Letters for the Week of June 29 

Readers sound off on jazz, unions, and M.C. Hammer.

Page 5 of 5

Furthermore, the cities themselves have done themselves in. If I think about asking someone, "Hey, come check out my original jazz project. You can drive down to the city, which will take you a half-hour, possibly fight traffic, have nowhere to park (so you will pull into a lot and pay more money), pay a cover and be expected to eat or drink something. Oh yeah, and the gig starts at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. Then, you can drive home another half-hour and get up at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. to go to your job. Or, better yet, take public transportation and pay a fortune for that and be restricted as to how late you can stay." No one would come, and no one does. Musicians do not even support each other in my hometown of Philly. Not to mention that, the city has removed dozens of free parking spots and made most of the meters go to 10 p.m. or midnight on a weeknight!

And I dare these musicians in the article to go on strike. There will always be someone who will do it for cheaper or for free. Heck, I do most of my gigs for free. In fact, I lose money because I pay the musicians who play with me and I buy drinks. There will always be the hungry college kid who just wants the gig or the experience, or the weekend warrior who just wants a gig, or the rich kid who just wants to play and has mommy and daddy to pay his rent. 

It has always been my contention that musicians (especially jazz or improvised or original) need to give the public and club owners a reason to want to pay them their hard-earned money. I tried to do that with Ellipsis (my band), but we were only mildly (and that is being generous to my ego) successful.

Also, I do not believe we need to be compensated because of all the time we have put into practicing. People make that argument and it is a joke. It is our choice to spend our time as we please. Just because we practiced four hours a day or eight hours a day does not put a value on what we are worth. I believe some people forget the fact that making money as an artist is a relatively new thing. When Mozart or Haydn or Beethoven or Pissarro or Cezanne were creating, they either held jobs, were poor, or in many cases, had jobs for a court, or a wealthy patron. Even Thoreau, Emerson, etc. had other jobs. They were teachers or lecturers. They did not make their money solely on publishing like Fitzgerald (who squandered it all), Salinger, or even JK Rowling have in recent times.

It is a complicated issue, and thanks for bringing it to light. However, I just never want it to come across as the poor, needy musicians who "have it so good" are whining, because believe me, most people think just being a musician means you are getting lots of money, sex, drugs, and living the high life.

Justin Leigh, Philadelphia

Corrections

Our June 22 article "Shiny Buildings, Shady Dealings" misstated the cost of the Performing Arts Center. It was $22.6 million.

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