The Difference Between Free Samples and Working For Free

careers, Culture, Music Business

Alright, musicians and artists (and filmmakers, actors, writers), you’re sick and tired of being asked to work for free, so you might see the headline of my monthly Sonicbids post and run to the hills like a 1982 metal band’s single (if you name the band, you get bonus points).

I’m so tired of people thinking it’s ok to ask creative people to…create without compensation. Why is this socially acceptable? Because it’s supposed to be easier, or fun?

One day, when I was in college, I was griping about how long it took me to edit together a clip that was maybe a minute long. My peer responded by saying, “but you’re homework is fun”, insinuating that it didn’t matter as much as his homework. My question to anyone saying that is, why isn’t your homework fun? Maybe you’re just studying something that you think will make you rich, so you don’t care. Or maybe you’re not good at it. That’s fine. Everyone has to have classes they struggle in, otherwise you may never learn that the galaxy doesn’t shine out of your pants! And if you think that it does then you should probably get some honest feedback. And watch Cosmos or something, because that’s some bad science.

So, no, my homework of editing a bunch of footage with doppler sound into a minute was not easy just because I found it to be enjoyable. This type of work is probably often dismissed. For instance, do you ever watch a film on television and think about the time it took to take out all of the swears that were not acceptable to the network? One day at my internship I observed an ADR session to remove all of the worst offenders of the swears from a film that was being broadcast on television. It was a Scorsese film. The script of scenes looked longer than my senior thesis paper.

In addition, stating that something is worth less because it was easier to make is a liiittle silly because nobody is the same. I don’t think all engineers are good at playing the piano, do you? Are all bankers good at teaching?

That being said, when I started this blog, two of my early posts were about Gentlemen Hall and Doe Paoro, two musical acts who I thought did a marvelous job with promoting their singles or albums through free or pay what you want models.

Hence my July post for Sonicbids.

What about you? Have you been asked to work for free as an artist?

Have you given samples of your work for free and seen a great result in return?

Peanut gallery, leave some comments!




2 thoughts on “The Difference Between Free Samples and Working For Free

  1. Yes, especially in the visual arts the general populace does not appreciate the planning, thought skill , talent and time it takes to create a painting or other two or three dimensional work. Many times I will hear, “I would like one of your paintings” ,assuming it is free . Yes, it is a compliment that you like my work but I guess not of value in your mind to pay for as you would pay a carpenter, interior decorator, or hair dresser . People would not even expect someone to paint their house for free but someone creating on a professional and creative level they do expect for free. How and where did this start? I have found a good reply is , ” I am not taking any clients right now or I will see what works I have available to sell now”. It gets people thinking and usually I receive a noncommittal response.

  2. No disagreements here. I’ve jumped at many a voluntary gig so that I may build my resume, but some things that are asked of artists are unacceptable. I once played in the pit for Chorus Line. They ran the rehearsal long (hours over). When people in the pit started to grumble, the director dismissed us by saying “they should be happy for the experience and the opportunity”.

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