It is a very common belief that it is hard to make it financially solely as a performing artist, whether you are a musician, actor, dancer or an acrobatic. Another tricky one is that the audience wouldn’t want to pay, unless you already have a huge audience of thousands. Believe me, I see this a lot – if it costs anything, it is a trigger for many people. Why should we pay for culture?
I’ve been performing a lot over the last years, mostly as an artist and a singer, but also theater and dance. I’ve always wanted to be on the stage, so much that when I got to study music into a conservatory I used every single opportunity to perform. I just enjoyed and loved it so bad. And I still do, it’s like a happy drug for me.
Now as performing artists we often encounter situations where we are either doing a concert on our own or we are asked to perform somewhere. Let’s first take the handle on gigs we are asked to do.
We do have a standard value in money for our performance.
Basically I think, you should always ask to be paid. Always. But, now here comes a wise but: some gigs just have other value than the money. It might be an amazing place to perform, gain experience, get new audience, create cultural and/or local value, sell your CD’s etc. That is why we usually negotiate the price depending on the venue. We don’t turn down ”free” gigs straight out or we don’t turn it down if it is not paid well.
We turn it down if the venue sucks.
The thing about asking to be paid for your artistic work shows that you value yourself, your work AND the audience. But you value yourself also by thinking where you want to perform or not. Of course you have to earn your price – you’ve got to have something to be eligible for it. Are you performing high quality, are you on the edge of your evolution?
You’re not the only one who gains value from paying the ticket: so does the audience.
Now I am going to explain this to you. Let’s pick an imaginary artist, who wants to do a concert, and is asking for the audience to pay for the ticket. When people make the decision to pay for your art, they are already coming in with a deeper presence. If they paid for it, it is sure that they also listen to it, from the beginning to the end - you'll be able to create an act that is a whole. And that also means that they are there because they might actually be interested.
When the performance is free, it might mean that the audience is more easily distracted. They can wonder in and out, not be so concentrated and not maybe even so interested. So basically, both the audience and the artist benefit from the ticket fee. The concert will probably be better when it is NOT free. Just think about it: HOW MUCH fun would you have if the audience listened to you with present ears?
Of course you have logic of your own, and you can understand that this can not be generalised. If there is a project that is funded in some other way, it might be wise to keep the entrance free. Or if it just simply ”is not there yet”. Free concerts are a perfect way to gain new listeners!
So it is up to you to listen to your wisdom with this subject.
I do firmly encourage you to believe in your worth as an artist. I LOVE performing and I do it even if I don’t always get paid, but I also believe that it is something worth to be paid for. You are giving of your time and energetic value, so it is a decent exchange of energy. Just think about the time you use to prepare yourself and create this amazing work! Value your art, use your wisdom and love your work.
Photography: Xavier Bambu Locquet Vandenberghe
Your creation is your sacred, unique geometry in this world.
I wanted to discuss a topic called ”Doing your own thing”. As a singer/songwriter, artist and a STUDENT of a long line this is a very, very, VERY dear and close topic to me. And I am writing this letter to anyone struggling with the same issue, whether you are in a school of arts or not.
I have always persisted on doing my own thing.
I always wanted to write my own songs, SING my own songs, PERFORM my own songs. I didn’t want to go on stage singing someone else’s hits. I wanted to make my own dance on the stage. I was more interested to focus on creating my own art instead of spending my time learning someone else’s way of doing it. In the school world it caused some conflict from time to time and it does still.
Nowadays I am not as black and white as I was as a teenager, but I did and do have a fucking point. I LOVE to listen and learn and grab influences from ALL kinds of genres, music, dance, art, what ever inspires me, but I usually implement it very fast into my own ”thing”. And if I really get inspired of tributing someone, I prefer to create my own version of it.
And today, I realized a deeper why.
Your song is your own, unique blueprint.
