The great artist Tish Hinojosa wrote a must-read opinion piece for her home town paper, the Austin American-Statesman, about the realities of gigging in a “no cover”/”tip jar” reality that is all too common at live music venues across the country.
In her post “Austin venues, patrons can do more to pay musicians fairly,” Tish lays bare the ugly truth that we experience every day–wage stagnation for musicians produces the “you’re lucky to have a job” mentality with many venues:
I am finding that even Austin’s best-known and talented support — aka “side” — musicians and singer-songwriters are playing for peanuts, meaning, for the same or less than we were earning in the 1980s. In the meantime, the cost of living in this city has grown tremendously — and so has the city’s pocketbook. That Austin’s reliable, hard-working, talented and diligent musicians can’t even afford to live in the city is a shame, especially considering that they are the backbone of the “Live Music Capitol Of The World.”
Too many Austin venues are taking advantage of good musicians who just need to work and are offering those artists “this or nothing deals” like: “Do you know how many of you would be happy just to say they play here?”
Tish’s post links to another Statesman story about the findings of the 2015 Austin Music Census which confirmed Tish’s concerns about the music community. The City of Austin commissioned the Austin Music Census, the only study of its kind, that surveyed 4,000 members of the Austin music community and identified the “no cover” issue as a major problem that needs to be addressed.
In her must-read post, Tish gives the human side from an artist’s perspective on the ground. Wherever you live, we believe that you’ve probably experienced the exact same take-it-or-leave-it deals that amount to “pay to play” enforced the old fashioned way–by intimidation.
Thanks to Tish for speaking out.