even when I'm alone, and DJ RND because I loves the deep house.

2 comments:

Wm. L. Hahn said...

Very insightful Louise, well done. One difference in the favor of us indie-pub folk is the non-mandatory nature of an intermediary- the publishing platforms don't charge cover to the readers! And the fee split to is a percentage, not flat-rate. That, plus the lack of "infrastructure spend" as you pointed out, make it much easier for us to do business, though you could argue the competition is much higher and more readily accessible than for live-anything, including music.
I never did clubs myself, but the family dabbles in local theater, both participating and attending and we support that consistently including attending shows written and directed by colleagues.
Onward and upward for all of us- Anne R. Allen always points out that fellow authors are friends, not competitors in any real sense, and now you've shown that extends to the other arts as well.

L. Blankenship said...

I'm very curious what sort of % "self-pubbing" dj's get from online distributors like Beatport or Band Camp. They certainly seem to suffer from the same pricing quandries -- big labels can charge whatever they want for an album, but pricing is all over the place for non-big-label musicians.

I agree, we're not competitors here and art is not a zero-sum game. We're especially not competitors across artistic platforms -- heck, I've done some good brainstorming out on the dance floor. It's called "trance" music for a reason...

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