Sunday, March 13, 2011

A student's lot is not a happy one

Melbourne, like any other city, regularly hosts this debate from a number of students at or near the end of their jazz course at one or other of our esteemed Universities (Melbourne has four Universities, but only one Juvenile Remand Centre) This debate generally has six themes, all about how to make enough money as a serious jazz musician.

1 There aren't enough live venues: . True: Melbourne has four or five "serious" jazz venues, and any number of restaurants, bars and coffee shops which host jazz. They almost all give up live music or go broke on a regular basis (see Proposition 2 below)

2 We don't get paid diddley squat: True: that would be because live music costs more money than it makes, and the venue operators think they should take a cut, because they take the risk (see 1 above)

3 If we all refuse to take low paying gigs they will have to pay us properly...Not true: there will be no gigs (see 1 and 2 above)

4 Low-life venue managers are avaricious leeches exploiting our musical talents: Possibly true: but having that attitude may not persuade them to hire you...

5 We should all support each others gigs: This could work, except the average musician expects a door pass as a tribute to his or her talent, and even if they do spend money, can make a bottle of water last all night, or even for a full saxaphone solo on Footprints..

6 You can always take up teaching: your teacher got you into this position in the first place.

We have this debate every year because that is the exact fequency with which the Universities turn out another batch of highly talented musicians, almost all of whom are destined to a life of washing dishes, penury and/or teaching, and I am not sure which is worse. Teaching probably, as it perpetuates the system. At least washing dishes gets the dishes clean,and I am not really sure what penury entails. Not a lot, I suspect.

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