Yes, we all do need to get paid for our work. The problem is when you expect that payment or must invest to get out something out of it later.
If you open a business, you must market it. We go back to my restaurant that I always talk about that I should open if I wasn't in the music industry. Of course, no one will know my restaurant if I just open it. I need to advertise. Part of that advertising is probably to invite some food critics to a free meal. Yes, I will lose on that. I won't get paid for these free meals. In the end, though I will get people to come in faster who are paying to eat at my restaurant through these reviews. I must make a choice here, start making money direct and take a long time before I have enough of a customer base to get the money out or a faster way to give something away for free to bring in the money. Both ways have their faults. Give away food and I might re coupe it but aren't sure. The long way it might take so much time that I never get any salary out of it.
Of course, I can't run the restaurant by myself. I need staff and chefs. Of course, I need to pay for them. I can’t start by getting the payment as a Michelin chef from day one. I can ask them to stay to hang on to my idea to get better pay if the diners come. This means you need someone that believes in your idea and sticks to the plan.
Imagine then that I will have a Chef that suddenly one day decides to just go over to McDonald’s and work there for a day flipping burgers, claiming yes, I need the money. I don't think flipping burgers is fun, your restaurant is better, but I need the money.
Do you really keep that Chef? Okay, he contributes to your restaurant but is not willing to sacrifice something to get something bigger.
This dilemma I see a lot of solo artists going on Showcases. Suddenly they must pay for the musicians because they are too professional to play a free gig at a showcase festival. Problem is usually that if they would do it for free, they would rather take a boring gig in a cover band just because it brings money to the table. At the same time doing one showcase festival won't work, you must do several.
The main thing is that these artists never make it. They expect payment too early. Usually, they try to get paid gigs to make up for the free festival. Problem is that most of the money still even with paid gigs go to the pros and they just go where the money is. And you can't get good paid gigs until you have a name that draws an audience. In the end, it's a losing game.
Yes, you have a really good band. But they cost too much and that is stopping you from being able to advertise your product. On the other hand, you pay for what you get. If you have professional people, they can charge money for their work. With less good people your product might not shine that much.
The thing here is usually that the solo artist wants themselves to shine and hiring well-paid musicians is mainly to cover up for their own mistakes musically. So, the question comes down to do you really have to have these good people or can you build something up with rehearsal more?
Editor's Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and SuperBowl.