Music especially is a creation different structures. If you think about water crystals, snowflakes, they each have their own, beautiful sacred geometry to them. How does a cauliflower know how to be born as a cauliflower, not a carrot? So what I am saying is that when someone creates a piece (let’s talk music now), they are expressing their own unique blueprint. So that certain blueprint naturally knows how it wants to express itself and is creating crazy amazing geometry and structures. It takes different shapes and forms, but it comes from a source of information that is not visible.
We are all connected to the Source of the Universe. Even if you never had access to Spotify, you would be able to invent and create amazing things. What a lucky thing to have 24/7 access to a shit-awesome infinite library instead!
The problem is that when you intend to perform someone else’s songs, or imitate someone elses art, is that you most probably don’t have the same blueprint as the creator did. You don’t have his/hers history, their body, their persona, their unique spirit and essence. To understand the core essence of their expression you need to work quite much!
And don’t get me wrong – that is a very teaching thing to do. You can acquire a lot from studying what others did. If it excites you, study, discover, examine, be inspired, understand! But if you get lost in trying to copy other’s results, you are never connected to your own blueprint - your own true Source of Creation. Even if you did perform a cover song, you need to have a true relationship with the piece yourself. You need to identify yourself from it. But making it really as deep and powerful as it is when the actual creator does it, is not that easy. And you actually need to do it with great respect. It came from someone’s soul, dude.
And of course it is possible to do amazing covers, duh! And probably if you are called to do that, you should do that! But many people do that just because they think it’s what we should do.
I started to think about this and realized that from the very beginning of learning music in schools, we learn other peoples songs and their art. What ever the genre is, we are told to imitate what someone else already did. And that seems to be a thing that ”we just do!”. Oh wow, funny.
I really don’t resonate with that!
I want to have a voice of my own. I want to express my own unique geometry. I want to sing songs that resonate with my whole being. And that is something SO powerful. I want to learn and get to know all kinds of songs and styles but be connected to my own Source. I want to create something that is alive NOW.
And there is a funny contradiction – it seems to me that in the school world the pressure is not to do your own thing. As you may have come to realize I still do. Always when I perform my own stuff on the stage, ”real” people tell me they really like it and think it is so much more honest. I’m telling you, PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR SOMETHING THAT IS AUTHENTIC, ALIVE, UNIQUE AND GENUINE!
Are you still hiding your voice? Are you still hiding yourself? What it takes to be yourself is a decision. It starts from making the choice of being you, expressing you. When you create connected to your own Source it is naturally very alive, it is squirming with energy like fresh food from the garden. You feel it in all levels. It connects to you in ways you can't grasp in your rational mind. That's huge.
And totally worth taking the chance.
What is your relationship with your voice?
How well can you hear your voice and it’s needs?
Our voice is really not separate from us. Your voice is a part of you, it is you. Still it can feel like it is separate. Hearing your voice can bring a lot of emotions and thoughts. Maybe you are even afraid to hear your own voice. The cycle of not being satisfied with your voice and criticizing it can go on and on, never allowing to listen to what is really going on. It can feel like your voice is totally disconnected with what you really want to say.
More than judgement our voice needs nourishment.
If we think of our body, the way that it is nourished or NOT nourished affects our whole being. If you’re really hungry, you might start to feel irritated, tired, out of energy. Lack of important nutrients can show up as imbalances in body’s health. So naturally you nourish your body. Your voice is not any different – any ”cranks” or difficulties in your voice are signs of nutrients missing.
It is not a sign that your voice sucks.
Your voice will show you if it feels neglected. Not taking care of it has tangible results. Difficulties to speak up, tense voice, not knowing what you want to express, restricted pitch etc.
Can you ask your voice what is it missing?
Maybe you can give it more time, acceptance, conscious breathing, rituals, exercise, stretching, laughing, yellow color or a holiday. Remember your voice is connected to everything. Even if it might feel funny, receive what your voice wants to communicate to you. There are multiple layers to the voice – it can be connected to your emotional, physical, spiritual or mental side. It can be connected to your relationships, your diet, your work or your home.
By listening to it’s needs you strengthen the connection to your voice.
With a clearer communication pathway, you are more able to express YOU with your voice, and you both have a satisfying relationship together. You can emerge as one – you are one.