Editor's Note: A few weeks back, we published an article titled "6 Reasons Most Musicians Don't Deserve to Get Paid." The article generated a fair bit of controversy, and to keep the conversation going, we asked local musician Henri Benard to pen a response. Here it is:
Let me start by saying I am a working, professional musician and I very much enjoy my job and career path. I believe anyone with vision working for their passion for life is a productive member for their society. Everyone has their role in keeping that universal harmony in the ways we know how to best for the benefit of the "greater good." For the true musician, music isn't just a hobby; it's a way of life and an unhealthy obsession. It's like a torturous gift of the arts (if the unidentified self-martyr within will even allow me to really say that out loud comfortably), and I think that anyone who doesn't think that art provides vital services to the universe, especially music, is just wrong in so many ways. I think that some people get the common misconception that all musicians are just lazy partiers who don't really want to work. Maybe there are some in there like that, but quite simply, most are not. With that in mind, let me tell you why I feel that musicians deserve to get paid.
Art Does Make and Always Has Made Money Artists deserve compensation for their time. Imagine a world without art? There has been art from the beginning. Different roles in different societies, but artists with "true vision" have always been vital. I recently read an article that talked about how "most musicians don't deserve to get paid" and that "art has never made money." Guess what? Times have changed. We now live in a world where people get paid for their work, and that's the bottom line.
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Newsflash: Everyone's artwork is important. Even if you think it sucks and you wouldn't pay for it, I'll bet there is someone out there who feels differently and will gladly give back what they feel they got in return, an experience in life. And no offense to any great "starving artist" of the past, but I don't want to be forced to live like that to create art just so everyone who enjoys my art can enjoy their lives while I cannot enjoy mine. Why would anyone really want to do that?
Artists Are Not Losers Artists are sources of inspiration. Art is life, music is life! I don't know how anyone could possibly see it differently. Artists put themselves out there all the time. Something most people would never think of even attempting. It takes confidence, balls, and practice to try and perform. It takes a leader to step up and try and create something new, not some loser! Does that mean everyone deserves to get paid for every show they do just because they showed up? No, not at all. You have to work for it, just like any other hustler hustling their independent business. However, there are plenty of players and bands worthy to be called professional and deserve to be compensated for their life's work that inspires others to new heights of emotional experiences. That is worth more than any dollar can give you, those real moments that you felt something that changed you. Imagine if you didn't have access to your music when you needed it because all the loser artists decided to stop making music, stop being "losers" and started to become corporate world winners?
A Professional is a Professional Just because I am not working for a corporation and I don't have a fancy office job doesn't mean I am not a professional. Being a professional musician by trade requires a ton of commitment, i.e. your whole life. It's a dream many of us have straight out of the womb. How many people dream of being CEO of Target when they were 5? No one that I knew ever said that on the kindergarten playground.
Being a musician is a ton of work. It's a very competitive field, as there are many dedicated players sharing the same dream. And if you are really are a professional musician, you not only have to be great at your instrument(s), you have to be able to do a ton of other real, professional jobs to get yourself out there and keep work coming. You have to market yourself, brand yourself, practice, make no mistakes, travel, book, manage, schedule, be creative, rehearse, be great with small talk, have sharp business senses, social media skills, website building and maintenance, graphic design, video, photography -- the list goes on. And in order to be a true pro and really stand out, you have to do all those extremely well, on top of being a stand out player. These skill sets are similar to any other job people get paid very well to do in big corporations. So why should it be viewed any differently for the working artist? Most of the professional musicians I know are sharp, talented, confident, and hard-working people who love their craft. And guess what, they deserve to get paid because you, your lover, your friends, and your family all had a great time at the show, didn't you? Or you had a blast singing your favorite songs with your favorite people while on a road trip to Vegas right? Dick Clark nailed it when he said, "Music is the soundtrack of our lives." And that soundtrack is where great musicians create some of that balance that can truly help the world take its mind off the problems for a few minutes and just enjoy being alive while we still can.
Henri Benard plays drums for decker. and Dry River River Yacht Club.
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