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Re: [ARSCLIST] Making a dying genre relevant

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Fine" <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Here is one (a lone voice in the woods right now, but perhaps other orchestras
and opera companies
> will see the light) group that has come to realize basic economics and
demographics. To wit - if you
> price yourself out of the market of all but the very old and the very rich,
your genre will die and
> there will be zero jobs for your union musicians and zero 6-figure paydays for
your superstars.
> This goes in line with what I've said about orchestras needing to make their
concert broadcasts
> available online for time-shifted listening, and in good enough quality so
that a person exploring
> the genre or the orchestra can get a feel of how it is to be there. Perhaps if
a person listens to a
> concert stream, after the stream is finished, a window should open with a
discounted ticket
> offering.
> Bottom line is this. In NY, if one wants to take his wife to the symphony,
even using the lowest
> subscription prices for decent seats, it's a $100+ night when you count
transportation and/or
> parking. It's easily twice that if you throw in a good dinner. Who can afford
that? Not that rock
> concerts are much cheaper these days. Live music has priced itself out of most
people's reach and,
> for many people, if they are going to pay these ridicubux, they are much more
likely to be attracted
> to the grand spectacle of a Madonna concert than a stodgy night at Avery
Fisher Hall. Opera
> definitely has the grand spectacle thing going for it, so offering an
affordable way to learn about
> it is brilliant.
Interestingly enough, Toronto quite recently enjoyed a presentation
of Wagner's "Ring Cycle"...and, this week, the corresponding set of
disks is onto the pop "charts!"

And, yes, "popular" (in the sense of favoured acts) music has also
priced itself out of everyday folks' pockets. In fact, this is also
true of the next rank down...a local blues/rock club (Toronto)
usually has cover charges of $15-$25 for their shows (including
even locally-popular groups!).

I have no idea how much of the collected money goes to the musicians
in these cases!

One of the problems is the fact that Musicians' Unions simply set
"union scale" at an impossibly high (for rooms intending to make
a profit, anyway) rate. The pay works for recording sessions...
especially those used to provide background for TV ads and the

The only time I ever earned "scale" was on a gig that the government
paid for. As I recall, it came out to around $1200 for my five-piece
band to play a one-hour set! Assuming that this c. $250/man rate is
the minimum, and would also apply to four-hour (three playing) gigs
(and that was about 15 years ago!)...then any club which paid
scale (as they are all supposed to do in theory, but...) would be
paying that same $1200 (more by now?) to have live entertainment.
And the simple fact is that most rooms don't even GROSS that
amount nightly, let alone net it!

Back when I was getting more work, the usual pay for bands was
$200-300 (sometimes up to $400) for weekend nights (there was
very little weekday-evening live music). Obviously, one
couldn't live on that...but it did make for a little extra
"spendin' cash" in one's pockets...and I suspect the clubs
did better than break even as well.

What happened here in Ontario was that smoking (of anything)
was outlawed in virtually all indoors settings...including
clubs, taverns and beer joints...and crowds disappeared

Of course, another factor is that live bands have to compete
with karaoke and dj's (both much cheaper!) as well as 60-inch
TV sets showing sports events!

Steven C. Barr

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