Social media has provided our musicians and artists an entirely new way of reaching their target audience. It’s a wonderful way of expanding a fan base, posting daily activities and itineraries, and generally keeping the band relevant in a very competitive music environment. Inevitably, use of social media has also helped create a unique bond between the musicians themselves, in supporting each other’s shows, as well as sharing resources and information.
Social media has also become a place to red flag people and situations which are to be avoided, such as when a member of the musical community has suffered a loss or been defrauded by some less-than-honest person in the business. The case in point is an incident that occurred last year in the Brantford, Ontario, area, when an out-of-province husband and wife team acting as promoters engaged a number of bands/musicians for a concert near that southwestern Ontario city. Unfortunately for the musicians involved, they proved to be unscrupulous and defaulted on all payments and promises.
As expected, there was an immediate reaction from the musicians involved, and social media was lit up with the story. Others rallied to the cause, and the word spread to boycott the perpetrators. Nasty emails were also sent to the couple, who responded with threats to sue for libel. The entire region of players seemed to be involved, or at least have an opinion. There was also talk of a fundraiser to compensate the musicians who were shorted.
The good news, if that’s possible under these circumstances, was that it united the musical community and inspired them into taking collective action, albeit through Facebook. They realized they must stick together against undesirables such as these and speak as one voice. An injury to one is an injury to all and strength lies with numbers.
The bad news is that it was grossly ineffective. Was the gig saved? No. Did the musicians get their money? No. Did the promoters suffer in any way for their actions? No. It was a complete disaster.
So what went wrong? The answers are surprisingly simple. Were the musicians involved AFM members? No. Was there a proper contract in place? No. Had the answer to these last two questions been affirmative, the outcome would have been entirely different. As members with a properly executed live engagement contract in place, they would have been able to access the Contract Defence Fund of the jurisdiction’s local. Or, if they were from a different local, they could have gotten help from the Emergency Travel Assistance Programme administered by the Canadian Office. In either case, they would have received at least scale wages for the gig as an advance, and either the local or the CFM would then file a claim against the promoters to secure a judgement for collection of the entire contract. Once the funds were received, the musicians would receive the balance of their fees.
The musical community in the region had the right idea—we have to stick together, speak as one voice, an injury to one is an injury to all, and we are stronger together—but they chose the wrong vehicle. While media connectivity is a great way to bring attention to social injustice, the real power to correct that injustice or effect meaningful change starts with AFM membership, and once a member, to making use of all the services available. Let’s talk about that on Facebook.Read More