The young reporters from The Smithsonian Institution say they found varied opinions about the music culture of Floyd during their visit this past weekend to prepare a video report for the institution’s web site.
For the most part, they found many musicians who ply their craft out of love for music, willing to play anywhere, anytime and for most any reason. Few get paid for their efforts and those who do don’t make a real living at it. Many don’t care. They play because they love it.
In some cases, they found bitterness and anger over what some musicians see as exploitation of the talent in the county. I know where this comes from. I’ve talked to the same musicians and heard the same complaints. A sharp divide exists between musicians who play primarily for love of music and those who play for pay. It’s not so much that those who demand to be paid for their music don’t love their music as well. They also want to make a living wage out of that love.
But Floyd is not a town where those who do what they love can always make a living out of that love. Most artists, musicians, craftsmen, etc., have other jobs or resources to pay the bills. Those day jobs or deep pockets allow them to do what they love and let other things pay the bills.
Floyd’s longest-running and best-known music venue is The Friday Night Jamboree where musicians play pretty much for free. When Woody Crenshaw bought the Country Store he began paying bands a small stipend that is, for all practical purposes, gas money. At Oddfellas Cantina, Cafe del Sol and the Blackwater Loft, the musicians play for tips. The Winter Sun books acts and pays for them but many of those acts are from out of town. FloydFest has different pay scales for out of town and local acts. The Oak Grove Pavilion pays for acts at its summer music series.
Should local venues pay more for musical acts? Perhaps but the real question is not so much "should" as "can" these venues afford to pay more. Most local businesses run on razor-thin margins and some lose money. Paying more for entertainment could mean the difference between staying open and closing the doors.