Somebody somewhere is paying for something

Finally, the last thing we’re going to discuss in this little series “Creating Opportunities to Participate in Live Music” which may be a little controversial to some (and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world or what kind of music it is), is that somebody somewhere pays for something. 

Music costs money. 

Somebody somewhere has to pay for something. Always.

Nothing is costless

That’s the bottom line: nothing is costless. Everything has a cost to it. And I’m not just talking about money. I’m talking about a cost of time and expertise as well. Even for audience members,  it’s costing them to attend an event. Obviously if you buy a ticket or donate, there’s an easy way to measure the monetary value of that, but it’s also costing you your time, energy and effort, the decision to actually put it in your calendar, to make sure you’ve invited people to come with you (hint!) and to actually attend. 

In addition, with the parking, the meals out before or after meeting the performers, or whatever it is that you do after the concert, it’s costing you something to be involved there, too. We’ve gotten to a point in society where we’re expecting other people to pick up the tab, and sometimes they might… it does happen. Right now through the Dunedin Music Society’s COVID Catch-up Challenge, we are specifically looking for people who can support our organization so that other people, a broader base of people can actually get involved in and experience the emotional well-being that music provides for them. The problem arises when we start to expect it. Remember, nothing is costless. One of the big dangers over the last 40 to 50 years is that folks have been looking for these kinds of “free” environments, particularly in the arts. 

I don’t understand why, but it seems to affect mostly the musical and performing arts. Maybe it’s because so many people try to do it themselves; why would you pay a hundred dollars to have a professional musician come in and perform for you, when Person B, although they may not do a comparable job in terms of quality, will do it for free because they love doing it? That second person may pay their bills some other way, so they can do music for free because it’s a hobby. So of course, a lot of people will go for that because they don’t have to pay. We’ve all heard the old adage: out of the ability to have things fast, cheap, or of good quality, you can have two of the three, but never all three…right? And these days, most of Western society goes for fast and cheap every single time. That’s created an environment where we expect music performances to be available for free. 

The venue, the performers, the instruments, the equipment, all of that is lumped together. I ask my career coaching students all the time whether they attended college on a scholarship. When they answer yes, they didn’t pay a penny, I remind them that maybe they didn’t pay themselves, but somebody invested in them to help them learn to become an expert in what they do. Somebody somewhere always pays. 

Star Trek’s Utopia has no money 

In the famous series Star Trek, the Utopia they were striving for had no money. In one of the movies, William Shatner explained to somebody how each person just works for the good of everyone else. But the thing is that they had no actual currency. It didn’t exist in their society. In our society, it does exist as a medium of exchange, and there are no indications to suggest that it’s going away anytime soon. You simply can’t live in a society where everything is free. 

While money exists, money is not evil. Everyone gets that quote from the Bible wrong. It’s not the money itself, but the love of money that can stir evil. And as long as this system of exchange exists, somebody somewhere has to pay for things. The Utopian environment portrayed in Star Trek doesn’t exist. So we’re not living in that environment. Maybe we’ll get to that point in our lifetime, and it will be ideal, I don’t know for sure. But right now, the opportunity that we have to enjoy and participate in live music is going to cost money. 

Pooling resources

What I recommend is this:  I recommend we pool our resources. Let’s work together. As we said before, “It’s up to us, Hamish!” to actually bring music to our local communities, but we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We don’t have to duplicate what everyone else is doing, which is a waste of time, energy and human effort.

We live together in this community, and whether we know each other well or not, we are neighbors. We are the community. So it’s up to us to work with the people around us. In conclusion, those are the three things I think are important to remember when we are actually looking for opportunities to create and participate in live music;  it is up to us. It works both ways. And somebody somewhere always has to pay.

If you missed any part of this series, here are all four articles:

  1. Creating opportunities for live music
  2. Who is responsible for creating opportunities to participate in live music?
  3. It works both ways
  4. Somebody somewhere is paying for something (this article)

Have you heard the recent interviews over on Classic Jabber? Worth a listen, coz I’m sure you’ll laugh, learn and want to share, too 🙂