Please Respect Musicians & Performers
I am writing this as many of you have probably at some point in time consumed music played by bands, singers, orchestral groups etc. at various corporate events, cocktail parties etc. Now I know that they are there for “entertainment” which means you pay them to perform and entertain the audience. However remember that just because they are hired by you, you don’t own them. They are professionals in their own field so respect that and if you hire them for 4 hours, don’t expect them to perform for 6 and not compensate them coz you’re just being a stingy cow.
Also please be mindful when you hire bands, singers and musicians to play as background music while your participants and guests chatter, laugh and just mingle around coz honestly, it’s really disrespectful to those performing. If you want people to appreciate the music, you gotta create the space where they are listened to. Not where you keep your audience waiting hungry for 2 hours while you have endless speeches and presentations and then unveil the entertainment and food & booze in one go. Coz at that point, food & booze become priority, not listening to music.
Remember that they are artistes and professionals who have practiced for years and though they may all not do a 9 to 5 job like you, they are as (or more) competent, talented and skilled as any of your MBA boasting, degree holding advocates. Playing any musical instrument or singing is no easy feat – let’s see you try to sing solo or play a guitar solo with 10 months of practice (the duration of most MBAs on offer in Colombo). So please stop the arrogance and condescension when dealing with artistes.
Another thing is payment. I have been hearing stories of décor for a million and band for less than 100k for a night of performing. Not on. You don’t bargain with anyone when you buy concert tickets to watch Ed Sheeran, Elton John and Backstreet Boys do you? Or the hotels to give you absurd discounts? Then don’t do it to professionals whose time, effort and talent you cannot compensate in money. So do the right thing – and pay the bloody fee that is deserving to them. Don’t offer “exposure” as payment. Unless you are organising the next Band Aid or an audience at the Rose Bowl. Yes, some artistes can afford to perform for free. But a lot don’t and when you underpay, they are forced to find other means of survival.
Also to artists who accept a tuppence coz you have other means of surviving, remember you set the bar for everyone else so be mindful of what you agree to.
To the audiences of cocktails, parties and weddings, please remember that the band, singer, group etc. is there to entertain but feeds off your appreciation too. So please show some appreciation if they are good and if not, then give them constructive feedback. A lot of Sri Lankan audiences love sitting like zombies which is very encouraging (not). A word of appreciation goes a long way and costs you nothing but a moment of your time, a bit of saliva and your vocal chords. So please exercise those.
In my experience (I sing in a choral group), we have been privileged to meet people who invited us into their homes as guests to perform and to partake of their celebrations with no qualms whatsoever of us being performers and not their friends. We have also however met the general scum who think we are there to be treated like cattle and slaves in a harem. Not cool.
In general, please take away the servant mentality of treating bands, artistes, groups and entertainers like cattle. They are not slaves on display and they are not lesser beings because they choose to be in a profession that you cannot identify with nor understand. The Arts and artistes were valued from time immemorial because the people understood that the arts maketh the man. The great civilisations of the past thrived with music and the performing arts. It was a sign of a developed and advanced society. Sort of like a canvas painting where the basic drawing is in place but if you want a masterpiece, it is the colours, brush strokes and the effects you give it that makes it truly worthy.
So let’s show some love to the people who perform for you – no matter the context. Mutual respect will help us build a better society and a better people.