We’re all familiar with the jazz artist’s lament:
“There’s nowhere to play! There’s no money! Nobody’s listening! Nobody cares!”
Listeners don’t care about performers; they care about themselves.
Why would the public support an artist with whom they have no history of positive experiences? Why hire Chris Donnelly when you could hire Dave Brubeck? Why hire a local artist when you could hire an international superstar? Why have jazz music when you could have rock music?
Artists with nowhere to play have a problem:
The public decides who plays and who doesn’t. They pay the cover charges; they provide the playing venues. If you want more places to play, don’t play for yourself. Don’t snub the public!
Yet, if we play exclusively for the public, we’re snubbing our individuality. As I’ve said before, performing is intimately connected to exploring, discovering, understanding and enriching ourselves.
It’s a balancing act. Though I suspect that if artists find themselves with nowhere to play, they’re off balance. They’re not feeding the public with enough positive experience.
I reckon it’s time to re-evaluate the priorities; something needs to change.