Boo hoo, broke bands, quit asking for charity

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 Notions like suffering for your art and putting your money where your mouth is have been replaced by sickeningly safe-and-easy websites that allow you to turn your band into a charitable cause in five minutes.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


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      Super robertson

      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:07pm

      fuckin' rites!

      My sentiments exactly!

      Vin Diesel

      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:08pm

      He doesn't have to pay cover cause he dishes out mad blow jibbers.


      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:09pm

      good lord. this is the worst article i've read from the straight in ages.

      the subtle misogyny and complete ignorance of the contemporary music industry combine for an embarrassing read.

      tips for writer/editor:
      when you use the word *slut*;
      when use language that frames the only active, struggling musicians as party-hard male rockers;
      when you assume a $500 arts grant can fund an album. (seriously, what band out there in this day and age isn't applying for every grant that is even closely related to their project? every musician i know applies for those grants. a very very select few of them can fund even a quarter of an album from that money);
      when you write critically of an innovative approach to the increasingly difficult socio-economic environment all creative workers are faced with by shaming their strategies with a sexist stereotype (see: the partying male rocker as the only struggling musician) all while providing no critique of the larger system of precarious employment musicians face;
      when you make no mention of the barriors faced by vancouver musicians (lack of affordable legal venues, a shrinking creative class, the digitalization of media, exorbitant rent, shrinking arts funding at a provincial and federal level)
      when you brag about not paying for shows or supporting the local music community, yet write for the music column of a local paper (i'm assuming you get paid a shitty wage..but're gaining something from your "involvement" in this scene);

      you just end up sounding like an out-of-touch, entitled douche-bag


      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:12pm

      Michael is right. Cyber-panhandling is a plague and the musicians who crowd-source for funds are self-important crybabies.

      I suspect that the negative comments have been written by out-of-work "musicians" because the writing is logically incoherent and grammatically dubious. So, here's a tip "musicians" if you spent as much time practicing your songs as you do writing screeds in the comment section at the Straight, you wouldn't have to crowd-source for nickles.

      Beat it, losers.

      Musician 2

      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:12pm


      Funny, being a musician who has played over a hundred shows in the last 4 years and toured a couple thousand kilometres, I actually agree with you here. There is not one musician who reads this that cannot agree that there is a lot of drinking, drugs and sex when you're out on the road. But saying that a fan pays for this is most definately not true in my experience. The fan pays for the gas, insurance and accomodation for the artist. In my band's case, if you want to drink and do drugs until you cant feel feelings, well thats on your own dime.

      The only issue I have with this article is he doesn't even touch on the subject of how much money an artist actually has to put into the music in the first place. Not only do I end up pitching in to pay for road trips by paying for my own food and missing days of work at my regular job, the amount of money it costs to even produce an album in the first place is ridiculous. I guess I'm on the fence on this one.


      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:12pm

      Hey, Straight, is this all it takes to be a music journalist for you these days? Because I can also see free shows, spend my money on Jack Daniels and then complain endlessly about bands promoting themselves. Hire me?

      22 7Rating: +15


      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:13pm

      I don't disagree with the author although I definitely disagree with his choice of method in conveying his opinion. Michael Mann, if you're really a professional writer (or aspiring to be one), you should know better than to spit out gibberish like this that is obviously coming across as a tantrum coming from someone with the exact same entitlement complex as the musicians going online asking for money from their fans.

      I've never given money to a band on Kickstarter and I'm not sure if I ever will. Your argument of having someone apply for grants doesn't quite work in your favor (research would have helped). The simple truth is that qualifying for funding from any arts organization requires a substantial sales record (around 2,000 depending on the grant) and a band in their early stages wouldn't meet the qualifications. I know it seems as if organizations supporting the arts give away grants like Santa on Christmas but they don't. Yeah, bands like Arcade Fire and Metric do get substantial support but this argument is about developing bands, not established ones. Lets focus.

      Now if you're a journalist focusing on music you should appreciate people supporting bands through things like Kickstarter. You should also check your attitude at the door if you'd like to have a career in this business. I've worked in the music industry for the better part of a decade and, yeah, I do pay cover to some of the shows I go to. It's entirely about supporting the community you're a part of and, if you're making a living writing about it, you should damn well contribute to its survival.

      Remember the following proverb: a fool and his money are soon parted. If someone decides to pitch in some cash for a band they like to record an album who are you to condemn it? And why, if you've got so many problems of your own, are you getting so worked up about how other people spend their money?

      Michael, you need to relax a bit. You're too worked up about other peoples business which you claim to have no interest in. I can assure you that shitty bands will come and go all the time. They might get a bit more attention these days because of social media (and journalists with anger issues) but they'll soon disappear back into the depths of wherever they came from. Just like shitty journalists who don't do their research will quickly find themselves trying to support their craft through writing for lame blogs. It's a society we live in and, even with campaigns like Kickstarter in place to help people out from time to time, only the strong will survive.

      16 9Rating: +7

      Steve Newton

      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:22pm

      you tell 'em Mann-o-War!

      9 9Rating: 0

      Christopher Arruda

      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:23pm

      Maybe I can make a living playing music by writing a concept record about a shitty freelance writer who, in an attention-starved effort, whips up some sensationalized tabloid pap to generate some interest in his work.


      Apr 11, 2012 at 4:24pm

      I missed the Nerve. Welcome back.

      5 10Rating: -5