I'm Calling for a Revolution
I found out recently that our show at Beans Cafe in Houston has been cancelled. Although guests and patrons usually come out specifically to hear performers share their passion at Beans, our friend and owner of the coffee shop had to make the difficult decision to stop presenting live music. I know for a fact people really enjoyed live music there because every time I played there people came out to listen and I received a lot of great feedback from patrons there who are now supporting me. So why has this happened? Why shut live music down?
I have had a similar experience with another coffee shop halfway across the country and have heard countless other stories about venues just shutting down live music abruptly. It is happening all over, not just at Beans. The reason might surprise you.
The music industry itself is to blame. This is how it works. There are laws in place to protect the rights of songwriters so that they will be compensated every time one of their songs is played whether live or from a recording. Venues who showcase live music must pay annual dues to organizations who then pay royalties to those who own copyrights to the songs. In order to enforce this, we’ve got the live performance police who stalk venues’ Facebook pages and ‘secret shop’ their establishments to see if they are showcasing any music that has been logged in their catalogues. If they find a venue who presents live cover music and has not paid up, the venue owner will be charged hefty fines. So venues are faced with the choice of paying annual fees or not showcasing music at all to avoid the harassment. Some venues just can’t afford to pay up and opt to shut down live music all together. That’s what Beans Cafe has done and so many other venues. I totally understand the dilemma. But where do we go from here?
Wherever live music is shut down, the people in that area lose out on a place to congregate and enjoy live music. Ultimately, the community pays the price. But it doesn’t have to be this way. For starters, music and art can not be contained and should not be controlled by people who just want to monetize it for dishonest gain. I don’t have time to go into how the music industry system actually works. But I will say that record companies were created in order to capitalize off of musicians. So this whole ‘we have to compensate our artists and songwriters’ business is a farce. What they really want to do is pay themselves. The music industry is corrupt in so many awful ways. You would be sick to your stomach if you really knew how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Music serves a much larger purpose than this. It edifies the soul. We can’t let it be stolen from our communities. Rebels, I’m calling for a revolution. Let’s take back control. If you love live music, you have the power to bring it to your community. You don’t have to rely on venues to sponsor it. YOU can sponsor it in your living rooms, in your basements, backyards, in your community centers, in the empty lot next door, in your churches, in private clubs. They can not control what we do in our private spaces.
I will come! I know countless other artists who will come do music with you if you create a space for it. What would this look like? It’s simple really. All you have to do is invite your closest friends, neighbors, and family over for a get together. Invite an artist to do a couple sets and voila. You brought live music to your community! What’s more, you don’t have to pay performance fees yourself. The community can do this together by asking each guest to bring a small donation for the artist and let the artist sell their merchandise.
This is what being a conscious rebel is about. You create a lifestyle for yourself where you are not relying on a corrupt system that seeks to control and squeeze money from you. You have the power to take back control. If you are interested in hosting a community music show, please get in touch with me. I live in Houston but I love traveling! Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).