Now just to be clear, when I say 'why you should not play them', I also mean, you should not watch them, or eat or drink in the venues that promote them.
The pub landlords that promote such events will tell you, they put them on
'to give new talent an opportunity to play in front of an audience', as if they are doing the 'new talent' a favour. Well let me tell you, this is a big fat lie, they put them on for profit. Now profit is not a rude word, but everyone contributing deserves a slice of it. They are using the musicians skills and talent to line their own pockets, and not share any of it with the musician. Okay, they often give you a 'free pint'. Let me tell you about that 'free pint', it's not free, you worked for it. I wonder if the landlord pays his plumber and staff in pints. Pints do not pay your mortgage, kids shoes, or even a packet of guitar strings. They should also be declared to the VAT man by the landlords because, as an accountant informs me, they are in effect making a taxable supply to the musician in exchange for services, so the VAT on the full value of the pint should be paid over. I hope you landlords are declaring them. Equally, musicians should be declaring them to the tax man. You are accepting beer as income. I suspect the whole thing is a hot bed of petty tax evasion. I suggest musicians should try going down to Soundpad in Barnstaple and offer them a couple of flat pints of beer for a packet of Ernie Balls. I can ensure you they will laugh you out the building. Musicians are consequently 'paying to play' as the old musicians slogan used to say.
Another trick that the landlords and agents use to pull you in is, 'come
play the open mic night, and we'll see how good you are. If you are good enough I will book you'. This is another lie. They rarely give gigs this way, although they will deny this. I know many venues that book a whole year or seasons entertainment on this basis, abusing the good will of hopeful entertainers.
Entertainers need to stand together, say no to this rip off, and put an end to this awful practice, that is in all but name slavery.
People have argued 'but they're fun'. I don't think putting musicians out of work and treating them as slaves is fun. I take no pleasure in it. Where are your principles? It's a nobel art.On occasions, I've had other musicians tell me, 'I only play for fun, I work in the week, I don't need the money'. Again, I don't see how putting other musicians out of work is fun. How would you like it if I go to your boss and say to him I'll do your job for free, because I work as a musician, therefore I
don't need the money? There is a minimum wage law, some how musicians fall through the net. Has this musician got public liability insurance? I have never
met one that has. Therefore any accident, such as taking someone's eye out with
a guitar neck, or burning the pub down with your untested (PAT) electrical equipment, is not usually covered by the landlords insurance policy. You're taking a hell of a risk.
When it comes to these practices, I want venue owners to give up, and pay up!
I'm off for a walk to calm down.