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Old 08-14-11, 12:30 AM   #13
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davidkaye's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 131

Hi Irina,

Well, let's see. I have been a radio DJ and talkshow host, a TV movie host, a very bad actor in small theater productions, and I have put on about 400 live shows over 12 years in venues such as clubs, dives, and theaters in the SF Bay Area. I've also booked acts for corporate events and play my button accordion at private and an occasional corporate event. That's the extent of my corporate entertainment schtick.

On the busking side, I've been a street musician, playing fiddle or button accordion on the streets, at farmers' markets, in the BART subway, and at the occasional flea market.

The purpose of a lot of my posts is to caution buskers about getting pushed around. I don't like to see good performers jacked around by charlatan promoters. I feel more kinship to the buskers than to any of the corporate people. The corporate people and the promoters can take care of themselves.

The buskers are often people who have a passion to perform, and can be blindsided by that passion and make some dumb moves. What I hope to tell people is hey, you're good at what you do and there is no reason to tolerate being pushed around.

As to festivals, I DETEST them (Eric is an exception here because I know he won't go corporate on us). I DETEST festivals because the promoters pull the crap that this NW Folklife Festival obviously does. They try to dominate the scene and prevent "outsiders" from working. That is BAD.

Whether it's a busker festival or a movie or music festival, the festival format erodes the audience base for the smaller performers. For instance, there is a music festival called Outside Lands taking place in San Francisco this weekend. Sure, Arcade Fire is here and all kinds of good acts are here, including Kitten on the Keys and her bawdy burlesque act.

HOWEVER, Outside Lands with its 5 stages and 3 days of shows positively KILLS most of the other live entertainment in SF this weekend! It's nearly 10:30pm. I just came from a venue that is normally very busy with live music tonight and tonight they're empty. I'm sure it's because the audience that would have been there was at Outside Lands today or will be tomorrow.

BUT, if you're going to work busking festivals, I am adamant about suggesting to buskers that you get a stipend, get contracts in writing, and basically formalize as much as possible or you're going to get ripped off AND you may find that the busking environment will suffer from the festival taking away all the audience within about a month either side of the festival.

I think too may people are giving away their talents to promoters in the hopes of drawing big audiences that will help their careers. I say don't give away your talents. Demand a stipend.
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