Suggestion 1: If you’re a music fan, ask yourself how often you go and see local live music shows, and how often you complain about ticket prices or try to get in for free.
I have met people who have paid $400 dollars to see the Backstreet Boys (that’s an actual figure; they were silver-level backstage passes) and who will complain about paying $15 to see four bands in one night at one venue. I abused my familiarity with bands and venue owners to get into shows for free until I made a conscious effort to stop.
This is not about guilt. This is about making a mental connection from your sadness over losing a venue to the fact that venues run on money, which comes from you. I don’t want to promote overdrinking to support venues either, but there are a number of ways to financially support venues and bands and have a good time doing it.
Suggestion 2: If you are a musician, give people a show that’s worth paying for.
Let’s be honest, Edmonton musicians: There are times when some of us really phone it in. Like getting blackout drunk before you go on stage. Or having the approach that it’s the crowd’s job to get into your performance, and all you have to do is show up.
No. That’s your job.
Or showing up late, or giving venues crap for not paying you enough behind their backs instead of making a contract, or taking up more than your allotted time so fans of other bands have to wait two hours to watch who they came to see, or talking while other bands are playing, or not knowing the business side of music and expecting the venue to provide you a full wallet when you don’t bring in anyone to their venue.
But mostly, put on an amazing show for people. Something that people see once and know they have to see again.
Suggestion 3: Pay attention and support things like the ELM Initiative.
Thom Bennett is a local musician. Including performing, playing, producing, and recording, Thom makes his living off of music. He’s put something together that could sober up Edmonton by getting the music scene off its alcohol dependency, help venues keep some of the money they make, while providing a fair wage to musicians.
If you are not familiar with the economics of music scenes, what I just told you is the equivalent of creating a perpetual motion machine.
“It’s called the ELM initiative, or Edmonton Live Music Initiative,” says Bennett. “It’s designed to help existing or new or temporary venues get grants for a small period of time early on in the start of the business, and some tax incentives to aid with the cost of paying musicians a living wage.”
By partially taking the responsibility of paying the musicians off the venue, the general operations can be covered by door and alcohol costs, making it so everyone is supported.
There are numerous aspects of the initiative to still figure out, and at this point the plan is still in ideation phase. However, public servants have taken notice — such as Councillor Scott McKeen — and, more importantly, the Edmonton Arts Council, Alberta Music Foundation, and The City have all agreed to partner with the program should it go through.
“Basically, it’s a low cost way for the city to avoid artist erosion and help small businesses,” says Bennett.
This would mean that businesses could look at music as entertainment and not a liability. Artists could play and get paid for it. And people could go and see music and know that their money is going towards a good thing.
Continued on page 4.