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Should musicians boycott Borders?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by Monte, May 22, 2002.


  1. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Hi all,

    I don't know if this is a trend around the country in all Borders, but I just got a letter this month that Borders will no longer pay musicians, but "welcomes your band to play as a means of exposure."

    Now I don't play there that often (they don't pay as much for , but this is taking advantage of musicians. It was barely tolerable when they paid musicians in gift certificates, but this is inexcusable.

    If Borders wants to stop having live music, fine; that's a legit business decision. However, I don't like them having the benefits of live music for free. I was once young and stupid and fell for that "good exposure" line when I was trying to get my band started. Trust me, if they get you for free you will never get paid.

    What do youse guys think? Am I just charging windmills here?

    Monte
     
  2. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    Venues will continue to take advantage of musicians long after we're dead.

    And musicians will let themselves be taken advantage of long after we're dead, too.

    But then again, those venues often get exactly what they pay for.

    But then again, most of the audience members aren't savvy enough to tell the difference.

    Hope I'm not being too pessimistic, but I can't help but notice that most gigs I played over the last year didn't pay much more that I was making in 1975. At least it's only four sets, as opposed to five. ;)
     
  3. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Oh, I don't mind pessimism, but I can certainly buy my cd's and books from another source. I spend ~$250 there just in December on gift certificates. Perhaps if others are aware of the problem and do the same, it will help, or at the very least not support this asinine policy. Once again, I don't mind them not having live music, which is expensive, but trying to get it for free is wrong.

    Monte
     
  4. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I do Borders occasionally, and use the certificates to buy luthiery/woodworking books or stuff for the kids. I do lots of other gigs that pay great, so I don't have any real expectations that Borders is a money gig. It's close to home, it takes an hour, and it's playing music! If I have another gig on the same night, I just pass Borders along to the next guy as usual. No harm, no foul. BTW, I recently played there with a newbie jazz group whose CD I produced, and their sales are doing quite nicely due to the support and constant play it's getting at Borders. I don't need the exposure, but it hasn't hurt these guys at all.
     
  5. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Marcus,

    I don't mind the gift certificate pay either, but they are stopping that as well. I often did that 3 years ago if we had no gig. They want it completely free.

    Playing in support of a cd is a slightly different issue.

    Monte
     
  6. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I guess I haven't gotten my letter yet. They've been doing a Monday night jazz thing here for awhile. I seriously doubt that anyone I play with will continue to play there if they discontinue the certificate program. Cheesy!
     
  7. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    The last few times I've played Borders we got paid cash. It wasn't much, but it was cash.
     
  8. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Who knows; maybe it won't happen on a national level. We were getting gift certificates in Oklahoma when Bob was getting cash in Jersey. They started paying cash about the time they went to hiring "entertainment coordinators" to book entertainment for several stores (ours was in Dallas).You won't get the letter unless you are the one that books the band. I believe it takes effect here in June.

    Monte
     
  9. It would be interesting to know why Borders began hiring musicians to play in the first place. Certainly it wasn't complete altruism on their part--they must have been deriving some benefit from it, whether from the draw that a live gig would have or the traffic that might come if a "name" books a gig. Either way, people show up who might buy a cup of coffee and maybe a book or magazine, no?

    So what happened that changed Borders' mind about the value of the live music?

    BTW I played a coffeehouse in Madison WI a long time ago, invited a local music store operator with whom I'd done business. He told me he didn't attend non-paying gigs. When I told him I thought it might be good exposure he answered, "People die from exposure."
     
  10. robw

    robw

    May 14, 2001
    Long Beach, CA
    I may be able to shed a little light on "why" Borders is changing their policy on live music. I've played a handful of Borders gigs myself, and the last time I was in we were talking to one of the employees. He wasn't particularly happy with changes that were coming down the pike. It seems there is a new man in the corporate driver's seat and he's a business man, not a book lover. In fact the new administrative mindset is apparently very different. At the time I didn't know about their decision not to hire musicians.

    I think there may be several nationwide changes to Borders in the near future.

    To respond to the initial question, I don't think I'll play free Borders gigs. I play plenty of free gigs, but I think a business should pay it's help; it's good business ethics. So, if they are providing the venue to support their business, I think some payment should be made.

    As far as a boycott is concerned, I'll wait to see what other stupid changes come about.
     
  11. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    The same thing happened at Barnes & Noble (same owners as Borders), where I used to play solo gigs, and where I also began working about a year ago. I played a few gigs after they quit paying, but not many. I never got a straight answer as to why, but apparently the company was having to pay someone (music publishing companies I think) whenever anyone played to cover royalties in case any stink was ever brought up about playing non-original material. They required you play all original material to cover their asses. It worked out fine for me since I played originals and standards (public domain), and no one knew the difference. I love skirting the system. :-D
     
  12. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    FWIW, I just got the call to do Borders later this month. Maybe it's cuz we're everything runs late on Maui time , or the fact that I live in the "Sovreign Kingdom of Hawaii":rolleyes:
     
  13. dhosek

    dhosek

    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    Actually, no, B&N and Borders are separate chains. Equally soulless, but different companies nonetheless.

    -dh
     
  14. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    I stand corrected. :)