Some area musicians are growing increasingly angry over what they consider discrimination by some local music venue owners and promoters who they say offer them gigs for “peanuts” while paying high-dollar fees for out-of-town acts.
Some are even talking about forming a union.
“Take a look at some recent shows around here,” says one, who asks not to be identified because he says doing so would cost him what little work he is getting now. “Local musicians don’t get the good gigs.”
The musicians who are upset point to events like the upcoming Floyd Town Jubileee, which is proposing paying out-of-town groups fees that may run into the thousands to perform while fees for local range from $50 to $250, according to a preliminary budget provided Tuesday to the Floyd County Board of Supervisors.
Few local performers make a living just from their music. Most have day jobs and then spend evenings playing local gigs for small fees or for “tips,” money contributed by attendees.
A number of local musicians have complained they are too often asked to play for free or for “gas money.”
“Floyd is known for its vast array of musical talent,” says one native musician. “Yet some here feel that our talent is not worth paying for.”
Music promoters tell me the out-of-town acts can have greater drawing power than a local band that has a loyal local following but not the widespread appeal of a regionally or nationally-known band. Most venues try for a balance of local, regional and national talent.
It’s a contentious issue and one that remains just below the surface in Floyd County’s sometimes volatile music scene.