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A musician compared to John, the plumber

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Sterling Howard, founder/owner   818-888-7879


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I saw a post on a popular website, (I'm sure you can guess which one), that I thought was a joke at first, but found out it was real. A club owner was seeking bands. Here's what it said: "Our venue is looking for bands with a large following. If you can bring an audience, come out on Sunday night and show us what you got! Invite your fans to come out and support you by playing a showcase set. If you can pack em in, you will be encouraged to return. Our food, drinks, and service are great!"

Based on this, I thought the following conversation might be what I would overhear the next time this club owner called a plumber:

"Hello, is this John, the plumber? Good, I own a nightclub and I'm going to require a lot of work on some leaky bathroom pipes, plus several of my toilets are really jammed up. Here's what I want you to do, John. If you can come over Monday and do an hour or two of work, that would be great, because on Tuesday and Wednesday  I'm going to call two other plumbers and have them also do a couple hours work. Sort of think of it as an audition. Then on Friday morning I'll decide which one of you gets the job based on who did the best audition, and of course who gives me the lowest price. The chosen one will get paid, but exactly how much will depend on a couple factors. What factors, you ask? Well, the band who plays here gets paid based on the amount of people they bring, so if we're having a good night, they do ok. And by the way, John, just like the band you will be required to bring at least 10 friends. You can do that, right, John? John? Hello?....."

Sound familiar? Just a bit of November comedy, but not far from reality!  Why is it that musicians are sometimes not paid? Shouldn't our labor laws demand that musicians be paid at least a minimum wage, just like dish washers? Many musicians volunteer to perform for free, so since they are willing to play for free, no labor law is broken. Is THAT the difference? When is the last time you heard a dish washer say to a club owner "Hey, let me wash your dishes for a few nights and if you like my work, maybe you can hire me later." 

In any case, Happy Turkey Day!

Sterling Howard

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