Independent artists and the pay to play platforms….
Just recently, there was an issue being discussed as to the circumstances surrounding the pay to play platform and the opinions and views of independent artists in not just the local area, but everywhere. Pay to play is described as an artist having to pay a certain fee for stage time performance. Many people, especially consumers, are baffled by the perplexity that an artist would even have to pay any fee to perform considering that the ideal arrangement would be that the artist is performing for free or being paid. On another spectrum, you have artists who understand the platform well and have not only embraced it but have adapted to it, and those who say that they would NEVER pay to play.
I feel that the most prominent reason why the pay to play platform is active and excelling is because it is lucrative. This is largely due to the fact that there aren’t a lot of performance platforms operating and there are independent artists anxious to perform and be heard. Since the closing of performance venues such as Station 58 and Fusion, there has been a stagnation of sorts for performing artists in general, but especially for those who were used to performing for free. Not only were they getting the platform to perform for free, they were also getting into the venue for free as well. All they had to do was show up and show out, and considering that most are struggling artists, this was a phenomenal inspiration for them to continue. Now that those days are behind us, a lot of artists feel left out in the cold and some have given up all together.
I must admit at first I had my reservations about the platform because I didn’t understand the fundamentals of the platform until doing some research. Although this pay to play platform is present everywhere, I am going to narrow it down to the specifics of Syracuse, New York because this is the original territory of the previous discussion and it is the one I’m most familiar with.
What I have found is that the pay to play platform is most demographically attributed to registered artists, meaning Performance Rights Organization registered artists. A Performance Rights Organization or PRO such as ASCAP or BMI is essential for not only being considered as a legitimate artist, songwriter or composer but also for accumulating royalties from your live performances and song spins on radio as well as synchronization placements and publishing deals. This is in direct correspondence to the controversial platform at hand because artists can register their performances at venues with their PRO thereby generating royalty payments. Another thing to consider is the fact that most pay to play platforms come with some kind of media coverage, thereby giving the performing artist exposure on the internet, radio etc.. This can be a fundamental incentive for independent artists to participate in the lucrative platform. Last but not least is the opportunity to network with not only other local artists, producers etc., but other entertainment insiders that might be active outside the area which can in turn, gain you a larger fan base as well as more entertainment opportunities.
I’m sure that there are several more advantages for the pay to play platform than I have mentioned, but I have found these three to be the most inspirational and valuable to independent artists asking whether or not the pay to play platform is worth the investment. Maybe down the line, the previous format of performance will re-emerge, but until then, the lucrative format of pay to play platforms will continue to be dominant.