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 Notions like suffering for your art and putting your money where your mouth is have been replaced by sickeningly safe-and-easy websites that allow you to turn your band into a charitable cause in five minutes.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.