I’ve had a few gig offers come in now and obviously these aren’t quite how they used to be. They are 200 seater venues limited to 40 tickets or 70 if you hold it outside in October, with free streaming or ticketed streaming which has problems or streaming with donations which is hard to budget for etc all with a take home pay way below what it used to be. But what they all are is good people doing their best to keep an industry afloat. Trying exhaustively to get events on for people who need that connection to music to lift their understandably ailing spirits and help back to performing the people whose raison d’etre has been all but obliterated. Not to mention keep venues from shutting and staff who relied on furlough something to exist on at all.
So should I do them? If we’re all brutally honest, despite all these best intentions none of this quite works well enough for anyone. Some venues have opened with limited ticketing but many tickets bought were not redeemed on the night. Those audience members are judged a little for not turning up but those who did are judged a bit for fraternising during a pandemic, the venue is judged for holding events but judged for not holding them as artists, crew and the industry need them. Artists are judged for ‘going about like everything’s normal’ or judged for not supporting themselves, each other and the industry etc etc. “where is all this judgement coming from?” you ask and well, let’s face it, from ourselves mainly. We are all questioning whether or not the thing we are doing is proactive enough, supportive enough, safe enough, advisable, sensible.. the list of worries goes on and on doesn’t it. None of it makes enough money for anyone involved so what’s the point in it all? But hang on thats an awfully pessimistic sentence and I don’t mean that as a conclusion.
There are a few examples of how this has been made to work lucratively in a few exceptional cases (so don’t @ me about those) I’m not criticising anyone and yes I know that Folk on Foot raised 50k but there is a finite appetite for streaming so it’s not an option for every single venue or festival that would manage in ‘normal’ times gone by.
My intention here is not run down any of the efforts people are making, I mean the opposite really. I mean it’s hard to know how to be a force for good at the moment, how to be sensible AND supportive. How to make the right decisions and what I want to say to you (and myself) is. You already are. You’re asking yourself the questions, you’re trying and thinking, taking an action and correcting it when it doesn’t yield the right result. Navigating a constantly changing terrain, and existing optimistically within it, as best you can. That’s enough. Thank you for caring to consider it all and try.
So I didn’t fly to Germany to record a radio show, that didn’t feel right and maybe I’ll go next month or next year, I’ll see. Maybe I will play a socially distanced gig to 40 people at some point, I’m just weighing it up. Attempting to balance the risk and benefit as best I can. Consider each decision with its own unique context is all you can do in the circumstance.
So try to be easier on yourself. I hope to see you all soon, however soon that will be, we’ll get there x