Rumor Has It

What You Pay For

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Recently, a friend and skilled musician decided to quit music. To put a finer point on it, she decided to quit trying to earn a living from her music. While she may continue to play music, she will no longer participate in the economy of being a musician.

I’m as big an advocate for music as it gets, yet when I drilled down into my feelings about her decision, I couldn’t blame her one bit.

That making a living from music is difficult is a well-known and accepted fact. Precious few are able to do it and regardless of a person’s talent or level of success, what being part of the musical grind takes can very often be more than it gives.

We tend to blame this inequity on forces bigger than us—giant record labels, touring companies, venue conglomerates, streaming services. And while those entities certainly are to blame for why being a musician can’t possibly pencil, blaming things outside our control is a way to not have to think about our own culpability.

No, I’m not suggesting you divest yourself from Spotify. I don’t choose to use streaming services, but I’m not under the delusion that Spotify cares one whit about that. But there are things we can do here, where we live, to make life a little easier for the musicians in our midst.

One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, live music will resume in our area. And when it does, we need to be prepared to pay for it.

Yes, I’m talking about one of the most sacred of our sacred cows: the $5 cover.

I’ve lived in Bellingham and have been writing about music in this region for more than two decades and during that entire time, the majority of shows—especially ones featuring a local lineup—have cost five bucks. Sure, it’s great that music here is dirt cheap and there’s definitely something to be said for the $5 cover’s role in keeping shows accessible, but let’s be real: We are straight ripping off the very musicians we claim to love and respect when we refuse to pay them what they’re worth.

The reason the ceiling of the $5 cover has been so tough to shatter is because we are stubbornly resistant to paying more. Just because we can’t stop the music industry as a whole from taking advantage of musicians doesn’t mean we have to join them in doing so. When live music resumes, let’s do things differently. It starts with putting our money where our mouths are.

Past Columns
Signs of Life

March 3, 2021

Eat for Art’s Sake

February 3, 2021

Save Our Stages

January 20, 2021

Year in Review

January 6, 2021

A Christmas Miracle

December 23, 2020

Passages

December 9, 2020

Let’s Talk Turkey

November 25, 2020

A New Hope

November 11, 2020

Of Presidents and Puppies

October 28, 2020

Keep Music Live

October 14, 2020

Signs of the Times

September 30, 2020

A Make.Shift Memo

September 16, 2020

Live From the Park

September 2, 2020

Pandemic Priorities

August 19, 2020

Of Falafel and the Future

August 5, 2020

Reign of Payne Returns

July 22, 2020

It’s Tinga Time!

July 8, 2020

A Trickle of Tunes

June 24, 2020

One Strange Summer

June 10, 2020

COVID Chronicles

May 27, 2020

Monday
Riding the Wind

11:00am

Michael Dickter’s “Riding the Wind” exhibit can be seen from 11am-6pm daily through Feb. 28 in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery, 504 S. First St. Face masks are required, and a…

Virtual Wild Womxn Week

9:00am

Whether alone or with a friend in your bubble, join Shifting Gears for its Virtual Wild Womxn Week by hiking, biking, strolling, running, kayaking—or whatever gets you pumped and feeling…

Bellingham to the Border and Back Virtual Challenge

9:00am

Fairhaven Runners & Walkers will partner with Altra Running for a “Bellingham to the Border and Back” Virtual Challenge through March 15. Participants will be challenged to log 60 miles—the…

La Conner Daffodil Festival

12:00pm

Celebrate the “golden trumpets of spring” at the seventh annual La Conner Daffodil Festival taking place through March in the Skagit Valley. Special events include a Springtime Chalk Art…

Elevation

11:00am

“Elevation,” an exhibit celebrating Pacific Northwest clay artists of color, will be featured from 11am-5pm daily through Saturday (closed Tuesday), and 12pm-4pm Sunday through March at Good…

Anacortes Arts Festival Virtual Art Auction

10:00am

Bid on more than 120 art pieces through March 20 as part of the Anacortes Arts Festival’s inaugural Virtual Art Auction. Works will include paintings, sculpture, photography, sculptures,…

Art-iversary Exhibit

5:30pm

From 10am-5:30pm Mondays through Saturdays through April 30, celebrate 20 years of ownership for Sheri Wright of Fourth Corner Frames, 311 W. Holly St. A wide variety of works are for sale as…

Tuesday
Riding the Wind

11:00am

Michael Dickter’s “Riding the Wind” exhibit can be seen from 11am-6pm daily through Feb. 28 in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery, 504 S. First St. Face masks are required, and a…

Virtual Wild Womxn Week

9:00am

Whether alone or with a friend in your bubble, join Shifting Gears for its Virtual Wild Womxn Week by hiking, biking, strolling, running, kayaking—or whatever gets you pumped and feeling…

Bellingham to the Border and Back Virtual Challenge

9:00am

Fairhaven Runners & Walkers will partner with Altra Running for a “Bellingham to the Border and Back” Virtual Challenge through March 15. Participants will be challenged to log 60 miles—the…

La Conner Daffodil Festival

12:00pm

Celebrate the “golden trumpets of spring” at the seventh annual La Conner Daffodil Festival taking place through March in the Skagit Valley. Special events include a Springtime Chalk Art…

Elevation

11:00am

“Elevation,” an exhibit celebrating Pacific Northwest clay artists of color, will be featured from 11am-5pm daily through Saturday (closed Tuesday), and 12pm-4pm Sunday through March at Good…

Anacortes Arts Festival Virtual Art Auction

10:00am

Bid on more than 120 art pieces through March 20 as part of the Anacortes Arts Festival’s inaugural Virtual Art Auction. Works will include paintings, sculpture, photography, sculptures,…

Art-iversary Exhibit

5:30pm

From 10am-5:30pm Mondays through Saturdays through April 30, celebrate 20 years of ownership for Sheri Wright of Fourth Corner Frames, 311 W. Holly St. A wide variety of works are for sale as…