Vancouver musicians march for money at Occupy Music
Vancouver folk musicianWyckham Porteous is hoping the rally he is organizing later this month will send a message to operators of some local venues. Calling the event “Occupy Music”, Porteous is planning to stage a march along Commercial Drive next Thursday evening (October 25), to draw attention to what he describes as an inability for many local musicians to make a living wage.
“The actual wage of a musician now is probably almost 100 percent less than it was 15 years ago,” he told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “It’s getting much, much worse—at one point there were various places you could play and make something. Now there’s very few places you can play and make anything.”
The march is scheduled to begin outside the Libra Room on Commercial Drive at 6 p.m. Porteous said the venue is “symbolic” for him of a lot of other establishments around the city, noting further marches outside local businesses will be planned.
Rico Bondi, the owner of the Libra Room, refuted the claim that the restaurant doesn’t adequately compensate performers.
“We’ve never not compensated anybody, and to say we’re not compensating enough, I think that’s ridiculous,” he said in a phone interview. Bondi explained the Libra Room gives musicians a percentage of sales, as well as food and drinks, and cover donated by audience members. He argued musicians need to market their performances in order to generate a profit.
“If you want to make money in this business, you’ve got to go out and hustle—you’ve got to put your name on Facebook, you’ve got to put up posters, you’ve got to tell your friends, and have them show up,” he said.
“They have a chance at the Libra Room to polish their skills, to create an act, and they can do it all at a very young age,” he added, noting many East Vancouver musicians have performed at the venue.
Porteous indicated he hopes the protest will help to generate awareness of the economic situation that many local performers face.
“I just feel it’s time that musicians themselves have to stand up and say this can’t go on,” he said.