Boo hoo, broke bands, quit asking for charity

Stop trying to get me to fund your fucking album with a Kickstarter campaign. Same goes for getting your merch produced, your motel rooms paid for, and your bar tab settled. It makes you and your bandmates come across as a bunch of shameless and entitled pricks. You don’t see me aggressively asking people to pony up for my summer-long, cross-country cocaine and drunken slut–boning binge. So why is it okay when musicians do this?

Crowdsourcing is a great way to support brilliant new ideas and, occasionally, cause the Kony 2012 guy to jerk off in public. But we’ve reached the point where we have bands begging for money so they can get the hell out of their shithole towns in the Maritimes and summer in Vancouver (I’m looking at you, Paper Lions), or hire a publicist to get them more pixels of coverage on the blogs (take a step forward, Brasstronaut). Notions like suffering for your art and putting your money where your mouth is have been replaced by sickeningly safe-and-easy websites that allow you to turn your band into a charitable cause in five minutes. Yeah, releasing a kick-ass gatefold vinyl with holograms and gold-leaf lettering is a totally awesome idea, but it’s not exactly Live Aid.

Instead of panhandling online, here’s a novel idea: crowdsource a little business acumen and produce something people actually want to give you money for. At least the homeless guy on the corner has the decency to make a funny sign and do 50 one-armed pushups if I toss him a few shekels. What are you offering, some MP3s and a shout-out on Twitter? Christ, if your album’s any good I’ll be able to cop it for free off the Pirate Bay.

“Oh, but I’m a musician and making a living is tough.” Boo-fucking-hoo. Try writing for a living, asshole. Regardless of whether you want to get paid to play music or call musicians insufferable cunts, there are literally dozens of hacks lined up behind you who’ll gladly do it for free because they love it. (Depressingly, some of them even find a way to get paid.) If you don’t like it, stop chasing rock stardom and go push paper in an office. You’ll be forgotten quickly and someone else will take your place. Also, your tattoos will make you the “eccentric one” at whatever accounting firm hires you to be the Mick Jagger of coffee fetching and photocopying.

You want a handout? Release some halfway decent music you recorded in your apartment and give it away for free. I’ll come check you out and pay the $10 cover. (I’m speaking as a metaphorical everyman here. I don’t actually pay cover, ever.) Alternatively, get someone who’s really good at filling out forms to play an inconsequential instrument in your band, like the triangle or the bass guitar. While you’re rehearsing, put that fucker to work on grant applications from bloated arts organizations that help destitute, independent musicians like Metric and Arcade Fire pay the catering budgets on their music videos. To quote Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, “Money’s out there. You pick it up, it’s yours. You don’t, I got no sympathy for you.”

I work hard for every cent I make. (Metaphorical everyman again. I do as little work as possible.) So don’t spam me with your tales of artistic woe. What you’re asking for isn’t patronage. It’s a public guilt trip that perverts the DIY ethos and shows a tremendous lack of respect to your friends and fans. “Oh, you gotta support, man.” No, I don’t. And anyone who utters that line to you deserves a punch in the face. Besides, I’ve got enough problems of my own, like figuring out how I’m going to realize my dream of getting high, then nailing a harlot in every province and territory of this great country of ours. Every donation, no matter how small, is deeply appreciated.

Comments (429) Add New Comment
stefan_
You sound angry for no reason at all. You don't want to support bands financially? Then don't and shut up.
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Rating: -13
You
Thank you.

You'd think that between the usual four or five-peice band someone would be lucky enough to get mommy and daddy's rusted-to-shit beater car as a hand-down, and the bunch could pool enough money for gas.

Start a bandcamp page for fuck's sake and print your own merch. If people want to help you out, they'll start there.
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Reub C
Michael,

You should release some half-way decent writing. Go put all the money you have in the douche bag jar. You're also banned from all guest lists in Canada.

Sincerely
RC
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Rating: +10
BobbyK
This is the worst piece of garbage I've ever read.

The music industry has changed so drastically, that the business models of being a band have, too. Fans used to pay their favourite bands by dropping $20 at the record store, where the label/retailer/distributor would take their cuts. Now, these direct-to-fan crowdsourcing tools cut out all the blood-sucking middle men. I say amen! Kickstarter and whoever else are creating a solution where both the fan and the artist win, and everyone else can eat it.

