This past Tuesday night, the Open Ears Music Series hosted Conference Call (Gebhard Ullmann, Michael Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda, and George Schuller). What a great night. These four guys are amazing musicians. The music has just the right balance of cool composed material, free blowing, noise, and humor. They laughed on stage… regularly, not just once. It was beautiful. Sometimes improvisers can begin to take themselves too seriously, but Conference Call mixes plenty of fun and laughter in with their artistic integrity. It was refreshing.
I did a little financial experiment Tuesday night as well. Instead of leaving the donation receptacle on the front of the stage and making announcements and walking the jar once per set, I stood at the door and took the donations there. It wasn’t exactly a cover, because I didn’t turn anyone away, or demand a specific amount. I just said, “We are asking for $10, but whatever you can do is cool.” Most of the regular music fans didn’t even blink, and just put in their $10. A few put less. Oddly,
many some musicians were reluctant to cough up $10 for a great band that is on the road. I get that cats are broke, but the musicians have to get paid somehow. If we all get in for free, who pays the band? I related two results to taking the donations at the door. There was more money for the band, and there was less talking during the show, because every one had bought in and was committed to hearing music. The downside was that I was stuck at the door. I could hear pretty well, but it still isn’t the ideal place to listen.
Do any of you have tips/ideas/theories about how to maximize compensation for the artists in donation type situations?