We won't pay you but you'll get exposure! - How to respond



We won't pay you but you'll get exposure! - How to respond

Postby KeyPlayer » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:07 pm

This question was posted on Reddit today :

What do you say to people who want to "pay you" in exposure?

My favorite response so far was from kim_otcj who said :
So, can these people get you a spot on television? Can they get your song into rotation on a national radio network? Because that's what exposure is. Playing for 15-20 regulars in a bar who'd rather you went away so they could watch the game on the big TV; that's not exposure.


So what would you say if someone wanted to "pay" you with exposure?
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Whitey tells co. wanting free music to get bent - MUST R

Postby KeyPlayer » Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:18 pm

British alt/rock/tronica artist Whitey, aka NJ White, was contacted by Betty TV who wanted to use his music without paying him. Whitey's response was brilliant!!! Here's the full text of his letter ...

I am sick to death of your hollow schtick, of the inevitable line “unfortunately there’s no budget for music”, as if some fixed Law Of The Universe handed you down a sad but immutable financial verdict preventing you from budgeting to pay for music. Your company set out the budget. so you have chosen to allocate no money for music. I get begging letters like this every week - from a booming, allfuent global media industry.

Why is this? Let’s look at who we both are.

I am a professional musician, who lives form his music. It me half a lifetime to learn the skills, years to claw my way up the structure, to the point where a stranger like you will write to me. This music is my hard earned property. I;ve licensed music to some of the biggest shows, brands, games and TV production companies on Earth; form Breaking Bad to the Sopranos, from Coca Cola to Visa, HBO to Rockstar Games.

Ask yourself - would you approach a Creative or a Director with a resume like that - and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing? Of course not. Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work.

Or would you walk into someone’s home, eat from their bowl, and walk out smiling, saying “So sorry, I’ve no budget for food”? Of course you would not. Because, culturally, we classify that as theft.

Yet the culturally ingrained disdain for the musician that riddles your profession, leads you to fleece the music angle whenever possible. You will without question pay everyone connected to a shoot - from the caterer to the grip to the extra- even the cleaner who mopped your set and scrubbed the toilets after the shoot will get paid. The musician? Give him nothing.

Now lets look at you. A quick glance at your website reveals a variety of well known, internationally syndicated reality programmes, You are a successful, financially solvent and globally recognised company with a string of hit shows. Working on multiple series in close co-operation with Channel 4, from a West London office, with a string of awards under your belt. You have real money, to pretend otherwise is an insult.

Yet you send me this shabby request - give me your property for free… Just give us what you own, we want it.

The answer is a resounding, and permanent NO.

I will now post this on my sites, forward this to several key online music sources and blogs, encourage people to re-blog this. I want to see a public discussion begin about this kind of industry abuse of musicians… this was one email too far for me. Enough. I’m sick of you.


Many websites and blogs have picked up this story, here's one where you can read more about it:
DangerousMinds.com : How To Say No
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Re: We won't pay you but you'll get exposure! - How to respo

Postby bodisattva » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:40 pm

two responses:
1) "You can get arrested for exposure."
2) "You can die of exposure."

When I get asked the ever popular "How many people can you bring out?" question, my reply is ALWAYS:
"Well, depends. What's your advertising budget?"
90% of the time I get a stupefied look.
When I do...I point out to them, that they're asking me to bring $20,000.00 of gear, and a bunch of extremely talented musicians to their club. I then ask them this: "Seriously, if I had 200 people following me around everywhere I went, what possible use would I have for YOU?"
Then I leave, and go off to find someone with half a brain.
They are out there. Keep looking.

When someone asks you to come play (for free) to "see if people like you", ask them this:
"Did you ask your bartenders to come in and work for free for the evening, to see if people liked them?"
Or would that be illegal?

Scratch all these folks immediately off your list. You will never get anywhere with, or anything from them.
They will do nothing except bleed you dry.
Tell them to f*** off and die.
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Re: We won't pay you but you'll get exposure! - How to respo

Postby KeyPlayer » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:34 pm

bodisattva wrote:...
When someone asks you to come play (for free) to "see if people like you", ask them this:
"Did you ask your bartenders to come in and work for free for the evening, to see if people liked them?"
Or would that be illegal?
...
Tell them to f*** off and die.

Right on!! If you haven't read it already (I linked to it in an older post on here somewhere) there's a great article written by a professional musician where he mentions a similar sentiment. An Open Letter to Venues That Exploit Their Musicians It's a great read, but here's a taste :
What if I told the wine bar owner that I have a great band and we are going to play at my house. I need someone to provide and pour wine while we play. I can’t pay much, just $75, and you must bring at least 25 people who are willing to pay a $10 cover charge at the door. Now wouldn’t they look at you like you are crazy?
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Re: We won't pay you but you'll get exposure! - How to respo

Postby sonhenry » Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:57 pm

Yeah I tell them where I'm from people die of exposure all the time...

There's lots of people that will play for free, but you usually get what you pay for. I don't think it's ever worth even discussing,I just say thanks but no thanks and move on. No sense getting mad.
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Re: We won't pay you but you'll get exposure! - How to respo

Postby KeyPlayer » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:23 am

sonhenry wrote:I just say thanks but no thanks and move on. No sense getting mad.


That's a valid point. But yeah, they get what they pay for... and then they wonder why they can't keep any regulars in their bar.
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Re: We won't pay you but you'll get exposure! - How to respo

Postby KeyPlayer » Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:10 pm

I've had this on my mind a while (obviously) so I finally wrote it up in my blog. I give good reasons you might want to do that free gig "for exposure" and good reasons to just say no. But You'll Get Great Exposure!
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"Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid." --Frank Zappa
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Re: We won't pay you but you'll get exposure! - How to respo

Postby restnwolf » Tue May 17, 2016 4:33 am

" Yeah, I can appreciate that and since I now know that you can too, I'm having a big get together this Saturday, so why don't to you load up a bunch of cold beers and bring em on over. While you're at it, why don't bring over a ton of those Buffalo wings you serve. I really like em. Now, I can't pay ya , but what great exposure your gonna get for your establishment. Don't forget the celery sticks. "
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