Unfair Pay For Artists At Live Venues: Tish Hinojosa Speaks Out

1 (1)In a recent opinion piece, Austin artist Tish Hinojosa highlights the dark truth of how little musicians can expect to make for performing live, and the "beggars shouldn't be choosers" mentality which contributes to the unwillingness of many venues to properly compensate artists.


Guest Post from The Trichordist

The great artist Tish Hinojosa wrote a must-read opinion piece for her home town paper, the Austin American-Statesman, about the realities of gigging in a “no cover”/”tip jar” reality that is all too common at live music venues across the country.

In her post “Austin venues, patrons can do more to pay musicians fairly,” Tish lays bare the ugly truth that we experience every day–wage stagnation for musicians produces the “you’re lucky to have a job” mentality with many venues:

I am finding that even Austin’s best-known and talented support — aka “side” — musicians and singer-songwriters are playing for peanuts, meaning, for the same or less than we were earning in the 1980s. In the meantime, the cost of living in this city has grown tremendously — and so has the city’s pocketbook. That Austin’s reliable, hard-working, talented and diligent musicians can’t even afford to live in the city is a shame, especially considering that they are the backbone of the “Live Music Capitol Of The World.”

Too many Austin venues are taking advantage of good musicians who just need to work and are offering those artists “this or nothing deals” like: “Do you know how many of you would be happy just to say they play here?”'

1Tish’s post links to another Statesman story about the findings of the 2015 Austin Music Census which confirmed Tish’s concerns about the music community.  The City of Austin commissioned the Austin Music Census, the only study of its kind, that surveyed 4,000 members of the Austin music community and identified the “no cover” issue as a major problem that needs to be addressed.

In her must-read post, Tish gives the human side from an artist’s perspective on the ground.  Wherever you live, we believe that you’ve probably experienced the exact same take-it-or-leave-it deals that amount to “pay to play” enforced the old fashioned way–by intimidation.

Thanks to Tish for speaking out.

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  1. Well said, Tish, and thanks for having the courage to speak out. Sadly, this problem is not confined to Austin, and here in Ireland, we Musicians and Songwriters face the same problems, with most Venues now not charging any Admission Fee, but paying Bands and Solo performers derisory amounts per show, and forcing them to depend on the generosity, or otherwise, of the Audience. We face another challenge at the very top of the Music Business here, with the Major Acts from the US and elsewhere, hovering up huge sums of cash at the larger venues, with ticket prices in the $125+ bracket, leaving the ‘Music Fan’ with little cash to spare to support the local smaller acts. Until Musicians and Songwriters band together and say ‘NO’, these immoral practices will continue..
    Best, Niall Toner. http://www.nialltonerband.com

  2. I do not have a problem staying far away from the high priced shows these days. They cost too much for old acts whose heyday was 20 up to 40 years ago. Don’t buy tickets for the tour, buy the DVD for $15 bucks or stream it for less (you will always have a good seat),and parking is free.


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