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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

In defense of capitalism (sort of)

There's been a flurry of outings on social media recently.

Not the revelations of any individuals sexuality that had happily lurked in a closet, but instead outings of poor business practices.

One example was a Glasgow studio taking a band to task for not honouring a booking, another was a venue highlighting an outstanding hire fee.

There has been a mixed reaction to these public missives.
Some consider it one hundred percent the right thing to do while others lean towards it being a step too far.

It would be fair to say that those who have went down the route of outing certain bands and individuals have not done this lightly though.
The outings are not a reaction to being financially stiffed once, but instead the last resort after being ripped off multiple times.
What some of the detractors to the public shaming exercises appear to fail grasp is that both the studio and the venue are businesses, and to maintain a viable business the cash has to flow.

Now of course business for many is a bad word.
It conjures up capitalist excesses and a lack of morals, but in these cases we are not talking about CEO's of a multinational slapping down a pensioner for not paying their gas bill in the middle of winter, but instead small local businesses that provide a service to the communities that they exist in.
What we are seeing is people who in all probability scrape by from one month to the next, and their survival is dependent on people paying what they owe.
They have wives, husbands, kids, rent and mortgage payments to make just like so many others.

So lets make this all very personal.

You work behind the bar in a music venue and one day your boss asks you into the office and tells you that in a few days the shutters are coming down for good.
It's a bit of a blow to you.
Thoughts swirl through your head about how you are going to pay the next bill and even manage to keep a roof over your head.
You ask why?
The boss then shows you a list of non payments of hire fees.
A hundred here, a few hundred there and the bottom line is eye watering.
You are then shown what the outgoings for the business are and what has been coming in.
With the hire fees it was possible to keep afloat, but without them the bottom line is all printed in red.

Does a public outing of those who haven't paid what they owe seem a tad harsh now?

Filed under 'strange but true' but it's quite common for musicians to out promoters and venues whose ethics are questionable - while stating strongly that it is for the greater good - and not so common for studios and venues to out musicians and low tier promoters for shaky attitudes.
In the interests of fairness I don't see much of a difference between an artist ripping off a studio - or a band bailing out on paying a booking fee to a venue - and those who we widely hear about that are happy to exploit the musicians.

So maybe all the cards should be laid on the table and when the dust settles we shall see who is left standing.

Or maybe not.

In all seriousness I doubt that the two examples I have provided of people being outed were the opening salvo in a war of words, but instead a warning shot across the bows.
A warning shot that should serve to draw some attention to an issue that can have very serious consequences.

I do have a solution to the problem though, and it's a very simple one.
If you hire studio time or a venue for an event then pay what was agreed on.

The world isn't a perfect place and there are issues needing to be addressed wherever we look.
Of course we have dodgy venues and promoters.
Of course we have sleekit chancers who are always open to exploiting anyone to make a quick buck.
Few are unaware of the minefields needing to be navigated when you set out to work in what is called the music business, but equally let us all accept that sometimes some people are part of the problem rather than the solution.

In Glasgow alone there are more venues and studios than I would care to list right here.
If you are a musician or a promoter do yourself a favour and check them out personally.
Speak to the people who run them and work for them.
Then gravitate towards who we would call the good guys and then don't bloody shaft them because if you do then all you will be left with are the bottom feeders.


  1. Same goes for promoters not paying acts, and getting outed on Facebook, as has just happened in the comedy world

    The man in question accusing his accusers of being "unfair" in publicly exposing him ... me, in particular!

    Sometimes it's the last resort, and as you say, we've all got bills to pay ... it ain't supporting greedy capitalism, it's the harsh reality of living under greedy capitalism

    Well said, sir, as ever!!

  2. Exactly.
    It doesn't matter who it is.
    If a service is being provided and a fee is required then just pay it.
    If the fee is not to a persons liking then look for the service to be provided elsewhere where it is.
    For a while there's been a bit of an imbalance and some seem to want to group people as in all promoters are bad, all venues are bad while the reality is that some people will rip you off while others wont.