If my favourite bands keep coming to my town, then I'm happy to give my $20 directly to them that, in most cases, get me the album + a handshake, which is a fantastic deal.
Rating: -69
Ontariariario
Coming from bands everywhere: You're simply an asshole.
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H. Lane
You're a raging douche. GFY
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ursa minor
I saw Paper Lions when they opened for Cake at the Vogue about four years ago. I bought a CD, so I guess that's why they left me alone...
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Fatty McGee
Where's the "like" button for this article? Go out and work your craft, you self-entitled little bastards!
- Signed,
Old Man from the 20th Century
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D_ILDOH
This reads as "I wish I would have been a musician because writing for a living sucks". You're the crybaby.
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Suck-It
This guy sucks. No one told you to get a pathetic writing job just as much as no one can tell these bands not to ask for charity. If it works for them kudos, but most people will see through the bullshit. But the fact that your tearing apart something you know nothing about makes you look like a very sad and useless artist... sorry "writer". Eat shit
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Sean
I agree with not having bands use crowd-sourcing... but you couldn't have filled this article with more pretentious bullshit if you tried. You make me want to disagree with you.
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VanMan
No, the bands thing is stupid. This is supposed to be for awesome ideas, like starting a Retro Videogame Arcade in Vancouver. You could crowdsource, give contributor free play nights, up to naming rights for cabinets. Want to have a John Smith presents Streetfighter 2 cabinet? You got it.

Wait a minute, that's not bad.
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sq2
Hope you didnt get paid to write this you wanker !!
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Adam Jenkins
Slip. Fall.
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JRog
Wow - The Straight.
This isn't the first time this publication has scrutinized its own city's music scene with negativity, profanity, and hate. Crowdsourcing is a wonderful way for people to support each other and has had some amazing results. Almost all the musicians I know work their "butts" off to get to where they are. If Brasstronaut or Paper Lions have friends and fans that are willing to support them, why is that a bad thing? If Michael Mann wanted to start a campaign to help him publish a book on hating on everything, he could TOTALLY do that. Unfortunately (fortunately?) no one would help him because he's a negative d^#*-head. Music is positive and contributes to a quality of life. Get with the times Michael, and stop relying on stereotypes to make a point.

I don't think Michael Mann works hard for a living at all. I think he finds the easy way out, by latching onto negativity and hate, and then writing about it to try to sound witty, or better than everyone, or something. He could have made a really interesting point (If he was ACTUALLY working hard) but he shot himself in the foot by drenching the whole thing in negativity and wayyyy too many swear words. Also, let's not forget he NEVER PAYS COVER. EVER.

Also, the "homeless guy" comment was VERY tasteful. Way to go Michael… you’re actually the worst guy, and I hope you get crossed off of a hundred guest lists.
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Ezze
I've read Kia car ads better then this slop. This guy is likely just a pissed off writer who hates his life because he works for the straight and not some reputable print and will never get a good writing job because he thinks opinion pieces like this shit actually mean something. Name dropping as an insult, no class. Go fuck yourself Michael Mann, stick to reviewing Steve Aoki shows. You deserve a punch in the face.
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stuff'n'things
I was going write something, then I realized the bands you mentioned are atrocious. Trudge on Hipster snob, Trudge on.
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West
Seriously Michael, I know you must be just exaggerating when you compare your work to a musicians "summer-long, cross-country cocaine and drunken slut–boning binge."
Some bands work really hard, like spending their vacations touring instead of drinking margarita's on a beach in Mexico and constantly practicing and writing for the next show or album.
Doing pre-sales like this could significantly improve the next band release by getting them funds to go to a better studio or whatever.
Unlike most jobs there is no minimum wage for musicians.
Think of this as more like contracting a musician to make an album. If they get enough dough they can be guaranteed sales instead of making a CD that doesn't sell.
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Rawlzy
HAhah.. nice rant. Also, please donate to my shit band.
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Musician
"..cocaine and drunken-slut boning binge." ??? How's eat a fu%#ing dick sound?? ... I think most of us here in Canada are more worried about the 14 hr drive to the next gig than we are about getting some poon tang.. We create music that other people make more money pressing play on (DJs).. And this is the thanks we get?? ... rad.. glad I pour my soul out for y'all..
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