I want to thank everyone who came out to the City Auditorium for our Macon Pops event last Friday. I also want to thank everyone who came out to Rhythm & Rye at the Bourbon Bar last Saturday.
These two events are on two different ends of the spectrum but stand for the same things in offering something new to our music scene and giving us something fun to do in the process.
Being an artist in Macon -- or in general -- means playing to more than 1,200 people on Friday night, waiting tables Saturday evening, working a camera at an event Saturday night and then working the door at another event on Sunday evening. To maintain relevance and a steady paycheck, sometimes you have to wear as many hats as you can.
I attended a dinner last week with some representatives of Macon's top organizations to talk about the arts with some out-of-town guests. I usually don't speak much at these type of things as I'm just trying to listen and learn how I can help.
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It's always nice to hear that from the outside looking in, Macon is doing "all the right things." One of those many things is how well we collaborate as a city compared to larger markets. But to those of us who live here, we don't see any other way to get things done.
Since we aren't (insert the name of any big city), there isn't a lot of room to build smaller pockets of division, and that works out in our favor. Two questions that came up were, how can an artist sustain themselves and how far are we away from making this a reality. We talked about a few models that work in other cities to make sure the artists always get paid for their time.
From government funding and fundraisers, to sometimes paying out of pocket and being reimbursed later, the artist being paid is always at the top of list. I don't think we're close to artist sustainability, but things have definitely grown since 2008 when I arrived here.
We need to find a middle ground between the imaginary "exposure" being sold and a fair price for our services.
Just as Macon not being a larger market can work in our favor, it can also work against us when the conversation is dollars and cents. Our positive spirit in collaboration can turn sour when one group is making the decisions for several different entities. Selling us on the fact that our names will be seen more next to yours doesn't really mean anything in Macon and doesn't keep our lights on.
In my opinion, when it comes to artist sustainability, the conversation is more about how we need each other first. Simply put, if you could perform, you'd pay yourself to entertain and you wouldn't need me at all. If I was great with numbers, I probably wouldn't be a musician.
If we continue to make the city more attractive through shows and various projects, we all win. If we approach the question from both sides, maybe Macon can become a poster-child for how it treats its artist community as well.
Floco Torres is an artist/songwriter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.